We speak to Boomtown organisers as they reinvent the festival for 2021

Boomtown Forest

Boomtown has revealed the next incarnation of the musical and theatrical event; Chapter One: The Gathering.  They have announced they are resetting; they are no longer going to release the line up prior to the event, have changed the layout of the festival and introduced a new story and have reduced ticket prices.

Gig Addict speaks to the Boomtown Festival organisers as they embrace changes for the future of the event.

Looking forwards… we can only guess, but are you more hopeful for next year? As an annual festival that has grown so rapidly over the last decade or so, we rarely have time to take stock and really reflect on where the festival is going. Whilst the circumstances that led to us having an enforced break were devastating across the globe, it gave us the chance to look at how we really want to evolve. We’ve been able to really scrutinise all areas of Boomtown and look at how we can improve it operationally, how we enhance all of the best bits and how we can embed our ethos more firmly into our event. This time has allowed us to reset and ensure our ethos, creativity and ambition are all part of one combined vision and that’s really exciting.

After watching the latest Boomtown video releases it feels like the festival is hitting a bit of a rest button. Will this year’s cancellation have a lasting effect on the future of the festival, what changes are the team making? Yes, it certainly is a reset and we have definitely made some changes! Prepare yourself because every main stage is a new stage and the intricate themed districts have all found new homes. We have the same breadth of music on the line up if not more and as ever there will be thousands of performers and creatives animating the detailed set design, but this will be in a way we have never done before!

After embracing the chance to pause and reflect throughout the summer months, when the global pandemic put a halt to all festivals and mass gatherings, Boomtown has announced they are “Resetting from the foundations to allow us to really get things right and to be the forward-thinking, progressive, and inspirational festival community we know we can be. By starting a brand new story with Chapter One: The Gathering, this allows us even more scope to start afresh, with our ethos, creativity and ambition all aligning into one combined vision.”

Boomtown will all now be located in what was previously known as ‘Downtown Boomtown’.

Every main stage is a brand new concept and nestled deep into magical district surroundings. Around the city will be the beautiful, forest chillouts and woodland parties we love to escape to.

Will the festival be carrying over any of the line-up to next year or will it be a fresh set of acts​? It will be a mix of both! You can expect a fresh new music programme, but you can also expect to see many of the artists from the 2020 lineup performing in 2021. ​The Music team have had six more months to plan for this, so there are some exciting plans afoot!

What do you think of these social distancing events? Is there plans in place if Boomtown can go ahead next year but with restrictions? Would indoor stages and the micro venues still be part of the event? At the moment there is still uncertainty around the guidelines and it is too early to go into great detail over what measures we need to have in place. ​For now, all we can do is focus on what we can prepare and what is within our power to control, which means that we know, creatively, musically and atmospherically Boomtown 2021 will be an unforgettable show unlike anything we’ve done before

How important do you think the immersive storyline is to the success of the festival? Will the maze, storylines continue into future events? There will always be a storyline. Boomtown at its heart is a living theatre with a long history and an ongoing narrative. It’s really liberating to be starting afresh with a clean slate and a world of new wonders to discover as we restart our story in our vision of a post pandemic world.

Commenting on the change in music strategy, the Boomtown team says; “We have spent months debating whether this was the right thing to do but what is clear, is that there are many aspects to the way the music industry runs that don’t work for independent festivals. The complex process of releasing a music line-up with the exclusivity, billing and escalating costs has led us to decide this is the time to rethink the way we approach it and explore new ways of doing things.”

We have always been a creatively led festival and people attend Boomtown because of the overall experience; we will continue to book incredible headline artists, and all the festival favourites, but by approaching our programming announcements in this radical way, we can create lineups that are even more phenomenal and diverse than we have ever been able to before.

Another change released in today’s announcement is that Boomtown has reimagined the festival layout. The Main City and its unique worlds will all now be located in what was previously known as ‘Downtown Boomtown’. Every main stage is a brand new concept and nestled deep into magical district surroundings. For the first time ever we will be using every inch of the ‘Downtown’ valley to build up the most detailed festival city we’ve ever dreamt up! Around the city will be the beautiful, forest chillouts and woodland parties we love to escape to.”

Boomtown have been reduced ticket prices, and all existing ticket holders receive a partial refund. Tickets are expecting to shift quickly as people retained this years event and the capacity of the event has been reduced. Buy Tickets

Did many ticket holders go for refunds or did most rollover? How important do you think is it that people support the live music industry at this time of crisis, especially the independents that may not have the support of the big business? We have been so humbled by the support we have had. Over 90% of 2020 tickets were rolled over, which has meant we were able to continue and plan for 2021. We are an independent festival and COVID has undeniably hit the festival and creative industries hard. So many people are going through a lot right now and having been on the receiving end of so much love, and in return we wanted to show our thanks and ​have reduced the ticket price to make Boomtown as affordable as possible.

This time, as part of this newly announced reset, Boomtown has made the bold decision to no longer release the line up ahead of the event, keeping the majority of acts secret until just before the festival.

Sustainability and environmental impact was a big message from the past few events can you tell us how Boomtown will push on with the message and the difference it made? Respecting the planet is of huge importance to us. It’s something we have made real headway with over the years and as part of our evolution it’s an area which remains integral to our ethos. It’s part of how we build Boomtown, from the very foundations of the city right through to being inextricably linked to the story and experience everyone, from crew to public have when they are part of the city. ​If we can use our platform to inspire positive change, both for everyone at the festival and at home that would be an amazing thing.

Do you feel mass testing is the answer to getting the music and festival industry back on its feet? Is there a point we just have to let the music play and allow people to make their own decisions?The festival industry as a whole is looking at the concept of COVID-19 testing as a way to allow festivals to operate in a more normal way. However, these are very early, exploratory conversations only and we will update you on any developments as soon as we are in a position to do so.

Boomtown is famed for its micro-venues that you can lose yourself in at the festival and next year will be no different. Its streets will be bursting with small venues, sideshows and infinite detail. These mini worlds will be brought to life with more actors and performers than have ever been gathered in our history. There will be grand openings and spectacular closing ceremonies. New roaming rave vehicles will circulate the city for everyone to jump on and off, there will be endless secret party rooms, pop-up sound systems on every street corner and buskers down every alley. 

Right bang in the middle of the Main City is Grand Central Plaza, a huge inviting communal meeting point and place of connection; this mighty beaming tower gives bearings to the city for all and acts as a crossroads into the spiderweb of districts. Surrounding Grand Central Plaza are six completely themed district areas. Each district will have a brand new main stage representing a specific collection of music styles.

Boomtown of celebrates the best in reggae, roots, folk and world music as well as being home for ska, metal and punk. Also representing all underground sides of the electronic spectrum from house, disco and techno to drum n bass, jungle, hip-hop and heavier styles of gabba, hardcore and psytrance! 

Check out previous festival highlights