Friday, 26 June 2009
If you’re in the UK and haven’t been hiding in a cave for the last few weeks, you’ll know that there’s something big going on in a series of muddy fields in the south of England this weekend. Yes, it’s Glastonbury time (haha listen to this), and right now you’re either there, wandering through the madness wearing wellies and a big grin, or are instead sulking at home/work, and wishing you were with the throngs of those eating overpriced festival food and losing their friends while watching some peculiar trapeze act. Well, banish that envy, Pick of the Week’s here to cheer you up… as with excitement and anticipation, we welcome you to Pick of the Week’s Guide to Summer Festivals 2009!
Here we present a selection of our favourite up-coming festivals, large and small (it’s all exclusive like, and not some bumper comprehensive guide), followed by some tried-and-tested tips for how to survive the ones you attend, personally passed on by the Artsbloggers. As well as being damn good fun, as advocates of high-quality creative activity we really do recommend you get yourself to a festival this summer. These magical weekends often provide a very unique space for liberation from ‘normal’ behaviour, and through this, can be particularly conducive to the fostering of new ideas and the partaking in of all things artistic. This shaking up of usual patterns of behaviour creates what cultural analyst Dragan Klaic calls ‘experimental zones of sociability’ – basically you talk others and participate in activities that you usually wouldn’t, thus opening yourself up to a whole host of experiences that would be beyond your reach in your everyday life.
SECRET GARDEN PARTY
A particularly good one for a proper out-of-the-ordinary experience is Secret Garden Party, which has been put forward for inclusion in the Festival Guide by Carly. Running from 23rd to 26th July this festival is all about getting back to nature and enjoying one great big playground in a field. Frolics aplenty as you participate in games, theatrical events, dressing up and having a laugh. Headlining are Rodrigo Y Gabriela who are A-mazing with a capital A. Carly saw them support Muse at Wembley, and they filled the Stadium with beautiful, fun and heart-racing classical guitar music. This will be a really relaxed and good time affair, she assures us!
For another festival that’s ‘more than just a music festival’ (their tagline), Lindsey recommends Latitude Festival in Southwold, Suffolk from 16th – 19th July. Now in its fourth edition Latitude continues to inspire and innovate offering the very best from the worlds of music, film, comedy, theatre, cabaret, dance, poetry, literature and art. With stunning individual performance spaces dedicated to each of the arts, the arenas are treasure troves of talent, with open doors and inviting atmospheres. Sit back and be entertained by over 700 performers or participate and learn a new skill in the many workshops on offer, there are new experiences round every corner. Latitude encourages you to open your mind, embrace the unknown and try everything; a fun-filled, cultural adventure by the sea – sounds like the ideal weekend away.
A bit further afield, Joanne’s recommendation is Dour Festival in Belgium, which she’ll be going to in July. Running from July 16th-19th, (uh-oh, it’s this one or Latitude then…choose wisely!) this promises to be a treat of music new and old, from dubstep to reggae and from rock to hiphop. The festival takes place on the planes of western Belgium, shaped by the legacy of the coal mining industry. Punters from all over Europe traditionally flock to Dour every year, meaning the festival-goers in attendance are an interesting and varied lot. Join them and discover a plethora of new music to brighten your year until next festival season.
NEW WORKS NEW WORLDS
For something a bit different, Richard recommends the New Works New Worlds festival at the Arches, Glasgow (which yes, he is performing at, but I’m sure his recommendation is entirely impartial!), from 1st – 4th July. This festival is an overtly political event, encouraging artists of any discipline to explore links to global and political contexts in their work. The emphasis is on grass-roots experimentation, with a series of unique commissions staged in the dramatic setting of The Arches – the cavernous space underneath Glasgow’s Central Station. The website commands you ‘dare to imagine the world anew’ – we heartily concur!
Rosalie’s pick is Shambala, a great, small, creative festival that takes place in Northamptonshire over the August bank holiday weekend – although exactly where it is won’t be revealed until you get your ticket. Over 100 music acts are lined up to play across the festival’s three stages this year, and there’s plenty besides the music too, with a Cabaret Village, Multi-Media Blackout tent, Healing and Craft areas and a whole are dedicated to campaigns, workshops, cinema and debates. Get involved in the traditional Fancy Dress Carnival, the gurning competition or get wet in the hot-tub field.
Whichever you decide on, each of these festivals promise to be a unique and highly entertaining experience, we hope you’ve found our suggestions inspiring. To finish off, some of our Artsbloggers have provided their own handy survivor tips to make sure you get the most out of all the festivals you go to this summer, and can dance your socks off without getting trench foot.
My tip top tips for any festival is pack hardly anything! Forget the outside world and indulge in the temporary commune! Get messy, walk around by yourself for a while and see who you meet. At Glastonbury my mate went to bed triumphant that he had managed to find his tent and awoke the next morning to find he was in somebody else's!
My number one festival tip is what I have dubbed, "The portaloo kit". First off, spring for some really nice toilet roll - not only does the nice stuff require that you use less, and therefore lasts longer, it's an excellent tool for booze bargaining when everyone else has run out. Second, invest in a mini deoderant/body spray - check out Boots or Superdrug for some good ones, and spray liberally in the portaloo before you go in. This is the only way not to suffocate in the heady mix of heat and unpleasant odour trapped in those things. Lastly, always takes baby wipes. Good for SO many things. Wiping the seat, wiping your hands, wiping your... self. These things will see you through the entire festival, not just toilet trips! Oh, and kids, always remember, never wear sandals in the portaloos. NEVER.
Always venture beyond the main stages. You can go and see people in concert any day of the week, but you will only get that festival feeling when you venture into the magical orchards, adventure into the falconry and get lost in trash city. If you are heading to Glastonbury (in which case you’ll most likely be reading this on your return), I highly recommend going to see YOU ME BUM BUM TRAIN, who’ll be setting up camp in Trash City… head over to the Plane and enjoy the magic.
A good tip when considering the long trek from car (/bike/coach) to campsite is that space in your rucksack is key…with this in mind, pack loo roll but take the roll from the centre out so that you can pack it flat. Also, bring a compactable jerry can, its great to have a big pot of water near you when you wake up in a boiling hot tent at 11am. Finally, don’t be fooled into thinking that Pot Noodles suddenly taste ok, just because you’re at a festival. They’re nasty! Instead, always bring a portable stove and food, you can cook amazing things at a festival with just a little imagination and a few cool boxes – saving yourself a bag of money in the process. We have made beef bourguignon and ratatouille and rice in the past… can you beat that this year?
Are these tips useful? Do you have a portaloo horror story? Or want to share your recommendations for the best, most secret, most wonderful festival that we’ve missed out? Leave your thoughts in the comments section, we’d love to hear them!