A Travellerspoint blog

Summer 2009 festivals

Glastonbury, 'V' Festival and the Vale Earth Fair (Guernsey)

all seasons in one day

This summer has been busy as we've been around the British Isles with our tent and sleeping bags listening to some incredible music. We have been lucky enough to be able to go to three amazing but very different music festivals: Glastonbury, ‘V’ Festival and the Vale Earth Fair in Guernsey.

Our first was Glastonbury, which is said to be the world’s largest festival. I am not sure if this is true but with 170,000 people attending it must be close. One thing I found out this year, which will give you a good idea of what Glastonbury is all about, is that its official name is ‘Glastonbury Festival of Performing Arts’. The festival is not just about the music, they have:
The healing fields where you can learn to meditate and find out the colour of your aura;
The green fields where you can learn all about renewable energy and composting;
The circus area;
The stone circle, overlooking the festival below, where you can put into practice your meditating with like-minded souls;
Nudists, well only two but they were pretty well accepted wandering around the Greenfields;
There is a lot more, far much to really do and see in just one visit to the festival.

The Glastonbury festival proper runs Friday to Monday, though you can arrive any time from Wednesday. Not wanting to miss anything, and in an attempt to find a good campsite, Di and I decided to try to arrive at the festival around lunchtime on the Thursday. After walking across with our packs and tent, we found a camp site and set out in the beautiful sunshine to explore the site and check out Maximo Park who were opening the festival. The photo below is of how close we got, or didn’t, to Maximo Park:

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Glastonbury is stereotypically known for its rain. Every year there are photos in the news of flooded tents, people playing in the mud and everybody in their ‘wellies’ (Wellington boots, or gumboots for people back home). This year it didn’t look like it would be any different with thunder storms forecast but it turned out we were very lucky as it only really rained twice. It poured with rain overnight on Thursday night and overnight on Sunday night; this was the best of both worlds really, we got to wear our wellies (for the entire festival) and we didn't get wet all weekend.

Highlights included:

- Blur playing all their best songs and the crowd going crazy for each and every one;
- Neil Young finishing his set with an amazing cover of ‘A day in the life’ by the Beatles;
- Sitting in the sun on our folding chairs sipping ale and cider listening to Jason Mraz;
- Seeing one of my workmate's sister play with her band Polly and the Billets Doux while the crowd was jumped on and generally ‘played’ with by people dressed up as cats;
- Wandering through Trash City, Shangri-la and Arcadia - these were the three areas that remained open after the final headline acts finished and were very much a contrast to the Green fields and Healing fields we saw earlier in the festival. Trash City reminded me of a scene out of Mad Max, pieces of helicopter and cars everywhere, giant flames shooting from sculptures and transvestites wandering around a bombed out building. Shangri-la was straight out of Blade Runner, little alleys with many nooks and crannies to drink in. And I am not to sure what Arcadia was about, it was 1000’s of people dancing around a massive music and flame-emitting structure. Keeping in mind this was all created for the festival each year on a dairy farm in Southern England it was very impressive. We, unfortunately, only discovered these areas on our final night so didn’t have much of a chance to experience it. Though this gives us a good excuse to buy tickets for Glastonbury next year when they come out on sale next week.

To summarise, the bands we saw (and can remember) were: Blur, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, The Specials, Jason Mraz, Dizzee Rascal, Maximo Park, Tom Jones, The Noisettes, Bat for Lashes, Kasabian, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Metric, Dead Weather, The Sunbirds, and F@*%ed Up.

The photos below are of me sitting on the grass enjoying a falafel wrap, the peace wall, and a view of the festival from our camp site:

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The Park (one of the music areas), some caravans in the park and Di in the Stone Circle:

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The Pyramid stage:

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Di out and about, us in front of the pyramid stage, and a cake and surfer mascot which people use to keep their groups together:

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Polly and the Billets Doux and the cat-like people:

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Bruce Springsteen and Arcadia:

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Our next summer festival was ‘V’ Festival (the 'V' is for Virgin Music). We hadn’t actually planned to go to this festival as we had just been to Glastonbury, but we had so much fun at Glasto that when we found out that Dan and Jo were going we quickly changed our minds. As large festivals go 'V' and Glasto are very different, both are brilliant, but different. If you want to have a weekend of just awesome music, 'V' is for you. It is a lot more commercial, but with less people it makes getting around the stages and from your tent to the stages very easy. It is in fact so regimentally organised that they cut off Lady Gaga’s sound mid-song when she over ran her slot!

Having gone to Glasto by ourselves it was nice to go to 'V' with a group. We went with our friends Dan and Jo, and their (our soon to be) friends Dyfan, Andrea, Claudia, Neto and Fabiolo.

Highlights included:

- Snow Patrol: I have to say I was a little dubious about seeing Snow Patrol live. I enjoy their music but sometimes it's a little depressing. Man, was I wrong, they were awesome! Playing live, their songs were energised with big vocals, guitars, they interacted with the crowd and seemed to be having the time of their lives and so were we. See this link for one of their songs at 'V'.
- The Killers: We have always wanted to see The Killers live and they were as good we imagined.
- The Ting Tings: These guys were actually at Glasto too but we missed them. For those who don’t know The Ting Tings are a poppercussion group, i.e. lots of drums. On the radio they are good, live they are great, they (there is only two of them) had so much energy jumping all over the stage producing this thumping beat on one of their many drums.
- Oasis: This it turned out was their last ever show as they had to cancel their next show at the other 'V' location in Chelmsford and then they broke up a few days later. Their break-up was not that much of a surprise to anyone as the two brothers, Liam and Noel, had stopped talking to each other recently and they actually continued this through our show, though they still played all their hits impeccably and the crowd got behind all of them. They finished on the Beatles song ‘I am the Walrus’, which was great.
- Calvin Harris: Jumping around dancing to his many hits.
- Everyone else we saw really, The Human League, Goldie Lookin’ Chain, Jet, Taylor Swift, Ocean Colour Scene, James Morrison and Natalie Imbruglia.

It was a great weekend. Car trouble on the way home couldn’t even put a damper on it.

The pictures below are of: Di, Dan and Jo in the crowd in front of the main stage and a coin-operated hair straighter stall. The hair straightening stall had to make me laugh because at this point I hadn’t had a shower in two days:

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Di and I in the Arena tent with Human League just about to come on and a speaker stack in front of the main stage:

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Oasis, the Ting Tings and The Killers on stage:

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Our final summer festival was the ‘Vale Earth Fair’ on Guernsey. Again, this was very different to the other two festivals we'd been to earlier. Guernsey, along with Jersey, make up the Channel Islands just off Normandy on the French coast. Guernsey isn’t actually part of the UK as I'd thought before we went, though they do accept English pounds?! According to Wikipedia they make up the remnants of the Duchy of Normandy.

The main reason we went to this festival was to see DJ Shaun K Smith play. We had seen Shaun play a couple of times in London before and really enjoyed his sets and thought it was as good an excuse as any to get off the mainland for the Bank Holiday weekend. It also helps that Shaun is a good mate of ours and had pestered us, in a good way! pretty much every time we saw him, for us to go.

Shaun's pestering had worked on more than just us as he convinced 12 of us to go in total. So, with that sort of number, we decided we would take the ferry over rather than flying and so we ended up with all 12 of us staying the night at our place on the Friday night. After some pizzas, beers, and a maximum of around 90 minutes sleep we set off at 3am for Weymouth on the South coast to catch our 7am ferry. After a non-eventful drive we arrived at Weymouth just in time to see the last people leave the pub from the night before. With the little we saw of Weymouth it is a beautiful seaside town. The photos below are of us leaving Weymouth on the ferry:

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After the ferry trip we arrived on one of the loveliest little islands I have ever visited; lots little boats, houses and amazing scenery. The pictures below are of us setting up our camp site:

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The Vale Earth Fair is set in the ruins of Vale Castle. It had 5 stages and about 1000 people crammed into every bit of free space. The festival was a lot of fun, it was great seeing Shaun play to a packed dance area. The pictures below are of the festival:

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Hope you all are well back home. Our next stop is Oktoberfest (Munich) next weekend; we'll keep you posted!

Posted by Di and Cam 04:28 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

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