In Review: Boomtown 2018
Once a year, nestled in the valleys of the Matterley Estate in Hampshire, a city of 60,000 comes alive. Boomtown is simply like no other festival. It’s a dystopian Disneyland brought to life by a crew of 10,000 with 11 districts, all playing a part in the story that has unraveled over the 10 chapters of the festival.
Boomtown is one of the UK’s largest independent festivals, and for that reason it offers so much more than it’s bedfellows. Unfettered by sponsorship and corporate investment, the founders have created something that is beyond the realms of what we have come to think of as a ‘festival’. This is a space where creatives can unleash their imaginations, and escape into an adventure constructed via a black mirror onto the world outside.
After the privatisation and corporate control of the story in Chapter 9, this year culminated in the machine ‘AMI’ taking control of the city and the reappearance Boomtown’s founder, Nickolas Boom, setting up the theme for Chapter 11 as ‘A Radical City’;
‘The future of Boomtown is unwritten, we must consider environment, sustainability and consequences in order to survive…’
This echoes the festivals strong eco and ethical ethos, and it’s great to see this will play a more central focus in the festival going forwards.
Having said that, they already have some brilliant initiatives in place to help reduce the impact of the festival and every single festival goer. Each ticket comes with an eco bond that is only redeemable when you collect a bag of rubbish. Furthermore, the festival has teamed up with recycling campaigns such as Every Can Counts and Buttrfly championing can and cigarette butt recycling across the site.
The story that has taken shape over the last 9 chapters, saw the site change dramatically this year with corporations taking over areas such as Mayfair, which became Paradise Heights, and the new addition, Boomtown Springs, offering festival goers VIP camping Boomtown style.
Actors in tennis whites greeted campers with a glass of fizz and helped them carry their belongings and pitch their tents, while cheerily chatting away. Interactive events and parties were held all weekend long, creating the feeling of a huge house party crossed with Hi-de-Hi! The festival opened on Wednesday this year for the first time, allowing Boomtown Springs residents access to the site, and general campers could also upgrade to get an extra day at Boomtown too.
The Boomtown Springs area comprised of a mansion, complete with checkerboard dance floor and pink limo DJ booth, a pool, flushing toilets, a huge shower block, bar, food traders and lots of space for croquet, badminton and a Miss Boomtown pageant. Springs campers also benefited from their own car park close to the camp for minimal schlepping distance.
Away from Boomtown Springs, and up through the woods into Hilltop, the districts of Paradise Heights, Copper County, Town Centre and Old Town lay ahead full of hidden venues, undiscovered music and flamboyant theatricals.
Actors and performers, stroll side by side with festival goers in all manner of fanciful dress, taking cues from the multitude of themes across the site, from deranged pirates to monstrous robots.
Down the Hippy Highway to Downtown, the city becomes dark, mysterious and industrial. Shipping containers, high rise buildings, concrete structures and corrugated steel create hidden corners and venues with names such as ‘Robotika’, ‘Scrapyard’, ‘Hanger 161’, and ‘Little Pharma’.
Behind the industrialised hubs of Metropolis, Sector 5 and Bang Hai Towers lies Barrio Loco, a bright and colourful district full of creativity and diversity. The 24 Hr Garage Girls created impromptu street parties, Chali 2Na teamed up with Krafty Kuts for a late night set at Poco Loco, and Swindle brought the house down at Desperados Clubhouse.
Up on the hill above Downtown, lies Whistlers Green. A homage to the roots of festival culture, celebrating arts, community, nature and world music. This district, perched on the hill top, offers breath-taking views of the South Downs National Park, and provides festival goers a chance to discover more about the conservation area, and support local and independent businesses through the farmers market tent, and creative workshops and talks.
Through the woods next to Whistlers Green sprawls Temple Valley home to the Lion’s Den stage and Sector 6. The Lion’s Den opens the festival each year with a dazzling opening ceremony complete with colourful dancers, flames, throbbing soundtrack and cascading waterfalls either side of the stage.
Further along the valley, Sector 6 closed the festival on Sunday night with a crowd pleasing set from Andy C against a backdrop of awesome laser and fireworks displays.
Across the site, each area showcases a diverse mix of music genres with brilliant sets from Shy FX, The Skints, The Selector, Skatalites, Morcheeba and Limp Bizkit.
Through all this celebration of creativity and individuality, the key message that underpinned the whole festival was respect. Boomtown has sowed the seeds for a sustainably focused event, putting respect for the environment at the heart of their agenda, but this also permeates into social awareness. It’s an appreciation for the world around us, how we treat ourselves and others, and, how we can make a difference to our communities.
This inclusive festival draws on creativity from every corner of the globe. It’s a space celebrating freedom, where everyone is welcome.
As the festival has developed over the last 10 years, the organisers have had to deal with many challenges due to the rapid growth and popularity of the event. However, with their sights set on creating a truly ethical independent festival, could Boomtown become the leading light in festival sustainability?
One thing that is clear, is that Boomtown will continue to be a hedonistic adventure, full of immersive escapades and brimming with talented creatives, making it unique and unparalleled on the UK festival scene.
Boomtown Chapter 11 will take place on 7 – 12 th August 2019. If you’d like to keep up to date with ticket information, sign up to their mailing list on the Boomtown website.
Love, Rosie xxx