41st Cambridge Folk Festival

Memories 3

Tales Of Tickets Past & Present

I have booked by phone for the last few years and have never managed to get through on the first day.  I have so far always managed to get through early on the second day.  I do not know what I would do if I was too late to secure tickets!

My first Cambridge Festival was 1968 - the 4th.  A friend and I had determined (as weekend hippies) that we really ought to go to a festival. Over coffee we settled on Cambridge, and, although we only went for the Saturday, we were hooked.  The following year we hitched down the weekend before and spent all week camping at Cherry Hinton - unchallenged, and for free.  In those days there were in fact three festivals - a jazz festival the weekend before, a drama festival during the week, and then the folk festival.  We arrived on the Sunday evening and wandered ticketless into the marquee to see the Johnny Dankworth Big Band with Cleo Laine!  We went several more times through the 70s - always camping, for no extra charge (but generally with no extra facilities either); and always just paying our money on the gate when we went in for the first time. One of the features of the festival in those days was a different type of ticket each year - none of this armband stuff, one year it was self adhesive labels; another it was specially comissioned ceramic tickets ; you could pay extra for a leather thong to hold your ticket!

Then married life and a mortgage soaked up my funds for a few years and Cambridge was forgotten.  As life settled down and financial recovery set in, I began to hanker after the festival again.  Every summer I would tell my wife (who had been to the 72 festival with me) just what/who I had missed, until of course, she said, 'Well go the bloody festival yourself then'!  So - 1997, and I don't know why, but I booked in advance.  Also booked in at Cambridge Youth Hostel.  I had been going to our local folk club for a few years, and had enticed a friend along, who had since moved to London. (to cut a very long story short).  When I told him I was going to Cambridge, he said he would come along, but couldn't make it until the Saturday.  So, on the Saturday, we met up at Cherry Hinton. He was camping, and had already pitched his tent. I took him along to the armband tent to buy a ticket - no chance, sold out weeks ago! So - none of this ticket tout malarkey, we went along to the famous Cherry Hinton tree.  He met a girl who had a weekend ticket for sale - which he bought at LESS than face value, because, after all, he had already missed Friday evening anyway!

Which is basically what I was leading up to - Cambridge is no place for ticket sharks, and what can be done about it?  I have just read an article in 'Web User' magazine complaining about touts selling tickets for Morrissey at inflated prices. Quote -  'You can buy double the tickets you need and sell the extras on ebay to cover the cost of the rest - how can this be right?'.  According to this article, at this years Glastonbury, punters will be asked to present a utility bill to compare names with the name on their ticket.  I don't know what is supposed to happen if they don't match up. The only other tactic I have come across - and not aimed at touts at all

-is the multiplex cinemas, where you can book by credit card, either by phone or online, but you don't get your ticket until you arrive there with that same credit card.  One local cinema has a machine where you swipe your card and the ticket is printed out for you; another you are required to queue up and present your card to collect the tickets.

And of course I resemnt all thoseb years I didn't majke the effort to return to the festival.  i am trying to recapture this in a small way by hunting down festival programmes - if anyone has any programmes from years between 1974 and 1997 (or even from before 1968!!)that they would be prepared to part with , please get in touch!

thanks for listening!

John Gray