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Having just about recovered from my bout of post festival blues, it is now time for me to take a stroll down memory lane and relay for you all the fun of the Fair that was Boomtown!

Boomtown Fair (with credit to Tora Baker)
Boomtown Fair (with credit to Tora Baker)

If you remember, from my preview article on the Fair, the location was kept a secret from ticket holders until a couple of weeks before the affair.  However I can now tell you that Boomtown Fair 2011 was held at the intimate location of Matterly Bowl, near Winchester, and what a grand event it was.

With over 2,000 tickets having been sold in the first week of release and announcements of new areas to explore, not to mention the mouth watering line-up, I had high hopes that my first experience of Boomtown was set to be a goodun’!

When you arrive at Boomtown, you can see where the name derives from as quite literally you are in a town, albeit one that looks like a scene from a post apocalyptic movie. The variety in venues, split into districts, combined with the miscellany of music ensured that you were literally transported to another time and place.

Adding to this was the attention to detail and the effort made by the organisers in creating an all encompassing atmosphere, not only with the fancy dress theme which allowed people to be characters within the town setting, but also the theatrical performances and other random events.  For example there were huge displays such as a giant metallic robot, a Tesco building with a car and rocket rammed into the side of it, and a mechanical horse walking through the crowd occasionally blowing out flames and neighing.

The Town Centre, which contained the main stage featured a number of amazing acts throughout the festival with bands such as Gorgol Bordello on Friday night and Goldie Lookin’ Chain and Bad Manners on Saturday.

The Lion’s Den played host to some of the finest Jungle and Reggae acts around such as the Iration Steppas, though I have to admit I was disappointed to learn on the Saturday night that Barrington Levy would no longer be performing at the Lion’s Den as planned for reasons unknown.    That aside, there was still a great number of acts to see, with the Bassline Circus tent not only actually putting on trapeze acts, but also providing a stage for grime and dubstep act Foreign Beggars, and drum ‘n’ bass/breakstep dj DJ Zinc who made his mark on the crowd with a typhoon of a set, comprising of some classic Zinc D&B tracks.

Another artist that impressed at the Fair was Ms Dynamite who got the crowd going with songs such as Katy B’s ‘Lights On’ which features Ms Dynamite, Magnetic Man’s ‘Fire’, and of course ‘Wile Out’.  The crowd was also lucky enough to be shown a preview of her latest single, ‘Neva Soft’, from her new album.  Whilst at Boomtown I was able to catch up with Ms Dynamite, and here is what she had to say:

Q.  So where have you travelled from to be here with us today?

North London!

Q.  Do you have any pre-performance rituals, maybe down a pint of whisky, some star jumps?

Not really, I get excited, and then I like to have 5 minutes on my own to calm down and then I go on and let it all out.

Q.  Any tips for first time festival goers?

Particularly based on tonight, bring warm clothes because this is England, and bring and umbrella as well!  Don’t bring your nicest clothing, wear comfortable shoes, and come with a really open attitude and mind.  Oh yeah, and wet wipes!

Q.  Is there a song you can’t stop listening to at the moment that you’d recommend we hunt down?

I would probably say Heaven by Emeli Sande

Q.  If you could see any act living or dead at Boomtown, who would it be?

Bob Marley

Q.  Word on the street is you have a new album dropping soon, can you give us some intel on this?

The first single, which is done with Labrinth and is called Neva Soft, is going to be released on the 5th September 2011 and you can catch the video on YouTube now.  The album will be out in the New Year, and I’ve been working with Naughty Boy and a few other producers I won’t talk about – leave it as a surprise!  I’m really enjoying making it, and very excited for it.

Q.  Any last words for your friends at Hello Eco Living?

Love, love, more love and wait… more love!

With something for everyone, even the kids who were gifted with Kid’s Town where there were a host of things to see and do, Boomtown proved to be a great festival.  Even in the mornings when I would wake up with a sore head I found the choice of food for breakfast was impressive.  The Fair with reasonably priced food stalls, of which I frequented the Burrito Van on numerous occasions, also catered for lunch and dinner.

Beyond all the fun of the fair, more attention could have been paid to the eco side of the fair.  There was on-site recycling, and an area at the festival devoted to permaculture, along with Liftshare scheme and Boombuses to help individuals to travel more sustainably by sharing their journey, but it would have been nice to have seen more eco-friendly initiatives. Still, it is early days and perhaps in future there will be opportunities to implement other sustainable solutions.

Apart from that with enthralling visual treats on every corner, fantastic sets, an array of clothing and gift stalls and some mouthwateringly tasty food on offer Boomtown proved to be a captivating festival for all ages alike.

“We would like to thank all our loyal and enthusiastic supporters. In a young and ambitious festival like Boomtown we are constantly trying to push the boundaries and expand our vision. Through this we are likely to run in to a few teething problems but with all the support we receive from the people who love and help Boomtown grow, together we can work on making this festival the perfect escapist, alternative event that we all aspire for it to be. Bring on 2012, we’ve only just begun!” – Lak Mitchell and Chris Rutherford, Boomtown Organisers and Founders.

Amen, roll on Boomtown 2012!

Hidden away deep within the Austrian Alps the postcard perfect Lech is a village in the Alberg area, filled with exclusive hotels and restaurants, it is not immediately obvious what a pioneer in sustainability it is.

Lech, awarded the title of ‘most beautiful village in Europe’, maybe the perfect eco ski resort with the ingrained appreciation of nature the locals have stems back to their humble farming origins 600 years earlier. Living in this area in the 1400’s people were very respectful of the harsh and dangerous environment around them and that to damage it could be fatal. Today the area still has much game, including marmots, chamois, ibex and deer and in spite of the potential financial gains of cutting down their habitat the decision was made to not expand. Rather than investing in expansion, money seems to be directed in evolving the quality of the resort, resulting in everything being of a wonderful standard not to mention being pricey.

Rules preventing people having a second home in Lech ensures an atmosphere many villages have lost. It has the perfect geography for skiing with ample snow every year and a sheltered landscape. Due to the cattle farming history it has cultivated grassy fields rather than more rocky terrain meaning the snow does not need to be as deep to ski on. The river water is almost of drinking quality and this water supplies the snow making machines – maintaining at least a few inches of snow protects the sleeping meadow beneath, so that it blooms soon after the snow melts in May.

We were fortunate to meet the passionate and very knowledgeable Dr Hermann Fercher who had been director of tourism for 40 years in Lech. Learning about Lech’s popularity, we discovered that the Alberg region was one of the first areas in the world to have downhill skiing, where it dates back to before the war. It seems numerous world champions have come from this tiny village providing the perfect PR campaign to increase tourism and growth. Furthermore many writers have included Lech in books due to its natural beauty solidifying its reputation as the original ski resort. In the early days of ski holidays, many ski instructors that moved out of Lech set up ski schools all over the world – including the US and Australia, perhaps leaving Lech and Zurs as the mother resort.

He explained that his vision was to have a resort with people from all over the world creating an interesting cosmopolitan vibe rather than have it dominated by one nationality or culture, and this certainly is the case. In Lech cars are kept underground – the idea being out of sight out of mind – and travel around the Alberg region is supported with a free bus service. To compliment such eco credentials, a biomass heating system is used to heat 223 hotels and guesthouses in Lech, and coupled with the bus service the air pollutants are kept to a minimum.

Moving up to the satellite resort of Oberlech, a car free area 700 meters up the mountain, it seems magical the way hotels and bars function – until you find out of the underground tunnel system. 60% financed by the private hotels, the delivery of goods and removal of waste is conducted via an underground transport system using electric carts. The benefit of this is in the reduced noise and air pollution as well as enhanced beauty. While in Oberlech we had the pleasure of staying at a hotel leading the way in sustainability – The Hotel Goldener Berg. Lech is a magical resort with some of the best skiing we’ve ever had – it was a real pleasure to visit a place boasting a strong community feel with both locals and visitors looking out for our environment. We’ll definitely be back for some excellent skiing next season…

For more information on Lech and the Alberg region, please visit http://www.lech-zuers.at/