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Friday, August 6, 1999 Published at 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK


Dancing in the dark

Van Morrison: Performing on eclipse day

Thousands of festival-goers are invading Devon and Cornwall this weekend, as the region's eclipse festivals get under way.

Special report
Special report
11 August
Five large rock and dance events are taking place around the region as it prepares to be shrouded in darkness on the morning of Wednesday 11 August - with other smaller events taking place as well.

Police in the region are also preparing for illegal festivals, and landowners in the region are blocking entrances to fields and historic sites with boulders to stop ravers getting in.

Some of the boulders have been in place since May - and will remain in place until after a partial solar eclipse due in 2001.

But, like the Glastonbury festival, many of the attractions on offer for 1999's total eclipse are designed to appeal to more than just the stereotypical "crusties" with battered old vans and dogs on strings.

Van Morrison and skiffle legend Lonnie Donegan play at the eight-day long Moonshadow festival, at Whitsand Bay, Crafthole, east of Looe, which starts on Saturday.

[ image: Hundreds of DJs will be playing at the various festivals]
Hundreds of DJs will be playing at the various festivals
Other names appearing include 1980s pop star Nik Kershaw and Abba tribute act Bjorn Again, while other attractions include "the longest death slide in the country" and access to the beach at Whitsand Bay.

Further west at Goonhilly Downs is the biggest eclispe festival, the Lizard Festival. Headliners at the 20,000-strong event include Kula Shaker, Nigel Kennedy, The Levellers and James.

When sampling the site's "global village" centrepiece and the music isn't enough, festival-goers can also try their hand at shark-fishing, surfing, hot-air ballooning and para-sailing.

Organisers have erected what they claim is the biggest tent on the planet, housing 15,000.

The eclipse Fringe

Total Eclipse at Newnham Park, near Plymouth is a collaboration between longtime alternative club promoters Megadog and experienced rock impresario Harvey Goldsmith.

Mercury Prize nominees Black Star Liner play, as do original rappers the Sugarhill Gang, Orbital, Lamb, and acid jazz act James Taylor Quartet.

Like the Edinburgh Festival, Total Eclipse also offers its own Fringe festival, featuring cabaret, comedy and acrobatics.

Another festival, Eclipse 99 at Carlyon Bay, St Austell, features Happy Mondays and 808 State as well as a host of DJs and other attractions.

[ image: Pet Shop Boys: Performing for Radio 1]
Pet Shop Boys: Performing for Radio 1
Not all of the festival promoters' ideas have made it into reality. One event, Totality, was originally billed to take place at Dairyland Farm near Newquay.

But authorities refused it a licence in June - and now the site is being offered as a camping area instead.

Other events which failed to see the light of day - or the darkness of the eclipse - included Sunbloc, a 40,000-strong "spiritual family festival" at Cucurrian Farm, Ludgvan.

It had its licence application withdrawn in May after local residents protested, with Sunbloc director Nick Major warning of "a lot of renegade festivals" taking place in the area if more licences were not granted.

Hippy hero Kesey apppearing

Meanwhile, BBC Radio 1 is holding its own eclipse events on Wednesday, with Simon Mayo holding an eclipse roadshow in Penzance during the morning.

The Pet Shop Boys have written a track, Casting A Shadow, which will be played at 1111 BST as darkness falls.

For those who find the hectic whirl of clubs and rock bands too much, a figure from an earlier hedonistic era will also be on hand for the eclipse.

American novelist and psychedelic icon Ken Kesey's Magic Bus Roadshow will be calling at the Total Eclipse Festival on Monday and at Penzance's Minack Theatre on Wednesday.

Kesey made his name touring the US in a bus with the Grateful Dead in the 1960s, giving away free LSD. His adventures were later chronicled by author Tom Wolfe in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

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Lizard 99

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BBC Radio 1 at the Eclipse

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