Ahhh. The season of standing in fields, drinking, listening to bands and inevitably getting rained on is almost over… and we miss Valley Fest! It was awesome. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a gorgeous three-day festival in the picturesque Chew Valley, overlooking some seriously stunning lakes.
The backdrop really is special but more than that, it’s the kind of festival you want to put your arms around and give a massive hug to (you know, if it was actually possible to hug a festival)! I know what you’re thinking. Why? Why would anyone even *think* about hugging a festival :) Well, here’s a few reasons for ya!
Valley Fest is small, perfectly formed and because of that there’s an intimate, friendly feel to it all. It’s also full of lovely things to do for festival goers of all ages, whether you’re taking the kids, going as a bunch of mates or as a couple - hopping in your campervan like we did and escaping for a little while!
We’re talking different stuff to do, cool stuff. The stuff that made us start up Somerset cool in the first place as it goes - little boutique pop-up bars, cocktails in a caravan, sparkly clothes stalls, games, crafts, flowers, hot tubs and beauty treatments, a fantastic urban art area by Upfest and a DJ booth in a fire engine!
That’s what we love about it. The imagination that’s gone into every little detail - from the signposts that split up the main festival area by sections to explore...
(just look at camping ken in his undies!)
…to the graffiti artists creating their own piece of history as you watch (check out brilliant Street Artist, Angus, on Twitter by the way).
We tried our hand at pottery, with the lovely Sarah from Pottery On Wheels. She runs an ace ‘mobile’ pottery experience from her converted Land Rover, which meant we could sit at a potters wheel in the middle of a glorious field, with the backdrop of the Lake Stage and channel our inner Demi Moore! A pretty unique venue for it and for a first attempt on a wheel, it didn’t turn out too badly. We also giggled the whole time and Sarah definitely knows how to make pottery fun.
Wandering around the festival, we also spotted a lady dressed in a Tim Burton-esque outfit typing on a pale blue, vintage typewriter.
Naturally, we made a beeline for her to see what it was all about! It turned out that Beth was creating poetry on the spot. She asked us for a word (we gave her ‘sunshine’ ), a few things about us (we told her we’d recently celebrated our five year wedding anniversary) and she created the most beautiful personalised poem. Once she’d finished, she read it out to us and I have to admit my eyes were a little bit leaky! (Ahem! Must have been the pollen! :))
Anyway, these were just two tiny moments in a collection of many that made lasting memories for us - and as Valley Fest’s own description of itself goes, made us ‘smile 'til our cheeks ache’.
There were plenty of those to be had at Valley Fest! One of the areas was even called 'Gambol & Frolic' and you could bounce around on space hoppers until your heart’s content!
If frolics of a foodie nature appeal, you wouldn’t have been disappointed either. This festival is all about celebrating the land and British produce, so there were food demos aplenty at the Chew Stage and an emphasis on the organic, as well as on the local. The Somerset Wyke cheese toasties were fantastic for a midnight feast and we watched Josh Eggleton taking time out from the Great British Menu to talk us through how to make a mouthwatering potato salad. We all then shared it for a gorgeous picnic lunch. Yum!
So, music! Well, there was lots of it of course - new bands, local bands, bands you might not’ve discovered before, as well as a few headliners - and that’s cool with us. Over the two stages - the outdoor Lake Stage and the indoor Tipi Valley - you could pretty much listen to any kind of music you were craving, in a lovely environment with a little bit of space. Audiences weren’t on top of each other which was great for us. We like a bit of freedom for a proper dance these days! :)
On the Saturday night, the gypsy jazz of Sheelanagig stole the show in the Tipi Valley and on Sunday lunchtime, we settled on outdoor crates and loved the perfect folk sounds of Harry and the Gondolas.
For us though, it was all leading up to the Sunday night and The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Club. Yep - it was definitely time to get funky!
And what a set. Craig, in his bright orange jacket and totally in to the tunes, mixed together some awesome stuff that got everyone dancing under the starry night sky. It was a slice of funk-filled heaven!
No better Sunday. No better way to finish off our first time at this perfect little festival. Even the rain didn’t get us down! :)
The early bird…
If you think Valley Fest is right up your street (country lane’s probably more accurate :)) then early bird tickets for next year are already on sale. It’ll be happening a little bit sooner in 2017 too - from Friday August 4th - Sunday August 6th - but there’s still plenty of time to pack yourself a new pair of dancing wellies! We’ll see you there in ours!