a colourful Beautiful Days offers much singing in the rain

Beautiful Days 2012 review

published: Thu 23rd Aug 2012

around the festival site (people 1)

Friday 17th to Sunday 19th August 2012
Escot Park, near Fairmile, Devon, EX11 1LU, England MAP
£120 for adult weekend tickets - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 13500
last updated: Mon 24th Mar 2014

Boo, rain, rain and more rain, but we had a fab 3 course festival breakfast under the awning, and the gathering puddles washed the dishes for us. There are plenty of reasonably priced breakfast outlets open on this side of the bridge (family camping) but we'd elected to bring our own as taking your own cookers (as long as they are off the ground) is permitted. As soon as we put our waterproofs on, the sun came out; it really was going to be a weekend of coats-on, coats-off; but our wellies were badly needed as the mud was now very squelchy as we wandered into the festival.

around the festival site (4)
They'd really filled the campsite with more entertainment this year, loads more shops selling camping essentials, fun fancy-dress items, some brilliant sock-monkeys, sock-bunnys and sock-monsters, the RSPB boys and a cut-throat barbers if that was your thing. The bandstand stage was back, as well as a new bar and a seated theatre tent; so along with the food and coffee stalls, if you didn’t fancy moving far you could have a whole weekend of entertainment just in the campsite! We ventured further over the bridge, saying 'Morning' to all the cows still milling around in the field and the festival was well under way; all the shops were open and, despite the mud, everyone was enjoying the sun that had decided to wake up. The garden area next to the Big Top was totally stunning this year, a garden to walk around with little flower beds and a water feature in the centre; it made a lovely tranquil area, despite being next to one of the busiest music tents.

In the main Big Top arena we were spoilt as usual with food vendors and the reasonably priced (£3.20-£3.70 a pint) Otter bar, so we grabbed a lunchtime real cider and waited for The Levellers acoustic set to kick off the music, and had a look around the shops and food stalls. The sun was out with full force and was lovely and warm, but the mud remained thick and challenging to push a buggy through, but we made it through the kids area and over to the main stage arena, and got a great workout!

around the festival site
Gone are the days when the main stage and bar are our main sources of entertainment, the kids area, AKA the 'Frown-Free Zone', keeps us all happy, and looks after everyone of any age. A small fun fair made an appearance this year with a huge helter-skelter and big wheel; the teens could lounge in their own tent (no adults allowed) and try their hand on some decks, make hula-hoops, or try some circus skills. The littler ones had a few tents to choose from; making things or some noise, watching story-tellers, singing or even trying out the littler fun-fair. The mini mushroom big-wheel was a big hit with our little one. A brilliant play tent was stocked with toys, and Jan's Van was free to be painted all over. This year the warning was that 'unattended children will be given an espresso and a puppy.' Warning noted.

Mad Dog Mcrea
Hobo Jones & The Junkyard Dogs made it onto the main stage this year, and deservedly so. Performing a rip-roaring set including 'Ooh Aah Just A Little Bit', which was brilliant, and 'What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor?' so we could all have a good sing-song. Mad Dog Mcrea played some traditional and non-traditional Irish folk music, one of their songs turned into Gogol Bordello's 'Start Wearing Purple' which brought back some great memories from a few years back at BD. We all got to have a good diddly-dance and really churn up some mud. The walking entertainers were brilliant as always; 2 guys on a walking leopard-print sofa, 2 witches with a picture frame to take your picture with, and the tree-man who frightened the life out of me coming up behind me and putting his huge hand on my shoulder.

around the festival site (2)
Toots and the Maytals took the stage as it got dark, opening with 'Pressure Drop' and then making our daughter's day with 'Monkey Man'. The flame torches were back in the main arena (for some reason they'd been missing for a few years); the tall tulips and old-style street lamps looked amazing, helped visibility, and gave us a bit of warmth too, and smoke for ambience. Along with the lights from the shops, food stalls and main stage, the arena looked amazing; it felt so nice to be back.

Over in the Big Top Americans Midlake put on a showcase of fine guitar work, and mellow harmonies to a much reduced crowd. Frank Turner ended the night on the main stage with a fantastic set taking in his new album and old favourites. Our daughter couldn't make it to the end of his set, but as we wandered back to our tent we sung along to 'I Still Believe' which was echoing through the valley.

Meanwhile those still partying late into the night in the Dance Tent were able to enjoy a running spat between Stamina (with Shy FX) and the sound engineer as a war of words was traded over the low sound levels and lack of bass, all good fun before the silent disco sparked into life and noise issues were forgotten. Once again this venue which was a bit tricky to get to offered late night fun and frolics for night owls until the early hours throughout the weekend.

Shy FX with Stamina MC
review by: Sandra Pitt

photos by: Karen Williams / Andy Pitt

Friday 17th to Sunday 19th August 2012
Escot Park, near Fairmile, Devon, EX11 1LU, England MAP
£120 for adult weekend tickets - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 13500
last updated: Mon 24th Mar 2014


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