Festival retrospective: where did you go this summer?

three writers give their opinion on this summer's festivals...

Katie Garwood
15th October 2018
Image: Merlijn Hoek @ Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

RockWerchter - Katie Garwood

Rock Werchter in Belgium always has incredible line-ups, and 2018 was no exception. The travel ran smoothly and the staff spoke great English. There was a plethora of food, bars, and chill-out areas. The toilets were so clean and even had flushes! The amazing token system for food and drink meant that you needn’t carry cash, and The Hive campsite is incredible. It has its own after-hours club, a breakfast bakery, and a bar with TVs.
We were expecting some cultural differences but what we discovered really changed our week. People didn’t sing or dance. In fact, for every act we went to see, people stood in silence with their arms folded. For iconic bands like The Killers and Arctic Monkeys they tutted at our singing and wore ear plugs. It’s safe to say there were no mosh pits in sight. Luckily for us, this meant we could get so much closer to people like Noel Gallagher than we ever would in the UK which was unbelievable. In the end, we decided to ignore everyone else and had a sick time regardless. Werchter made me realise that the festival can be great, but it’s down to the people to make it amazing. I’d give the festival 5 stars, but the crowd 1.

UNTOLD - Bianca Ionici

Romania isn’t known as a music festival destination, but UNTOLD is largely one of the reasons why that’s changing. Cluj-Napoca, positioned roughly halfway between Bucharest and Budapest, welcomed the fourth edition of the electronic festival at the beginning of August. For four days and four nights, the city was fuelled with pumping EDM, trance, techno, drum and bass, electro house, dubstep and more.
On August 2nd, the main stage was graced by EDM-pop duo The Chainsmokers, Diplo, and house favourites Oliver Heldens and Afrojack. At smaller stages, Nina Kraviz, one of the few female performers, and Australian drum and bass band Pendulum put on explosive DJ sets.
On the following two days, the main stage received Jason Derulo, Kygo, Tiësto, Don Diablo, KSHMR, The Prodigy, Alesso, and Steve Aoki (with his ever-popular caking of front-row fans).
Sunday, August 5th, was undoubtedly the biggest night, with most in attendance awaiting Armin van Buuren’s return. His 2017 set lasted 5.5 hours, and festival-goers, myself included, wondered whether he would outdo his own record. The Dutch trance legend performed non-stop for seven hours, and thus concluded UNTOLD’s fourth chapter in the most spectacular of ways.

Small World Spring Festival - Rae Farren

[pullquote]Small World is intense, insane and, most importantly, unique.[/pullquote]

“I’m off down to Kent to dance my tits off in a field” is what I told my friends in Newcastle shortly before heading to Small World, and this describes my experience pretty accurately. Strictly limited to two thousand people, this is an intimate gig which lasts for five days – Thursday to Monday over the May bank holiday weekend – and is packed with the most gloriously bizarre music and people I’ve ever met.
It has a strong environmentalist ethos, with all the electricity being generated on site by renewable means, and it truly feels like a community – a really mad community, but a community nonetheless. The music is incredibly wide ranging, with amazing bands and artists playing every genre from reggae to blues rock and folk to drum and bass. One of the real gems on site is a delightful library van, with a wide array of books (including for children) and a shady lounge of bean bags under a canopy outside.
Small World is intense, insane and, most importantly, unique. I left feeling exhausted but also revived. Tits have been danced well and truly off.

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