The Scene Column: Go bananas for Ampthill Festival

Music reporter Vicki McCarthy features AmpRocks, a decade-old event with Bananarama, Example and Reef headlining on June 29

With the recent sunshine, you can be forgiven for thinking about summer days on the beach. But for me, the arrival of sunshine simply means ‘festival season’ and that brings a big smile to my face!

I love attending music festivals, big and small, and the rise in local festivals not only brings the music to my doorstep, but also keeps the cost down.

One of the local events I attend each year is the fantastic Ampthill Festival. Just a mere hop, one junction down the M1 from MK, this festival has actually been going for 40 years.

But the last ten years has seen it take its current format, spread over three days, suiting music-lovers perfectly.

I chatted to Mark Tiana, Chairman of AmpRocks, the event that takes place on the Friday night.

Previous acts include The Happy Mondays, Busted, The Human League, Scouting for Girls, Cast and The Lightning Seeds to name but a few. So what’s AmpRocks about?

“It’s a home-grown festival, run by great volunteers,” Mark said. “AmpRocks is a decade old next year and we’ve brought some great acts to our town. We put on a concert where there’s something for everyone.”

Taking place in Ampthill’s Great Park, the area’s linked to the royal family and is steeped in some fine history. Due to the hard work of Ampthill Festival volunteers the park is creating modern history too.

“The festival’s a real community event,” Mark added. “We’re a committee and we work together to provide a diverse weekend for all, with AmpRocks on Friday, the Proms on the Saturday and finally, a free family gala day on the Sunday.”

And it benefits charities? “Yes, many!” Mark said. “Local charities, from the Scouts, The scene MIND and the Park Fund, for example. All other money goes back into the kitty towards funding next year’s festival.”

So this month, AmpRocks has a stellar line-up again, with headliners announced as Bananarama, Example and Reef, crowds are expected in their droves.

Even better, the organisers book a local high-school band to open up for the headliners, this year that honour goes to The Kazoos.

What’s next? Well, 2019 is AmpRocks’ ten year celebration and Mark says they plan to make it bigger and better.

Watch this space. So grab your tickets fast, support your local music scene and let’s keep on making history!

Tickets are on sale now at

This column was published in the June 2018 issue of Celebrate:MK lifestyle magazine. Read the full magazine above or by clicking on this link.

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