Okay, So we know we are a little late on getting this up! But here is an extensive photo report on our trip to the stunning Blissfields Festival 2015! Enjoy!
After quite a long trip to London from ‘Up Norf’, it was then a further intense trip (…don’t you love megabus?) down to Winchester – so by the time we entered and were greeted by this parade of gold clad fellas I was quite ready for a little drink and a dance…
This bus formed the ‘Blisscotheque’ stage, and pumped out a great little range of sets – blasting out feel good Motown and Funk as soon as we arrived.
The festival had a number of really cool independent boutiques and stalls, Nadia found her favourite in Kouk & Feather Tree – a great collaborative business selling African print clothing (2-pieces in dazzling colour, made in Kenya), with Jewellry, feathers and embellishments from Feather Tree.
A great little business run by a really friendly couple!
The ‘Back of the Bus’ stage provided some really good Hip-hop and general party vibes throughout the whole weekend and was a constant chill out spot for many.
Camping facilities were excellent, with plenty of well maintained water points, toilets and bins. The festival is also dedicated to Green ideas, and they have schemes including a £5 payment if you fill up the rubbish bag you are given with your wristband.
For a relatively small festival, there were quite a number of installations and large scale decorations, it was clear that there had been much thought and effort put in to creating the whole look of the festival grounds, and I was very impressed. Easily surpassing many larger festivals in terms of artwork and interesting visual installations.
Headliners included huge acts such as The Horrors, John Grant, Simian Mobile Disco, Grandmaster Flash & Ghostpoet. Really quite impressive when seen alongside the many, many other acts!
At night, as is the way, the whole feel and experience of the festival changed. It was really exciting to see the way Blissfields had taken this into account – with much use made of lighting, projections, UV and constructions. The whole place really came alive at night, and it looked superb.
Another, not quite surprise, but definitely out of the way, is the ‘Hidden Hedge’ stage, squirreled away along a winding path and only coming alive at night, this was the destination for many of the people swaying through the darkness.
Nadia even found her hero stenciled on the entrance!
Featuring an outdoor DJ booth surrounded by tripped out visuals and the ‘Area 51 Stage’ (above), this was where we ended each night, the enthusiasm of the acts made for a great atmosphere upon finally getting there.
Apart from the obvious beautiful setting you can see in the pictures of the campsite/festival ground, it was surrounded by even more lush landscape, including a huge forest. The setting, for me was one of the biggest bonuses of the festival – it really is a stunning location.
Free hammocks in the centre of the festival ground, were highly sought after – and became bases for groups of friends as they took it in turn. Many funny conversations were overheard as people relaxed in the midday sunshine.
Apart from one grey morning, the weather was faultless – Bright and hot, to a Northerner it was quite a nice shock. (I’m still pink).
Watermelon smiles were a must for the midday heat!
Another good point, and a rarity, was the food available – couldn’t fault it! Instead of just the usual greasy spoon offerings at £20 for a bacon butty, mainly I would say they were all high standard and served much more interesting and healthy alternatives (though you could get a greasy butty too ….I sure did)
This guy was not only a showman, he made bloody awesome pizzas! super nice, some of the best I’ve had (find them here Pommarola Pizza Gardens). Really worth a mention, plus, check his skills!
One of my favourite acts of the whole festival ‘Ibibio Sound Machine‘ absolutely rocked it on ‘Singularity’ (the main stage). So good!!
One of the notable aspects of the festival was how well kids/families were catered for – and not in a separated sense of different areas (though there were lots of specifically kid friendly areas), everyone seemed to enjoy themselves throughout the festival at all ages. It really had a great atmosphere of families and young festival goers all mixing together with a very relaxed feel.
For kids and big kids alike (Nadia), there were many activities popping off across the grounds throughout the event. Here Nadia’s arm was twisted (barely) into joining a giant water fight hosted by Tracksuit and Tie.
…and then promptly got floured in the face for her efforts!
Having areas shaded by trees was a huge bonus, it was nice to be ‘in’ nature as opposed to just the bare grassy fields of most modern festivals. They were, of course a magnet for the many families to escape the sun.
An unexpected surprise and probably my favourite performance of the whole festival came from Loyle Carner – a London MC who performed to a crowd of about 3 people initially. Still, he wasn’t phased and dropped a set of smooth, heartfelt hip-hop over some sublime beats. Everything about this set was perfect for me, and the crowd soon grew with heads appearing from all sides of ‘The Den’ tent.
The tunes were great and heads were nodding, and people singing the hooks almost immediately… great presence on stage from a talented and modest pair.
One to watch!
In conclusion – Blissfields, a ‘big enough’ small festival, with a HUGE lineup of headliners and underground artists, set in BEAUTIFUL surroundings, for a TINY ticket price.
It has also been going for 15 years, a testament to this is how smoothly the festival ran (not one mistake/problem with sound lighting etc that I saw) and still remains limited to 4000 people, and retains the ‘feel’ of a small festival – people are friendly, helpful and relaxed.
Specifically good for families, and for people who are sick of the corporate mega-festivals and all the rubbish that goes along with them…
Blissfields 2016 – GO, …JUST GO!
Until next year, We out…
Words and Pictures by Oliver Smith & Nadia Amini.
Find out more about Blissfields on their website, and Facebook.
Thanks to all the staff and press liaison Alex, who looked after us.