Big Chill Festival, Eastnor Castle Deer Park
Happy birthday Big Chill. Fifteen years young and the festival is still managing to give itself minor facelifts, most of which made this one of the most diverse and interesting on the calendar. The weather played its part with sunny days, but actually chilly nights, while the entertainment was as eclectic and entertaining as ever.
While the music is almost a mere backing track to the rest of the goings on, there were plenty of names to draw in the crowds, an estimated 40,000 descending on this idyllic spot in Herefordshire.
While Friday headliners Basement Jaxx were a little overrated and underwhelming, the highly anticipated reunion of the Hartnoll brothers, Paul and Phil, aka Orbital, was a real festival memory for many who had waited over four years to see the famous torch glasses come out again.
Away from the main stage, Emmy The Great was, well, great, while the DJ’s at the various bars around the site more than pulled their weight – Don Letts, Gruff Rhys and Craig Charles just three famous names on the decks.
The Big Chill however is, like Glasto, about more than the music. An art boot sale, Dereliction Drive-in, boutique cinema (velvet drapes and David Lynch films), Enchanted Garden and the very popular Mr Scruff Tea Tent (all china cups and cream scones) were just some of the attractions.
Fancy dress is encouraged – there’s even an on-site dressing up tent – with packs of chefs, leopards, gingerbread men, the odd robot and a tin man with bride all adding to the cheery atmosphere.
The beauty of The Big Chill is there’s no feeling of a compulsion to follow to crowd – be yourself and do what you want are the mantras. If you just want to lie on your rug all afternoon and, well, chill, that’s fine.
An impressive comedy line-up for Sunday afternoon – Russell Howard, Noel Fielding and Dylan Moran – was a big draw for many, as was the evening’s headliner, David Byrne.
A fitting end to another great weekend – the perfect way to escape the rat race, recession and cricket results.
Many happy returns, Big Chill.