BoomTown Fair. If Banksy did festivals, this is what they’d look like. There aren’t tickets – there are passports. Don’t look for the concert organiser – look for the BoomTown mayor. Don’t go searching for anything normal – this is a place where the edgier side of your imagination is let loose.
Of course, there are alcoves of many festivals where you’ll find street performers and art installations. In fact, the ultra-weird is starting to enter into the territory of the everyday, so what exactly is so special about BoomTown?
Let’ start with the basics. For 2015, BoomTown revellers enjoyed five days of carousing across nine ‘districts’ and 22 stages, with a dense and varied plethora of street artists, actors, and installations littering the streets with something new at each turn.
Perennial favourites include the Jolly Dodger, where corseted and tattooed pirate wenches alternate between entwining themselves in the rigging or hurling 18th century abuse at the scurvy landsman who venture past their decks. You might also have spotted an alien autopsy being performed on an unsuspecting passer-by in Distrikt 5.
Another key component is the woods that surround the area. They separate each district with camping grounds, and each one boasts its own treehouse DJ. You might find branches draped in fairy lights or UV wicker pods, all while psytrance blasts out around you.
But the real thrill of BoomTown is being able to invent your own story and mingle into a world of fantasy. Feel like being an Edwardian cyberpunk with a penchant for piracy? That’s exactly who you can be.
And, in a way, that’s the best thing about BoomTown. When you book your Passport for this kind of madness, then madness is exactly what you’re going for. Headline bands aren’t the draw here; instead, people are anxious to check out the Jolly Rodger or have their dreads sheared off by a team of Victorian-style goths at Jack the Clipper.
The music forms the beating pulse of the festival, but it’s really just there to increase the drama of the event itself. That means that you’ll be able to take in the sounds of quality acts that you might not recognise right away. Boomtown might be ostensibly about breaking down social barriers, and even blasting its way through the doors of perception, but the real magic is that it breaks away the need to lure you in with top-name bands. This is where you’ll find new acts, as well as new experiences.