By @Steve Crabtree
There’s something special about the Butlins Adult Weekends. They’re like a religion to many, with people returning two, three and four times a year. I’ve done a few of them in my time, but I’d heard great things about the Legends Of Soul Weekender at their Skegness resort. So this is one that I had to check out, and I’m so glad that I did.
A full weekend, from Friday afternoon to Monday morning. And despite the wind and showers, we arrived to a sea of smiley faces and excited people. The Friday afternoon feel-good was already buzzing around the place.
“Smooth and funky musical weekend”
We were lucky enough to be in the Seaside Apartments for the three nights. We’d been given a ground floor room which was great. No lugging our heavy cases up any stairs. And waiting for us was a box of Celebrations, a few small bottles of wine, a couple of beers in the fridge, soft drinks and snacks to be getting on with. A welcoming touch from Butlins there.
And the room was really clean and spacious. We were equipped with an oven, hob, microwave, cutlery, washing utensils. There was a dining table, a comfy L-shaped sofa, and we were less than a minute’s walk away from the centre of the action. And then we had the luxury of a smooth and funky musical weekend, and a lovely place to get our heads down and relax just yards from everywhere we needed to be. We liked that.
After a quick freshen up (and a bit of wine!) we headed out to the Skyline Pavillion. It was only Friday afternoon and a great mood had built up already. DJ Charlie Seeley was getting people in the groove. And as the crowd started to build and arrivals started filtering through the door, it was a great way to kick off the weekend. Already there was this good vibe around the place that wasn’t going to let up all weekend.
“Biggest buzz is the music”
We’d received our welcome pack and running order of the Legends Of Soul Weekend. There’s always a large, quality selection of acts to choose from and we were working through who we had to see. It’s also a task to decide how to avoid a clash!
Billy Ocean was going to be there. Twice! Ray Lewis of The Drifters too. Chairmen of the Board, Eban Brown… a host of tribute acts. The line-up was so good, and the timings set so that we could wander between venues to check out some of the DJs quite leisurely.
And we had a bit of time to do that on the early Friday evening. And what was pleasing was that although the venues were quite busy, service at the bars was always swift. I think the Legends Of Soul Weekend brings people who want a good time, and their biggest buzz is the music. But it’s good to get your groove on with a drink in your hand, and we didn’t have a problem at any bar all weekend.
The first live-act we went to see was Tameka Jackson as Diana Ross. A lot of others had the same notion and did the same and she turned in a brilliant performance. We also enjoyed a brilliant set from Jimmy James and the Vagabonds at Centre Stage on the Friday, which took us up to around midnight, before we headed back for bed. We’d danced non-stop, and we needed a recharge for a full day of Saturday Soul.
“No chance of going hungry”
The comfort of the beds in the apartment meant that we had a bit of a lazy lie-in on the Saturday morning before heading over for breakfast in The Deck restaurant. We’d taken the dining option that Butlins offer, so there was no chance of going hungry. In a canteen-style set up, they offer a huge range of dishes, and we’d already polished off a wonderful lasagne the night before. Freshly cooked Sunday roasts, fish and chips… we had those over the weekend for our dinner too, and each meal was lovely. I’ll do the dining package every time I go to Butlins now.
The full English breakfast was a staple morning routine for us over the weekend – the full works. Tasty sausages, well cooked bacon and all the trimmings you’d expect, it was a delicious set up for the day.
And we’d got a great couple of days worth of music ahead too. The Saturday began with us enjoying some UK Soul in the Skyline Arena with DJ Keith Stewart. The Legends Of Soul Weekender gets people up dancing right from the get-go, and there were soon more people on their feet than on their seats and it was upbeat and very friendly. You can mingle with any group of people here, and such is a the mood a good time is guaranteed.
“Act of the weekend”
We got in to Reds for 7pm, where the amazing DJ Des Grant had a full dancefloor. He has this habit of getting the crowd in an even better mood than they already are, and he was doing this ahead of Ray Lewis, formerly of The Drifters, appearing on stage.
And Lewis took my award for the best act of the weekend. He was in The Drifters for a reason, and we were treated to hits like ‘Up On The Roof’, ‘Little Red Book’ and ‘Saturday Night At The Movies’. The guy is an absolute showman, who can speak to the crowd, still sings with such a beautiful voice, but also takes a step back and let’s his backing singers take some of the limelight as well. That was a really nice touch. Despite having a hip replacement not so long ago, his vocal chords remain in tact. They’re still there and working fine. Getting an act of Ray Lewis’s quality is a great reflection on the quality of this weekend.
After Ray Lewis, we watched half of Chairmen Of The Board’s performance, and ventured over to Centre Stage to see Eban Brown, formerly of The Stylistics. Both acts were superb and had busy dancefloors in front of them.
“Smooth, funky and fun”
The main act of the weekend though was Billy Ocean. Such was the demand to see him, he did two sets on the Sunday. He was his recognisable self as he walked onto stage with grey beard and long grey dreadlocks.
He’d packed the place out and rifled through the hits like ‘Caribbean Queen’, ‘Get Out Of My Dreams’, and his rendition of ‘Suddenly’ was beautiful. Simply stunning. That song alone tells you why Billy Ocean was a headline act.
Despite there being little room to move in this one, I realised that the adult weekends at Butlins is something of a religion. There’s a friendly vibe, and if you lose your friends you make a few more. And then you meet up with them again next time! I guess that’s a bonus bit of soul that you get when you come here.
“My new favourite Butlins weekend”
The cover-bands that we had this time were superb too. Real high-end cover acts. Aretha Franklin absolutely owned the place, along with the last act of the weekend, the Stevie Wonder tribute act. He was pretty special. And he wrapped up the entertainment of the weekend nicely, as the remaining revellers headed back to their beds happy.
There was a feeling of melancholy heading home on the Monday morning. We’d had a fantastic few days, and I’d stumbled across my new favourite Butlins weekend. The next one is something to look forward to, with the quality of the acts, the atmosphere and the music being worth every penny and more.
Legends Of Soul Weekend, Skegness Butlins, Ingoldmells, Skegness PE25 1NJ
November 2019 rates from £85pp based on four people sharing a silver self catering room
0330 100 6648