REVIEW: Eat in the Park 2022 gets a big glittery thumbs up

Following the first Eat in the Park in 2021, the food, drink and music festival in Buxton’s Pavilion Gardens was back for 2022 and it was bigger, bolder and eatier. Taking place over the weekend of 20th and 21st August, the green heart of Buxton was again the place to be. Despite a gloomy weather forecast, the clouds parted and the sun shone on 5,000 revellers who had come to dance, have fun and of course, eat! It seemed that the gods themselves had blessed the event. Perhaps they’re Abba fans.

Last year’s EITP was not so meteorologically fortunate: Buxton’s infamous rain turned the first day into a mud bath although a jolly time was still had by all. Back then, we were scuttling from the shadow of a pandemic and people were just happy to be outside and in the company of others again. The second incarnation had more to prove. We’ve got used to socialising again. Could it cut the mustard? We decided to check it out for ourselves.

Going for a full weekend ticket, we were struck straight away by how organised the event was. Local boys George and Jake and their team had thought of everything. There was three different music stages this year; the main stage, the Buxton Brewery tent and brand new for 2022; the dance tent. A bewildering array of options for food and drink enticed us with various aromas. It’s not called Eat in the Park for nothing. We enjoyed some very morish ‘Med (iterranean) Fries’ from Stef Chef and a delicious lamb kebab from Greeki. Adjacent was a large area with tables and benches to consume the tasty fayre. Supporting all of this were plenty of loos and a wellbeing tent. There was stuff for the kids and a VIP area with it’s own bar. Local fashion peddlers The Closet were on hand too, assisting those in need of extra special festival garb. Considering the organisers have got to work with the fixed layout of the Victorian gardens, they do remarkably well transforming them into a professional modern extravaganza that excites all the senses.

Photo credit: Frank Golden Photography

We were surprised to find the festival had grown a bit since last year. Upon arrival, it became immediately clear there were more punters. Haunted by the rain clouds of 2021’s festival, we turned up in boots, only to be greeted by the sight of countless sandals and flip-flops. Wardrobe aside, we jumped on the bandwagon many had obviously already jumped on and equipped ourselves with Buxton Brewery beer. The multitude of options for dinner could wait. The breeze carried a classic dance tune. What was that? We investigated and found the dance tent. Conspicuously absent from the first EITP, we were pleased to find a third musical location to compete with the Buxton Brewery Tent. The BBT featured mostly local acts; Darla Jade who kicked things off early-doors Saturday was brilliant – the electro pop-singer and songwriter from Stoke-on-Trent caught our attention with her catchy melodic vocals against a backdrop of an electro-80s sound. Radio Memphis delivered their usual mix of deep south rock ‘n’ roll/soul which the crowds enjoyed. The main stage, was home to homegrown superheroes like The Ayups and Purple Cloud of Funk but mostly tribute bands emulating the likes of Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Abba, The Arctic Monkeys and Queen.

Like EITP 1, the most important thing about EITP 2 was not the music or the drink or the food but the atmosphere. Buxtonians endure long winters so when they do they get the chance, they have it large. Like many modern festivals, it’s a family affair and security and Police are clearly visible, allowing for a safe domain. Not everyone agrees with fencing off most of the gardens for a few days but those who do participate can see that George and Jake are trying to bring some investment and excitement into the town. All of the vendors are local.

It looked like the main stage was getting the lion’s share of attention for most of the weekend, attendees no doubt drawn to the bright lights and familiar sounds, and the opportunity to soak up some of the rare sunshine. This seemed a bit of a shame for the two smaller stages but I guess them’s the breaks. Last year, it was a different story in the Brewery tent. People were sheltering from the unkinder weather and the less famous acts got a larger if somewhat damp audience. The new dance tent looked a little isolated from the rest of the festival, being stuck out by itself near the promenade and the swimming baths. As already stated, the planners have to work with the existing geography but I hope they review the location next time and see if the dance tent can be brought further into the main fold. A consequence of the popularity of the main stage was the area did fill up with a lot of chairs which did give the crowds watching headliners less space. However, these are minor criticisms and the event for us gets a big glittery thumbs up. Headliners Queen tribute band Killer Queen were clearly seasoned crowd rockers and brought the whole festival to a rousing crescendo. I doubt Buxton will experience anything like it until next year.

If you were there, we hope you had a good time and like us, are maybe wondering if Freddie Mercury’s teeth were real? Look out for the latest announcements for next years festival, tickets and line-up at EITP will take place on 19th & 20th August 2023…see you there!

In the meantime, here’s a round up of your photos you shared with us:

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