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BoomTown 2019| Review

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This years’ BoomTown was a festival that, quite literally, blew you away.

The various Districts (12 in total) were so authentic and the work and love to details that went into each structure, stage and theme has to be admired. It’s like a big city with all the different parts of town, i.e. downtown, old-town, paradise heights, district 5 and area 404 etc. and all the areas want to be explored.

We arrived on the Friday in the rain and the storm made it difficult to get around the site. Luckily the rain mostly stopped on Saturday, but the strong winds prevailed throughout the whole festival period. I am extremely sensitive to wind and that was a big dent in my fun-factor.


The good news is however: A tree is planted for each festival goer this year, which means somewhat 60,000+ trees will be planted in the Amazon thanks to Boomtown. If Bolsonaro could now be persuaded to STOP uprooting the Amazon Rain forest we could see an increase in forestation, which will eventually lead to less strong winds in the UK and in a few years’ time could see mild English summers again (I’m talking about the wind factor here).
And while I’m at the topic: It is remarkable how much focus was put on the environment this year – no single use plastic bottles, cups and straws on site / everyone was reminded to take their tents home and leave no trace (I hope it worked) and the site was much cleaner than other festival sites I’ve been to. I think they could pay a little more attention to animal welfare in the future and although the “Psy-Forest” and the DJ-stage near the “Lions’ Den” looked amazing and had one of the best festival sound-systems I’ve heard, I felt incredibly sad for the animals that would usually inhabit the trees and undergrowth in this part of the South-Downs-National-Park. I saw quite a few furry friends (weasels) running to find shelter. Feathered friends had perhaps already fled to find alternative accommodation and it was happy that hatching season is long gone in August. On the other hand I have no great suggestions (apart from closing all woodlands and have the festival just in the open fields…) for alternatives and as a Psy-fan wouldn’t want to miss this great venue at future festivals. Let’s wait and see whether the festival organisers can extend their great environmental ambitions to wildlife welfare.

Anyway, #BOOMTOWN is a fair and not a festival and that became very clear to me. It is so much more than just a music festival. It is a massive fairground where you can be either just a spectator or (as recommended) participate and be part of writing the story of the festival. Of course, there are 25 different stages and the quantity and quality of musical acts is huge. I started to make a list of times and stages and artists to see, but shortly after gave up on trying to rush from one place to another. There was just too much to take in and the 80 different venues offered great entertainment, not to be missed. So I resorted to one or two musical acts I wanted to see per day and otherwise just let myself float around (or blown around like tumbleweed) and embrace the action.

It was good that the festival opened on Wednesday, because 5 days is just enough time to really embrace all the districts and action on offer. I am not going to describe each area now, because that would take too long and every area was great.

Musically I managed to see my friends “Nova Twins” play at “Hangar 161” (see my article and interview here) and some other ‘old’ friends with “Dana Immanuel and the stolen band”. I also really liked “Submotion Orchestra” and which there would be more bands like that next year and of course an old favourite of mine: “Kosheen” and the mighty “Groove Armada”. But don’t forget the mega headliners “Lauren Hill”, UB40 and “Prophets of Rage” on the Sunday.

Nova Twins

Actually there were too many other bands to mention and DJ’s, Yes, DJ’s, too – just one: Carl Cox – I mean c’mon Mr. Cox. Yes – nuff said!!

Boomtown is still an independent festival and that is a quite a nice fact to remember. You won’t have the overly tensed and eager to “catch someone” security that you would find at #Glastonbury and although with 60k people visiting it felt like a nice festival. Yes, I did see some security searching certain people on site, but generally you didn’t really feel like being watched all the time – however I’m not sure how much information AMI collected from each visitor (AMI the festivals’ Artificial Machine Intelligence character – downloadable as an app and part of the story/theme – all felt a bit “Blade Runner”!).

So with an extra 10k people being permitted next year I am not sure how much longer BOOMTOWN will manage to stay independent and maintain the vibe of the past. It might just out-grow itself and I’ve already heard long time Boomtown visitors say “It’s too big now”.

Well lets wait and see what Chapter 12 will be like!!

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West Reading Window Wanderland 2020 | 29 Feb – 1 Mar 2020

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This will be the second Window Wanderland accross the whole of West Reading.

The idea is to cheer up otherwise dark and cold evenings with fun and light, in the form of decorated windows, and an opportunity for the community to come together. People can walk with neighbours and friends to follow the window trail and explore their neighbourhod in a new light.

Last year, over 40 houses decorated their windows and hundreds of school children decorated their school windows at Wilson Primary, Battle School and Oxford Road Community School. Over one thousand people downloaded the map to follow the magical trail with friends and neighbours.

2020 will be even bigger and brighter. If you would like to find out more, or get involved by decorating your windows at home, at work, at school, at a nursery, at a business or organisation please sign up here and encourage your neighbours to get involved. This works so well if a lots of people take part on a street and then get together to see eachother’s windows. See how one street had fun doing this last year here.

The organisers will again be holding free workshops where they’ll provide materials, tools and people can swap ideas, tips and skills.

West Reading Window Wanderland 2020 | 29 Feb – 1 Mar 2020 from 6pm to 9pm. Please register or sign in to make a window.

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Christmas Lights Switch On in Reading | Broad Street – 16 November

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The lead up to Christmas officially begins in Reading this weekend as the lights are switched on around the town.

Starting from Santa arriving on a motorised bed to light up the town and Broad Street Mall with thousands of Christmas lights, three new trees sparkle at the station, in Broad Street and The Forbury

Music in Broad Street to accompany the Christmas lights switch on:-

Jive Aces 12.30 -2.30 (X Factor finalists)

RASPO (Reading All Steel Percussion Orchestra) 3.00 – 5.00

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Magical Extravaganza | 30 November 2019

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Magical Christmas in Reading – Broad Street & Abbey Ruins

Part of Magical Christmas in Reading, join us for a day of entertainment in Broad Street and a night of music, boat trips, food, light and fireworks in the Abbey Ruins. With music from Ma Bessie, Dat Brass, Avenue and Flamenco Thief, a boat tour from Cast Iron Theatre and a lighting installation from Pif-Paf Theatre, all topped off with fireworks. This is sure to be a night to remember.

The event begins at 12:00 and runs until 18:00.

No alcohol on site. Bag searches will be in operation. 

Please be aware that this is an outdoor event therefore open to the elements.

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