Tag Archives: festival

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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Eurotrip | My 24 hours in Amsterdam

14292456_10153770246632617_4868750785377706268_nDuring the summer I headed home to the UK for a short while but it wasn’t long until I started getting itchy feet, and I thought why not take advantage of Europe being right on my doorstep? Living in the UK, we are so lucky to have so many countries and cultures so close and accessible, it’s important to take advantage of that EU passport while we still have it eh! I’ve travelled quite a lot of Europe over the years but  there were still so many places I longed to visit and since making so many new international friends on the other side of the world, it seemed a perfect time to go and visit them all at home for the ultimate Eurotrip! One of the top places on my list was Amsterdam – I’ve wanted to visit for years and have planned trips several times but ended up never quite making it. I would only have about 48-72 hours in the city but it was the perfect opportunity to experience it for the first time and to visit a good friend of mine at her home – from Australia to Amsterdam.14344242_10153770246852617_8477002503444430472_n14322737_10153770246727617_3952194705655828329_nI flew in from Budapest and after a fairly chilled few days spent in the stunning baths and exploring the city at a gentle pace, I was ready to take things up a gear to cram in sightseeing and partying into just a few hours. I was staying just outside the city with my friend, Lisa, and I have to give a huge shoutout to her for not only putting me up at her amazing apartment, but for helping me to make the absolute most of my Amsterdam experience. As soon as I arrived we cycled into the city in true Amsterdam fashion to check out the parks which were filled with the scent of barbecue and the chatter of friends. We sat in the sunshine at a little man-made beach along the river having drinks and pizza with friends, and spent the evening bar hopping along the canals. It was a perfect first evening there and gave me a chance to meet a lot of people, we even stumbled across a fashion festival happening in the streets with all of the high class shops hosting DJ sets and bars.14317358_10153770246982617_7699547149721011518_n14344708_10153770245602617_3898552608383686668_nThe next days, I headed into the city first thing to make the most of my sightseeing time by taking one of the brilliant free walking tours. I first heard about Sandeman’s free walking tours from a friend when I was in Berlin and after experiencing one there and another in ‘Dam, I would seriously recommend them to anyone visiting a European city. The tours are fantastic quality and are led by energetic, knowledgeable and passionate individuals who bring history and heritage to life through their delivery. The walks last just a few hours and take in the main sights of each city plus there are several specialised ones including tours of the Red Light District, beer tours, history tours, graffiti tours etc. The best thing about these tours? They’re technically free despite being such amazing quality. The people giving the tours make their money through tips – they just ask that you pay what you feel the tour was worth at the end – you can give nothing or you show how much you value the experience. It calls for the tour leader to really work hard to show you the city and it calls for you to give an honest and fair review of the services. I can’t fault the company or the system. The Amsterdam tour was fantastic and our guide was really friendly and knowledgeable.14355179_10153770245822617_6765741485707631537_n14238219_10153770245592617_5590145311600997742_nOnce we’d spent a few hours wandering through the busy streets and along the canals for the tour, I headed back to the apartment for a quick change and glam up. Then Lisa and I were straight out the door and off to Magneet Festival – a bit of a trip affair, the festival would feature some of Lisa’s friends who were DJing on the most amazing stage overlooking the whole festival. It was an incredible night, amazing music and a fantastic group of people made for a pretty special experience. We danced and partied our way around the festival, even checking out hardcore and rock tents and watching some entertaining karaoke. It was such a fun night and pretty epic to experience a festival in Amsterdam. After the gates closed, we headed into the city and ended up at De School – a converted school which has become a club where must-lovers can rave in a dark, smokey basement until the sun comes up. Such a good club, we had a fantastic night! The next day, dying of hangover, I packed up and headed out to catch my train up to the north where I was visiting another amazing friend for just one night before heading home.14322663_10153764176672617_3330531587880020450_n14212547_10153764176582617_1783270569474228189_nIt was such a flying visit but my goodness I crammed a LOT in, Amsterdam is a fantastic city which makes it hard not to want to cram everything into the quickest visit. Before even leaving I knew I already wanted to return for another visit – there is still so much I didn’t have time to do, like the Anne Frank House and the museums. And I would love a chance to spend more time exploring the city at a slower pace. I will definitely return in the future but I was so happy to not only get to experience the city for the first time but to share the experience with such amazing people. I’m a lucky girl and travelling the world definitely has opened me up to some incredible cross-continent friendships. Getting to reunite with friends in a completely new land is definitely one of my favourite things about travelling the world.14316794_10153764176542617_1276094821434236239_n

Have you been to Amsterdam – what was your favourite experience? Can you recommend any other walking tours?

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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 | 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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Travel | Boho beads for mermaid babes

imageOne of my biggest addictions, both in travelling and in life, is jewellery. I come from a fashion-loving family – my mum is a bit of a hoarder when it comes to clothes and always buys one in every colour. My sister on the other hand works as a fashion buyer and only deals with the finest of clothes and the snootiest of brands. I’ve always loved clothes but I’m more about finding something quirky and unusual than about spending a fortune – when I came travelling I was made for spending my days in bikinis and my nights in floaty tie-dye creations. The colours and the materials were the things my dreams were made of – from elephant print hareem pants to brightly patterned dresses and floaty tops with colours rolling into each other. I have a serious love of brightly coloured and patterned clothes – to the point that often I’ll struggle to find items that will go together in my wardrobe. Packing to come travelling with just a 65l bag was a toughie and I was torn between wanting to take everything and nothing at all with me – a big part of me was keen just to start over with fresh clothes and a new attitude. I ended up taking a bag stuffed with clothes and threw most of it away when I hit the shores of Thailand – realising the markets were packed with gorgeous colours and fabrics was just too tempting for a girl like me.imageAs my travels went on, I stocked up here and there, buying things that inspired me from bags and bracelets to tops and dresses. I even had some amazing gifts from friends including a yoga pal of mine who picked out some of my favourite trousers of all time – great taste! I loved the way my clothes reflected my state of mind and they perhaps showed the biggest outward change other than the smile on my face – finally I didn’t have to play at being smart or ‘fashiony’ – I could just dress as scruffy as I wanted and nobody cared. Basically it was like embracing the festival version of myself every single day – we’re talking bright colours, tassels, patterns, glitter and FUN. And we all know how much I love the festival version of myself. However, it got to a point when I knew I had not long left in Asia and that I would still have to send a lot of my clothes home before hitting up Australia – I had to stop shopping for clothes and to stop filling up my already overflowing backpack and start finding other ways of collecting mementos. I chose jewellery – my other great love. From rings and bracelets, to necklaces and earrings, Asia is packed full of amazing, quirky jewellery that will appeal to all tastes. Before I knew it, my arms were full of bracelets and my ankles full of anklets, but when it came to arriving in Australia I decided it was time to shed several of them and to make a fresh start in this new land.imageFor ages at the beginning I couldn’t afford to shop – living in Sydney for a month then partying my way up the East Coast meant I had little dollar to spare on frivolities like clothes and jewellery when there was goon to be bought. Plus, as many of us backpackers would say to each other – we often wore the same thing on five nights out in a row because we were always with a different crowd and no one would know the difference. But by the time I arrived in Darwin and was earning a good wage from my two jobs, I started to get the itch to shop again. Trying to save as much money as possible – I limited myself to charity shops like Vinnie’s (which actually had an amazing range of brand new clothing in top condition). But when it came to jewellery I just couldn’t resist the stalls down at Mindel Markets, one in particular is held by Embella which quickly became one of my favourite jewellery brands of all time. Started up around seven years ago by Sally, who started making jewellery at seven years old, the brand is a unique design and jewellery business. Originally starting up in Victoria, Sally and her husband Ross toured the festivals with Embella products before taking a motor home on the road for six years, eventually ending up in Darwin where they fell in love the lifestyle. It’s a brand that was made by travellers for travellers and I love the way the pieces reflect the feeling of being at one with the world around you. My favourite piece is my Earthgirl anklet ($49), pictured above, which never leaves my ankle, but I couldn’t help my addiction to their rings and bracelets as well. Most importantly, I love that I have a special sterling silver piece of jewellery that will stand the test of time to always remind me of that special time in Darwin and all the people who I loved there. It’s a brand that is made for girls who feel most at home with their toes in the sand and their heart in the waves.imageThe other brand that has got me all excited is one I have stumbled across since I’ve been in the outback – I just happened to see something online about Wanderer Bracelets and I loved the idea behind them so much that I wanted to share them with you guys. A perfect gift for any traveller, or something special for yourself – I actually bought myself these two bracelets as a Christmas present and something to celebrate my year of travelling solo. The initiative was started up by a guy called Ben who quit his job, sold everything and moved to Bali in his twenties – a guy after my own heart! Driving up into a jungle village one day, he met Made and his neighbours who were incredible artists but didn’t make enough to support their families. Their partnership sparked an international movement which sees them selling the bracelets to people all over the world. They are supporting an entire community while creating jewellery out of white buffalo bone – an all-natural sustainable source which also helps fight the ivory trade. All amazing reasons to support such a fantastic business. But even more special, you can get a bracelet engraved with custom coordinates of a place that is special to you – for me, it was the coordinates of my home in Norfolk, UK. It’s something special that will always mean that my heart is where my family and friends are at home, even if I’m the other side of the world. As I said, a perfect gift for a traveller and so affordable at around $22 each. And I couldn’t resist getting the mermaid tail bracelet to go with it, because let’s face it, I’m definitely a mermaid. A perfect brand for travelling souls that know their heart will always remain firmly at home.

What do you think of travelling fashion – are you all about the tie-dye and elephant pants or do you prefer something more formal? Have you found any great boho jewellery ranges? What do you prefer as a memento of your travelling times?

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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

 

Preview: Sundown Festival – Set To Be A Mind Melter!

sundown

With the bank holiday weekend blasting off this Friday, festival-goers might be forgiven for thinking this was the weekend to rave their socks off, but with Sundown Festival just around the corner, all of Norfolk’s finest are just warming up. This year’s line-up is huge and if there’s anyone in Norwich without a ticket, they are seriously missing out. There is no excuse for living in the city and not making it along, it’s probably one of the easiest festivals to get to, with camping available and hotels just up the road – there’s a perfect festival experience waiting for everyone!

The festival kicks off a day early for campers, and what an incentive to dig out the camping chairs and the tent pegs that are all bent out of shape. By arriving at the festival on the Friday, you are securing your entry to the Big Top Opening Party that is completely exclusive to campers – giving revellers a perfect opportunity to kick off the raving a day early and hit the dance floor from 5pm to 11pm. Perfect for anyone who just couldn’t hack being back at work after the bank holiday and for those who just can’t wait to party.

The real party kicks off on the Saturday when festival-goers will flock from all over to catch headliners Chase and Status and Tinie Tempah over on the Main Stage, plus appearances from Katy B, Zane Lowe, Pusha T, Foxes, All About She, Sasha Keable and Virus Syndicate. I’m absolutely buzzing to see Chase and Status, the last time I caught them live was in Norwich and they killed it then, I have no doubt it will be a repeat performance! It’s also going to be amazing to see Katy B live after her fantastic vocal performance at V Festival last summer; she always manages to get the crowd dancing. And after Foxes’ incredible performance on the Main Stage at Secret Garden Party a month ago, I can’t express my excitement to catch her live again. It’s going to be a mad one over at the Main Stage, but don’t let that distract you from the huge Defected takeover on Stage 2 where you can catch the huge DJ talents of MK, Shadow Child, Second City, Cristoph, Copyright, Breach and Sam Divine. Cristoph returns to Norwich after playing one of the hottest new club nights in the city, Yaya, in its new home at Gonzo’s Tea Room earlier this summer. And all dance music lovers will be in their element with this huge line-up, it will be hard to leave this stage.

Sunday’s Main Stage billing is an explosion of chart toppers and singing sensations with the stunning Ellie Goulding topping the line-up alongside the huge soulful voice of John Newman. But the party doesn’t stop there with Clean Bandit, Ella Eyre, Neon Jungle, Jess Glynne, Becky Hill, M.O., Intensi T and Hatty Keane following close behind. A proud day for pop favourites and I’ve no doubt the whole crowd will be singing along to every anthem. For those who need something a little harder, following swiftly in the footsteps of Defected is a takeover that is sure to send beats out into the stratosphere as Ram Records take over Stage 2. Label boss Andy C will be heading the billing along with the talents of Wilkinson, Calyx & Teebee, Loadstar, Delta Heavy, Frankee, Mind Vortex, MCS GQ, 2SHY and Adapt. Whew, that’s sure to be a hard and heavy session and no doubt will melt a few minds along the way.

Not got your tickets yet? They’re disappearing fast, so grab yours quick from the website. Sundown Festival takes place over August 29-31 – the perfect way to finish off a summer of festivals.

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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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Preview: Head Underground For Top Talent At Eastern Electrics

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Promising the party of the summer, and a chance to see some of the UK’s best underground acts live, Eastern Electrics Festival 2014 has got me more than just a little bit excited. All of that is well and good, but what I’m most excited about is that it gives me a fantastic excuse to head back to where I went to university to party like its 2011 all over again! Hatfield House is a stunning location and perfect for a festival, I’m excited to see it used for such a fantastic event and with the trains pulling up just outside the grounds; it couldn’t be any easier to get to.

After a wave of festivals packed with huge headline acts and well-known names, it will be a breath of fresh air to get back to basics and find some real, raw UK talent. Much as we love the huge and more mainstream acts, we all have to admit that it can get a little repetitive looking through the line-ups for the summer’s events. With those pounding bass lines, predictable lyrics and the same old voices, it can get a little boring. But Eastern Electrics is here to change all that by exposing us to music at the deepest of levels, we’re going all the way underground to pick up the freshest and newest talents on the block at the UK’s premier underground electronic music event. Billed as an unforgettable all-day party, the festival is made up of seven stages spread across the grounds of this stately home and featuring the very finest from the UK underground and beyond. These unique stages will welcome with open arms the talents of Steve Lawler, Laura Jones, Dyed Soundorom and Mano le Tough who join Art Department, Ellen Allien, Kerri Chandler, Route 94, Tania Vulcano and tINI and many more for a day packed with talent.

After seeing the stage breakdowns for the day, I can already tell it’s going to be hard for me to stray from the main stage where the likes of Art Department, Kerri Chandler, Laura Jones and Monika Kruse are set to play. But I certainly can’t miss Mulletover playing their last ever show in the Switchyard with the talents of Ellen Allien, Geddes and James Priestley on show. Dense and Pika, Route 94 and Tom Shorterz are sure to draw a crowd over on the Rinse stage, and if Route 94’s set at Secret Garden Party was anything to go by its sure to be a smasher! Art of Dark in the Igloovision and the EE Pub are packed with acts I haven’t yet come across and I can’t wait to check out their sound before heading to Red Bull Studios Live to catch some more Waze and Odyssey – have seen them loads this summer already and I’m still not bored!

What I love about festivals is that it is never just about the music, they always come with a healthy dose of fun and craziness and that is certainly not in short supply at Eastern Electrics. Bringing together 10,000 revellers with their raving shoes firmly on, it’s just as important to have some downtime between the stages and there are plenty of adventures waiting in the grounds of Hatfield House. If you need a break from seeing over 30 international acclaimed artists perform live, why not dive into pillow fights, paint fights, make-up, photo booths and much more. There is plenty to keep you entertained and even the venues will come to life, The Star of EE Pub is the on-site watering hole, while the Switchyard is built entirely out of shipping containers and promises a wild, raw rave experience. Back with -of-the-art visuals and production is the Igloovision dome, promising whole new festival experience, and for the VIPs a truly extraordinary experience awaits – expect the unexpected.

The fun doesn’t stop at the festival – there are loads of after parties going on throughout the night across London and even in Hatfield itself. Grab your last minute tickets for both the festival and the after parties from the website – see you there!

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Supporting great talent and local live music

photo_1 (7)Friday night saw me sticking on my favourite Converse, grabbing my dancing buddy and heading to Lynn’s Corn Exchange to watch the finest in local talent hit the stage for the final of West Norfolk’s Battle of the Bands competition. The competition has been running in the area for years and sees bands coming from across Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire to take part and fight it out for a chance to headline Festival Too in front of a crowd of up to 12,000. What an amazing prize, along with loads of marketing and recording support and various other gig/festival performing slots. The competition is packed with amazing groups, all from different genres and performing a mix of covers and original material. I think this year was actually the most bands we have had in the final who were performing original content – which is great and just shows what kind of musicians we have on show.

I’m a big supporter of local music talent, partly because I love writing about all these great bands for the newspaper’s entertainment section, partly because we have such talented acts around here who are actually making it big (e.g Deaf Havana, The Brink etc), partly because yes they are damn talented and also because I know so many of them personally and know how hard they work. I’m always amazed by the quality of the acts when I finally get to see them live, so often I end up writing about them and their achievements, watching YouTube videos and chatting on the phone, so when I get to see them live, it is a real treat. I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to see the top six bands, as voted by the people of West Norfolk, performing live on stage in the final round of the competition.photo_3 (6)The first picture shows The Indie 500’s who are a fantastic covers band and really impressed me from the start. They had the hardest slot and an even more difficult job with an ill frontman, which meant the group’s drummer had the hardest job of all as he took on the extra role of lead singer while drumming his heart out. I was astounded to hear the lead singer was actually missing because he did such an amazing job opening with Arctic Monkeys’ Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor and throughout the rest of the set. They played all those amazing songs by acts like The Wombats and The Libertines, all of which had the crowd singing along and loving every second. Starting out with such a high standard, the evening was sure to only get better, and so it did!

Performing throughout the night were Common Youth, From The Sticks and Vex, but my next favourite act who performed later in the evening, pictured below, Phoenix Calling. The Cambridgeshire band were amazing, had us singing and dancing along with great crowd interaction. They seemed so finished and perfected that you could imagine seeing them on-stage at a festival that very night. They performed original material but still had the crowd singing along as we picked up the lyrics. The band had such energy and the lead singer in particular did an amazing job of singing and dancing around the stage. My favourite part was when they played their mash-up of Jason Mraz’s I’m Yours, Bob Marley’s One Love and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’s rap. It was fantastic, so unique and such a great idea. It really caught the attention of the audience and the judges and certainly had us all cheering by the end.photo_2 (7)And finally, Addison’s Uncle were an amazing folk band who wouldn’t be out of place at an Irish festival or in an Irish pub – full of character, storytelling and melody. Everyone was dancing and tapping their feet to the catchy rhythms and joining in their beautiful vocal harmonies. To me, these appeared the most talented bunch of musicians boasting a fiddle-player, one on a ukelele as well as guitars, percussion and bass. I loved the way each song had a story behind it and the band certainly charmed the audience. I loved the ballad they played at the end of the performance but it was the song just before that had the audience all up on their feet and joining in. A fantastic performance and a well-deserved win for these guys! They, along with Phoenix Calling, were my favourites of the night and I was so happy to hear them crowned the winners. They will be a real treat for the crowd at Festival Too.

The runner-up slot was taken by Vex, whose performance sadly I had to miss as I had to leave a bit early, but from what I do know, they are a talented bunch who deserved the win. All of the bands put in an amazing performance throughout the evening and if you get a chance to see any of them live, take it with both hands. Another great year highlighting the fantastic talent on show in West Norfolk – if you want great live music then head this way guys because we have a lot to offer.

Who were your favourite acts in this year’s Battle of the Bands? Love live local music? What’s your favourite place to see top acts in your area?