The annual Boomtown Fair grabs your average UK festival and throws it into the stewing pot, adding a heavy emphasis on immersive storyline, and stage designs, that are blown so far out of proportion that only Glastonbury comes close. Then they sprinkle a thousand-and-one paid actors to guide you on your travels through the eight distinct districts, each being home to at least one main stage, and a selection of small-to-medium sized street venues.
Womad, now in it’s 37th year, saw temperatures rocket to 38 degrees on the Thursday as we arrived from Brighton in several traffic jams to Wiltshire at the hottest part of the day, the trees were still and not one cloud gave us hope of shelter from the relentlessly burning sun. After the rather sweaty process of erecting our tents we celebrated with a beer and a seat under the awning and took in the surroundings made uniquely distinctive and beautifully enhanced especially for Womad by the hundreds of flags made by Angus Watt for 25 of those years.
When done right, festivals achieve a special kind of magic. Brainchild is a festival that’s done right. Not-for-profit, serious about social issues yet gloriously fun, and a celebration of artistic expression and personal freedom, it has that particular magic in spades.
Now into its eighth year, Brainchild has become an indelibly inked-in fixture in the summer calendar for many, and first-timers are in the minority.
I woke up Tuesday morning with a strange feeling, as though there was a hole inside me. A space that I didn’t know was there before, was now empty – I was homesick. Not of my two-bedroom flat in Brixton, but of my two-person tent in a muddy field in Winchester.
Every music festival is built on the promise of one thing – fun – and none fulfils this promise as exceptionally as Boomtown. A sprawling, make-believe fantasy town now in its ninth episode, which provides immersion and depth in its story-telling and entertainment that is likely unrivalled anywhere else in the country.
The first leg of our journey was a truly epic Southern Fail! After four trains and six hours we arrived, at last, in good dry weather. Beautiful Womad, flags and banners lining every pathway set amongst green landscape and plentiful trees. We felt our burdens of the week ebb away within moments, as every festival should make you feel.
Womad Festival celebrates cultural expression from all over the globe and has been around since 1982 when Peter Gabriel with a few other like-minded creatives put it together. Womad combines music, arts, dance, spoken word, food (cookery classes), laughter, yoga, mindfulness workshops and talking books – but music in particular amongst a wealth of other experiences.
In its 35th year, Womad brings everyone together and has something for all ages. One of the biggest selling points is how it caters for the kids. World of Children and the Mayflower Project with henna tattooing, hair braiding and craft upcycling which keeps the kids entertained for hours, much to the parents delight. There’s also the teens tent with Molly’s Bar next door and for slightly younger adults (and some older) there’s the Lizard Lounge with its pumping tunes until dawn/until the last person drops.
Arriving late on Friday we came for the music. Here’s a few of our personal favourites and some perhaps more interesting artists.
So the time had come for The Great Escape’s ‘Spring Party’. However ‘Spring’ was certainly not in the air. Brighton seemed pretty deserted until I arrived at The Green Door Store which was buzzing with anticipation for an evening of great music.