Review: Lost Village Festival 2017
When you think of a “boutique festival” you picture a quaint little set up, a few hundred guests and some wonderful activities for you all to do. Never in your wildest dreams would you imagine acres of internationally acclaimed music stages, comedians, restaurant-quality food, and the kind of atmosphere that makes you question whether you’re awake or dreaming. And that’s sort of where I’d place my experience of Lost Village Festival 2017.
Boutique isn’t the first word I’d use… more, unforgettable. The lights, the food, the music, the costumes… even the packed-out camping area where I got little to no sleep – it all added to it. And the best thing about it? You could walk from one side of the festival to the other in ten minutes.
Leading up to the 24th, the festival had been very well marketed. It was advertised as a “fully immersive festival experience” with a multitude of impressively produced videos and photos. Unsurprisingly, it was completely sold out. Those that hadn’t visited the festival before speculated about what they had to bring to suit such an unusual event but it seemed that Lost Village had thought of everything. From a vintage emporium stuffed full of remarkable fancy dress, to the paint dens and craft tents providing creative classes – it seemed to tick every box. The map below gives on idea of the curiously inventive and utterly bonkers elements the Lost Village team had laid out for its guests:
We’ll begin with the music because hey, that’s the main attraction for most of the Lost “Villagers”. The set lists had been slowly drip-fed to the attendees over the months leading up to the festival but physically being there was the only way to appreciate just how diverse the selection of music really was. No one stage or set-up stuck to just one genre of music which meant that you could visit all the different areas of the festival whilst working your way through your must-see list. In the day time we were lost in a crowd of sunglasses and bopping and at night the incredible light shows and huge lit-up lanterns made it feel like you were on another planet. Everything, every corner you turned and every pathway you walked down led to a visually stunning set-up.
The Burial Ground was a huge, covered, inside-but-outside stage that saw appearances from Moderat, Bicep, Ben Pearce and more. Bars and toilets lined either side of the stage which meant you truly had everything you needed for hours of entertainment. Over the weekend we experienced incredible performances here, lost in the crowd at night as well as sitting down on the outskirts of the stage, basking in the sun. A personal highlight had to have been Sunday’s Moderat performance which featured some of the most amazing light & visual production I’d ever seen. Looking across the crowd you could see hundreds of dressed-up festival-goers revelling in the last ever performance Moderat were to ever do.
The Abandoned Chapel had a similar counterpart called the Forgotten Cabin set in the heart of the Lost Village woods. There we got to see incredible, intimate sets from the likes of Horse Meat Disco, Hot Chip and Mr Bongo who added a funky vibe to the other heavier DJ sets. Tans, good music and a belly full good food and cocktails. What was not to love.
Speaking of food. What an array! I’d never seen such an amazing offering of festival food with dozens of food and drink stalls of varying cuisines. Everything from aromatic duck rolls to gourmet hot dogs; every pallet was catered for. I particularly enjoyed the pulled chicken wrap van and have no shame admitting I must have visited it at least three times. Breakfast could be purchased from the Breakfast Club pitch or other stalls in the form of avocado crumpets and maple bacon waffles – other festivals take note of this. Cash points and card machines were at hand to aid the purchase of these fantastic options which made it increasingly difficult work my way through the food that I’d packed and brought. Nevertheless, it was real high point for me and a selling point for this wonderfully crowd-pleasing festival.
When your dancing feet or body temperature got out of hand, a trip to The Lake of Tranquillity was the perfect way to find some zen, break up the sets, and last the whole day. Situated on the far side of the festival where the Michelin-starred banquet tent was set up, the lake was a quaint and picturesque affair. A night of excessive partying and little sleep meant that I’d wandered, bleary-eyed, to the lake on my first morning’s explore. It was perfect. Not a huge spectacle, but a well-advertised, tranquil place to catch your breath. Nobody else had been there when I parked my tush on the edge of the lake, on last night’s shirt. The sun came out, the birds a-tweeted and the hangover disappeared…mostly. As the morning went on I caught sight of the first round of hot tub guests. For £35 you could take a dip in a wooden tub with a view with 5-7 of your friends – amazing. Coupled with the lakeside yoga classes and sunbathing spots, it really did feel like you were on holiday. Obviously Mr Sunshine had a big part to play in this but I can imagine it being just as beautiful and enchanting in the pouring British rain.
Over the weekend, the festival saw comedic stars such as Joe Lycett, Russell Kane and Sean Walsh grace the Lost Theatre which was situated in the creative “hub” of the first area you walked into after going through the main gate security. It was a relatively small tepee and couldn’t fit huge amounts of people in but it added to the fun of it and if you were street-wise enough to think ahead and grab an early seat, you got to experience an almost face-to-face comedy chat with some of the country’s best comedians. The close-knit nature of the performances meant that you felt like the performers were talking directly at you, causing pun-induced giggles and an amazing, comrade-like atmosphere. The crowd were encouraged to get involved and the performers didn’t hold back in venturing out and chatting with their audience.
Moving onto the accommodation…
Though the main camping area looked like a visual prediction of World War 3 by the end of the bank holiday weekend, the selection of accommodation and facilities on offer to cater to an array of budgets and preferences, really was outstanding. From a private Boutique Camping area filled with £500-a-pop tepees to vast fields of back-to-back camping tents, there was something to suit everyone. There were plenty of toilet and water facilities with the cherry on top being the ZooLoo facilities which, in exchange for a £38 wristband, gave you unlimited access to luxury festival toilets, showers and grooming. The queues were unsurprisingly long during peak getting-ready hours, but going a little earlier or later on in the day gave you the relaxing home comforts we often miss at festivals.
A point of warning for future villagers would be the amount of space available for those in standard camping. Thursday saw the arrival of the first wave of campers, with sections of the camping fields split off into group territories. However, as the weekend progressed, every centimetre of space seemed to have a tent parked on top, leaving many with back-to-back camps and limited sleep if you had noisy neighbours. For some, this is an attractive element to the experience but for those who are looking for a slightly more “tame” living situation, I’d probably recommend the lavish and open spaces of the boutique camping area.
Sunday night – the last of the four evenings – was a sight to behold. The villagers that were left experienced incredible performances across all the stages and a firework display at the Lake of Tranquillity that could be seen from all corners of the festival. 2017’s attendees had obviously partied hard but that hadn’t stopped them from making the last night one to remember. The Kraken Rum bar was completely packed, playing classic floor-fillers and feel good music. Black Madonna and Dixon occupied the other stages and provided one last deep house set after some easy listening from Craig Charles Funk & Soul and Maribou State, before the sounds systems died down and everyone filtered back to their tents for a last conflab and sleepover.
All in all, it was a success. A refreshing, accommodating and spectacular success. I will be sure to visit Lost Village and its wonderfully enchanted woods again.