Since its inception in 2009, Boomtown Fair has become one of the UK’s largest, craziest and most unique music festivals. The festival is built as a fictional town, and even elects a mayor each year. There are roughly 20 main stage areas, or districts, which all contain several stages inside. The festival is a massive labyrinth of music and art, and attendees can spend days wandering never ending up in the same spot. Many types of music are represented, from punk rock to reggae, and it’s not uncommon to stumble into a strange small room with four people rocking out to some strange subgenre of music like Rotterdam hardcore.
Friend of All You Need is Bass Black Dahlia shared her favourite snaps from her 13 hour journey at Boomtown Fair 2016.
Boomtown is made up of 100 stages, spread across 9 different districts, each encompassing different genres of music and entirely different stage designs. Obviously in any festival town there has to be a post office where you can send a post card to your mates across the world for just a few quid. This was also the first place that I happened to stumble across drum ‘n’ bass at 3:00pm on Friday; I couldn’t resist that sweet sound and had to check it out.
While the festival is divided amongst 9 districts, its also further divided amongst 4 areas: HillTop, Downtown, Temple Valley, and Whistlers green area. Old Town is part of the HillTop and literally is like going back in time with pirate ships, burlesque dancers, buskers wharf, and amenities like: tattoo shop, Jack the Clipper hairdresser, post office, amongst many more.
The Jolly Dodger Pirate Ship is situated in Old Town and is an absolutely incredible stage design that has everything your typical pirate ship would have. My housemate performed on this stage as part of “The Great Malarkey” and they had the crowd forming within minutes of playing. If you’re lucky enough to talk your way into a backstage pass like I did with my camera, then you can go up top and catch the best view of Old Town and even walk the plank if you dare.
For some reason, at UK festivals we have found this obsession with grandmas in stage designs and costume attire, but no complaints here! Grandma’s living room is in Old Town and has everything you would find in your grandma’s living room from: tea sets, to romantic novels to borrow, to trinkets, to comfy sofas that were likely once covered in plastic, and of course a whole lot of grandmas.
I spent a lot of time at this stage because a good friend of mine, Earl Gateshead (an absolute legend in the reggae world), was playing at this stage. This stage was located in the Mayfair district and focused on the best of Dub and Reggae with some favourite acts such as: Eva Lazarus, Chief Rockas, Danny T & Tradesman, Electrikal Soundsystem amongst many more. The stage is tucked away in the canopy of the forest and sand floor where you can cop some shade from the blazing sun if it’s as hot as it was when I was there!
One thing I really love about festivals in the UK is that there are always rides to go on, and not just one but several! Boomtown has a wide array of rides that you can pay a small fee to go on and are situated amongst all the divisions. The last festival I went to with rides had a Ferris wheel so this time I try out the swings, which I hadn’t been on since I was a teenager at the Calgary Stampede. No regrets!
Since the festival has 9 districts, the site is spread across a massive amount of land and can be quite the walk to get to each of the districts. Even the pathways are well decorated and a pleasure to walk along, and also extremely well lit! At night, you can walk stage to stage and not even need a flashlight because all the pathways are lined with lights, even on the way out to the car park.
I didn’t really look at the schedule since I only had all of 13 hours at the festival, so it was a pleasant surprise to be checking out the Lion’s Den and hear Benny Page go on. Within minutes, the crowds flooded in and more people were at this stage than at most festivals I had ever been to, and everyone was well into the music with every person dancing all the way to the back!
Trench Town is one of the 9 districts but only has one stage, The Lion’s Den. And really, this is all it needs because this stage is so impressive and can hold 15-20K people if need be. As you can see in the back, there’s camping situated near the Lion’s Den. Whatever district fits you best, is the district you will camp in, so while they may be close to stages, they are extremely convenient when you want to pop back to make a quick rave drink.. Just don’t forget your earplugs if you want to crash early.
YT is pretty legend among the reggae/dub/dancehall world and has also done a track called Boomsound with one of my favourite crews, Mungo’s Hi Fi. Needless to say, it was pretty grand hearing YT throw down this track in his set at Tangled Roots on Friday night.
At Tangled Roots stage, Trinity Music London bring the production together with sound provided by Lion Unit, comprised of Unit 137 from London and Lionpulse from Bristol (the system in the photo), and additional support from Qualitex Sound (Bristol). The sound at this stage was next level! Probably best to have them ear plugs on hand if you plan on partying here.
The districts and stages within really like to keep with their theme the best they can, which is extremely well done. Even walking through the small walkways of Chinatown, you actually feel like you just walked into Chinatown with lit up signs you see in storefronts, and red lanterns lining the main walkways.
There are 24 main stages at Boomtown that can each hold some 10K plus of the 70K festival attendees, and host a wide array of artists we all know and love. Bang Hai Palace was by far one of the most impressive main stages I came across, with a light show like I’ve never seen before. We were lucky enough to walk in and catch the end of Plump DJs (who I’ve loved since I got into electronic music many years ago), and catch the heavy bass sounds of Hybrid Theory.