Back in 2008, we heard about a music festival on the Yorkshire moors called, quite cunningly, the ‘Moor Music festival’. At the time they were offering free tickets for VW campervan owners, so we jumped at the chance to bring our camper and see what it was all about. With British festivals, you generally get stunning settings in the beautiful British countryside – and you often get rain. The Moor music festival offered both of these things in abundance flitting from sunny spells to massive downpours.

There were no big name acts or huge stages, just some really carefully thought out, well chosen, quality music and entertainment. We found it to be a real festival go-ers festival. Our van won best VW in our small category. The free drinks and t-shirts did no harm to our enjoyment of the weekend. We also did the mandatory, push a bunch of old VW vans off the festival site on the Sunday.

Fast forward to 2013, we heard that Savages were playing at Beacons Festival in August. We had a good look through the website and thought it looked like a cracking event to take our vans to. With a bit of digging we figured that this was the new Moor Music festival with a new site and a fresh new name. Headliners this year included Sky Larkin, Local Natives, Bonobo, Gold Panda, Ghost Poet and Django Django. Aside from Savages, we had to YouTube and SoundCloud many of the other acts in our ignorance.

Looking at the reviews of last years festival from the top music publications though and based on past experience of the festival – we were excited, and our excitement proved to be well founded. We headed towards Skipton on the Thursday night after work as we’d heard it may be first come first served in the ‘live in campers field’ which costs an extra £30 on top of the £99 weekend ticket (+booking fee). We had a bit of fun and games driving between entrances to get to the right one, but we finally got ourselves into the campervan field which didn’t have as many vehicles as we were expecting.

We had a wander down to the arena on the Thursday night where we quickly found the real ale tent with ales provided by Leeds oldest and most established real ale house Whitelock. What we weren’t expecting though was our favourite Welsh real cider Gwynt y Ddraig. We’d discovered this gem of a pint at The Chester Food and Drink festival earlier in the year. On the festival site, it states that the ticket prices are kept lower by not allowing drinks in the arena. The drinks are priced between £3.80 and £5.00 a pint depending on their strength, so much of the cider was £4.50. It was the same price for Kopparberg, who have their own dedicated shed, disco, bar and free sample counter with fresh grapefruit and cucumber to accompany their flavours. This was a delightful freebie that kept on giving.

On Friday, the festival started proper. There are two distinct areas of the festival – the music and drinks festival with big top stages (rather than open air) and an arts programme area called ‘The Space Between’, where you can take your own drinks. We spent most of Friday in the music area and saw some real gems that we had only heard previously via the festival website. On the Friday afternoon, Lulu James belted out some amazing tunes in the main (Loud and Quiet) tent, the programme read “James has mastered the art of melding futuristic pop and retrospective soul with her commanding vocals”. We were blown away to the point where by the Saturday morning; half of our party woke up humming a Lulu song. We had a quick chat and a photo with Lulu straight after her stunning performance as she headed for the beer tent. It was that kind of festival.

Local favourites from Leeds, Bonobo stitched together samples to bring together an amazing sound on the Friday evening and between some excellent bands in the smaller ‘You have to hear this’ tent, our party of varying musical tastes could hardly believe just how good the music had been on the first day. The fun and tunes continued on to Saturday. Beats from Gold Panda were forecasted to be one of the highlights of the festival and this proved to be the case. The massive main tent was packed out and looked stunning on stage with excellent sound and lighting. There was plenty of dancing and disco going on all weekend at the open air Red Bull Academy, the social and the spectacular RFID dome with its ceiling projections and beats.

We ventured into the Space Between at the other side. This area has several different tents devoted to lectures, art films, installations and various kinds of performances. We were particularly impressed with Dawsons art films chilling out on comfy Chesterfield settees and the Magnificent Tea Company next door. It’s quite a strange thing to move from cacophony in one area to sipping tea from a china cup and being treated to some beautiful Ukulele music in a 50’s style. As we sipped our tea, two prim and proper ladies, Lady B and Miss D set up for a quite remarkable performance, which was half comedy, half poetry. It was all quite eccentric and hilarious – really entertaining.

The Arts programme of installations including projections and large illuminated signs throughout the festival and a fully carpeted ‘Into the Woods’ stage, complimenting an amazing musical line up. The food and shops were a little underwhelming compared to other festivals like CamperJam. Our party ate (nice) burger after burger, but as a veggie, I was treated to a thali plate of three curries and chutneys at Gandhi’s Flip-flop, which is also a regular fixture at Kendal Calling.

Sunday night saw the amazing Savages take to the ‘You Have to Hear This’ stage. A deep and powerful punk performance from the highly rated ladies to an over capacity crowd blew away even our high expectations. Beacons concluded with a literally jaw dropping psychedelic pop craft performance from Django Django. This incredible sound had everyone jumping (and a few people falling by the end of the evening). Other reviews for the band at the festival gave them 11/10. We were a little surprised that entertainment ended completely by midnight on Sunday, but people continued to make their own entertainment into the early hours.

We will definitely be back to Beaconsfest with our vans. Of all festivals, this was the one that held most surprises and new discoveries for us. There is a whole section for kids called Diddy Rascals but generally, we felt that it was best suited for young adults. There could have stood to be more loos in the campervan field, but generally, Beacons is civilized, cool, and very Veedub friendly.

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