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10 Reasons to Go to Boomtown Fair

22 July 16 words: Bridie Squires

"From the deifying political campaign posters of Mayor Comrade Jose, to the books hanging from the trees in the Wandering Word, there are so many things to find if you keep your eyes wide open"

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photo: Charlie Raven for Boomtown

The Town

When the Bang Hai Palace stage popped up in DSTRKT 5 last year, it blew my eyeballs into the back of my head. Created by some kind of pyromaniac geniuses, it’s fierce with light. DSTRKT 5 is just one of nine districts in Boomtown, each with its own personality. 

The ungodly ‘brothels’ hiss in the belly of the Downtown ghetto in DSTRKT 5; the fat cats fish with money on the ends of their rods in Mayfair; a dubstep diamond mine awaits exploration in the Wild West; there’s a deep house DJ with a lamp on his head and a feather boa round his neck in an old lady’s living room in OldTown; there’s a bicycle trick at Boomtown Carnival in Whistlers Green and Kidz Town; the reggae tumps and lions roar in Trenchtown; the Barrio Loco fighting ring is bustling with a hip hop dance-off while ninjas backflip past in Chinatown. But Sector 6 is a mystery.
 

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photo: Andy McEwan

The Lineup

Venues, stages, food and music lean on the theme of the districts, with some of the most interesting and eclectic selections of stuff. This year, Nottingham punk badasses Ferocious Dog can be found down The Old Mines among mad country bands banging away on their washboards. Meanwhile Nottingham’s Tumble Audio will be dropping the wobblers Downtown in DSTRKT 5 and Hallouminati can be found on the Jolly Dodger – a massive pirate ship washed up near the Town Centre. Over to the Windmill Stage in Whistlers Green and Craig Charles, Prince Fatty and our Harleighblu are dishing out all the soul, funk and reggae you could want for. Nottingham reggae legend Parly B’ll be knocking about too.

Fat Freddy’s Drop are a headliner this year. *Bites fist*. The rest of the musical tribe is packed with scrumptious names too: Damian Marley, Pharoahe Monch, Levellers, Dead Players, MC Devvo, Madness, So Solid Crew, Deep Medi, Renegade Brass Band, Nightmares on Wax, Submotion Orchestra, The Skints, Gorgon Sound, Pavrov Stelar, Leftfield, Morgan Heritage, Asian Dub Foundation, The Heatwave, and that’s just skimming the surface, with so much to unearth. Dub, reggae, ska, electronic, bass, punk, folk, hip hop, and everything in between can be found here.
 

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photo: Andy McEwan

The Story

Each year the fair’s story progresses another chapter and 2016 acts as Chapter 8. The tale has seen some twists for sure, and the picture looks quite different to its humble beginnings of Mr Boom’s fabulous spread and dancing party. Boom disappeared, there have been Arcadia alien invasions, calls for democracy, questionable political movements, and there’s a newspaper printed every day providing updates. Last year, there was an uprising against the corrupt Mayor Comrade Jose, and now she is due to press more propaganda and misery onto the townspeople. The masked man slips through her fingers.
 

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photo: Andy McEwan

The Attention to Detail

From the deifying political campaign posters of Mayor Comrade Jose, to the books hanging from the trees in the Wandering Word, there are so many things to find if you keep your eyes wide open. Maybe you’ll find a piano in the woods, maybe some posh toffs in Mayfair who give you a bowler hat and invite you to watch some jelly wrestling, maybe a ‘Mr Whompy’ ice cream van blasting bassline tunes.
 

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photo: Andy McEwan

The EcoBond

This is the best idea ever. You pay an extra ten pounds on top of your ticket price and if you bring them back a bag of rubbish at the end of the festival you get your ten pound back. Plus, they've got compost loos which are great for the environment. 
 

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photo: Andy McEwan

The Workshops and Activities

Interesting activities are rife in Boomtown. As well as comedy and debate down Speakers’ Corner, there’s loads of stuff for kids – with everything from pie throwing, yoga and obstacle courses, to willow weaving, circus skills and stargazing. Big kids are more than welcome to get stuck in too. Failing that, chuck yourself down the massive waterslide that could randomly appear at any time. Not even joking.
 

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photo: Andy McEwan

The Boomtique Village

In the midst of the craziness, you can escape to a drop of paradise. With hot tubs, saunas and plunge pools about, the relaxation and revitalisation game is strong. It's like sitting in a wise wizard's living room with a cup of tea, feet up. You can even get yourself a massage or treatment up at Whistler’s Green.
 

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photo: Andy McEwan

The Random

I can’t stress how random this place is. Suddenly, there may be a huge pillow fight with millions of feathers flying around, or you might see a man inside a jukebox selecting records. One year, a big group of us couldn’t work out whether a man pushing a trolley was indeed a man, or a robot. Live by one rule when at Boomtown: if there is a lid, lift it.
 

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photo: Andy McEwan

The Wandering Word

Another little slice of calm (at times.) With loads of benches laid out, there’s spoken word as well as bands on this secret stage where you can read the walls plastered in words, or just chill and listen to some dreamy hip hop. But if that doesn't tickle your pickle, you can always make your way to the Hidden Woods to skank out to drum 'n' bass. Y'know, whatever works for you.
 

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photo: Andy McEwan

The Bin Drumming

Every year on the last night, when the music stops, everyone turns the bins upside down and has a massive session in the woods. About 100 people all bashing away. Don’t get me wrong, it’s complete chaos, but occasionally everyone slips into sync and everyone looks at each other like ‘It’s happening. It’s happening.’

It really sums up what the weekend is all about – chaos, partying, and playing together.

Boomtown Fair, Matterley Estate, Hampshire, Thursday 11 – Sunday 14 August 2016

Tickets are on final release. Get some here


Boomtown Fair website
LeftLion’s Boomtown 2015 Story

 

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