Festibelly is approximately a 2,000 capacity festival set in the heart of the New Forest, in Lymington to be precise. Already five years old, the festival has proved to be so successful in previous years that the organisers decided to change the format from a 1 day (with camping) to a 2 day festival this year. A brave move perhaps, as there are quite a few other festivals taking place on the Bank Holiday weekend (most notably Reading/Leeds), but it was a move that was a clear success.
After 5 festivals in 5 weeks, my body couldn’t take another 2 nights sleeping in a tent, so – like a wuss – when the rain was pelting it down on Saturday, it totally scared me off from turning up on the Saturday – meaning I missed one of my favourite comedians/talkers in Howard Marks who opened the festival.
So, it was all about enjoying myself as much as I could on the Sunday. And it wasn’t difficult. Arriving as Fossil Collective were finishing (shame as they sounded good) it was a pleasant surprise that Saturday’s rain had not affected the ground – there was NO mud!
A bit of hilarious comedy at Made In China stage led me to gathering my friends from the main stage and dragging them over. Despite it being just a 2 minute walk away, the hilarious comedy (which was basically a rehearsal for a band with 4 audience members ad-libbing along to a random beat) had been replaced by the worst comedy ever. We’d sat down in anticipation waiting for the hysteria, but the ‘comedian’ never even told a joke – instead raving about how great the Olympics had been and how great we were as Norway only won 4 medals. The crowd sat in silence with a few people politely clapping. Please, whoever booked that man (I never bothered to find out his name) never, ever book him again.
Skinny Lister to the rescue then. Back to the main stage a huge crowd gathered for Lorna and the knicker-flashing Skinny Sisters really got the party started with their sea shanty old English folk sing-a-longs. With the Skinny Sisters dishing out the rum in the famous stone flagon, it never took the crowd long to get up on their feet dosy-do-ing and singing at the top of their voices. They were advertised to appear again at midnight, but unfortunately that gig never materialised. Shame, as they are so much better in a small tent (not that they never smashed it regardless). I can only imagine that their recent touring schedule (America, UK, Germany, UK) has near ruined them. I’ve been saying it for a while, but this time next year, I’m confident they’ll be a household name.
Kitty, Daisy and Lewis and Clock Opera both impressed – although I admit I only heard them from afar as I was chatting with friends and getting food. The stage announcer has assured me we’d be blown away by Clock Opera but that never happened. It was Bastille who did blow me away. Having seen them just a few days before playing an acoustic gig on the Bandstand in Southampton, I still wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about (and told Dan the same when I bumped into him in the crowd). However, the second I heard Icarus I suddenly got what all the fuss was about. I quickly filled up on cider and got as close to the front as I could. I knew I enjoyed them as the next morning I still had Flaws and current single Bad Blood running around my head.
Another band who impressed were General Roots, filling out the small tent they were playing with a reggae set that every festival needs. They played a song called Joker Smoker and the tent filled with the smell of cannabis smoke and a few hundred people dance their socks off. Late on, Smokey Bastard did a good job at getting people dancing, but the scrumpy was taking toll by then and things are hazy.
Once the live music is over, it doesn’t stop – the silent disco (this year headed up by Rob da Bank) runs until 5am. I only lasted until midnight, but I’d definitely recommend Festibelly as a great little festival for anybody who doesn’t want the stress of the larger festivals. The line up is diverse, the food is great (and affordable) and there really is something for everybody.