RECORD numbers of music lovers flocked to Alresford on Saturday for a diverse festival raising thousands of pounds for charity.

Organisers said the sixth annual Alresford Music Festival was the best ever as national acts and local upstarts played to a sunny Arlebury Park.

More than 3,500 people were on site, beating last year's record of 2,800, as party funk outfit Salut topped the bill. Support came from ska-reggae seven-piece Shoot the Moon and African drumming troupe Jalikunda.

Southampton’s The Hattie Jacques’ Playlist, songwriter Ben Goddard and Winchester acoustic duo Lilo’s Wall were among the Hampshire cohort. It marks the start of a busy festival season for Goddard, from Stockbridge, who is marking the release of his new album with a string of gigs and festivals across the South.

The party continued after the headliners finished, with many punters camping on a field made available by Alresford Rugby Club for the first time.

Away from the main stages, the beer tent was serenaded by the strumming of Alresford Ukulele Jam, a band of enthusiasts who run lessons in the town.

This year the festival raised money for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance. The cash has yet to be counted but in previous years the festival, launched in 2009 to support local charities, has raised more than £10,000.

Organiser Tim Miller hopes to repeat that this year. He said: "It was extremely good – that's our best ever attendance, which was fantastic.

"It's always amazing how much diversity there is in the music ... using a really short, sharp sample of music. We were able to get in this year some street theatre, which was great, and lots of other things going on for the families as well.

"We want to continue the success with it – we've got the option to bring in more people with camping now and we're looking at bringing a shuttle bus in from north of the town.

"We give the town a huge party which they seem to be enjoying."