Beatherder was unanimously TNT’s favourite festival in 2018. We delved into this magical world on the edge of the Lake District to find out what it was all about last year. Here’s what you missed!

Is BeatHerder a Hedonistic playground? Artistic exploration? Spiritual discovery zone? or just good old dirty legitimised rave? It can only be described as a well-balanced mix of all of the above. It’s certainly a playground full of positive vibes, fun and frolics.

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We love the festival behemoth that is Boomtown Fair and have previously raved (pun intended) about its theatrics and otherworldliness. But it’s less of a town nowadays and more a sprawling metropolis of tents and stages and as the stages get more outrageous, the feeling of connection with the musicians and DJ’s gets more sterilised. It’s got so big and so successful, despite all the creativity and attention to detail it feels more like a giant US shopping mass full of things to consume and drug-addled consumers hungry to devour everything in it.

This is where BeatHerder comes in, as there’s a strong correlation between the two festivals in their musical offering, creative approach and clientele. BeatHerder is about 10% of the size of Boomtown, so that gives you a feel for the difference. It’s intimate, the stages are accessible and there remains a great connection between the performers and the audience. You will still find a level of intensity as the nights go on, but it just seems chilled and everyone feels much more connected. To me, BeatHerder has all the great ingredients which makes Boomtown so appealing, but none of the drawbacks of a big festival.

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So what were the highlights last year?

It’s impossible to try and highlight all of the wonders of BeatHerder, but I’ll try to give you some of the best bits. Orbital! They were feckin awesome. They smashed it out of the park on Friday night with their analogue assault weaponry. Not to be upstaged, Soulwax turned it up even further on Saturday night with another explosive set full of Analogue squelchiness and simply staggering percussive choreography. Their live set literally blew my mind. The BeatHerder grounds are small enough that you can dip in and out of smaller venues and explore the hidden world and secret delights dotted around the site. It took us longer than we would care to admit to find the secret swimming pool, and we officially lost the plot trying to navigate through the hidden tunnel. There really are so many things to discover and explore. Yet unlike Boomtown, it’s not overwhelming and it’s all close enough together so you don’t exhaust yourself on the walk between areas.

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Beatherder was founded as a party in the woods for a collection of close friends, back in the day before the Criminal Justice Bill shat on anyone’s hopes of putting a sound system in a field for a few days and letting your hair down a bit. Thankfully rather than the sound system being carted away in a police van, BeatHerder took the elements that they had built throwing parties in the woods and wrapped it up in public liability insurances, risk assessments, chilled security staff, and plastic toilet blocks. The stamp of approval from the local council gave the team behind BeatHerder the freedom to grow beyond the small stage in the woods, to a multi-stage interactive playground that it is today. It still feels like a party in the woods amongst friends and retains much of the spirit of the 90’s rave scene (if you’re old enough to remember that!)

This year’s line up looks like it’s going to be another cracker, with headliners Rudimental and Groove Armada, alongside Utah Saints and the rest of the artists in the Ring. Mr Scruff will no doubt be rocking the woods with another epic set. I think his set last year was over 5 hours long! We can’t wait!

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