What happens when some of the northern hemisphere’s most creative, wicked minds feel that the current music festival scene had become bland & lacking in atmosphere? They create their own…

What happens when some of the northern hemisphere’s most creative, wicked minds feel that the current music festival scene had become bland & lacking in atmosphere? They create their own immersive festival utopia, where the boundaries of music, theatre, performance, celebration & community all bend & blur, culminating in what has become the labyrinth like rabbit hole known as ‘Boomtown Fair’. As they describe the event, it is ‘A living theatre that ignites imagination and inspires the emergence of a better world through connection, creativity and celebration.’

Since 2009, this epic award-winning festival has evolved & grown to a point where it is made up of 14 standalone immersive ‘city districts’ across a 550 acre event site – all creating completely different & unique settings complete with streetscapes, stages, bars & all sorts of hidden hedonistic spaces where anything can & does happen. And whilst each district has it’s own storyline, the fantasy continues with each years ‘Chapter’ (or festival) having an overlying narrative thread – from fighting alien invasion to overthrowing dictators to hacking evil corporations to public elections – it really is a 4 day choose your own adventure!

Of the 77,000 people who attend the event, almost 25% of those are artists, actors & crew who bring their worlds to life with conviction & commitment! The level of attention to detail is mind blowing, making it a real struggle to know what is real & what is just UNREAL!

Districts include Metropolis, Dstrkt5, Barrio Loco, Old Town, Psy Forest, Lion’s Den, Paradise Heights, Area 404, Copper County & Diss-Order Alley to name a few, and all are built from scratch each & every year within the rolling green hills of Mattersley Estate in Winchester, England. Each distinctly themed district is built, decorated & staffed by actors to create a completely immersive alternate reality full of heroes & villains, straight out of your wildest fantasy.

Having the pleasure of attending the event in 2016, it was a game changer in my perception of what a festival can be. Coming from the ‘very middle class’ (ie, posh!) Wilderness Festival the weekend prior in Oxfordshire – which set the benchmark for how luxurious & fancy a festival can be – Boomtown Fair was a much gritty & subversive affair. The line of reality was constantly blurred. Once on a morning walk to get breakfast in the wild west setting of Copper County, a brief morning pleasantry to a ‘local’ ended up with us being dragged into a fully dressed courthouse, put on trial before a gowned judge & a 12 person jury, where the prosecution insisted a crime had taken place. Despite my own defense & supported by my own attorney, a surprise star witness burst into the courthouse & threw the case wide open. I was dragged from the stand & put straight into the stocks, to be punished before being chased out of town! 15 minutes later we were left thinking ‘what the fuck just happened!’

Much later in the weekend, after averaging over 20km’s a day exploring the massive site, a plume of acrid black smoke trickled then exploded into the air over the festival site not far from our tent. We attempted to investigate, but were told to stay back & prevented from entering our campsite. As constant explosions could be heard & the smoke got thicker, we were left wandering was this part of the show. After seeing the 80+ burnout cars as we left the site, a discarded cigarette had caused a very real situation.

But this is testament to the conviction, creativity & execution of this event that after entering Boomtown Fair, you absolutely enter an alternate reality. With world class acts, the highest production standards, and very few boundaries, there is nothing on earth like it. Where every structure is a stage, every person is a performer & every element is in place for you to enjoy.