BRITAIN'S first ever classical music festival got off to a rain-drenched start on Thursday with the torrents threatening to turn the fantastic Kimmeridge setting of the Smedmore Estate into a mudbath.

Luckily this was a festival, and people were well prepared with wellies and waterproofs, so, despite disappointingly low numbers, the show went on.

And it was a very well organised show, with everything for the discerning classical camper, including those all-important hot showers (a delight, particularly on the Friday morning after the soaking we all received on Thursday night) and well-maintained, clean toilets.

Overlooking the beauty of Kimmeridge Bay, with Clavell's Tower silhouetted atop the cliff (when the sun eventually shone), the background couldn't have been more perfect for such beautiful music.

Appearing on the main stage after clarinettist Emma Johnson's well-received but poorly attended performance, Faryl Smith was my personal highlight of the Thursday night line-up, her bizarrely powerful voice (considering her diminutive size and age) taking my breath away and it contrasted so well with her naivete as she said “at least it's not raining” – just as the heavens opened.

Weather didn't stop the stalwarts though, as the umbrellas went up and they stood their ground to enjoy classical's Barry Manilow – Geoff Sewell – and the handsome and supremely talented Blake.

Watching from the nearby covered marquee was the ideal compromise for those of us who preferred to stay dry.

Over at The Hub afterwards, the festival's second stage, we were all treated to a fantastic improv show by the hugely talented and very funny Impropera, before heading off to the cosy yet opulent bedouin tent for a nightcap or two.

Days at Serenata left a little to be desired, with much of the promised entertainment absent – where were the yoga and ballet workshops, and the chance to have a go on an instrument?

This was by far the biggest criticism from some otherwise happy festival-goers.

Samantha Harrison, 43, from Preston, had travelled down with her 15-year-old daughter Alice.

She said: “There should have been more during the day – the youngsters having jamming sessions, perhaps, and I was looking forward to the workshops, but I've had a great time.

“I'd definitely come back next year”.

This sentiment was echoed throughout by happy campers.

John and Wendy Penlington, from Belbroughton in Worcestershire, felt it was well worth the journey down, though felt far more advertising was in order.

“The overall concept is absolutely excellent,” said John, 59.

Their favourites, and mine too, were the fabulous String Fever, Friday night's after-hours offering in the Hub.

The fabulous foursome (all related) employed the lot – raw talent, humour and extreme gusto - in their showcase of skill on the electric strings, keeping the large crowd whistling for more long after they'd run out of encores.

Headlining earlier in the evening, Katherine Jenkins defied her critics with an unequivicably awesome voice tackling beautiful arias as well as movie classics, all the while managing to sport an outstanding array of frocks – four, in total!

And though Russell Watson's Saturday night act was undoubtedly impressive (finished, too, with a superb firework finale), it was in the Hub yet again that we were treated to some of the finest music, the incredible Schlomo and his Voice Orchestra blowing us away with stylised beatboxing beyond compare.

Despite not a lot of choice during the daylight hours, the Hub's daily Serenata Stars competition was a fantastic way to experience superb young talent, and winners Oliver Paul and Charlotte Hewett certainly were the cream of an excellent crop.

The Fairly Famous Family's street theatre around the site also kept amblers amused, while the Dukebox Players' Webber in 10 minutes was brilliant.

Conductor James Murray also proved you can make a choir from any group, with his scratch choir performing a impressive rendition of Danny Boy on the final day – despite not having a huge audience.

Of course, for any inaugural event there are lessons to be learned, but the overall feeling from this first ever Serenata was definitely positive: Not enough music, but what was there was excellent.

Let's hope the classical experience comes back to Kimmeridge again next year.