Congratulations Butlins, what a brilliant way to use a resort with all the fantastic facilities to hand and perfectly set up for a winter music festival which otherwise would have either been closed or not fully utilised.
Leave the little future festival junkies at home with the grandparents and enjoy a fantastic adult’s only weekend of great music and good company.
When we arrived, everything was like a well-oiled machine, security directed you where you needed to go in a friendly and efficient manner. You rock up at reception who swiftly hand you your welcome pack which includes all the information you need complete with hotel style keys. They show you on your map exactly where your accommodation is - no fuss, no hassle - fantastic.
We had a silver apartment which was comfortable, very tidy and clean, and contained everything you could need for a super weekend whether self-catering or using one of the dining options. The premium dining option is superb with lots of choice for all tastes, these include a grill for freshly cooked burgers, chicken etc, a pasta station, Chinese and various other choices including a full carvery and really yummy selection of sweets. They also cater really well for vegetarians and vegans. There is also a standard dining option which has a choice of set meals but unlike the premium does not have cook to order stations. That’s dinner discussed, now breakfast - full English anyone, or omelette cooked to order, also available, continental, cereals, fruit, yoghurt and of course, toast and marmalade. If you haven’t opted for the dining option you can just have breakfast £8.95, all you can eat at the Yacht Club or £6.45 at the Diner.
For everyone who gets a bit peckish later in the evening after a few beers, a couple of food stalls open serving hot dogs, curry and noodles. Centre Stage has it’s own kiosk, which opens in the evening selling nachos, hotdogs, freshly made pancakes both sweet and savoury, ice cream and a range of soft drinks.
There are 5 venues, Skyline is the main venue consisting of a large plaza with a big top style roof. Around the perimeter is a coffee bar, Burger King, an Italian restaurant, the Sports bar and Jaks, There are also several temporary bars and 2 gin bars and the obligatory Merchandise stall. Centre Stage has a stage, dance floor and several tiers of chairs and tables, 2 bars. It doesn’t matter where you sit as there are screens of the stage all round. Reds which is more of a nightclub venue, consists of a stage, dance floor, and single tier of tables and chairs once again with 2 bars. Jaks is the smallest of the venues but hosts some good bands though the sound here is not as good as the others. Last but not least is The Inn on the Green, a pub venue with a small stage, this is where you will find, after the live bands, a late-night party going on usually with a good singalong.
Skyline, besides being the main venue also contains a supermarket, booking office, a gift shop, the Firehouse Grill restaurant and Butlin’s famous traditional Fish and Chips. The sports bar televises major sporting events, but also has 10 pin bowling, Pool tables and the obligatory seaside amusement arcade.
Now a bit about the bars, which are well stocked – though they did run out of real ale, hobgoblin and Exmoor Gold within a day and a half, much to our disappointment. They were serving Carling, Worthington bitter, Guinness, Thatcher’s Gold and Haze on tap, also bottles of Smirnoff Ice, Hooch and Doombar. They had a full range of optics, mixers and various wines also. The prices started at £4.40 for a pint of Carling. The gin bar also served cocktails.
We can’t miss out a little information about the fantastic music, so here goes, it all kicks off on Friday at 1.30 going onto the wee hours of the morning. The music always started around about lunchtime, giving everyone just enough time to recover from the excesses of the previous day Skyline hosted bands such as Lightning Seeds, Idlewild, Embrace, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, The Wonder Stuff and many others. Centre Stage showed off with bands such as The Wedding Present, Sultans of Ping, Dodgy, The Farm and even a DJ set from Steve Lamacq. Reds had bands such as Transglobal Underground, Together, Inner City and Adamski. Whereas Jaks staged groups such as The Woodentops, Big Boss Man, The Bongolian and if you fancied a bit of Northern Soul on Sunday there were some DJ sets, Northern Soul Rave Patrol. As you can see, we were absolutely spoiled and these were just a few to keep everyone fully entertained. Reds also had a Comedy afternoon on Sunday with Clinton Baptiste, Paul McCaffrey, George Lewis and Tom Deacon.
If you needed a break from music entertainment, you could put on a cossie, or budgie smugglers and have fun at Splash Water World’s morning DJ led pool parties. There was also an exhibition by Microdot, who produced record sleeves for bands such as Oasis, Verve and others.
A brilliant way of getting that festival fix in the winter - well, why should it stop just because the temperature has dropped and someone has turned the shower on permanently, it would seem. Butlins is really well set up to host these events, everything is very well organised and runs like clockwork with very friendly helpful staff and security. The crowd were super friendly, just there to enjoy the fabulous music and have a good time. Having chatted to a lot of people it would appear that they come year after year. There is even the beach just across the road if you need to blow those cobwebs away before embarking on another day of great music and good company. If a change of scene is needed Minehead town is a short walk up the Prom and if you have forgotten anything the on-site supermarket does not have there is a large Morrison’s and Lidl just around the corner - what more do you need.
Now the question everyone asks, would we go again – yes, without a doubt.
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