the promise of good things to come at Sunrise: Another World

Sunrise Festivals: Another World 2013 review

published: Wed 5th Jun 2013

around the festival site

Thursday 30th May to Sunday 2nd June 2013
Thoulstone Park, Chapmanslade, Wiltshire, BA13 4AQ, England MAP
£115 for the weekend
daily capacity: 5000
last updated: Thu 16th May 2013

I think we have found our new favourite festival! It's called Sunrise and it takes place near Frome on the Wiltshire/Somerset borders. This year, the festival took place from 30th May to 2nd June.

We have fancied going to Sunrise for a few years now but circumstances have prevented us from actually managing to get there until this year. The organisers have determined that this year, they want to create a micronation of sustainability, responsible action, education, balance and celebration and we set off with a certain amount of enthusiastic anticipation to see what it's all about.

Our enthusiasm doesn't wane en route, even given the torrential rain that dogs our journey and greets us as we book in at the ticket office early Thursday afternoon. However, the entry process is faultless and everyone we meet is smiley despite being drenched and we soon settle in. Stewards point us to a pitch position for our van that is almost pole position; in sight of the arena entrance, and the main stage, and just a short walk to the loos and coincidentally behind the friends we had hoped to camp with. Amazingly, almost as soon as we open the van doors, the rain eases off and things are looking up.

We dispense quickly with the practicalities of setting up our little camp and cracking open some local cider to get us in the swing of things, and set off through the Customs Portal into the arena to search out a programme to peruse at leisure. On our way in, we were handed a Visa application card that we are directed to fill with stickers that are given at a range of activities we take part in throughout the weekend. Completed cards mean membership of the micronation through a Sunrise Passport which offers benefits such as discounts so we determine to give it a good try.

The site is spacious and beautiful. It's divided into areas that each support and complement the micronation theme: Storyland – full of magical tales, the Global Village – supporting diversity of cultures, the Shire – where we celebrate all manner of traditional crafts, Plaza de la Paz – the main arena, and the Underworld – where the serious partying takes place. Walking through the main arena, we are impressed by the site installations which are clearly going to come in to their own at night when the lights go on. The area is framed by a good selection of festival favourite food and goods stalls and some lovely new ones and we all mentally make a plan for which ones we're going to visit over the weekend.

In addition to the main stage, the area also features The Sunrise Pub which plays host to a variety of acts all weekend and houses a selection of ale, lager, and cider. The Asbo Disco is getting things going nicely and we decide to stop for a pint although we wince a bit over the £4.00 per pint.

I am delighted to see my favourite curry stall and the children home in on Donut Dollies as a 'must' to sample some of the doughnuts covered in melted chocolate We are taken by Forage which stocks a lovely range of clothing, and some really beautiful jewellery designed by a chap called Richard Harmon.

The site makes excellent use of its natural contours and the layout is well thought out to create intimate party areas that reduce noise and promote communal partying without bleeding into other areas. We keep on walking and find Storyland where we discover walkways and nets through the trees, and an area that strikes me as made for dancing all night to tunes played through giant snail shells. It really is like something straight from Wonderland, and I feel like Alice herself as I find more and more to marvel over.

We persuade the children to come down from Storyland and enter The Shire where we find more craft activities than you can shake a stick at. Lots of the traders are offering reasonably-priced sample sessions, and we get chatting to the blacksmith who promises to show us how to create copper decorations to go on shields in the morning. We sample more of the local cider in the Cider Bar (BeeSting this time) while the older children look in on the Rapture and Bliss workshop in the Green Talks Dome, and the younger ones have lots of fun around the central Dobulous Plumegon.

Armed now with a programme, we move on to The Underworld attempt to find the Psy Dance Temple where Youth (the guy from Killing Joke) are playing later but the map is a bit vague (and the timetable so small it's illegible to all but one of the adults in our party), and the stewards we speak to are a bit uncertain and we draw a blank. Rather reluctantly we exit The Underworld and return to the van for the evening as we're all a bit soggy.
review by: Fiona Tayler

photos by: James Tayler

Thursday 30th May to Sunday 2nd June 2013
Thoulstone Park, Chapmanslade, Wiltshire, BA13 4AQ, England MAP
£115 for the weekend
daily capacity: 5000
last updated: Thu 16th May 2013


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