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South Tyneside Summer Festival - A Music Festival Free of Mud

01/08/2013 14:55 BST | Updated 01/10/2013 10:12 BST

Britain's summer music festivals have a reputation for being mud-soaked affairs. Yet this year's South Tyneside Summer Festival has, so far, proved an exception to that soggy stereotype, in which wearing wellies is de rigueur.

The family-friendly event is held in the coastal town of South Shields, in England's North-East.

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Granted, the temperature of the North Sea may well be a few degrees chillier than the Med, but on a sunny summer's day there can't be many better places to spend a day on the beach. The sand here is golden and, believe me, when the sun shines and the skies are blue Shields' beach looks as good as any you'll see on postcards from Spain.

Bents Park, the site of the South Tyneside Summer Festival's main stage, is situated just across the road from the seafront and an easy 12-minute walk from South Shields Metro station.

The Metro is arguably the easiest way of arriving here on public transport from neighbouring Newcastle and Sunderland, though bus services are also good.

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This year's South Tyneside Summer Festival has drawn a number of well-known, long-established acts to the main stage on Sunday afternoons through July.

Liberty X played on 14 July. Toploader opened on the main stage a week later. The band best-known for Dancing in the Moonlight made played a polished set in front of 17,000 people.

Many of those spectators had brought picnics to share with friends and family, helping make the mood festive; this was more a celebration of being together on a fine summer's day rather that an afternoon for obsessive fans.

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Of course, a hardcore of Toploader fans gathered by the barrier down by the stage but many more of the onlookers were content to sit back and enjoy the show while sitting on picnic blankets spread over the sun-bleached grass of Bents Park.

The South may well be a band name that many people don't yet recognise, though a good number of the songs they played at the South Tyneside Summer Festival most definitely were known by spectators.

The South was formed by former members of The Beautiful South and they belted out numbers such as Perfect 10, Don't Marry Her and A Little Time in front of the appreciative crowd.

They also played songs from The South's debut album Sweet Refrains. After their encore the band went down to the side of the stage to meet fans and sign autographs, a gesture that many of the spectators appreciated and made use of.

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One week later, under overcast conditions, Garry Christian led The Christians on the stage at Bents Park. The Liverpudlian band performed hits such as Harvest for the World and Hooverville.

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Rick Astley headlined on 28 July. The 80s icon is still going strong and performed hits such as Together Forever and the classic Never Gonna Give You Up.

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The South Tyneside Summer Festival continues into August with brass band performances and Samba dumming workshops at South Shield's Amphitheatre stage.

More Information

Details of the South Tyneside Summer Festival programme are available on the South Tyneside website and by calling +44 (0) 191 4546612.

Read more of Stuart Forster's online food and travel features on his personal blog, go-eat-do.com.