BangHai Palace

The most explosive festival of all is coming to town in August and I can feel the excitement wriggling in my toes already. Hidden in the natural amphitheatre of Matterly Estate in Hampshire, this formally underground “city” is known for the diverse tastes and upbeat tempo of the crowd, the spectacular theatrics, and an awesome spectrum of music ranging from reggae, to drum and bass, to folk and many more.

This year will be my virgin BoomTown experience, but with the high praise dealt out for it by many of my friends from previous years, it was top of my list for festivals this summer, and the announcement of the line up made me feel like I’d been given little choice: go or regret. The Correspondents, Babylon Circus, Parov Stelar, The Skints, Ojos De Brujo, Madness – some of my favourite acts hooked my attention, and the more bands I looked into, the more that urging tingling sensation happened in my toes; I had to be there.

BoomTown 2016 lineup poster

Fancy dress, of course, is going to be crucial for such a sensationalist performance. Luckily, this is one of mine and my boyfriend’s fortes, as long as you count creating a reasonable outfit from anything scavengable from the house, and then dutifully cajoling our closest friend to cover us head to toe with glitter as a strong fancy dress look. Enough sustenance to keep our feet dancing for hours on end for several nights will also be necessary – and I don’t just mean drugs. One of my favourite parts of festivaling has to be the pre-shop, a magical experience in which you and your closest friends trawl through the cheapest local supermarket, chucking six parts alcohol and four parts too much junk food (crap you would never eat in your day-to-day life, but I know I’m going to be hungover for half the time I’m there, so…) into a wobbly trolley driven by a friend with no sense of direction. This year, unlike last years festivities, once we get there, there will be no tent sharing; the stress of me repeatedly requesting “shoes off please!” and “no crisps in my tent!” just got too much for all of us in the end, so it will be back to several pop-ups, with a spare one between us to hold all the boxes of wine.

Atmosphere 2 by Ian Taylor
Atmosphere 2 by Ian Taylor

And then it will begin: the thumping, dizzying, trampolining from district to district, losing our friends and our dignity and having a thoroughly good dance. With three brand new stages this year only adding to the chaos, entering this festival is going to be akin to throwing ourselves into a whirlpool of feather boas, pounding beats, mud, cider, glitter and new friends – many of my favourite things. A festival known for its wild theatrics and mind-boggling spectacles, I can’t wait to return with my own stories for a friend who called last year, passionately exclaiming that he was controlling the music with his mind in a small tent at BoomTown, and that no, he hadn’t taken any drugs (today). The narrative, the intensely themed districts, the colours, the mysterious masks and secrets that BoomTown is famous for: it’s a dream world, and with friends from all sorts of different areas of my life attending this year, dressed as ostriches, burlesque dancers, pianos, or sailors (and all coated in a thick lick of glitter), it’s going to be a very surreal experience indeed. Splash into the mix the extravagant music, stages and people that power this festival, and suddenly you’ve got the bath bomb of creativity and positivity exploding around the Matterly Bowl that will be the intense and, frankly, incredible, Chapter 8 of BoomTown Fair.


BoomTown tickets available here