FEATURE: ¡VAMOS! FESTIVAL | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Anna Miller

You don’t need me to tell you that living in the North East it’s pretty difficult to guarantee decent weather, but there is a way you can secure summery vibes this month – by checking out ¡VAMOS! Festival, the Latin American-inspired celebration of music, art, dance, food and culture, which takes place across venues in Newcastle and beyond from Friday 12th-Sunday 14th July.

The emphasis for ¡VAMOS! is on Spanish and Portuguese speaking cultures, and the programme encompasses a vibrant mix of film screenings, visual art, live music and performance across the weekend. Kick things off in style with a carnival-fuelled afternoon at Alphabetti on Friday, as Karen Martinez’s award-winning short film After Mas depicts a love story which flourishes under the cover of darkness during carnival celebrations in Trinidad. The director herself will be on hand to discuss the film’s themes, and carnival expert Emily Zobel-Marshall will discuss how carnival traces its roots to the Caribbean as well as its contemporary capitalist connotations. Later, Hannabiell Sanders and Yilis del Carmen Suriel (Hannabiell & Midnight Blue) will lead an interactive carnival music workshop. The day is rounded off with an exhibition from ¡VAMOS! favourite Flavio Morais, a Brazilian artist who presents delicate wooden sculptures, pen illustrations and minute drawings in his exhibition entitled Inutensilios at Abject Gallery.

With the 12th edition of ¡VAMOS! we have tried to encapsulate all that has proven popular into our most vibrant line-up yet

The sun will certainly shine for the festival’s headline event on Saturday; the riotous Mardi Gras parade which takes over Northumberland Street from noon. Community groups, dancers, musicians, artists and youngsters take to the streets for a colourful celebration. Also on Saturday, an outdoor commission at Laing Art Gallery will see internationally renowned Portuguese artist Vhils’ extraordinary bas-relief portrait of a significant historical figure unveiled (this event is in partnership with Northern Roots and is part of the legacy of Freedom City 2017, which celebrated the life of Dr Martin Luther King, so it’s pretty obvious who the historical figure might be!)

The celebrations continue on Saturday afternoon over at the Ouseburn Valley’s Cumberland Arms where, in addition to their beer festival festivities, they’ll welcome live music and performance, plus dance sessions, children’s activities and Latino street food. Expect live sets from the inimitable Afro-Latin and Caribbean percussion and brass duo Hannabiell & Midnight Blue, rising hip-hop star Kay Greyson, the Lindsay Hannon Shindig Choir and DJs Alx Alfaro and Coco Vega. Round off your night down the hill at Cobalt Studios to celebrate the release of Sonidos 3, a free compilation album of new music featuring artists from South America and the Caribbean, and where DJ Jigue will unleash his self-described ‘Afrofuturist Tropical’ sound alongside live percussion from El Menor and DJ Adzmandala.

Sunday is a day to unwind and relax, with a family friendly beach party at Longsands beach from 6pm, with live music at Crusoes from Alx Alfaro, Isla Soledad and DJs Yersin, Coco and Alx.

¡VAMOS! returns after a hiatus last year, and festival organiser Nikolas Barrera is excited to be back. “With the 12th edition of ¡VAMOS! we have tried to encapsulate all that has proven popular into our most vibrant line-up yet. From celebratory and community engaged street parades, high quality and eye-catching visual art, cutting edge music releases and family friendly fiestas there really is something for everyone to get the ¡VAMOS! experience!”

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