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The Big Weekend kicks off

The main tent of the Big Weekend - now filling up with thousands of fans. Picture by Matthew Walker
The main tent of the Big Weekend - now filling up with thousands of fans. Picture by Matthew Walker

The Big Weekend has begun!

Thousands of people are now at Maidstone's Mote Park for a day packed with top live music and DJs.

People began queuing from 6.30am. They were rewarded with an impromptu performance by Scouting for Girls, who sang "She's so Lovely" to the waiting crowd before the gates were opened.

Radio 1 DJs Chris Moyles, Edith Bowman and Vernon Kay also chatted to festival goers.

Usher was first up on the main stage and hundreds ran through the arena to get a prime spot.

But much of the talk is still about the main event of the weekend - tonight's performance by Madonna.

Here what some fans said about the queen of pop by clicking the audio link at the top of the story

In fact that build-up started yesterday, when dozens of die-hard Madonna fans descended on Mote Park in the hope of spotting the star during her soundcheck.

Fans were not put off by the huge fencing around the site within the park, and many gathered around entrances to catch a glimpse as vehicles sped in and out.

Madonna herself arrived via helicopter at just after 3pm and was whisked into the arena. The helicopter parked on the rugby club site.

After a sound check which reverberated around the site and beyond for more than half an hour, there was a burst of excitement when fans thought they had caught a glimpse of her leaving in a black car. A woman, sat in the front passenger seat, had a shirt over her head.

But half an hour later it turned out to have been a false alarm, as Madge began her sound check again.

Paul Burridge, a Madonna fan since 1980, who has a massive collection of her music, said: "I have been up her several hours, but I haven't seen her. I have got everything of hers from 1980 onwards."

Clare Gilby, of Greenside, Maidstone, and Aleta Holroyd, of Plains Avenue, who are both big Madonna fans, also spent several hours hoping to see their idol, although they both also have tickets for tomorrow's show.

Mrs Gilby said: "I saw the helicopter coming over and we both came down here. We love Madonna so much."

Mrs Holroyd added: "I've got loads of her recods. We're so hyped up about it all, it's very exciting."

One of the stewards guarding the site, who declined to give his name, said: "I did catch a glimspe of her as she came out of the helicopter and she was whisked away in a Jeep very quickly."

>>Get involved

If you are going along to the Big Weekend, or know someone who is, then keep an eye out on kentmessenger.co.uk over the weekend, as our photographers will be roaming the festival capturing all of the fun.

Full reports and more pictures will be available during next week, and there will be a special supplement in next Friday's Kent Messenger.

And we want your help to sum up the atmosphere of the event.

Send us your pictures to messengernews@thekmgroup.co.uk

You can also email us with your highlights of the event, or send us a 50-word review of your favourite band. The best submissions will be used online or in next week's Kent Messenger.

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