Okay, so that title is definitely grammatically incorrect. But for some reason over the span of this festival-filled summer I’ve taken to describing it as a ‘festival of summers’ rather than a ‘summer of festivals’. Who knows why, maybe my brain gets too excited at the thought of festivals and goes into meltdown mixing-words-around mode. Regardless, festival-filled it has been, and now it has sadly drawn to a close. And real life has been thrust upon me all at once with a move back home to the nest of my parents and a new job. For the past 4 months festivals have been my life and now that’s over it’s time to start the next stage of life. In ordinary life I never would’ve been able to afford 5 festivals in one summer, but this summer I found myself with ample time and opportunities for working across some of the best festivals in the UK with charities. Here’s a brief summary of my festival highlights:
Having never heard of the Bournemouth 7s before, we didn’t have particularly high expectations. Especially upon finding out that the lineup consisted of tribute bands following all day sport. How wrong we were. We spent our days at the Bournemouth 7s standing in the sun next to the rugby pitch selling refillable water bottles for charity to beautiful, muscular, sweaty boys. As I said in my rather succinctly put tweet “I’m in the land of beautiful men and i don’t want to leave”. I don’t think I’ve ever been surrounded by so much beautifulness in such a small space, and it was definitely enjoyable.
Highlights other than the hot bodies… the rollerdisco tent (many many bruises), the german beer tent involving a lot of dancing on tables, and the massive bar tent which just descended into slippery muddy mess. I think this is definitely one to be attended again as part of a team, so I’ll be entering as dodgeball (as I can’t do anything else).
Ed Sheeran. And Ed Sheeran. And Imagine Dragons. And countless other amazing acts that were so amazing I couldn’t even mention them all. But to name a few highlights… Kodaline, London Grammar, The 1975, Jake Bugg, Arcade Fire… and of course Dolly Parton, as ridiculous as she was.
Music aside (which it never is because there is so much), one thing to be said about Glastonbury is the sheer volume and variety of food. We planned to cook everything in the tent but after entering the arena and viewing all the yummy delights that went out the window. My main festival food lover is mash – £1, mega filling, smooth potato gorgeousness. However the food stalls were so extensive that every night I found myself on the ‘hunt for mash’ having forgotten where it was located. Nothing to do with alcohol intake, of course.
Obviously, one of the main highlights of Glastonbury has to be standing at the top of the hill, looking down at the Pyramid stage. Just… awesome. Arcadia is definitely another amazing stage and incredible to watch. Shangri-la.. should be called shangri-FAR, took over an hour to power walk there from the Kaiser Chiefs, but nevertheless was very very cool. Also led to the discovery of the deluxe diner with old school party tunes which we enjoyed immensely.
One thing I didn’t get to experience much of was the famous healing field; after a quick wander around and gander at all the massages and hippie goings-on that seemed right up my street I decided next year this must be more of a major feature!
Probably the most beautiful festival I’ve been to. Everywhere you go is subtly (or not so subtly) decorated with massive homemade flowers, lilypads on the lake, water features that light up to say ‘Latitude’, and even weird scary skeletons riding on horses (not quite fitting the vibe, but there we go). There are also endless hidden discoveries to find such as the Piano Lounge, and art displays in The Woods that are painted as the festival goes on.
Speaking of The Woods, it’s the most fun place to be in the evening. Latitude as a general rule has a chilled-out, family feel to it; but once the DJs come out in the iArena (or Craig Charles starts his drug-fuelled set next door) the atmosphere changes entirely. The woods is also a hilarious place to get caught in a rainstorm wearing only flip flops… need I only say, mud became a part of our dancing routine, and ended up down my shorts. Shoes were also most definitely lost.
Music-wise… sitting atop a tall mans shoulders watching The Black Keys “Lonely Boy” was definitely an ‘on top of the world’ feeling and highlight. Hall & Oates were hilarious, you can’t really get more feel good than 80s “You Make My Dreams Come True”. We also discovered a great electro-swing tent which made me happy. But the best thing about Latitude really was the amazing team we were with, or should I say the Ox-family (yes cringe we are, and proud).
Newquay has also held a place close to my heart; ever since I first visited family friends there and discovered the fabulous beaches and views, and then later when I discovered the crazy bars and people. It became a tradition to visit Newquay at the same time that Boardmasters festival was on, just because the atmosphere around town was so fun and we could go to Fistral beach and get loads of free goodies from the festival stalls. We then realised that if we actually went to the festival, it might be even more fun.
So this was our second Boardmasters, and of course it lived up to expectations. We always have to schedule in a proper beach day, watching the hot surfer competitions whilst eating fish & chips AND pasties, our exercise consisting of trying and failing to throw a Frisbee around. This time there were no poos left on my car, so that was a relief (albeit a slightly strange one). Back to the festival and to the clifftop with the most beautiful views across the bays, watching wonderful acoustic music = basically my idea of bliss. Add a beetle juice from the VIP area to that scenario and I’m in heaven.
Of course Snoop has to be mentioned as a highlight, if only for the ridiculousness of the fact that we actually saw Snoop Doggy Dog. I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but I think I had forgotten that Snoop only raps so we ended up watching a set of half of every song cut when it got to the singing part. But hey, I love the rap. Of course I loved “Drop It Like It’s Hot”; we most definitely did drop it. Like it was hot. Because it was.
The end of the music always signals being sufficiently drunk to think getting the festybus into town is a great idea, but insufficiently drunk to command all manner of shots to be drunk. Tequila bombs in Help, slippery nipples and jagerbombs in Sailors, and many many drinks (including this year I recall.. absinthe?!) in Walkabout, our fave venue ever for reasons that cannot be explained to a normal human mind. Maybe it’s the oldies tribute band that play the same covers every night, the hordes of stag dos in raunchy fancydress, and the DJ corner that you have to climb on a table to request some tunes.
This year we were treated to a hurricane (yay us) which resulted in an absolutely sodden walk home (yes tents are home) from the taxi rank, getting naked for there was nothing else that could be done, and waking to find the tent actually on top of my face. We were all set to not let any amount of wind phase us, we got the cider out and prepared for the music of the day, only to find out that the stage was on fire and the festival was cancelled. A sadder moment there could not be. The only thing to be done was.. 4pm double vodkas on sailors balcony, 5pm tequila bombs in Help, and a bag of wine on the car journey home. Boardmasters finished in style (and a poisonous hangover the next day).
Having now experienced the festival that is Bestival, I can’t quite believe this was my first year. The sheer amount of fancy dress everywhere should really give you an idea of the amazing atmosphere on the Isle of Wight for the whole weekend. This year was ‘desert island disco’ so we saw many many Hawaiian shirts, glittery everything and everywhere, some bananas, and a donkey (who knows why). I don’t think I’ve ever had so much glitter all over my face, in fact I’d even go so far as to call myself a glitter connoisseur now. I gots the skills. (If you want to be glitterified, which everyone does).
One of the things I loved about Bestival is that there was always a new area to discover; our favourite discovery was the bandstand on the hill where once you’d made the effort of a climb you could look out over the whole festival, listening to some beautiful acoustic music and chilling out on the grass. There was also the fabulous Bollywood area, including a tent which sold cocktails in jam jars, the record-breaking disco ball which took up an entire field and was raised on the last night, the rum reggae tree which had the ultimate vibes and you could often spy human giraffes wandering around, the very edgy and cool DJ boat, and caravanserai – literally my most favourite place ever, a dancing area made up of the inside of caravans with old school jiving music – IDEAL.
So much amazing music was seen, my personal picks were Sam Smith and Paloma Faith, for their sheer gorgeousness and enjoyment, and also how humble they were considering they are flipping awesome. Basement Jaxx were OBVIOUSLY just amazing, although I had to fight my way into a packed tent whilst very drunk (I probably fell over lots) in order to get the full sound experience and dancing vibes (probably hitting many undeserving people). Chic were mega, of course, belting out 80s tunes on the hill looking down at mainstage and the glittery glitter ball was fabulous, darling. Other great acts were foals, clean bandit, and chvrches, abso loved them.