Boomtown is Back: Firsthand Insight from Alice Penny
Photo by Wendy Wei
One of the most talked about festivals of British culture, although only ten years old, Boomtown Fair has certainly made a name for itself. The core values and bizarre quirks of the festival really make it stand out from the crowd. The ever so important storyline of the festival raises political and environmental issues that shouldn’t be turned a blind eye on. This article shall explore the individuality and sustainability of one of the greatest shows on earth.
Boomtown is a truly immersive festival experience, with intricate attention to detail around every corner. From crafting musical instruments at Whistlers Green, to completing ridiculous tasks in the job centre for boomtown bucks, to grooving on down to your favourite acts in downtown of a night time, there is no doubt you’ll be short of things to do.
Boomtown holds a certain mystifying charm. You can never know what you are going to come across, but you run towards it with open arms anyway. A rather bizarre mix of eclectic theatrics and creative spiritualists crossed with quirky steam punks and bucket hat ravers, Boomtown is a delightful combination of the weird and wonderful.
Chapter 10 welcomed the most colourful and diverse music scene Boomtown has seen yet, with the Gorillaz headlining and over 600 acts playing. This was the first big year for heavier acts. Downtown, or should I say, Diss-order Alley, saw a rise of punk’s trekking around the city thanks to the arrival of the “Earache Factory” in which 4-piece rap metal collective Hactivist got crowds breaking a sweat on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Covering pop classics from the likes of Kanye, these four Milton Keynes lads really knew how to entertain.
Jumping from ska to disco to folk to drum and bass, the variety is never ending. Boomtown describe their diversity by saying “explore new music from over 30 countries and spanning an unfathomable amount of musical genres.”
If you’re lucky enough to have been before, you would be aware of the community feel of the site. From the energetic strangers you watch the sun come up with (whilst chilling in a pod over a lake in the psychedelic forest) to the perky actors enticing you with challenges to win all kinds of strange festival memorabilia. This is a festival for the people, the happiest place I have ever visited.
Boomtown address their revellers as fellow “citizens” which is fitting as if it was possible to live there permanently, I’m sure most would jump at the opportunity.
With approximately 60,000 revellers venturing there as of recent years, the festival experience is constantly growing. The first “Chapter” of the boomtown story began in 2009, with just 1,000 party goers, fast forward to 2018 and the festival has flourished to 65,000 citizens The chapter by chapter story is growing bigger and better year by year, meaning stronger discipline need to be established.
The festival follows many important practises surrounding diversity, consent and mental health.
“With Boomtown, we’ve never been afraid to be different, and to encourage everyone to celebrate the differences between us all.”
The city engages in the strong “respect the city, respect each other, respect yourself” campaign, in which the creators have come together to help create the most enjoyable yet safest experience for everyone.
You can lose yourself in the outlandish story by completing quests throughout the day. This separates Boomtown from the other festivals for me. It can really make you feel like a part of a community, at one amongst all the theatrics of the colourful city.
With 14 districts and multiple micro venues dotted around the site, you are never short of something to engage in. The infamous woods parties, grandma’s living room where you can wind down low in an intense limbo challenge under a walking stick, the inconvenience store, where you can get well and truly inconvenienced; it is exactly what It says on the tin, the list goes on, but it’s best to leave it up to you to explore.
Boomtown really goes above and beyond when impressing its partygoers, the extravagant set designs, the compelling actors and breath-taking shows. The undeniable creative flare gone into every little detail and being adaptable to cater for everybody leaves Boomtown setting the bar high for other festivals.
Boomtown take pride in making radical changes to ensure sustainability is at the core of the event production and continuously searching for innovative solutions to help reduce the festivals: impact, CO2 emissions, waste, increasing awareness and inspiring positive change. The finale of the most recent event touched down on the importance of the environment and how all the attendees can do their bit to help the planet by reducing waste left on site.
There are numerous visions in place to help protect the environment. Boomtown are acknowledged eco-warriors for their big bike ride scheme, transporting many Bristolians to the festival site on a scenic bike ride. Alongside the cyclists, Boomtown also have many environmental practises scattered throughout the festival, including a one-use plastic ban, compost loo’s, and recycling points in all the campsites.
An indisputable masterpiece of a festival. There’s not much to hold Boomtown at fault for despite the dreaded staircase of doom. A clearly devoted team have created a magical festival experience for all ages.
The 2019 Boomtown Fair begins in Winchester on Wednesday 7th August and ends on Monday 12th August. Travelling accounts for about 80% of a festival's carbon footprint; to reduce this effect, you can find ethical travel information on the Boomtown website.