Beautiful Days is infamous as the festival that refuses to sell out. Free from the shackles of corporate sponsorship, the event aims to inject a sense of community into the heart of attendants.
The Levellers’ wanted to create a festival that “offers not only the best in live music today but to re-create a community spirit that many events nowadays lack or choose to ignore. This event is about people young and old coming together and taking part in something that will be remembered for a long time.” As the anarchists they are, their no-nonsense stance to corporate bullshit has remained with them for the best part of quarter of a century.
In the beautiful Devonian countryside, the festival serves locally brewed ales (by the Otter Brewery), an on sight ‘village shop’, as well as a variety of craft, world food, and fancy dress stalls. It’s obviously doing well as it is now coming into its 12th year, and has an ever-growing list of awards. What appealed to me the most was their being shortlisted last year for the UK Festival Awards Best Toilets award 2013- for obvious reasons. Some of the festivals I have been to in the past offered those blue blocks that turn into greenhouses during a heat wave. As well as being terrible for the environment, the scents they harbour by the end of the events are painfully grim. If Beautiful Days has award-worthy toilets, I’m going to want to be a part of that.
Another sturdy award they received was Best Family Friendly Award 2013. Although that may be a turn off for some, please, let me explain. Beautiful Days caters for families better than any other festival, this means that kids have a place to go do kid stuff, a place that includes workshops, theatre, music, and beanbags, while parents can spend some alone time drinking cider while listening to the Dead Kennedys.
Ironically, Beautiful Days shares its weekend with V Festival – its polar opposite. Although younger folk would be more into V, Beautiful Days is the more mature, relaxed equivalent.
The family emphasis may be a bit off-putting for the younger audiences, but the line-up is so diverse and unique that it’s worth the money. An example of this diverse and unique that I speak of is Tinariwen; to those who don’t know who they are, they are electric guitar playing, camel riding, desert dwellers who sing in Arabic and French with an incredibly moving past. Throughout the years, they have gained popularity in Europe, even playing at Glastonbury a couple of times. Another headliner is the infamous Seasick Steve, who gained success in the UK in 2006 with his Dog House Music album (hell, why am I telling you this, you must know who this bloke is!). Obviously, there’s also the yearly headlining act, the Levellers. These guys save the main stage for an explosive (no pun intended) gig with fireworks, and a packed out audience every time, because, well, they earned it.
As is the law with most of the smaller festivals now, Beautiful Days has a theme. Where last year was animal themed, this year is yet to be announced. The theme also, of course, leads to a parade, which, although traditional with plenty of festivals now, is still unique. With so much creativity around, there are sculptures and art installations annually at Escot Park, where Beautiful Days is held, as well as workshops that adults can take part in.
With popular bands from tonnes of different genres playing, and real food from all over the world, this festival has a lot of potential and a lot of ease selling out of tickets.
Beautiful Days is one of the most down to earth festivals out there and the Levellers’ attitudes towards how to run it are admirable to say the least. The community spirit feel is definitely something that many corporation-based places are lacking. It’s your no-nonsense, no frills event, with great food and drink accompanying (and, if you’re skint, you are welcome to BYOB). It doesn’t get much better.
For more information and tickets view our guide to Beautiful Days Festival.