Boomtown – one of the best UK festivals of the summer

As it gets really cold and dark this week, it’s worth a little nostalgic look back at a fave new festival of ours in the UK. 

I have a confession though, the first day I arrived at Boomtown, I thought I’d made a mistake. There was a slight admin error about the wristband I’d been given and I sat for an hour in the rain and wind, forlornly waiting for the gate staff to take pity on me. (Which to their credit they did eventually and I was finally able to camp in the press campsite along with my other journo mates).

Just for the record, I am of an age that some people consider slightly too long in the tooth to be living in a canvas house and boogying my tush off for three days. To them I say, ‘you’re only as old as the walls you build in your mind.’ One of my companions is 70 and still going. (So there!) OK, so he goes to bed earlier than we do but he’s still in… and loving it!

Nonetheless, that first day trudging for miles to the campsite, with the wind and rain blowing in my ear, struggling through hordes of very young wastrels and past campsites with tents clinging to the hillside at 45 degrees, I felt like Sisyphus’s less committed older cousin and thought I might want to go home then and there.

Come the next morning though, the sun shooed the wind and clouds away and revealed festivalniks from across the demographic spectrum and with a little exploration showed the breadth, size and unique delights of this frankly bonkers village that falls from the sky onto Hampshire for a week each year in mid August. 

What is Boomtown?

I won’t go into the exact narratives, (because I didn’t really listen when I was told) but the basic idea is that there’s one central plot that holds all the areas together. There is a range of theatrical areas and stages that make you feel like you’ve been transported to a bunch of Hollywod movie sets. Within this context there appear a range of great bands, hidden bars, clubs and unusual experiences designed to make your time here as magical as possible.

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So what did I get up to? I took part in a very Iberian-flava mosh wave to Gogol Bodello, shook my ass to Groove Armada and tried as hard as I could to enjoy a set by the Streets. There were pleasurable hours spent flicking hooves at the psytrance area and drum ‘n’ bass clubs, but I think the most fun was had in the old town. There is always a secret door to knock on and discover something peculiar going on. Actors are peppered throughout the fest to keep it interesting and I had mucho fun interacting with a whole host of people you definitely only meet at festivals.

What makes Boomtown so special?

I tend to go to to three or four festivals per summer and each has its own flavour. So my best advice is to find the one or two that suit you and stick to those. To sum up the flavour of this one: Big, theatrical, unpredictable, varied, magical, safe, (very chemical – it must be said), and with slightly nervy security throughout the fest. Oh and quite bonkers. Sound like your bag?

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I realised something on my last night, eating a vegan sushi wrap on a hill, watching the happy hordes go by. Festivals are the place British culture re-energises itself. They are beating heart of an eccentric, musical and fun-loving people. It’s not on social media, nor in politics; but at festivals that the Brits keep themselves grounded, sane and happy. I strongly recommend you join the fray. It’s so much fun and well worth the creature comfort limitations for a couple of days. Boomtown is thriving and it’s easy to see why. I’ll be back for sure. 

Tickets

Tickets for next year are available now: https://www.boomtownfair.co.uk/

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