Friday, 25 May 2012

Bearded Theory Festival 2012 - a review

© Essential festival items!
We went to the Bearded Theory festival last year and to be honest, despite the line up, we weren't that impressed with the lack of space in the camping area and the (un)helpfulness of the stewards. This year, we hesitated before booking...partly due to our previous experience and partly due to the cost...and before we reached a firm decision, it was sold out! Amazingly, we were lucky enough to win tickets thanks to a competition I spotted on Festival Kidz, and before we knew it we were packed up and ready to go, hoping we'd be able to find a space to pitch without too many problems.

Thankfully, the organisation was much better this year, although it did feel slightly odd to cart all of our gear across the main arena to get to the camp-site! We trudged right down to the bottom of the camping area and easily found a flat space to pitch in the quiet family area...this was a big improvement on last year's cramped pitch of mole hills, nettles and thistles! Unfortunately it started raining as we arrived, so we had to pitch quickly before our stuff got wet....but such are the joys of camping in the UK.

© Family camping area
Although the weather was pretty cold and dismal for the whole weekend, the mornings were dry enough for me to get out the camp stove and make a cup of tea and a cooked breakfast for us all.

Portaloos and water taps were spaced out well throughout the camping areas and arena and were kept fairly clean (that's if you're used to festival toilets!). There were showers available too (for a fee), but we didn't use them due to the queues.

There was a good range of different genres of music during the festival, from folk and acoustic to dance and rock - so something to suit all the family. The Angel Gardens kids area looked better than last year too, and offered music workshops, craft activities, theatre and puppet shows plus a baby-care area and even two dedicated kids-only toilets! At 11 and 13 years old, my kids felt they were too grown up to go in though.
© Angel Gardens kids area

There was a decent variety of food outlets, including many which provided vegetarian and vegan options. The onsite shop sold essential groceries such as bread, milk and snacks too. Bar prices were reasonable, although most people (us included) chose to bring our own alcoholic drinks, which we were allowed to bring into the main arena area.

We saw some great bands over the weekend including headliners Adam Ant (replacing the Levellers, who were absent due a fiddle-related injury!) and The Damned. Other notable acts that we particularly enjoyed were Ferocious Dog, Terrorvision, Chumbawamba and Mark Chadwick (from the sadly missing Levellers!). We heard Wheatus (of Teenage Dirtbag fame) from outside the Tornado Town big top, as we didn't get there early enough to get a decent spot after decamping and lugging everything back to the car. My only criticism of the festival this year is that Wheatus and Mark Chadwick should have been on the main stage, as both drew large crowds which spilt out of the tent.

© Mud!

We had to leave before Dreadzone - the Sunday night headliners, but of course before we left, we had to take part in the hilarious fake beard record breaking attempt, donning our Poundland stick-on beards and moustaches and looking pretty suave. A beard-wearing baby scooped the prize for best beard and won tickets to next year's festival...aawww!

Bearded Theory Festival takes place at Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire. For more information, visit
Bearded Theory.

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