Belladrum celebrates with a summer of mud

Belladrum Tartan Heart 2017 review

published: Thu 10th Aug 2017

around the festival site

Thursday 3rd to Saturday 5th August 2017
Belladrum Estate, Beauly, Inverness-shire, IV4 7BA, Scotland MAP
£142 for 3 days
daily capacity: 16500
last updated: Thu 13th Jul 2017

Scotland's summer of mud continued at the weekend with another wet festival and what was widely agreed was the wettest Belladrum ever in all its 14 years.

Once again, learning to dance in the rain rather than waiting for the storm to pass - or in this case a particularly stubborn jet-stream that seems to have been lodged over Scotland for the last two months - was the order of the day.

The theme of this year's Tartan Heart festival near Beauly on the outskirts of Inverness - which attracted an estimated 18,500 music lovers over the course of three days - was the Summer of Love, marking the 50th anniversary of the legendary summer of 1967 and of course, the mighty Woodstock festival. Now I wasn't there, and there's that theory that if you can remember it you weren't there either, but I'm pretty sure that 1967 was an altogether more sunshiny affair than the summer of 2017. Unfortunately there wasn't much sunshine on offer at all this weekend, meteorologically speaking at least. Spiritually speaking there was a whole lot of love and light on offer.

Official advice was to try to arrive on site between noon and 8pm on the Thursday to avoid the worst of the queues, which of course meant that when we rolled up around 11.45am there was a wee queue for entry to the campervan and caravan campsite as everyone tried to beat the queues.

The campervan site was already pretty full even by then. The gates opened at 8am again this year and I think folk must have been lining up at that time to get in. Friends of ours arrived around 2ish and drove right in with no queuing at all but got parked up pretty far back on the site - so far back that it was actually quite difficult to hear the music from the Garden stage. Overall, getting into the site seems to have been surprisingly and pleasing easy for most folk this year.

Everyone was in high spirits catching up old friends and meeting new neighbours, despite a couple of downpours during the day which led to lots of pushing of motorhomes onto their pitches after they got stuck in the increasingly muddy site.

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The festival site itself opened at midday on Thursday and people were milling about pretty much from then on, taking in the sights and familiarising - or re-familiarising - themselves with everyone's favourite family festival.

First up on the main stage for us was singer-songwriter Louis Berry, who describes himself as a "very lonely rebel with a very revolutionary mind". Fresh from the Trnsmt festival in Glasgow in July, the Liverpudlian surprised and delighted crowds at the Garden stage with his chat and his outstanding set of gritty yet classic rock 'n' roll tunes which have more than a hint of soul. There were outings for recent singles, "Restless" and "She Wants Me", as well as for "Scotch Mist", an almost folk song that he explained he wrote in Glasgow when he was trying to get home to Liverpool, and Spring Into Autumn, another great story within a beautiful song. He got a lesson in pronouncing Laphroaig - apparently his favourite whisky - from the audience, and signed a fetching orange trilby that one fan had thrown on to the stage, and was totally down to earth and true to his roots, telling the audience at one point that it was just the "best thing" to come and play all these songs that he wrote in his bedroom for people and seeing them "vibing off them". It was the perfect start to a festival.

Next up on the Garden stage was First Aid Kit, a folk duo from Sweden who are accompanied by other musicians for live performances. This was the first time I had seen sisters Klara and Johanna Soderberg play live and they rocked out massively, throwing shapes and pounding their guitars, almost belying their 'folk' tag. They also professed to enjoying Scotland's other national drink, swigging Irn Bru from the bottle in between songs. They had had to change their appearance at Bella from Friday night to the Thursday due to their own scheduling commitments, a move which disappointed some fans who hadn't got three day tickets for the festival and either had to upgrade or miss out.

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The award-winning duo, whose music has featured in numerous films and television shows over the years, played "Ghost Town", "The Lion's Roar" and "Waitress", as well as a heartfelt and unapologetically angry rendition of "You're the Problem Here", written by Klara "out of despair" in response to the Stanford rape case when Brock Turner was sentenced to just six months in jail after sexually assaulting a woman because the judge said his life would be ruined. The message, they say, is clear: alcohol is not the problem, youth culture is not the problem, rapists are the problem. "No one made you do anything. You are the problem here" they raged to an appreciative audience.

Thoughts provoked, it was time for Ullapool-based The Rogues at the Grassroots stage, a perennial Bella Thursday night favourite. Introduced by a poem as "skanking ceilidh punk rock with a squeeze-box", they certainly raised hearts and voices and, in true tradition, got everyone dancing to a set packed with Scottish and Irish classics, including "Dirty Old Town", "Useta Love Her", "Sally MacLennane", "The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn", "Galway Girl" (no, not that Galway Girl), "The Gael" and "Whiskey in the Jar".

From the foot-stomping, barn-storming awesomeness of The Rogues it was time for a seismic shift in musical genres and nothing less than Philadelphia disco icons Sister Sledge themselves. "He's the Greatest Dancer", "Frankie", "All American Girls", "Thinking of You", "Good Times", "Freak Out" and of course "Lost in Music" and "We Are Family" were all given an airing in what was essentially a 75-minute medley - complete with sax solos and guitar solos and a chance for each of the supporting musicians, including the very funky bassist rocking a kilt, to shine - of some of their greatest hits from a formidable back catalogue built up over the last five decades.

The ladies, resplendent in glittery boots, plenty of sequins and some well-honed routines, introduced their band members, including, movingly, singer Thaddeus Sledge Whyte, the son of Joni Sledge, founder member of the band who sadly passed away in March this year. Their performance was a suitably groovy way to finish the first night of Belladrum, although plenty of folk stayed up to enjoy RhythmNReel at the Grassroots tent and Bella's many other late night delights.

Thursday's showers settled into a near continuous and torrential downpour throughout most of Friday. It was a slow start to the day for many, perhaps the most notable exception being local hero Danny MacAskill and his Drop N Roll show which carried on regardless of the desperately wet conditions and the occasional spills Scotland's most famous trials bike rider and his crew experienced as a result.

Dedicated fans were queuing for the best vantage points from one show to the next, keen to see Danny, who hails from Skye, along with Ally Clarkson and Duncan Shaw, entertain the crowds to the pulsating riffs of AC/DC and Iron Maiden.

Also carrying on regardless were many of the activities for young children in the Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum tents and under the new-for-this-year and hugely-welcome-under-the-circumstances big circus-esque tent in the Tir nA nOg children's area, including craft sessions, theatre, music and song, sand art, puppetry, knitting and crochet, circus workshops, a carousel and even an ice rink and a mobile library. The wrestling and comedy acts in the Venus Fly trap tent also proved to be a big draw.

First up for us music-wise on Friday was Vukovi in the Hothouse tent. Led by female vocalist Janine Shilstone, who knows how to work a crowd and particularly a bunch of image-hungry photographers, this four-piece band from Kilwinning have played Bella before and were back for more at what they say is one of their favourite festivals amidst a summer of festival appearances including Trsnmt in Glasgow and Reading and Leeds later this month.

vukovi

Describing themselves as purveyors of hyperactive pop rock, they hit the stage with a ferocity that was more Skunk Anansi-esque than pop - despite the neon colours and glitter. The Hothouse tent was packed with teenagers, and some older folk too, keen to catch the energy, vitality and riffs on offer from this band of self-professed weirdos. There was even a mosh pit, which you don't get at pop concerts generally. They played "Weirdo", "I'm Wired", "Animal", "Target Practice" and "Boy George" in truly storming set.

In another seismic musical shift, we followed Vukovi, as recommended to us by a very musically savvy teenager, with the Urban Voodoo Machine in the Grassroots tent, as recommended to us by a very musically savvy older gentleman. Never mind skeletons in the cupboard, these guys and gal have them right on stage with them, propping up the twin drum set and adorning some sort of altar or shrine to the voodoo magic and the rhythm and vibe that seeps through their set in bucket loads.

Their show is a riot of red and black, of guitars, accordians, trumpets, a sousaphone, double bass and piano - real hardcore bourbon-soaked gypsy blues with a rock 'n' roll swagger that they proudly declare is a party at the gates of hell. "High Jeopardy", "Cheers for the Tears", "Fallen Brothers", "Pipes and Slippers", "Orphans", "Crazy Maria", "Help Me Jesus" and "We Were All Asleep" all got an airing in their 45-minute set which fused a range of musical styles and influences with the spirit and attitude of punk. Loved it.

From the energy and atmosphere of a Norwegian Londoner's take on New Orleans we headed to the Garden stage for the another London-based band, the Dub Pistols. The Dub Pistols have been pedalling their riotous mix of dub, drum and bass, ska, punk and hip hop around the scene for something like 20 years now and are a firm fixture on the festival circuit over the summer months. From Glastonbury to Beat-herder, Romania to Greece, Solfest, the Notting Hill Carnival and Bestival, Belladrum was their only Scottish date in a 20-date summer of dub for this band.

Their set included their version of "Gangsters" by The Specials, which they have truly made their own, "Running From The Thoughts" from the album "Speakers and Tweeters", "Keep The Fire Burning" from 2009's "Rum and Coke", "Sticky Situation" from "The Return of the Pistoleros", as well as songs from the new album, "Crazy Diamonds", which is due to be released in the autumn.

Vocalist Barry Ashworth told the happily skanking Bella crowd that he loved their vibe as they danced in the rain and although they couldn't quite chase the rain away, the Pistoleros certainly made everyone forget it was even raining for an hour or so.

It was back up to the Grassroots tent for 3 Daft Monkeys next, back at Bella after their stint on the Hothouse stage a few years ago. The four-piece from Cornwall are another band with a plethora of musical influences, citing Celtic and world folk music as the inspiration for their infectious and very danceable rhythms and catchy sing-along tunes. They played "Social Vertigo", "Astral Eyes", and "Delighted to be Invited" from their latest album, the crowd-funded "Year of the Clown" released in April this year. "Days of the Dance" from the 2010 album "The Antiquated and the Arcane" saw them encourage the audience to waltz in the mud. It was another top class show from this band of travelling troubadours, with Athene Roberts' talent and skills on the fiddle as outstanding as ever.

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Running between the Grassroots and Garden stage seemed to be the order of the day on Friday and it was back to the main arena for Feeder and their re-scheduled-from-Thursday night set. It's hard to believe it but it's seven years since their crowd-pleasing headline slot at Bella in 2010, most of which I missed due to The Levellers headlining the Hothouse stage that year.

As it turned out, the Friday night slot ahead of The Pretenders probably suited Feeder better than playing before Sister Sledge. It was their greatest hits all the way with "Feeling a Moment", "Lost and Found", "Just a Day" "Just the Way I'm Feeling" all rocking out in what was a polished performance by the boys from my ma's home town in Wales. So that explains my soft spot for them then. That and the fact that my kids love 'em. "Eskimo" was dedicated to the renegades in the audience and crowd favourite "Buck Rogers" started slowly, teasing the audience before kicking off with full force and everyone going wild, bouncing their tartan hearts out in the rain.

It was back to the Grassroots tent for a bit of O'Connell and Love with none other than Alabama 3 frontman himself, Larry Love. As someone commented, he's festival royalty, and as Love himself proclaimed, he has been at every Belladrum since its inception in "one disguise or another". This year it was with his long-term song-writing partner Brendan O'Connell. The duo have collaborated on two albums, Love's much-acclaimed 2006 solo effort "Ghost Flight", and O'Connell and Love's "Minesweeping", released two years ago. This was grizzled, gravelly, smoky folk with plenty of country-esque duets such as "Hangover Me", "It Was the Sweetest Thing", "Call a Cab Cinderella" and "Shake off Your Shoes", all from "Minesweeping", as well as the title track from that album. Love's gruff vocals contrasted beautifully with the more dulcet tones of female vocalist Stephanie Clift. The Speed of the Sound of Loneliness got an airing in a nod to Alabama 3 in what was all in all a beautiful mellow set in between the bouncy rock 'n' roll of the main stage headliners.

And so it was back to the Garden Stage for The Pretenders, and another female-led band headlining the main stage at Bella. You've gotta hand it to organisers for their very empowering line-up this year. Founder member of the band and the only constant member in its 40 years, Chrissie Hynde is a rock legend in her own right, although as she commented, she is hated by feminists. Rocking an Inverness t-shirt she unabashedly told the crowd how she'd been researching her Scottish ancestry, dedicated Talk of the Town to the Frasers, and described the Garden stage as looking like a set from television show Game of Thrones, joking that she kept expecting to see three dragons appearing over the horizon.

This was a set of old songs - "Brass in Pocket" - and new songs - "Gotta Wait" - Hynde said, as well as a couple of covers including "Stop Your Sobbing" by Ray Davies, but mostly rock 'n' roll for everyone who wanted to dance. "Don't Get Me Wrong" and the anthemic "I'll Stand By You" were obvious highlights, while "Back on the Chain Gang" saw one of the biggest sing-alongs of the weekend so far.

Hynde's voice was amazing, and fellow founding member drummer Martin Chambers played with the energy and power of a man a third of his age, spinning his sticks between beats and tempering Hynde's rollicking guitar work. This was a powerful performance from the ensemble that was a fitting finale to a day of powerful performances in the pouring rain.

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What a difference a day makes in Scotland in the summer. The incessant rain of Friday held off overnight and Saturday dawned bright and sunny - almost warm even. Although the site was still super muddy - despite the best efforts of the Bella crew who were dumping tonnes of woodchip wherever they could - people were still able to find places where there was still grass and sit in the sun, chill out and take in the sights and sounds that Bella is renowned for.

The Walled Garden in particular was a hive of activity, home to the Free Range stage, the veggie kitchen delights of the Beat-Root cafe, and, new for this year, the Boaty McBoatface stage. People of all ages enjoyed traditional fairground rides and puppet shows and were able to learn circus skills - and how to survive the zombie apocalypse that will apparently be caused by "idiots" pushing red buttons that they really shouldn't. Hmmm.

After the deluge on Friday it was so nice to see people getting to enjoy what this not-so-little-any more festival is all about, its relaxed, vibrant and eclectic atmosphere. I always say that Bella isn't about the music, it is about the whole vibe, the ethos it fosters and promotes and encourages. And while that is still the case, when the weather is as bad as it was on Friday it was the music and the bands that lifted folks' spirits and got them through.

By Saturday afternoon, although the rain had cleared up, the site was still pretty muddy and the going pretty tough in places. Getting around the site was like wading through clay at times. Flares, tie dyes and kaftans were out in force, but with added mud for that truly authentic look.

It was going to be Garden stage nearly all the way for us on Saturday, as we chose to make the most of the better weather and soak up (no pun intended) the main stage atmosphere.

First up for us was The Haggis Horns, a seven-piece funk extravaganza that was the perfect way to ease your way into the afternoon after the night before. This group of talented musicians played a variety of instruments, not exclusively horns, and members of the band have played with everyone from Adele to Robbie Williams, Amy Winehouse, Roots Manuva, Mark Ronson and Take That. At Bella they showed exactly why they are at the forefront of the UK's funk scene and got everyone grooving away.

Excitement in the Garden was building amongst the Yellow Movement, who had been looking forward to the main stage appearance by their flag-bearing heroes Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 for months. Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 were officially anointed the best live act at last year's Scottish Alternative Music Awards, just weeks after their show at Bella 2016 which saw them pack out the Hothouse tent with thousands of people in a gig that has become something of a Tartan Heart legend.

They were one of the first bands to be announced on the line-up for this year's festival with their place on the main stage assured after that festival-stealing performance. And they didn't disappoint. Fresh from gigs at Kendall Calling and Butefest, the 6th Dijon as their fans are known were out in force and everywhere you looked there were swathes of yellow, sequins, glitter balls and Dijon 5 t-shirts.

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This band is the genuine embodiment of the ethos and values of the summer of love, with the Dijancer proudly wearing their mantra of peace and love on his sleeve in tattoos. Coming on stage to the strains of the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love", complete with the Fab Four, and the Colonel himself wearing a giant disco ball, they opened their set with "International Sex Hero" and had the crowd bouncing from the off, quite literally for their next song, "Bouncy Ball", which also featured heaps of giant bouncy yellow balloons thrown into the audience.

"Dance Off" saw the injured Dijancer pass his sequined mantle on to the couple who got engaged at the Mustard's Bella set last year who kicked things off, and perhaps most memorably in set of many unforgettable moments - crowd surfing unicorns anyone? - was when 9000 people in the packed Garden stage brushed up on their road safety to "Cross the Road" under the Colonel's guidance. Although as he pointed out: "If yer steamin' mebbe sit this one out." And as someone else pointed out, maybe the Colonel should have been in charge of getting everyone out of the car park on Sunday morning (more on that later).

Scissor Sisters-esque "Gay Icon" and the anthemic "These Are Not The Drugs (You Are Looking For)" had everyone singing along with the catchy choruses, while at the same time reinforcing important social messages around equal marriage, inclusivity and, well, drugs, the latter featuring contributions from Jamie from Jamie and Shoony and Jermaine from Spring Break.

Our heroes reunited a tearful young girl with her mum, invited red-heads on stage with them for "Ginger Girl", got everyone high-fiving and hugging their festie neighbours, sent one of their own into the crowd on a huge inflatable flamingo and closed what was a highlight of many people's festival with "Peace, Love and Mustard".

Their infectious enthusiasm for and belief in a better world is genuinely pretty hard to resist and this was another awesome and heart-warming party from this band whose goal is just to have fun and spread a bit of happiness in the world - which they did in bucketloads with pretty much everyone in the main stage area smiling: "Everyone's happy, everyone's smiling, no one here is sad any more."

They were going to be a hard act to follow, and it is testament to Bella, or Yella Bella as the Yellow Movement have since christened it, that there is such an eclectic line-up on offer that it really doesn't matter.

So it was singer-songwriter and musician Birdy next for us. Nominated for a Grammy for her song "Learn Me Right" with Mumford and Sons which featured in Pixar film Brave, she has also written a song for The Hunger Games, "Just a Game", and recorded songs that have appeared on The Vampire Diaries. She has an amazingly powerful voice and belts out power ballads in the style of Adele or Florence and the Machine, although a more appropriate - if slightly obvious - comparison might be Kate Bush given the thundering cover of "Running Up That Hill" they performed. "Keeping Your Head Up", "Skinny Love", "Young Blood", and "Wings and Winter" all had the audience singing along in a set that overran it's allotted time, not that anyone seemed to care.

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Until fellow Grammy award nominee KT Tunstall was about 20 minutes late on stage anyway. Actually, no one really seemed to care even then, as KT bounded out on to the Garden Stage to raptuous applause and a huge cheer. This consumate performer knows how to work a crowd - even one that was much bigger than her secret gig on the Grassroots stage at Bella back in 2010. She played "It Took Me So Long to Get Here, But Here I Am" with just a touch of irony and commented on the strong female line-up at this year's festival, urging all the young girls in the audience to start a band.

Next she took the audience on a journey in a time machine (her words) to 2004 for "Other Side of the World" and a thumping acoustic version of "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" complete with audience participation and yes, a kazoo, before a wee segway into the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" and a totally rocking finish. She introduced "Push That Knot Away" as a song about doing something even if it scares you and said "I Don't Want You Now" was a song to give "tossy" politicians in the world a "kick up the arse". Skipping around the stage chatting with the crowd as though everyone was just in the pub enjoying a pint together, she very much came across as a young Chrissie Hynde, although without the edginess, and "Suddenly I See" was a fitting end to an energetic set.

There was more home-grown Scottish talent to come on the main stage with the headliners, Glasgow indie rock band Franz Ferdinand.

Starting as they meant to go on they kicked off with "The Dark of the Matinee", "No You Girls" and "Paper Cages" in a triumverate of tunes that was taking no prisoners. "Do You Want To" had the crowd bouncing in the strobe lights and singing along to every word with singer Alex Kapranos' distinctive vocals and the band's unmistakable sound rocking out through the garden. And there was no let up as "Love Illumination", "Jacqueline" - dedicated to a beautiful girl from Glasgow - "Take Me Out", "Ulysses", "Stand on the Horizon" and "Lazy Boy" were all blasted out in a full-on set that earned their headline slot at their first time at Bella.

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"This Fire" was appropriately enough their last song before the always fabulous Bella fireworks, which were in turn followed by Torridon taking to the main stage and singing "Wild Mountain Thyme", accompanied by a pipe band, in another beautiful end to another beautiful weekend.

As well as the main stage action over the weekend, there was heaps of up and coming talent at the Hothouse stage all weekend with raucous performances from Bloodlines, Broken Ravens, Twin Atlantic, Young Fathers and Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes to name just a few as well as some oldies such as Dr Feelgood, those stalwarts of the pub rock scene since 1971, although admittedly there were no original members performing at Bella this year.

The Seedlings stage also had a fantastic line-up with headline performances by The Ninth Wave on Friday and Achintibilie's finest, Hunter and the Bear, on Saturday. Other notable notaries on the bill were Noah Noah, The Oxides and the Yellow Movement's fantastic Jamie and Shoony.

The Verb Garden had everything from a debate on freedom of movement with literary readings about displacement and war to The Muppets sing-along movie for the kids. There was even a screening of Spinal Tap for those so inclined, or just in need of a seat on a sofa for a couple of hours.

Over at Madam Fifi's Dance Parlour there were workshops in everything from yoga to chi kung and salsa to sumba. The fun fair was back with dodgems and a big wheel, there was zorbing, and a ball pool for adults, which I am reliably informed was quite relaxing.

The steampunk real ale pub theatre Burke and Hare is a well-established and popular fixture on the Bella circuit for festie-goers now, some three years after it's inception. It seems to be something of a spiritual home for regulars Spring Break, the Inverness-based psychedelic folk funk outfit that has performed there every year, and always has something on offer to draw you into it's world, dancing polar bears and musical improvisation being just one example. Also back for another year was the Ice House Jazz 'n' Blues stage that has been designed to look like a New Orleans street scene and which was stowed out for much of the weekend.

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New for this year was the Temple of Dub, a beautiful secluded glade near the Hothouse tent which pumped out some banging tunes, thanks to the crew from Edinburgh-based bass music consortium Electrikal Sound System, which has been involved in the Audio Soup festival in the Scottish Borders since it began.

Also new for this year was the Trailer Trash stage where the VIP area used to be to the right of the Garden stage as you look at it. Featuring a range of country and western bands all weekend, the stage was also very popular with music lovers.

Fans of Americana were treated to a range of performances on the Hootananny Potting Shed which featured the likes of Dougie Burns and the Cadillacs, the always popular Lorelei, Charlie Roth, Dorec-a-belle and the ever reliable Davy Cowan with his son Sam on drums. They played a 10-song set on Saturday night featuring a mix of original songs - including "Working Man", "The Gatecrasher" and "Answerphone Song" - and covers such as Stiff Little Fingers "At the Edge" and The Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop".

So what was once one of Scotland's newest and wee-est festivals now finds itself one of the biggest with camping and one of the longest running. With literally hundreds of acts over three days and 17 stages, you need a month to experience everything that Bella has to offer these days.

Following the demise of Wickerman and Loopallu and with T in the Park on ice for another year, Belladrum and Rewind, the 80s festival on the outskirts of Perth, suddenly find themselves as the mainstream alternatives for festival fans in Scotland.

Belladrum's longevity and continued growth are in no small part down to continual re-investment in the event by the organisers, who have become adept at putting on a first rate family festival with something for everyone and next to no trouble - according to police there were 12 arrests for minor offences and 48 drug seizures.

However, having said all that, this festival really can't get any bigger in terms of the number of people attending without losing some of it's magic and appeal.

Although the site was bigger again this year, and a whole new area was opened up where the VIP area used to be, it still felt crowded in many places at times, and walking between stages seemed to take longer simply due to the number of people on site. And that was despite many people choosing to spend much of Friday at least in their tents or vans due to the wet weather. But for all that it was more crowded and busier this year, there was none of the human carnage that could be seen at other large festivals in Scotland over the years. There was still a family feel to the whole event and everything still felt safe.

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There were issues in the car park this year, both on the Friday evening as day ticket holders tried to get out of the muddy fields, and also on Sunday when everyone was packing up to go home, with reports that it was taking up to two hours to get out of the car park. Many of those cars had young children in them and tempers were high and not helped by chucking out time being moved from 1pm to the earlier time of 12. There were also complaints about noise levels in the family camping area and a lack of patrols in the campsites at night.

By contrast, traffic out of the campervan site flowed well all morning, with tractors on hand from around 8am to tow the earlier risers out. Alternative routes south avoiding Inverness city centre also seemed to help ease the congestion, although that will be of little comfort to those stuck in the car park.

But all in all, with a festival of that scale and size, a few complaints are only to be expected, and those behind Belladrum have traditionally been very good at taking feedback on board and acting on it.

Bella remains a vibrant, eclectic, crowd-pleasing event that really does have something for everyone and that makes everyone's world a better place - although to make it totally perfect it should probably be about a week long to give everyone enough time to experience everything that is on offer and to totally chill out and get in to the Bella groove! And it should maybe be available on prescription too due to its undeniable therapeutic qualities. Joking aside, the team behind Bella put in a power of work to ensure that is the best it can be every year. They don't take anything for granted and that is surely one of the secrets to their ongoing success.

This festival is still very much something special, its tartan heart beating to its very own (Bella) drum - and long may that continue.


review by: Clare Damodaran

photos by: Clare Damodaran

Thursday 3rd to Saturday 5th August 2017
Belladrum Estate, Beauly, Inverness-shire, IV4 7BA, Scotland MAP
£142 for 3 days
daily capacity: 16500
last updated: Thu 13th Jul 2017


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