My Year Of Festivals!
Is anybody else in disbelief that 2017 is almost over? It feels like just a few weeks ago that it was spring, I had just set up this blog and I was preparing for festival season. However, when I think back to everything I’ve done and everywhere I’ve been this year, maybe it does start to feel like it must be almost time to start 2018.
But before we go storming into next year, I thought it best to write a little summary of my festival year, to look back on how far my blog has come and to hear from some others about their festival favourites.
Let’s start then! In chronological order…
In June I won tickets to go to Camp Wildfire in Kent with three of my friends. I’d heard about the festival after a friend went the previous year and loved the concept, so I was ecstatic when I won! Wildfire is half adult adventure camp, and half music festival. In the daytime you can take part in activities such as paddle boarding, archery, zorbing, yoga, capture the flag… and calmer crafty things like acrylic jewellery making, tie dying, screen printing, making natural headpieces etc. In the evening, bands and DJ’s play on the two stages allowing you to party into the night! The location in an arboretum is just beautiful, the bars and food are cheap and fab, and the sense of community between campers is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The perfect small festival for the adventurous. In 2018 Wildfire has moved dates to 31 Aug – 3rd Sept. Read more about our time there here.
The big one. My pilgrimage. So much preparation goes into Glasto, it’s 5 days of incredible intensity but it’s so worth it. This year was no exception. We actually had sunshine for the most part! I successfully orchestrated my 20+ friends arriving on site and camping together in our favourite spot in Big Ground, from then on it was party, party, party with some amazing performances, experiences and fancy dress. Friday night watching Major Lazer then dancing till the AM in Arcadia was a particular highlight. So much happened at Glasto this year that it’s difficult to summarise, but you can read about our entire adventure from start to finish here. Sadly there’s no Glastonbury in 2018 ( 😞 ), they need to let the land have a year off to recover but you can be sure I’ll be back at Worthy Farm in 2019 for my 10th Glasto.
British Summer Time hosts a series of one-day festival style concerts in Hyde Park every summer, and I was lucky enough to go along to Kings of Leon, supported by The Pixies, Nathaniel Ratecliffe & the Night Sweats, Frightened Rabbit, Deaf Havana and a few more. The weather was fantastic, and the arena had everything you need despite being full of corporate sponsorship (but that does means lots of freebies!). Thom and I had an amazing day, read more about it here, however Kings of Leon themselves were somewhat of a let down, with quite a low tempo set. The headliners for next year have been announced, I’m hoping to make it to the Cure or Bruno Mars myself.
In a field near Winchester lies the aptly named Blissfields festival. A beautiful site nestled between the trees becomes home for a weekend to a few thousand revellers, and this year my friend Lara and I headed down for three days of incredible sunshine. The festival is more aimed at families but still had lots of life well into the party hours. You can even book a hot air balloon ride! Our favourite acts were Sundara Karma and Metronomy, but we also enjoyed exploring the smaller areas in the daytime like Angel Gardens, the Old Mout Kiwi Camp, and the “beach”. We also ate some incredible food. Read about the full experience here! In 2018 Blissfields is changing it’s formula, going back to it’s roots, and becoming “Blisscamp“. I’m excited to find out what’s in store!
2017 saw an end to the Secret Garden Party as we know it, after 15 years of its existence. I personally went to five SGP’s and was very upset that it was ending. My friends and I made sure it went out with a bang however, and had an INCREDIBLE final Party. I would even go so far to say that SGP was my favourite festival of the year, an honour that has always been awarded to Glastonbury but this year, something about SGP just tipped it to the top. I had a really good group with me, I laughed harder than I have ever before, and the vibe was just amazing; everyone came together to secretly party in a garden one last time. Read about all of our antics here. Word on the street is that Freddie Fellowes, the founder of SGP, is working on something completely new for 2019. I’ll be posting about it as soon as anything is announced!
My one working festival of 2017 was Boomtown Fair. I’d signed up to be a supervisor for Boomtown Volunteer stewards, and was on site for a whole week! It was a little tough, especially during the rain and mud of the first two days before the general public arrived, but it was so rewarding. I don’t know any other festival that puts as much thought into the site and the storyline; they literally build a city in the fields near Winchester. You can visit the Wild West, Chinatown, Mayfair or the Lion’s Den (amongst about 8 other districts!). Read about what it’s like to work at a festival, and a more in depth account of my brilliant week at Boomtown here. Next year is Boomtown’s 10th Chapter, and I’ve actually bought a ticket! For the first time I’ll be a ticket holder at BTF rather than a volunteer and I can’t wait!
The big news of Bestival 2017 was their move from the Isle of Wight onto the mainland in Dorset. I was invited along as press which was super exciting! My first ever press invite for Where’s My Tent? Thom & I travelled from London and really enjoyed ourselves! Especially as the journey was much less stressful than it used to be; a simple train down to Lulworth rather than queues and an expensive car ferry over to the island. I really enjoyed the new site too, much easier to get around and the stages were fab. The weather was however, pretty awful, and despite doing all that they could, it did affect the festival quite a lot. Read all about our antics here. Bestival have changed dates next year to early August rather than September, and I’m hoping the weather will therefore be kind to them! There’s also a Circus theme which is very exciting!
Not wanting to rest on my laurels when the UK festival season finished, I sought out some winter festival style events I could visit to tide me over. First up was Winterland (click to read more) in Fulham – a BYOB (bring your own booze) winter pop up area serving amazing alpine-themed food and cocktails. They also had “kurling”, igloos and neon mini golf. It was the perfect place to bring friends for a catch up.
I also visited Winterville (click to read more) in it’s new home on Clapham Common; a slightly larger affair with a full fairground, ice rink, Plonk mini golf, roller disco, Backyard Cinema and food curated by the awesome Street Feast. I loved it here, and have been back twice more! There’s lots to do and is a lot less busy than it’s competitor, Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.
What Festivals others loved
I’ve asked some fellow bloggers to tell me about their favourite festival experiences of 2017:
Luisa: This was the year I went to more festivals than I’ve ever done in one year before… 10 in total! I did a bunch with you Jessi (and I’ve lost count of how many times we were crying from laughter!), but I also headed to 2000 Trees and Reading fest separately. As far as festivals go, these two are more focused on the bands playing than visual spectacles (such as the kind you’ll see at Glasto, SGP, & Bestival – which focus on things to see and do besides the music). Despite this the music was great and the atmosphere at both, although very different, brilliant all the same.
It was my first time at 2000 Trees and I loved the size and layout, it was a much more intimidate festival than one I’ve ever camped at before, but I’ll definitely be going again next year. Reading was just as great as previous years with a pretty awesome line up. Billy Talent were a personal highlight. The weather for the two festivals was completely unexpected – boiling hot sun for the duration of the weekends. I camped at both and was in the guest area – so despite the very warm mornings, my sleep was a little better than it would have been in the general admission camp sites. Looking forward to another jam packed summer next year (and actually quite relieved for a year break from Glasto…!), however I’m not sure I’ll manage 10 in one summer again!
Shelley: My favourite festival I attended would have to be Download. It was my second time visiting & it was even better than the first. The relaxed atmosphere is perfect for me & this year we even had sun (don’t forget your suncream; I got very burnt). I loved the music & even when we weren’t hunting down our favourite bands it was lush to lay in the sun at the main stage & discover new music. Download is the place to go for a friendly atmosphere, great food & to have a great laugh with friends.
Laura: I went to Burning Man at the end of August. It’s an experience you can’t compare to anything else because of the rough conditions and moon like landscape in the middle of the desert in Nevada. It’s a huge playground for adults with stunning art; an 80 thousand people city with it’s own rules and community that disappears in a week.
(Comment from Jessi: I’ve been trying for the past two years to get tickets to Burning Man! Let’s hope maybe 2018 is my year! It looks incredible!)
Rhian: I am a bit of a festival addict and while I love the long weekends spent camping out, my favourite year in year out is Slam Dunk Festival and 2017 was incredible. The line-up is always amazing so I tend to do two of the three shows each year and 2017 saw me head to Birmingham on Saturday and London (Hatfield) on Monday to experience it. Enter Shikari played their debut album ‘Take To The Skies’ in full which was such an important album for me. I also caught some of my favourite bands play the main stage like Bury Tomorrow and Beartooth but it’s always one of the best places to discover new music which is what I found myself doing with the likes of Vukovi, Milk Teeth and Ice Nine Kills
Uju: We absolutely love Camp Bestival. Despite this year’s crazy mud and windstorms that swept several tents (and sadly, festival-goers) away on the first night, 2017 was still a blast. Leftfield headlining, hot chocolate and midnight story time with my boys, fireworks finale over the castle. So magical. Our highlights include Big Fish Little Fish family raving in the Bollywood tent, and Rob da Bank and Tayo’s annual tribute to Prince, that always brings a tear to my eye. It’s the best family festival ever
So what am I planning for Next Year?
So what have I got in store for next year? At the moment I’ve only booked tickets to Snowboxx (an awesome ski & snowboard festival in the Alps, and which will be my first non-UK festival!), We Are Fstvl, and Boomtown Fair. I’m starting a new job in the new year so I’m waiting to see how flexible I can be on holiday etc. But I’m hoping to go to Tomorrowland as I’ve always wanted to, (with Glasto having a fallow year this would be the perfect time), and also would love to get to Beatherder, Nozstock, and Wilderness each for the first time. I’d also ideally love to return to Bestival, Blissfields (Blisscamp this year), and Shambala. Which ones I make it to all depends on when I can get holiday time, but I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my Instagram when I book anything!