Down the rabbit hole in the Ribble Valley for one weekend, 14-16 July

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Starting out as a party for friends in 2006, Beat-Herder has grown into a visually stunning festival. On paper it can be described as a dance music festival but it’s much more than that. Three days weren’t enough to explore the labyrinth of treasures that the event had to offer and quite often it felt as though the Ribble Valley has slipped down the rabbit hole and into wonderland. If it’s three days of pure escapism you’re after then this festival has got to be top of your summer itinerary.

Kicking off the main stage on Friday were acts like ghetto funk artists Grinny Grandad, who managed to attract a modest but energetic crowd for the early afternoon and despite the light covering of rain sweeping over the valley everyone seemed in good spirits. Later on Milky Chance enchanted the audience, playing silky dance rhythms until giving way to Kelis at 9pm, who gave performances of her popular songs Acapella, Milkshake and a rendition of Calvin Harris’s Bounce. Kelis opted out of playing with a live band. Having seen so much talent from the arena already it was slightly disappointing viewing but the R&B singer did manage to get the crowds singing.

After a crowdpleasing and vibrant set from Crystal Fighters on the main stage the wet weather reared its head again. Looking for shelter, crowds drizzled into the Beat-Herder & District Working Men’s Social Club – a tent you can feel at home in! With signs dotted around the venue such as “patrons must have paid their subs to look at the pictures” and “only paying members can win on this gambler” it was clear that a bit of cheeky fun was what this tent was all about. Predictable dad dancing and cheesy tunes were par for the course. What was unexpected however was the sheer quality of Cut Capers, who graced the stage at 12pm. The swing-soul-rap artists completely packed out the venue and the atmosphere was bouncing.

Smoky Tentacles is a treasure trove of beanbags and shisha pipes and, honestly, an absolute lifesaver

Beat-Herder is second to none in the sheer variety of music genres it provides. The Fortress – a huge rusted metal construction – gave space for performances by Altern8 and Slam, among many others, who provided a non-stop raver’s paradise throughout the entire weekend. Five minutes from there the Toil Trees stage provided stunning light shows once the sun had set and was host to the legendary Faithless on Saturday evening. Sprouting away from the stage were odd little nooks and crannies to explore: an area filled with giant beds, a collection of battered classic cars, an old-fashioned town complete with barber shop and tattoo parlour and a gem of a small stage – the Beat-Herder Parish Church.

The site can be overwhelming and the Smoky Tentacles tent offered some well-needed relaxation. This stage is a treasure trove of beanbags and shisha pipes and, honestly, an absolute lifesaver. When the bands aren’t playing the tent plays chilled-out jazzy tunes and many a partied-out festivalgoer was spotted having a cheeky nap among the cushions. Having said that, it wasn’t all about catching some downtime and Heavy Lemo’s set on Saturday evening gave some much needed energy. The budding band from the North West provide a fusion of funk and hip-hop, injecting sharp and meaningful lyrics into jazzy chords. Simmering down into Sunday acts such as Marc Constantine charmed with soothing sounds and a voice that could melt away any aches brought on by a weekend of sleeping on the floor.

Although this festival has grown over the years there is still a sense of it being a well-kept secret. There’s no fighting for a space at the front of the stage, no ungodly queues for the bar and purchasing a drink won’t leave you bankrupt for the rest of the summer. There’s something of a community feeling about it, whether you’re a hardcore machine or a laidback soul, and mutual respect between them.

Interact: Responses to Review: Beat-Herder 2017

  • John Britto
    27 Jul 2017 14:37
    Best Festival Ever! Can't Wait For Beatherder 2018. Brilliant music, friendly people and no trouble at all. Well worth the ticket price.

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