This was only my second time attending Barefoot Festival, the previous time was two years ago in 2016, and I missed it last year due to it being on the same weekend as local music festival Simon Says. This year, Simon Says has taken a break so there was no chance of it clashing and I thought I’d head over to the grounds of Prestwold Hall, just outside Loughborough for a few days.
The festival takes place and has activities/events from Friday to Sunday and they were published on the website in the days/weeks leading up to the event so that people attending could plan what they wanted to do. Even though the weather has been beautiful for a number of weeks, they were forecasting storms at times, but I would go prepared and deal with whatever the weather was like.
On the Friday gates opened at 2pm, and I had planned to be there for around 5pm with more stuff I wanted to do in the evening and the weather not being the best early on during Friday. I’ll be the first to admit that most of the activities taking place over the weekend aren’t really for me, but the main areas I look at for this festival are the bands tent, who had a few acts I really wanted to see, and the Big Top, which has a cabaret show on the Friday and a burlesque show on the Saturday. They also have events taking place around the camp fire, mainly the lighting of it on the first evening and then a fire show on Saturday, but most the events around here are weather dependant, so I didn’t know how much would actually happen this year.
I arrived on site, collected my wristband and headed onto the field to take a walk around and see what was going on. With the first band I really wanted to see not on for a bit, I walked round, grabbed some food and drink, then found a place near to the bands tent and laid down on the grass to relax for a bit while the sun was still shining. While I was there I saw a few people I know, either just arriving and making their way to set up their tents, or coming back from the camping area.
The first band I wanted to see were on at 6pm, Last Edition, who I saw recently at Riverside Festival. I managed to catch most of their set before going over to the camp fire later as that was due to be lit at around 6.30. With the fire lit, I had a bit of time with nothing planned before there were a few things taking place in the evening which I didn’t know exactly what I’d be doing as the timings clashed a bit.
With the weather being nice again, I made my way over to nearer the Big Top and waited around that area, having a lay down on the grass for a bit, as next up over there was the cabaret show. That started at 8pm and was due to go on until around 10.30pm, but I probably wouldn’t stay for all of it as there were two bands I also wanted to see. I managed to stay and see the cabaret show for the first half and then when it was announced that there would be an interval and that was just before 9pm, I thought it worked out perfectly and I could then go over to the bands tent. I’d seen a few things I wanted to see in the cabaret show, The Chicas Locas, The Vixen Trio, Chaines Dance Company and Doe Demure, and while they may have performed again in the second half, at least I got to see them perform once.
Over in the bands tent, just about to start their set were Idle Empire. Really good local band who I’ve seen numerous times over the last few year, and they won the Original Bands Showcase back in 2016. Can’t remember the last time I saw them but they are one of the bands that if I ever see them playing a local gig, I’ll try to get along to it, and they really suit the festival atmosphere, as they had the crowd dancing along to their songs.
Headlining in the band tent for the Friday night were The Brandy Thieves. One of my favourite local bands, they always put on an amazing show, playing their original songs to a packed crowd who loved every minute of it. Another band who are perfect for the festivals, making use of their wireless equipment and heading out into the crowd at times, really adds to a set. They also announced that they have an album launch show later on this year, I think in early November, so I’m hoping to get along to that.
I briefly made my way over to the fire labyrinth that was taking place out near the camp fire, but I wanted to see the rest of The Brandy Thieves set, so I was quickly back in the bands tent.
After their set, I stayed around for a bit and chatted to a few people there, but wanting to get home and sort a few photos out I didn’t stop around for long but it was a fantastic first day of Barefoot Festival 2018, and I was looking forward to the rest of the weekend.
Again, on the Saturday, many of the activities aren’t really for me, but there were a few events I wanted to get along to, a couple of bands, the burlesque and then the fire show. Some of the timings clashed again, but I’d see how much I could do.
The weather for Saturday morning wasn’t the best, I wasn’t there but I saw the forecast and then a few posts on social media by people I know who were there, and that did affect my decision of what time to head back to the site. If the weather had been nice and sunny, as it had been for weeks leading upto this weekend, I’d have probably been back a lot earlier, but as it was, I arrived back at Barefoot Festival probably around 6pm.
Making my way straight over to the bands tent where I could get out of the rain and also see The 40 Hertz who were playing when I arrived over there. I saw a few people I know who hadn’t been there the previous day and sat around in that area for quite a while. Next up in the bands tent were Lycio, who I hadn’t seen or heard of before, but they were really good, I’ll certainly be checking them out again and hoping to get to any other gigs they play.
After Lycio had finished their set, there was about 15-20 minutes until the burlesque show was due to start at 8pm, and it was raining outside. I didn’t really want to stand around in the rain so I quickly made my way over to the Big Top and got inside so I could see how it would be setup and where may be best to take photos from. When I was here two years ago, the Cabaret show wasn’t the best lit, and then the burlesque show had nice lighting. With this years cabaret show also having decent lighting, I was confident that wherever I was taking photos from, I shouldn’t have to use flash as the lighting should be ok.
I decided to take a seat near the front, just a little off to the side and while there was a quite large performance area, there was also a smaller stage towards the back which if anyone stayed to perform up there, I would be quite far away, so I hoped there weren’t too many that did.
The show was split into two parts, with an interval in between. The first part before the interval was to be more family friendly, and then more of the burlesque acts later on in the night. It was a fantastic show from start to finish, with Sophelia Skye kicking things off with an aerial silk routine, and then later on she would perform another aerial silk routine and then a contortion routine. Host for the event was Stage Door Johnny, who did a great job introducing the acts and keeping the audience entertained while setups took place, even if this did involve a planned wrong song setup that ended up not going quite to plan, but looked seamless. I was also really impressed with the performance from Nate St Nate, who did a clown act which went over really well with the crowd.
Headlining the first half of the evening was the wonderful Talulah Blue, who had organised the show, with only one performance this evening, but it was a good one using different props and a lot of fire.
It was time for the interval and as there was to be a short break they had what turned out to be a lengthy game of musical statues for any children who wanted to take part. I decided to stretch my legs a bit as I’m not used to sitting cross legged for any length of time, so was starting to cramp up a bit.
The second half of the show had a good amount and variety of performers, including contortion, boylesque, feathers, fans and finishing with another fantastic fire performer, with an act based around Game of Thrones and the Dragon Queen.
The show ran over a little bit so I was eager to make my way back to the bands tent to catch Goldwater, who had already started their set. Another local band who I always try and get along to see, they put in so much to their live performances that everyone is unique. They were at Barefoot festival a couple of years ago when I was least here and in that time I’ve seen them on quite a few occasions now.
They played a marvellous set to a packed tent, finishing up with Grant, the lead singer, crowd surfing, and while he is usually very animated at gigs, this was the first time that I’ve seen him crowd surfing, rather than just going into the crowd with microphone, and sometimes mic stand included. I did think about going over to the fire show, but as I’d arrived late to Goldwater, I wanted to see the rest of their set, so I missed it.
Saturday evening came to a close, and after hanging around for a bit chatting to people, I thought it was time to leave and at that point I didn’t know if I’d be back on the Sunday or not. Last time I was here I came back on the Sunday and saw that most people were leaving as I was arriving, and this year there was only one band on the Sunday that I really wanted to see, so I was still unsure at this point. As I woke up on Sunday, I saw how bad the weather was and this made my mind up.
Despite the weather, and the fact that I only attended two days, it was a fantastic festival. Great activities for the families and a variety of shows/performances to attend. I had a wonderful time and I’ll hopefully be back again next year to do it all again.