REGGAE lovers danced into the night despite the drizzle at the sixth Reggae Garden festival.

The event, held at the Town Gardens Bowl, drew music fans from across Britain – and acts hailing from around the world.

Festival goers heard from Italian stars Raphael and Athens-based Blend Mishkin and Roots Evolution. They were joined by well-known band The Twinkle Brothers and local heroes SN Dubstation.

Smiling children, their faces painted all the colours of the rainbow, enjoyed hair braiding and other crafts fun from Reggae Rangers – as well as a bouncy castle.

Chefs from Moshan brought a taste of the Caribbean to the event, with their vegetarian Ital stew proving especially popular.

Organiser AJ Mayhew, 32, estimated that 800 punters had come along to the event – despite the showers.

“I think the weather’s been more difficult this year, but there’s still been a real good vibe,” he said. “We’re British, it’s what we do.”

The crowds were enjoying the top-flight bands. “It’s an international line up,” AJ said. “We always concentrate on bringing the very highest calibre of artists to the festival.”

The festival, now in its sixth year, grew out of a “going away party” at Old Town pub The Bell, thrown for a group of AJ’s friends who were leaving to go travelling.

AJ said: “We had 1,400 people and we thought, ‘We need to take this to the Old Town Bowl. It’s such a beautiful venue.”

Friend Danny Leith, 31, who helped AJ organise the event, said: “This doesn’t feel like work for me.”

Reggae lovers came from all over the country to hear the upbeat music.

Dawn Taylor, 60, said: “We’ve come all the way from Wolverhampton. We heard about it and we just had to come.” To her surprise, Dawn arrived and discovered that her cousin was in the line-up.

Basingstoke-based Karen Lee, 53, said: “I just like the reggae music and the atmosphere here.”

Closer to home, Oakhurst mum-of-three Cherise Merritt, 36, said she loved “the good vibes and family atmosphere”. “Everyone’s enjoying themselves,” she said.