BoomTown Fair has established itself as one of Europe’s most creative and inspiring events on the festival scene. With its diverse line ups, crazy story-lines and immersing festival-goers within the narrative. The festival becomes a temporary city for 4 days a year, complete with nine districts across four areas and festival goers become citizens of this creative landscape that reflects the current global society.
The event is simply fields ahead of every other festival on the UK and maybe even world calendar. From epic stage designs to “street” performances from actors around the site. You can truly immerse yourself in the festival, it’s atmosphere and the ongoing, ever expanding story-line.
BoomTown Fair is split into four areas with nine totally individual districts – HillTop (Mayfair, OldTown, Wild West) DownTown (Barrio Loco, ChinaTown and DSTRKT 5), Temple Valley (TrenchTown & Sector 6) and Whistlers Green Area (Whistlers Green and KidzTown). Each area as a number of main stages totaling 24 stages across the site with an extra 80+ “street venues”. Crossing musical journeys from district to district, each district as an individual theme with the acts playing reflecting the area. The stages and area settings are just out of this world. The attention to detail is second to none.
This year the story-line seemed to reflect the real world environment of the divide between rich and poor, with growing discontent and unrest spreading throughout the barrios and districts of Boomtown. With the once great leader of Boomtown becoming more detached from reality. The revolution started gathering momentum with theatre actors encouraging festival goers to get involved in the narrative.
With so much going on and the stages so vast and impressive it’s easy to forget this is a music festival! Live bands and DJ’s are handpicked to represent districts and areas across the festival city. With each district, area and stage having a theme and different musical genre.
Late night fun at Boomtown is by far the best of any festival we have attended. In fact no festival comes close, not even the mighty Glastonbury. From an Irish pub with acoustic performances, to a lip sync – karaoke club with performances from festival-goers including Bowie and The Rolling Stones. From theatre performances immersing festival goers into the story line to late night DJ sets on some of the most impressive stages in the world. The variety on offer can be overwhelming, but focusing on one area a night really helps.
The most jaw dropping stages of the festival included the Bang Hai Palace, a gargantuan structure partly designed by the team at Tomorrowland with a loose China based theme. Newest stage, Section 6, fiting into the expanding story line being the home of the rebel leaders and forces. Town Centre was the stage we found drawn to the most during the day and evenings, a Georgian-style town hall with video mapping engulfing the full stage and set throughout the evenings. Lions Den is set in a huge bowl-shaped field, with waterfalls, inferno of flames and lasers. It’s hard to distinguish the main stage, second stage, third stage etc, but with the popularity of acts and crowd attendance Lions Den and Town Centre are the main attractions for festival-goers from day to evening. With Bang Hai Palace and Section 6 being the busiest nighttime areas.
The charming areas of the festival include the Woodland stages dotted around the site, providing relaxing and shaded areas when the sun was beating down. Away from the madness was Whistlers Green, a garden paradise with small outdoor stages, tented stages, a central fire, cafes, chill-out areas, activities, workshops, crafts and education spaces. Both seemed a million miles away from the colossal stage structures and chaos.
A few musically highlights for us included:-
The Levellers – offering up a mighty fine catalogue that has stood the test of time.
Fun Lovin’ Criminals – Morgan’s onstage banter is always entertaining, being a great raconteur. FLC never disappoint and the band still sound as fresh as they did when they released ‘Come Find Yourself’ over 20 years ago. Highlights of the set included Scooby Snacks and Smoke Em.
Circe’s Diner – playing an intimate tent at Whistlers Green, the band are possibly the highlight of the festival for us. Feeling a bit delicate after a few heavy nights, Circe’s Diner helped us back round with their heartwarming sweet harmonies and folky goodness.
Madness – The band never fail to get the party started. Despite what seems like endless touring and festival appearances, Madness sense of energy is very impressive. Offering up their biggest hits to the delight of the huge crowd. A special shout out to the twat selling nos gas that made us move closer to the stage to get away from the never ending canister emptying sound.
Fat Freddy’s Drop – to try and define them is nearly impossible. Reggae soul, blues edge, a touch of jazz with a dub undertone. With very little publicity the band have gained a mass of followers and it’s easy to see why.
A quick note about the food and drink on offer… just WOW! Nearly every cuisine you could think of. Stalls range from amazing locally sourced produce to festival favourites, as well as some quirky options. The Town Centre bar it felt as if there was a mini beer festival going on, lots of choice of beers ranging from light beers to dark heavyweights. A great atmosphere in the evening, it felt as if you were going to your local pub. There were also plenty of ciders and spirits with mixers on offer throughout the site. Any festival that serves Leffe on tap is a five star festival when it comes to food and drink. Thanks for the weight gain and bad heads!
While most festivals have become bloated, tired and lost their way or sold their souls to the devil (with too much corporate sponsorship), Boomtown Fair feels fresh and creative. Truly an atmospheric whirlwind. Who needs aging rock stars playing a gig in a field when Boomtown is offering up the most spectacular show you’ll ever see. Take what you think is a good festival and turn it on it’s head. This is not just a music festival, it’s a theatrical production that immerses festival-goers. If you want a real festival experience then Boomtown Fair is the only way to go, long may it reign.