I’m not the typical festival goer: not over-keen on tents, queues for brewing Porta-Loos & over-priced children’s food portions however, I’ve always loved the idea of being able to see multiple acts per acre, so when I was asked to review Cool Britannia at Knebworth Park, I actually was delighted to. It was a day review only, so no hunting about for my tent.
I arrived early (who wouldn’t?) and there was music thumping in the background welcoming the visitors and entertaining the awakening campers. It was a welcome touch.
Passing through security (all very pleasant and I had a laugh with the guy who had to steal my nuts) and walking through to the ‘Cool Britannia’ entrance I had a smile on my face with the excitement of the day ahead.
Where to start? Let’s check out the non-music food & entertainment.
There was a tent of circus tricks for kids, a glitter stand (also for the men), hats and costumes, cool funky outfits, a pub, a very good variety of street food, where prices were almost acceptable festival prices but the portions didn’t leave you disappointed. There was a fun fair, karaoke, Circus Freak Show, ales, bars, fireworks……I think that coves it? Basically, plenty to see, do, drink and eat….and that’s not even talking about the three stages!
The Barn Stage, away from the main stage and entertaining the crowds early. I managed to see Flat Cap Carnival – loved them! The New York Brass Band (who were fabulous) were not on a stage per se but popping up on site to entertain us, they went on the balcony of the pub for a track too.
I saw an acoustic duo on the Ministry of Sound Stage (MoS) during the day but not sure who they were, couldn’t find any info. Then it transformed into the MoS as you’d expect with thumping tunes during the evening, with the full lights inside to match. It was a blackout tent on purpose to have an awesome light show – the organisers have thought about this.
On The Main Stage! We had: The Farm, The Bluetones, Soul II Soul, Black Grape, Sleeper, Embrace, Jo Whiley and James – well, what a line-up and I can’t review them all as there were all fabulous, however I was impressed with Soul II Soul, Sleeper and Jo Whiley.
One thing I was very impressed with, was the sound. I like to be able to pass comment from the ‘general public’ point of view and although I had VIP Press Tickets I did spend a lot of time walking around as a regular festival goer and the sound was fantastic from every angle. Honestly – loved it.
The VIP area is well worth the extra pennies – they had picnic benches, a bar and snazzy covered comfy area and all the staff & security were lovely. There was a good view and plenty of space. Could go in/out no problem if you wanted to join the throng of the crowd. Also close to the Press tent so you could meet those acts who came through! A couple of photo bombs were clearly apparent.
The music and entertainment were clearly hitting beyond the mark but what else is there to consider? This festival was clean: the litter pickers were doing their jobs, the toilets were clean each time I went and I purposely checked out different ones each time (seriously!), the beer tent and ale tent – were well organised and although there were lots of railings to keep us in the right places in the Knebworth grounds, there was oodles of space and it was very well thought out. The organisers obviously have high levels of attention to detail to make it enjoyable on every level for all visitors. The other element that struck me was the atmosphere. It was friendly. Serious friendly. The age group was older than anticipated but that reflects on the bands, and the fans brought their kids along, therefore a true family atmosphere. I managed to join in a couple of groups of people who were delightful (I think we’re going to start a female empowerment group?) and I walked about the festival at night and on my own and it felt safe, warm and fuzzy.
My first festival experience and I would have to give it a 9.75 out of 10. Only teeny tiny piece missing was the official festival programme so we could all see who was on the stages, plus I wasn’t able to split myself into 3 people to enjoy every corner! I very much hope to be back there next year…..and I may even buy a tent specifically.
Thank you Cool Britannia 2019.