Activities & Days Out / 27 August, 2019 / My Baba
Forget the outside world for a weekend and immerse yourself in the Boomtown experience. With eight districts to explore and over 100 artists on the bill, the Hampshire festival packs every musical genre you can imagine, alongside an eclectic mix of theatrical entertainment and hidden parties that are waiting to be discovered. Spanning across the South Downs National Park, the city that rises from the ground for six days a year comes with its own radical storyline that flows through the festival, its backdrop and its entertainment.
Boomtown lets you choose how involved you get. While lots of people get dressed up and blend in with the festival’s theatre cast, there isn’t any pressure or awkwardness if you’d rather hang back. For the first day, we prioritised watching the music then later relaxed into it and played along with the actors. It was good having a mix of activities, rather than solely rushing about to see bands.
Set on hills and down in dips, we walked a lot in trying to make sure we’d explored everything. Then we found over favourite areas (Town Centre and Whistlers Green) and hung about those for the rest of our time. If you camp up by Whistlers Green, you’ll have KidzTown on your doorstep and be close to the Lion’s Den (main stage) and have plenty of activities and food places nearby. Unlike most festivals, where you to-and-fro from the campsite all day, the best advice for Boomtown is to get yourself set for the day so you won’t need to return to your tent until the evening.
After the first day, we decided to stop trying to see everything and resolved we’d buy a ticket for next year and cover the rest of it then. For us, it was all about the music and seeing as many bands and DJ sets as possible but if you have this mentality, you may not have chance to enjoy the parades, the elusive maze game, the curiosity shops, secret gigs, and the quirky characters you’ll meet about the place. When taking some time-out from the city, there were loads of brilliant workshops taking place including kazoo carving, fairy crafts, creating clay masterpieces and a dancing fountain experience that kids and adults were welcome to get involved with.
The Raucous Rascals stage blasts out tunes and entertainment throughout the day, led by a brilliant team of entertainers drawing inan audience of adults and children. The likes of Big Fish Little Fish, as well as DJ Archie (the world’s youngest DJ) and the Junior Jungle raves kept everyone entertained. KidzTown has an incredible mix of craft and skill workshops, as well as a brilliant Wild West Forest School for the children to learn outdoor skills. The Sunday Carnival topped everything off with a parade starting in KidzTown and descending through the Boomtown city. The radio station turned the children into radio producers, while the Pet Shop Boys & Girls shop was a chance to get up close with creepy crawlies! The baby area was great for relaxing with the little ones, as well as changing nappies and heating bottles. Folk Singer Beans on Toast practised a song with the kids’ choir and brought them on stage during his set down in the Town Centre much to everyone’s delight.
The music starts at 11am and runs through until four in the morning. From the early afternoon opening ceremony, a fabulous blend of colours, sounds and puppetry, the celebratory festival atmosphere charged through the weekend. The Lion’s Den stage, complete with lasers, waterfalls and fireworks saw outstanding performances from The Streets, Groove Armada and Ms. Lauryn Hill. Four Tet’s outstanding light show on the Nucleus stage was another highlight.
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Boomtown is a melting pot of different music. I was concerned before I went that it wouldn’t be for me, as I didn’t know much about any of the lineup. But with that comes the freedom to wander about and find something new amongst the ska, folk, punk, jungle and hip-hop genres on offer.
‘Leave no trace’ is the Boomtown motto with the organisers strongly encouraging the Boomtown citizens to take their tents and belongings home. After the festival, Boomtown shared a 2018 vs. 2019 snap of the campsite, showing the huge difference the campaign had made. Campers paid an eco-bond bag with their ticket, which could be exchanged for £10 when you returned the bag filled up with recyclables.
Boomtown offers a vast amount go entertainment opportunities for everyone. While aspects of the festival aren’t suited to children, KidzTown certainly compensates for the parts you might have to miss. With so much to see and do, you’ll never be bored and the best way to approach it is to wander about and discover what’s around each corner of Boomtown for yourself. They really do pull out all the stops to make sure everyone is having a brilliant time. Roll on next year….
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Featured image: Leyla Guler