If you’re in search of a music and arts festival that is as creative and diverse as a David Bowie discography, then the BoomTown Fair could be your best bet.

Set in the beautiful and quintessentially English Matterley Estate, nr. Winchester, Hampshire, the BoomTown Fair returned for its 8th year, from Thursday 11th until Sunday 14th August 2016. A music, arts and family festival, Boomtown welcomes everyone, young and old, with open arms to get involved in the festivities and immerse themselves in what can only be described as an audio-visual joyride as eye-popping installations and eclectic musical genres transform this corner of the English countryside into a feast for the senses.

With diversity and independence being at heart of the BoomTown Fair, the organisers pride themselves on promoting a huge array of music styles, allowing for every kind of expression and celebration, with something for everybody and the freedom to enjoy it as you see fit.

Incorporating  everything from ska, folk, gypsy, reggae, world, punk, pirate and disco to electro-swing, the main stage line-up incorporated acts from all around the world. Of particular note for me were the performances from Madness and Damian Marley, which were fantastic and only slightly dampened by the size of the festival. With everyone looking to see some of those main stage acts you often found yourself so far away from the stage that the sound was reduced. But given the effort that went into creating so many stages, this was a small peeve.

The sheer number of music venues made it was possible to discover many new artists and one new band I added to my musical arsenal was Dr Schwamp, who delivered all int he vicinity from the stresses and strains of everyday life with the rrejuvinating powers of their wonderfully varied musical mayhem.

BoomTown 2016 was the year of the Revolution, a chapter in the ongoing fully immersive storyline that plays out throughout the festival, in recent years the festival has seen elections, corruption and Chapter 7 (2015 event) was left on the brink of revolution. All festival attendees (Boomtown citizens) were invited to become their inner character and be a part of the site-wide immersive experience and many, myself included, embraced the fancy dress vibe.

And the main thrust of the festival? Inclusivity and unification. With our modern fast paced lives where it’s often every man for himself, we can lose sight of that sense of community and it can be all too easy to forget we are all one people with the same hopes, dreams, struggles and passions. So the organisers at BoomTown wanted to create a city where it’s all about the getting back to the good stuff. A place where everybody is free to express themselves, to dress like kings and queens of the new world, to dance like everybody’s watching but you just don’t care! To celebrate each other! Inside BoomTown, creativity, colour and expression were the main currency and humanity was celebrated with emphasis diverted away from the commercial oppression of the mainstream.

And with such a huge importance being placed on community vibes, it is little wonder that this inclusive and groundbreaking independent festival actively promoted and placed a massive emphasis on eco-friendly initiatives. Some of the initiatives on site for BoomTown Chapter 8 included:

Tent Clearance – We’ve all seen those photographs of certain festivals where hundreds of tends are left strewn across the grasslands by less than considerate campers. Contrary to popular belief, there is no magic team of fairies that swoop into festival campsites and give all the tents to charity. At BoomTown, everyone was responsible for taking their belongings home with them. If you wished to donate your tent to charity then you were encouraged to take it home with you and to hand it in to a charity shop in your home town.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – BoomTowners were encouraged to reduce what they brought to the festival site with them, only bringing what they absolutely need. Reusing plastic bottles and cups and any putting any accumulated waste in recycle bins was also promoted with labelled bins located across the festival site.

BoomTown Ecobond – The EcoBond project had been setup to encourage all citizens to bag their waste up and hand it back in to reduce the impact the fair has on the estate. With every BoomTown ticket sold, an extra £10 EcoBond is added to the ticket cost which could be printed out as an e-ticket. On arrival to the festival, an EcoBond bag was  provided. Citizens filled the bags with waste or recycling and then took it to the EcoBond Depot where they exchanged them for their £10. This proved to be a popular scheme and more info on it can be found here.

Travel Carbon Off-setting – BoomTown citizens could offset the carbon generated by their travel to the festival site by donating to Energy Revolution at the point of ticket purchase. Energy Revolution is a registered festival charity that invests in clean energy to tackle climate change and create a sustainable future for everyone. By facilitating a way to account for travel carbon emissions, together we can account for millions of miles of travel. 100% of donations will go directly towards producing clean and renewable energy, replacing dirty fossil fuels with wind and solar power. For more info visit www.energy-revolution.org.uk.

Surplus food collection – Eighthplate is a combined initiative of FareShare South West, A Greener Festival and the National Caterers Association. This year they were e at BoomTown to help reduce the amount of perfectly useable food that is binned at the end of the festival. Throughout the festival they were collecting dry and canned foods from people that didn’t quite get round to cooking in the campsites and after the festival they worked with traders to take their surplus stock off their hands.

Ring pull collecting – Another new partnership for 2016 was with PCF who support children and families living in dire poverty on dump sites and in open cemeteries in the Philippines. The PCF team were #onthepull at BoomTown this year collecting ring pulls from drinks cans. Each ring pull collected is worth 4p to PCF and is hand crafted into beautiful handbags and accessories in their livelihood department in Tondo, Manila. More information on PCF can be found here.

Public transport – With citizen travel making up around 70% of a festival’s carbon footprint, BoomTown encouraged sustainable, green travel and reducing congestion via a number of public transport methods including; Coach & Festival Ticket packages; Shuttle Buses from the train station and Car Share schemes. To help those who attended via public transport and didn’t want to lug to much equipment, the event organisers offered a couple of pre-pitched tent hire options.

And BoomTown’s charitable and sustainable ethos didn’t end there, a vast amount of guilt free shopping was available at a spectrum of charity based shops. A full guide to sustainability and charity at BoomTown can be found here and here.

For more information on the BoomTown Fair, or for FAQ, visit http://www.boomtownfair.co.uk. 

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