Boomtown is the big boy of festivals. And words cannot do it justice. It is an odyssey, a loud and proud creative masterpiece of music, art and theatre. Boomtown Fair is an experience that everyone should have at least once in their lifetime. So we started our kid young – he got the Boomtown experience at the tender age of two. And already he is a convert; a happy chap and a contented citizen in the Boomtown community.
It’s taken us a few days to really process the whole experience, such was the magnitude of this festival with stimulation for all the senses which has left us bedazzled and inspired. The festival really lives up to its name: a fictional musical town with a rising booming bass reverberating through the bucolic countryside and leafy forests of the South Downs National Park in Hampshire.
But it didn’t get off to the best start for us. Upon arrival we had technical issues entering the site and had to wait in the rain with all camping gear and a small child. Then gusts of wind blew us (and our tent in all directions!). It was an Everestian feat that we managed to get the thing up and to stay put for the first night! But given the rain, mud and wind, we were not exactly feeling in the party mood. But this soon changed as we explored the sheer size of this festibeast.
The site is absolutely immense in both size and sheer scale of entertainment available. With woodland areas, loads of stages and different themed zones (from Copper Country to The Lion’s Den), you really do become absorbed in the experience as a citizen when you wander around taking in the visuals, the people and the tiny details that the organisers have gone to extra lengths to create. There’s secret areas, a newspaper with daily boomtown news (some of which is fictional and adds to the story), a post office and even a job centre 2.0. The other citizens dress in colourful outfits, almost as if they have walked out of fear and loathing in las vegas or an (illustration book) and of course there are the actors that meander amongst the visitors. The two year old was mesmerised and it proved the perfect opportunity for the adults in the group to return to childhood and metamorphose into woodland creatures, glitter persons or mythical legends.
The sheer size of the place means you will not see all of the musical acts when there, so choose wisely as the line-up is always filled with goodies. Our favourite areas for this year had to be Tangled Roots which was high up in the forest (a stone throw away from our campsite Boomtown Springs!) and wobbled through an assortment of dub, drum and bass, reggae and jungle. Plus it had sand on the bottom so in quieter moments the toddler enjoyed simultaneously dancing and playing in the sand. We found ourselves glued to the dance floor several times when we had plans to venture elsewhere and enjoyed a variety of sets throughout the weekend.
The favourite musical act for this writer has to be the Chase and Status Return to the Jungle on Saturday night, and it seemed that half of the 66,000 attendees were with us at the Relic stage. It was a big set and one that has stayed with us.
But going to a festival with children also means sacrificing some of your to-do list for their own and for us this meant on Sunday spending the majority of the time in Kidztown. The toddler enjoyed playing in the sand pit, watching some interactive circus acts, playing with bubbles and running around the site, going to the post office and sending a postcard and to the piggy bank interacting with the piggies. We also enjoyed crafting, making puppets and getting involved in a puppet show followed by an hour or two getting wild and outdoorsy (we even let the toddler handle a hammer – under close supervision of course!)
Although we had planned to be part of the Kids Parade, we were exhausted by the previous days and the youngest editor fell asleep for a solid three hours and missed this. We spent the rest of the evening in Boomtown Springs and enjoyed the theatrical performances there (the drag fashion show was the favourite!)
Camping in Boomtown Springs was special. The best part of glamping were the clean toilets (with loo roll, running taps, soap and hand cream provided) and the hot showers were pretty special. But there is also a dedicated team on site, a tent with hair dryers and hair straighteners (where you could also book in to have your make-up professionally applied). It felt like suburbia heaven and we were happy we had camped here. But next year we will be going to the family camping as there’s just more children there and it means there’s less trekking involved for Kidztown.
Boomtown is special and our hat goes off to the organisers who managed to put on another brilliant rendition of this event entertaining over 66,000 attendees. Our expectations were high and even so we were blown away (and not just by the wind!). Tickets for 2020 are not yet on sale, but keep an eye out here for info and updates.