Category Archives: Festival Reviews

Find out what I got up to at the summer’s festivals.

Melbourne | The magic of Rainbow Serpent Festival

IMG_1219I waited a whole year to experience the magic of Rainbow Serpent Festival. I arrived in Melbourne this time last year, just three days after this incredible festival took place, I was devastated to have missed it but having been deep in the outback completing my farm work there was simply no way I could make it in time. It was a worthy sacrifice – those last three days of farm work meant I got the opportunity to stay in Australia for another year. Those last three days meant not only could I come back to Melbourne, one of my favourite cities in the world, but that I could get a second chance to experience life over the rainbow.IMG_2566IMG_2547For those who don’t know about Rainbow Serpent, it’s the ultimate in hippy trippy dreamland fun. Deep in the Victorian countryside that can only be described as desert in the 35 degree heat, a few small fields are filled with around 10,000 colourful, bright, passionate and excited souls for just a few days. Reminiscent of festivals like Secret Garden Party and Boomtown Fair in the UK, the festival is the kind of celebration that brings together a huge range of people, some pretty interesting characters and some seriously beautiful souls for a few days of creativity and magic.IMG_2564IMG_2551This year celebrating it’s 20th anniversary, the festival is a veteran amongst others and you can tell on arrival, many of those pulling up in camper vans to the most incredible campsites filled with marquees, sofas, outlandish decorations and the rest, are people who have been going for years. The kind who exclaim with sheer happiness when you disclose that this is your first Rainbow Serpent, their faces light up at getting to witness you experiencing the magic for the very first time. It’s easy before you go to feel like everyone just gets caught up in the hype or that it couldn’t possibly be as good as they say. IMG_2548IMG_2562Well, as a well seasoned festival veteran, I can safely say that the hype doesn’t even do the festival justice. Rainbow Serpent blew my mind – not just the music and the stages, the theatre and the arts, the yoga and the creativity. It was the people, the incredible collection of people passionate about one cause – making it the best celebration of Rainbow Serpent yet. Time and time again we were blown away by the amazing characters we met, experienced and then parted ways never to see each other again – but the most important thing was that we shared that one moment together.IMG_2565IMG_2550I was an incredibly lucky girl during this festival – the kindness of strangers has never been more apparent. Two of my friends were determined for me to attend the festival despite my already having given up on finding a ticket. They pushed one friend into tracking me down a ticket and when that one fell through he went to the ends of the earth to find me a replacement – whats the big deal you ask? This guy had never even met me but went to an incredible level of effort to not only ensure I experienced Rainbow Serpent but that I had the most amazing time possible. I travelled up with a friend from work and we spent the next few days camping with an amazing group of people – I couldn’t have put together a better bush doof crew if I tried.IMG_2567IMG_2560The bare basics – we hired a car from Hertz who I would never hire from again, overly expensive and extremely rude staff who constantly tried to overcharge us for things they hadn’t pre-disclosed. We borrowed a tent from a friend, filled up eskis with ice, beers and boxes of pasta – going prepared saved us a lot of money on food. The festival was totally BYO so we went prepared with bottles of vodka and rum decanted into plastic bottles (no glass at the festival) and lots of ciders and beers. Costumes and a hell of a lot of glitter filled ur bags, but everything else we needed was already at the festival or in our amazing campsite. We were in North camping, just a short walk from the Market Stage which was filled with the most amazing music almost 24/7, the food stalls which had a great selection, and the chill-out areas.IMG_2563IMG_2561Although the music is the main event and I had an fantastic time watching the acts, there was a lot more to the festival with plenty of amazing fun for kids, healing and massage areas, talks on everything from depression to psychedelics and society, creative workshops on survival skills, yoga and meditation, and art. There was so much going on and so much to do, you didn’t want to sleep or waste a single second. It was an absolutely amazing event and I well and truly give it the Absolutely Lucy stamp of approval – if you’re backpacking Australia and happen to be in Melbourne around January next year, I really recommend picking up a ticket. Trust me this festival is a life-changing experience and you won’t regret splashing the money. IMG_1218

Photos provided by myself and Hannah Gunstone, even they don’t do the festival justice but they certainly give you a taste of the fun!

Have you been to Rainbow Serpent – tell me about your festival highlights? What other festivals have you been to while travelling?

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Wireless Festival, BBQs and summer reunions

13590372_10154252356975320_729683975418578408_nThis one is a little later than the usual Monday morning post, but I make no apologies – I was off having far too much fun at the weekend and that’s what this blog is all about! My weekend was filled with festival fun, barbecues and sunshine – the perfect English summer weekend and a great excuse to be reunited with a lot of old friends I’ve missed so much since I disappeared off to the other side of the world. After a ridiculously long two-and-a-half years since we last saw each other, I was finally reunited with five of the six girls who made my university experience incredible. Each one of these special humans, and one more who sadly couldn’t make it along, were with me through every high and low, through every horrible exam and every drunken night – we started together and we finished it together. This might not sound that incredible to you – I know what you’re thinking, everyone makes friends at university and goes through the same things – but the difference is we graduated five years ago. We’re scattered all over now working different jobs, living different lives and following different dreams, and with me travelling the world, it’s not easy to keep this friendship going. We work hard at making sure we stay in contact, at being there for each other when times are tough and at organising reunions when we can, but it’s not easy to see each other as often as we would like.13592821_10157086175820655_1765592331929799551_n So when we finally do get to meet up, it’s a whirlwind of a weekend filled with catching up, dancing the night away, making beautiful memories to carry us through to the next reunion and maintaining the connections that make this group special. Why am I writing about this? Because I used to know so many groups of friends at university who I know no longer keep in contact, I too have friends from school who have fallen by the wayside as our lives grew in opposite directions. It’s hard to keep friendships alive when you’re on the opposite side of the world, heck it’s hard enough to keep them going when you live two hours down the road from each other let alone in a different time zone. We all grow up and we all create this amazing life for ourselves but it’s often difficult to make space for everyone, so it’s important put in the extra work to keep it going with those special individuals. It is actually possible to still keep those university and school friendships going five, ten, twenty years down the line and to preserve what was special about them from the start – it just takes time, patience and a lot of love.13615069_10157089350700655_3137137395394220610_nThis weekend’s reunion was at Wireless Festival – we went along for the Saturday when Chase and Status were set to headline, with the likes of J Cole, Wilkinson, Krept and Konan, Craig David and many more performing. With a few of the girls living in London, it was a perfect opportunity for a girly sleepover and to bring along some other old friends we hadn’t seen for a while. It was also a good excuse to relive some of the fun we had when we organised a huge weekend trip to Parklife Festival in Manchester a few years ago – any excuse for good music, ciders in the sun and a lot of fun. I was really excited because I hadn’t actually been to Wireless Festival before and you all know how much I love my festivals – this would be my first one in almost two years as I didn’t manage to squeeze in any during my travels! Our hostess lived not far from Finsbury Park so we stopped off there to glitter up and get ready – there’s nothing more fun than getting ready with your girls – then headed to the festival grounds. Despite the masses of people attending the festival we easily found our friends and made our way into the park without having to wait more than a few minutes. A well established festival, I was impressed at the speed of service on the gates and at the bars later on, it was clear the organisers knew what they were doing and had made every effort to ensure everyone had a great day and didn’t waste time in queues.13619822_10157089349005655_2306554507262899929_nWe were excited to see Chase and Status, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen them live now but they never disappoint, and I couldn’t wait to see Wilkinson again. After spending the last two years travelling Asia and Australia, one thing I had really missed was good drum and bass and the fantastic UK electronic acts, they just have a much grittier sound than the house I hear everywhere over there. I more than got my fill after about ten minutes of standing near the Smirnoff stage which had some incredible music coming from it from the very beginning of the day. I meant to head back there later on but completely forgot as we stumbled across more great acts. It’s always tricky trying to manoeuvre your way around a festival and several stages when you have a group of around 10 people to keep track of, but we did a pretty good job. We made it to all of the performances we wanted to see – for me Wilkinson and Chase and Status were the absolute highlights, both dropping their classics Afterglow and Blind Faith to ecstatic screams from the crowd. But I know my girls were also seriously loving J Cole and Krept and Konan earlier in the day. We were a little disappointed that Craig David was just doing a DJ set instead of performing, but at least it meant we didn’t mind when we couldn’t get inside the tent because there were so many people crowding the entrances.13612114_10153616640412617_3033065007156393811_nWireless is a fantastic festival, if you’re not really into camping and don’t want to venture far out of the city, it’s a perfect event to try. It was really easy one for all of us to get to despite coming from all over the country and it was great being able to get day tickets so you could choose which acts you wanted to see and fitted around work. Also, despite attracting so many people to Finsbury Park, the festival never once felt overcrowded or too busy, which I have previously found at other events where there wasn’t enough toilets or space to accommodate people in some of the tents. We also managed to get a great spot in the crowd for every single performance except Craig David, which was a huge plus with so many of us and so many shorties in the gang – there’s nothing worse than not being able to see over the crowd! There was also a much better selection of food on offer and much cheaper drinks than I had expected – ciders were just £5 each – which made a huge difference to the day. I can’t stand when you go to an event and have already forked out a lot of money for a ticket, then have to spend a fortune on bog-standard drinks and mediocre food.13626536_10157090774585655_6456116625256186478_nWireless is also a great event to go people-watching at – I spotted one of my favourite rainbow bloggers, Lulutrixabelle, there looking fabulous as usual. Lots of my girls bumped into random friends they hadn’t seen in ages, and I know there were quite a few celebrities in the crowd that I completely missed. The day finished with an amazing show by Chase and Status rounded off nicely with fireworks, we managed to escape the crowds and make our way home easily which was great, we didn’t fancy getting stuck on the tubes as thousands wandered out of the gates. It was a perfect weekend and was made all the better by the fantastic weather – I had been worried I would be forced to wear wellies but the rain stayed away and it was so warm the whole time. The next day, after the long drive home, I even spent the evening at a barbecue with some other old friends before finally making my way home to my bed. There’s no better feeling than your own bed after a festival whether it was a cheeky day one or a full weekend of camping. For someone who much prefers the full weekend festivals, I was glad to ease myself back into them with a cheeky one-dayer, especially when it was filled with some of my favourite people.

How was your Wireless Festival experience? Which was your fave performance of the weekend? Are you going to any other festivals this summer?

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Melbourne | Partying at St Kilda Festival & White Night | Australia

12742849_10153297889262617_2785038916657325425_nOne of the things I love the most about Melbourne is that there is always something going on. It’s a lively city full of hidden gems and quirky, unusual events and I’ve already lost track of how many unexpected treats I’ve found since exploring the city. From the tiniest little food festivals to the Mardi Gras-esque street parties, there is always something new to discover and where better than to prime your taste in Australian music than by attending St Kilda Festival? Australia’s largest free music festival, the event showcases a range of the country’s national and local talent on huge stages set against the natural beauty of St Kilda’s beach. The event attracts over 400,000 people each year and this year took place on Valentine’s Day, which also just happened to be right in the middle of three of my friends’ birthdays. A perfect time to celebrate.12729295_10153314611102617_352570379247041229_nGetting the whole gang together, we headed to St Kilda in the afternoon where we couldn’t wait to check out the huge range of performances set to take place across ten stages that day. Now we all know by now how much I love my festivals – whether they’re free or expensive, dance or reggae, camping or day events. I love them all and can always find something special at each of them. St Kilda Festival was great – a huge event that has obviously proven a great success by the crowds that poured through the streets. The performances I saw were great and the crowd were clearly enjoying themselves, who couldn’t with a main stage set against the backdrop of the ocean as the sun was setting? My favourite part of the event definitely had to be when I went down to the beach to sit and watch the sun set while listening to the performers on the main stage.12742176_10153314610592617_2808402488505373794_nBut much as we did all enjoy ourselves that day, I couldn’t help but feel the event could have done with being better organised for the of us who aren’t from the area. Being new to Melbourne, and especially to St Kilda, I found it very difficult to navigate between and even locate some of the stages and actually only ended up getting to watch performances on two of the ten stages because it took so long to find our way through the crowds. I saw little to no signs around to direct us and whenever I stopped to ask stewards they seemed to have even less idea what was going on than I did. Very late on we finally found a map of the area, but we had missed most of the things we had really wanted to see. After speaking to a few friends who went along to the event separately to us, it seems they shared some of our experiences and felt the event was a bit over-crowded. Regardless, we still made sure we had a good time, a few ciders in the sunshine and a lot of laughs.9861_10153314609857617_117124694456852418_nJust a few days later, it was White Night and the whole city was abuzz again as Melbourne CBD prepared to put on the biggest show of colour, light and music. Bigger and better than ever the radio and TV stations promised us, so after a quick drink with a friend in St Kilda, I couldn’t resist heading into the city to meet friends for a good look around at the projections. Despite spending six hours wandering around the city, I never actually saw a single one! But don’t worry, we had the time of our lives walking around and discovering the huge range of musical talents hidden around every street corner.12728787_10153314615482617_7942346077139755604_nWe actually ended up sticking around Flinders and Melbourne Central areas as every time we walked down the street we got sucked into watching another epic performance turn into a huge street party with people of all ages dancing in the streets. It was amazing and the atmosphere was electric, it kept me dancing my heart out until 6am despite being completely sober and starving hungry. I was so impressed with the quality of the performances and how diverse they were, on one corner we watched as an incredibly talented acoustic performer mixed DJ skills with guitar and even a touch of saxophone while talking to the crowd throughout. Then just down the road, a DJ had the whole street dancing and further along a fabulous group started a fiesta in the shopping mall with their Mardi Gras vibes. It was a fantastic night and even though I didn’t see what I set out to see, I found some fantastic performers along the way.

Have you been to either of these events – what did you think? Does your city have great local music events like these?

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Melbourne | Sunday raving at Piknic Electronik | Australia

12717599_10153287667397617_7100238901032237172_nNow it wouldn’t be Absolutely Lucy without some raving and staying up past bedtime would it? I’d been such a good girl and barely partied for three months – giving my liver and my wallet a rest after Darwin – but now I was ready to make up for lost time. The weekend after I arrived, a group of us headed to Piknik Electronik – a weekly summer series that celebrates electronic music in beautiful summer settings. First starting out in Montreal, now the event has expanded as far as Barcelona and Melbourne, where it runs every Sunday over around eight weeks. If you’re craving serious festivals vibes but can’t afford a weekend escape from the city, or can’t spare the time off work, this is the perfect answer! I went along to the fourth edition of the event which was featuring South London Ordnance, Secret Cinema, Dean Benson and Andy Hart, on Sunday, February 7, at The Paddock, off Federation Square.942805_10153287667417617_8534522980470638858_nAll of us were in the party mood and couldn’t wait to hit the event, it started at 1pm and was due to run until 9pm, so we headed there about 3pm. We are glad to arrive then because the day was baking hot and there was very little shade at the event – I ended up with the worst sunglasses tan line on my nose! The tickets were really reasonably priced with the top price at $30 but plenty of first, second and third release tickets starting from $15. Also – it’s worth hanging out near Flinders Backpackers and other hostels in the area because Piknic staff were handing out flyers that gave reduced price entry so getting in turned out to be a bargain! Once you’re in, they have a cash-card system for the bars which definitely helps make them less crowded – you just top up a card when you arrive and anything that is left on it at the end of the day, you can claim back. This was great because I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve had money left on cards like these because the bars have been so crowded at festivals and haven’t been able to claim the money back – such a waste!12687770_10153287667517617_1080769753234931222_nThe crowds were already there and we could tell we were in for a good afternoon from the moment we walked in the gates, people were already dancing and having a great time. The event had brought a complete range of people together; from businessmen to backpackers, from teenagers to parents, and the atmosphere was electric. It was fantastic to see such a varied crowd and to see how friendly everyone was, I lost count of the new friends I made that afternoon because everyone was so keen to make new friends and know your story. We had a great day spent dancing, chatting and laughing, a lot, it was a perfect event for the Dingo’s. And the mark of a good mini-festival in the city? When it really does feel like you’re a million miles away from the skyscrapers and bustling streets – with the park nestled against the Yarra riverbank it could’t have felt father away from the tourist trap that is Federation Square. It was great to be somewhere surrounded by all the colour and fun of festivals, but barely any distance from our home and without needing to take the day off work.12651074_10153287668277617_3427740945071616279_nPiknic caters for all tastes – so whether you’re there for the music, the drinks, the food or the fun, you’ll leave satisfied. Instead of stocking the usual rubbish drinks you get at festivals you can get craft beers and summer cocktails, although they were a touch expensive. Every week the event offers a new selection of Melbourne’s own delicious food trucks. And who can forget the little ones? Creating a fun, family environment, the organisers host Little Piknic – a designated children’s area with plenty of activities for them to take part in. I read that last year there were complaints over the lack of toilets and facilities but this year there must have been a big improvement as I didn’t find myself queueing for a toilet all day – a marked improvement on most festivals or music events! Running until 9pm, its the perfect place to see the sunset and to get you ready to rave all night – just a hop, skip and a jump from the CBD clubs – there’s plenty of places to head after to keep the party going.

Can you recommend any other great city events in Melbourne? Have you been to any other great city festivals around the world? 

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A taste of the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival

photo_2This weekend, I had a rare treat of getting to spend an entire day by myself indulging in two of my favourite pastimes, food and shopping. The boyfriend and I headed to Norwich, where he had an Open Day booked in at the university and I was looking forward to spending a day roaming around the city by myself. It was actually, amazingly, the first time I had headed into the city by myself, simply because I am always with friends, family or with Mark. It’s quite funny really, when you consider what an independent person I am, how little time I actually get to spend alone because I am constantly working or busy with various groups of people. So when I do actually get the chance, I relish every second and really make the most of it.

I had a fantastic day on Saturday, there are a few things that happened that I can’t reveal just yet, but some exciting news is on the way. But there is plenty I can tell you about! Lucky me, as a big food-lover and festival-girl, there is nothing much better than combining two of my great loves at a food festival, and it just so happened that the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival is ongoing at the moment. As part of the celebrations, there have been lots of fantastic events organised across the county and Norwich shopping centre, Chapelfield, just had to get in on the action. The venue was hosting The Great Taste Event on both Saturday and Sunday, with a host of entertainment, cookery demonstrations, freebies and much more taking place throughout the mall. This weekend of foodie fun saw masses of people heading to the shopping centre to enjoy free tastings and samples, cookery challenges, fun workshops, live entertainment and lots of great offers over the weekend.photo_1I spent a brilliant few hours working my way around each station, catching live cooking demonstrations from the head chefs at Wagamamas and Yo Sushi, and getting to taste their creations, while picking up a free recipe book, cards and a wooden spoon. I also took part in a mocktail making workshop where I whisked up a “Norfolk Muddle” a delightful blend of tonic water, strawberries, lime and lavender sugar. I picked up free tasters from Cafe Nero, Wagamamas, Yo Sushi, Hotel Chocolat, KFC, Thorntons, Carluccios, ASK Italian, Ed’s Easy Diner and many more. I also caught a very funny cooking skit called Liver Cottage, which saw two rather entertaining characters cooking up a pie and setting their kitchen on fire. It was amazing to see so much going on around the centre and there were loads of people getting involved and enjoying the demonstrations.photo_2I was also lucky enough to pop over to The Forum and find the regular Farmers’ Market ongoing with lots of fabulous local produce on sale and available to try. I love these markets because you really get a chance to enjoy local produce, and with such great stuff on our doorsteps, I don’t understand why people would feel the need to look elsewhere. They had a fantastic cured meats stall, a stall piled high with cakes and fresh loaves, local creamy cheeses with hints of lavender and apricot, a fantastic collection of jerk seasoning, sauces and marinades created by a guy from London, and a stall with lots of tasty chutneys including a lovely samphire one and a spicy parsnip one. For someone, like myself, who considers themselves a bit of a foodie, it was a perfect weekend full of tips and tricks from top chefs, great foodspiration for future meals and, of course, lots of lovely free tasters.photo_4It’s great to have such fantastic foodie events taking place right on your doorstep, and after missing the main event for the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival at Holkham Hall back in August, I was glad to have the chance to check out a smaller version. I’m a big lover of food festivals, not just for the freebies, but more for the chance to try lots of different and often unusual flavour combinations, while learning from the very best. It really helps with inspiration for cooking dishes of my own and I think it is great the way they encourage people to try different foods and flavours that they might not usually be exposed to.

Are you a big food festival lover – what is it that makes food festivals great? Did you go to the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival – what did you think?

Ab Lucy sign off

 

Review: Sundown Festival – The Sun Sets on Another Success

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After a busy summer of touring up and down the country for festivals, how better to finish up than with one that is right on my doorstep for a end of the summer blowout?

Sundown Festival was all set to be a real mind-melter, with a great line-up perfect for everybody from dance music junkies to pop princesses, and it certainly lived up to expectations. Living up here in Norfolk, it is easy to feel like all the bigger artists bypass us on their tours, so it was great to have a chance to see so many on one stage in front of 30,000 music fans. For those who happened to be camping, I hear they were in for a real treat with the exclusive opening party on the Friday night which gave campers the chance to see some great DJ’s warming up the tent that was to house the Defected and RAM labels over the next two days.Sundown 5Rocking up on the Saturday, along with a huge group of raving buddies, we were all ready to party and couldn’t wait to see the main stage all lit up by Chase and Status that night. Walking into the festival in the sunshine – luckily the rain mostly stayed away – I could see it was one of the smallest I have been to yet. This gave it a great exclusive feel and was perfect for the families with young children and large groups who wanted to keep track of each other throughout the day. It was great for us, living nearby meant there were lots of people we knew there and it was quite funny to keep bumping into them. It also meant you could quickly and easily move between the stages so there was no excuse for missing your favourite acts.sundown 2Sadly we arrived just a little too late to catch Foxes’ performance and only heard it from the entrance – but she sounded amazing and I’m sure her performance matched the incredible show she gave at Secret Garden Party.

Pusha T was up next and already the audience was packing out the area around the main stage and were singing and dancing along to every word. At this point we lost our friends in the crowd, but soon found them leaping around in the surging crowd while the others headed to the bar. Unfortunately, quite a lot of time was spent waiting in queues for either the toilets or the bar, and this was one failing of the festival. Out of all of those I have attended throughout the summer, it had the biggest queues for both which did take away from the time spent actually enjoying the acts. Perhaps for next year we need more portaloos and more staff on the bars for quicker service? Along the same lines – perhaps a better system for allowing revellers to exit the Showground after the event – it took us a very long time to get out and we couldn’t see any signs directing to the shuttle buses and taxis.Sundown 4As the sun started to lower in the sky, a special moment at Sundown Festival, we enjoyed performances from Katy B, who had the whole crowd singing along to every passionate note before the one-and-only Tine Tempah took to the stage. Having donned an all-white top and trousers combo, he shone like a beacon of cleanliness in the middle of the festival fields and it certainly meant we could see him from right at the back of the field, where our group had found a great spot to sit and watch the acts. Bringing masses of energy, attitude and plenty of cheekiness to the stage, he bust out hits like Frisky and Lover Not A Fighter. No matter whether you prefer his older or newer stuff, you can’t deny his songs are catchy and we couldn’t help but dance along with the rest of the crowd.sundown 3Of course, the festival wasn’t all at the Main Stage, there was plenty going on at Stage 2 with Defected staging a label takeover on the Saturday featuring acts like Shadowchild, Second City, Breach and Cristoph – perfect for the house-heads in our group! Sadly we missed the first few acts while we were partying over by the Main Stage, but we made sure to catch the end of Breach and the whole of MK’s set – both brilliant! It was so great to see MK live again, the last time was at Hideout Festival last summer and although amazing then, it is clear he ups his game with each and every performance. As soon as the beats drew to a close, we headed straight back to the Main Stage, all buzzing with excitement for Chase and Status. Probably the one act on the line-up that we all agreed on with no question, Chase and Status are regulars in Norwich, but it was brilliant to see them up on the Main Stage at a festival. They certainly know how to deliver an epic performance and we were right in the middle of it with mosh pits on either side – how better to end the first night of a festival?

Sadly, I couldn’t make it along the following day – but if the photos, video clips and stories are anything to go by, it was an incredible finish to the festival.

*This was originally published on This Festival Feeling – check out the original here.

Rain, stabbings and Digital Soundboy shut-down at Notting Hill Carnival

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So, Notting Hill Carnival was a pretty soggy affair this year. I still haven’t managed to wring all the water out or my clothes and my Converse are looking pretty sorry for themselves right now. Despite the rain and the disappointment at not seeing some of my favourite acts, we had a bloody good day out and made loads of friends. I’m not sure if it beat my first time at the event last summer, even though we only went on the Sunday, but it is definitely the sort of event that calls for sunshine – you can’t dance to reggae and eat Jamaican jerk chicken in the rain. Taking place on the August bank holiday weekend, you would expect that we would be in for a few rays, but apparently not! Instead, it was wet, very, very wet.image

We caught the train to London first thing and were more than excited to return to the Carnival and on the main day this time – plus with a line-up on the Digital Soundboy stage that included Shy FX, Chase and Status, Lily Allen, Mark Ronson, Gorgon City, Sigma, David Rodigan and B Traits among many others – we couldn’t wait to get dancing. We had been checking the weather forecast every day in the run-up to Monday, and those dark clouds were threatening but we remained positive and although laden with macs and umbrellas, we prayed the sun would shine. Last year the forecast wasn’t great but about lunchtime the sun came out and shone all day – it was gorgeous! This year, we were disappointed to say the least and spent the day trying to avoid the huge puddles, to find the smallest bit of shelter and to dance at stages that with busted speakers. It sounds rubbish, but don’t be fooled – we had a fantastic day and made lots of friends – we didn’t even mind the rain until the music all stopped and we had no more distractions. Then it was a very long, cold and wet train journey home.

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After arriving in London, we headed straight to Westbourne Park Station and took a stroll along the road – immediately enveloped in the spicy smells of jerk chicken, goat curry and various other tasty carnival delights. The streets were lined with people and various sound systems at bars and houses along the road. We walked straight into the parade, which I had heard had a late start due to the weather, but they were out in full force and we shaking their tail feathers to the sound of steel drums. The beats from the parade are so strong that you can’t help but dance and we found a good spot in a doorway to watch the parade from a height – strangely we bumped into two friends from home who were already standing there! It was brilliant and helped us stay dry for a short time. After three floats of extravagant costumes and great music filed past, we headed back towards the station with a mojito in hand to find the Digital Soundboy stage – where everyone seemed to be heading.imageimage

Our spirits stayed high despite the rain and we were looking forward to a good dance,  but sadly we arrived at the Digital Soundboy stage to find no music, just waiting crowds. We stuck around for a bit, then decided to wander around the block and found some great smaller sound systems that had the music going full pelt and everyone dancing. Later, when we headed back to Digital Soundboy we found that again, there was no music and someone told us apparently a generator had broken. Gutted wasn’t the word, we, like countless others had travelled great distances to see this top list of acts play and now none of them would be playing. I understand that it was bad luck that a generator broke, but was there really no way of getting another delivered, or even borrowing one from one of the smaller stages – everyone would have appreciated it considering they had turned out in the pouring rain. I was also surprised to see no signs around explaining what had happened, we only found out by luck after chatting to someone in the crowd as we had no signal on our phones to check the Facebook or Twitter pages – perhaps better communication might have helped.imageimage

With music off the cards – we found it pretty difficult to navigate our way to another stage so hung out at the smaller ones – we made it our business to have as much fun as possible. We made lots of friends, had a good laugh with lots of fantastic people including some guys who went to our last festival – BoomTown Fair, and lots of others from our home town. The atmosphere is one of the things I love most about Notting Hill Carnival, everyone is so friendly and happy and just wants to have a good time. We had lots of fun dancing like idiots and taking rain-soaked pictures of our sexy mascara-sodden faces, while basically walking round in circles. I even walked into a portaloo and found two people shagging in the toilet – a new low? It was pretty funny and certainly kept our minds off being wet until the very end when all the stages shut down and suddenly we had no more distractions – we all just looked at each other and realised quite how soggy we were. Cue a soggy tube ride back to King’s Cross and an attempt to use hand dryers in the toilets to dry our clothes – it was not happening. Every item of clothing was drenched and I don’t even want to talk about the state of my shoes.image

Others were also having a rather interesting train ride home and were attracting quite a lot of attention – reckon she must have been pretty chilly! It was pretty gutting when we finally sat down on our train home and realised we had two hours of being soaking wet before we were home – thankfully the time flew by and we finally arrived home and could jump in a hot shower, some warm, dry clothes and bed. It was such a good feeling after such a long day of being so wet and cold. I definitely had a great time at Carnival but it’s not a good event to do in the rain – there is little to no shelter around the route and no escaping the elements. Plus no matter how waterproof your shoes, coat or umbrellas are marketed as being, when faced with constant rainfall over a day, they lose their waterproof abilities a wee bit. Not so much of a problem if you live in the city and can get home quickly, but when sat in a puddle the whole way home, it kills your mood a little bit.

I forgot to mention that this year we really noticed the more violent side of Carnival, one of the girls we met had been punched by some crazy girl with an attitude problem, we saw a girl and her boyfriend having a pretty full on fight and we were right next to where one of the policemen got stabbed. We were just walking along the road when police started roping off the road and I just assumed the parade was about to arrive, but the policeman told me to move back along the street because a policeman had just been stabbed. I know that this happens a lot of the main day of the Carnival and that lost of drugs and violent incidents occur, although lower numbers of them this year. But I just don’t understand how anyone could turn such a pure, fun, friendly and happy event like Notting Hill Carnival into something unsafe and aggressive. This applies to all of the festivals where violent incidents are recorded – these people are idiots. It takes a lot of organising and planning to put on an event of this scale and yet it takes one stupid and dangerous incident to close an event down. People acting rashly and stupidly seriously risks the lives of revellers and it risks future fun if the event is no longer allowed to run. Think before you act.image image

Did you brave the rain to go to Notting Hill Carnival this year? How did you think it compared to previous years? Were you disappointed by the shut-down of the Digital Soundboy stage?

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Review: BoomTown Fair – you’d have to see it to believe it!

10561837_10153086792212926_731080842451335370_nTwelve months ago, I staggered out of the festival grounds with my bag on my back, tried my hardest to adjust to reality and started to question if BoomTown Fair 2013 ever really happened. I had no choice but to return to prove to myself this crazy, upside-down world of madness really existed. Last weekend, I found that not only did this world exist, but it was more outrageous, colourful and wackier than ever! (Click on the photo above to watch the official BoomTown Fair 2014 video)

BoomTown Fair 2014 has been hailed another booming success – but why is this festival so successful? Word among the festival-goers is because this incredible explosion of creativity is purely based on the wants, needs and desires of those who are exploring the districts, dancing all night in front of the stages and joining in the bonkers behaviour. BoomTown Fair is truly a festival for the people and the astonishing level of detail in each district and for each stage just further proves this. This year’s festival was no exception, with opportunities for revellers to explore the brand new Wild West district, where floozies beckoned passers-by into the waiting saloons. Elsewhere, a host of brand new, majestic stages awaited the dancing feet of the BoomTown citizens, including a spectacular 100ft Pirate Ship and the Old Mines Stage, plus, of course, all the old favourites like the Town Centre and the Lion’s Den.10584036_10152164328457396_8395003609384827555_nOver two years alone it is incredible to see how the festival has grown in size, volume and craziness, and it is just astonishing to think it started out as 1,500 like-minded souls, before growing to the increased sized of 38,000 for this year. Throughout the six years BoomTown Fair has been running, the festival directors have remained true to their original ideals of good music, good friends and GREAT entertainment – and it seems to be a combination that is working well. 2014 saw the festival entering a new chapter, this year with the new Mayoress Burrita Jose in charge of the proceedings and what a great job she did!10606494_10152223374712617_4295659639092618040_n10603606_10152223374327617_5064836325619090049_nWalking through the Barrio Loco district, not a single citizen could keep their feet from dancing to the beat of the Rio-esque carnival and some bad-ass bass. The party atmosphere followed us round as we explored Downtown and the incredible Boombox and Arcadia Stages, where the beats never stopped. One of my favourite surprises was on the Sunday, when the fiesta escaped the Barrio Loco district and exploded across the festival in the sounds of the drums and the bright colours of the carnival parade. Elsewhere, ravers could see giant mechanical robots shooting flames across the districts, extraordinary fancy dress, stilt walkers and even some raving grannies.10616430_10152223399562617_2703406221675226792_nCamping in Oldtown, we were just a short walk from some of the festival’s finest music venues and most spectacular performances. There are far too many to mention them all, but many of my favourites pitched up at my favourite stage – The Lion’s Den. One of my favourite festival moments had to be seeing The Wailers live – they gave an incredible performance and it was something special indeed to hear the whole crowd singing along. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long after that when the rain started, which certainly hampered Shaggy’s performance. More than just a few of the crowd left disappointed after the weather led to sound problems and a bit of an anti-climax. Refusing to let a bit of rain stand in our way, the true reggae spirit returned to the Lion’s Den on the Sunday night in an incredible performance by the legendary Jimmy Cliff. Truly a standout moment.10603254_10153086807057926_3191403938947974781_nElsewhere, Gypsy Hill, The Woohoo Review and various others had the crowds churning up the mud in front of the Pirate Ship has they danced along. Mayfair Avenue proved the hub of high class and had the glitzy and the debonair swinging along until the sun came up. The Ballroom was a fantastic venue for such acts and my personal favourites had to be DJ Chris Tofu, who gave some spectacular sets, The Sweet Life Society, who were even more incredible than last year, and Renegade Brass Band, who were just unlike anything I have seen before, but had everyone dancing along. As usual, I came to BoomTown Fair with so many plans of who I wanted to see and what I wanted to do, but I came away with a completely different experience to the one I expected.10561665_10152223375712617_7428299814316422695_nToo easily distracted, the Hidden Woods and Tribe of Frog hooked me in and refused to let me go for some time. But as I stumbled out of the woods and down the hill, I was drawn straight back to the centrepiece of the festival. The most amazing stage I have ever seen – The Arcadia Spectacular. This iconic spider robot brought the bass that pounded out of these huge speakers to life with flames, smoke and lasers – want your mind blown? Head straight for the middle of it, just as I did for the grand finale. With fireworks, incredible bass and the ripple of movement as hundreds of ravers dance as one – the Arcadia is an experience not to be missed.10527771_10153086840112926_6028188754869689338_nAlso not to be missed, and luckily we caught them while sitting high on the hill above the Hidden Woods, were the fireworks, which were a sparkling end to a fantastic weekend. All rounded off with a walk to the viewpoint – a bit of a walk but worth every second when you get to sit high on the hill overlooking the whole of Downtown at night, watching the flames pouring out of the Arcadia and the twinkling lights across the valley. At night it was really something, but at sunset, this view really came into its own. BoomTown Fair is more than just a festival; it is a whole other world, a new experience and a way of life. Those who are lucky enough to experience it go home a very different person and can’t help but count down the days until they can return. Trust me, you’d have to see it to believe it.10570387_10152223375292617_8038292311689927695_n

Did you go to BoomTown Fair? What was your favourite part of the festival?

* This review was originally published on This Festival Feeling – click here to see the original.

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Review: Eastern Electrics – Putting Underground Centre Stage

10409470_10152201432427617_2363506789228017455_nIt may be small, but Eastern Electrics was the whole festival package crammed into 12 hours of incredible underground electronic music. This year’s event was focused on celebrating an electronic music scene that has never been so strong, and boy, did it do that. The line-up was bigger than ever and covered every taste with a brilliantly designed stage perfectly suited to each sub-genre.

The festival itself was probably one of the easiest to get to from any direction, and with the train station right outside the festivals gates and coaches travelling from across the country to get there, there really was no excuse to not be part of the crowds of up to 10,000 revellers making their way to Hatfield House. The grounds of this stately home were the perfect setting for an electronic music festival – I always find the genre sound much better in a woodland rave setting – something about the secretive nature of being hidden in, well, nature. On the approach to the festival, I was surprised to see how small the site was, after spending previous weekends at festivals like Secret Garden Party – Eastern Electrics covered less than half the acreage. But rather than disappointment, I was thrilled to see such a compact and well-organised festival which wouldn’t require a lot of time to be wasted walking between the stages or queuing for the portaloos. With all this time saved, I made it my business to catch as many acts across the different stages as possible throughout the day.

10423847_10152201432532617_8214373229996640118_nSince 2007, Eastern Electrics has grown from one of the most respected underground parties to one of the UK’s premier underground club brands. The team behind this unique brand of summer magic promised the festivals most memorable party to date, and with huge international DJs, who could be disappointed?

As the sun shone, I made my way between the seven stages, picking up different beats as I walked across the festival site, everything from bass, and house, to techno and disco – there really was something for every electronic music lover. I couldn’t resist the beats over at the Main Stage, where Brighton-based DJ and producer Maxxi Soundsystem kicked things off, and what better way to warm-up the festival-goers for a day of serious two-steppin’? Throughout the day, I just found I couldn’t stay away from the Main Stage and made sure I popped back for as many sets as possible. Monika Kruse gave an amazing set, and the crowd clearly loved a taste of techno right in the middle of the afternoon. Art Department were on my list of sets to catch – I’d wanted to see them live for ages and made sure I was bopping away in the crowd. But it was Keri Chandler that really cemented the Main Stage as my favourite place to be at the festival, even when I could no longer feel my feet from dancing so hard, I kept going until the end and he smashed it.

Between dancing over at the Main Stage, I made sure to head over to the Mulletover Switchyard – I simply had to be a part of the last mulletover party to celebrate their 18 years of raving. Plus the music was ridiculously good here – even when it started raining, nobody could leave the stage! Mano Le Tough and tIni in particular, both played brilliant sets that meant the crowd couldn’t stop dancing if they wanted to. I tried to drag myself away on several occasions to check in on other sets, but just couldn’t make myself leave. And, of course, as if my eardrums hadn’t already been pushed to the limit, I made sure to spend plenty of time in the Rinse Big Top soaking up the sounds of the legendary RC1 sound system. It was every bit as legendary as they said it was – those pounding bass lines carried the crowd from one tune to the next and we were all swept up in the beat as we waited for the drop. This tent certainly attracted the dancers with the big moves from across the festival and left the two-steppers at the door. The tent was packed out for Route 94’s set, which was one of my favourites of the day, and everyone was waiting for that moment when they dropped My Love. It was worth the wait and their mix of the song was amazing, particularly with the whole crowd singing along with their hands in the air. If you want a festival memory – that is the one I will take away with me.10574275_10152201432457617_7066977560405063657_nEastern Electrics is a fantastic little festival – a bit of an undiscovered gem which is a huge part of its charm. The county’s best underground music festival remains a bit of a secret for those who truly love the music and want to see the artists who are about to break out of the scene. Those music-lovers and their passion for raw talent is what makes the atmosphere electric.

Did you go to Eastern Electrics – what was your favourite set? 

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* This review was originally published on This Festival Feeling – click here to see the original.

 

Review: Secret Garden Party – A Festival Fit For A Prince

10406906_10152190748072617_8115385024926619295_nThe dust has finally settled on the festival fields at Abbots Ripton, the hangovers have eased off and we’re all starting to drift back to reality with a bump. Life just isn’t the same after Secret Garden Party, like coming down from a psychedelic trip the colours just don’t look as bright any more, and anyone who is still finding glitter everywhere is sadly reminded of those precious four days of complete freedom and escapism. After attending last year’s festival for the first time and having the most amazing experience, I wondered how 2014 would ever live up to the incredible line-up, entertainment and all those special people we met along the way. But I shouldn’t have worried, if anyone was up to the challenge of beating last year’s event, it’s the team behind one of the country’s most beautiful festivals.

Secret Garden Party is more than just a festival, it is a whole experience, and while the line-up may entice you along, it is the quirky and strange memories that stay with you long after you return home. This year was no exception and my mind is still reeling from the things I saw, at least I think I saw… My favourite two places at the festival this year completely blew my mind and I have the best, most confusing, memories of each. First up, Bearded Kitten’s Colo-Silly-Um was one of the most spectacular stages and although I thought it was a shame it had moved location within the festival, it certainly didn’t affect how much time I spent in there. The days were filled with hilarious games that had onlookers cheering and joining in with everything from naked jelly wrestling – which is possibly one of the funniest things I have ever seen – and boxing matches between blindfolded individuals suspended high above the stage. At night, the stage transformed from crazy fun to incredible music, huge lightshows and was packed out with revellers desperate to get in. I was gutted not to catch any of the secret sets after catching both Nero and Chase & Status at last year’s festival, but I was just so easily distracted with all the other awesome acts throughout the festival.1964834_10152190746167617_3950807118914611436_nNot enough weirdness for you? Well, when things seemed a little too “normal” we had no choice but to head straight for The Dance Off where absolute chaos awaited us. I don’t remember The Dance Off from last year but it certainly left a lasting impression this time around, particularly after getting caught in a very strange dance off between an old man with a walking stick and a bunch of guys who decided windmilling their willies was a winning move. Very odd but absolutely hilarious! This venue was also incredible for catching the Headjacker guys who were standing among the crowd and performing incredible magic/card tricks – one guy came up to me and had me pull a huge nail out of his nose! Elsewhere, one thing I heard rumours of throughout the festival and have since seen hundreds of photos of, was the sunflower field that could be found through a portaloo with no back! I’m so sad to say I never found this despite looking everywhere, it looked absolutely stunning though and just added to the beauty of the festival.10410132_10152190746487617_5386558849606741194_nThe line-ups, as ever, were fantastic and although we felt there was less of the quirky and smaller acts that there were performing along hidden stages in the woods this summer; we were more than happy with the ones we saw. This year’s festival had an amazing selection of reggae and acoustic acts and we caught an amazing performance by Mighty Leap in the Artful Badger Woods that had everyone dancing and singing along. Over on one of my favourite stages – Where The Wild Things Are – we caught some amazing new talent including Kimberly Anne who really brought us all back to life after a first heavy night at the festival. I spent more time at The Great Stage than ever before, and with such amazing acts lined up to play, who could blame me? Mo, Clean Bandit, Hercules & the Love Affair and Little Dragon were all incredible and it was particularly good to see Clean Bandit finally on a main stage and kicking ass.

King Charles were stunning and I was completely blown away with Foxes’ performance, but I’m sad to say I was pretty disappointed by Public Enemy after expecting a standout performance, and from the comments I heard from groups around me, I think the feeling was shared. The group spent a lot of time talking and advertising their Instagram and not enough time kicking off with the big songs we all know and love. The Great Stage picked It back up the next day with my favourite set from David Rodigan which was just perfection in the sunshine after the paint fight. Then that night there were more amazing performances from Martha Reeves and the Vandellas – damn that woman has a lot of sass and huge voice – and of course Fat Freddy’s Drop smashed it!10527339_10152190746447617_5900766769861430926_nSecret Garden Party 2014 reached new levels of enchantment and with more sparkle than ever packed into the stunning fireworks display – my personal highlight – and the ritual burning of the lake stage, it really is a festival fit for a prince. I was devastated not to spot Prince Harry among the revellers, but it just shows you that Secret Garden Party must be doing something right if the party prince is giving it his seal of approval. I’m just curious to know how on earth they will beat this next year, and can’t wait to find out. I’m just glad that in the meantime, I have a few days to recover before heading to Eastern Electric this weekend for the next festival, otherwise I would have justification for some serious post-festival blues.

Did you go to Secret Garden Party? What was your favourite part of the festival?

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