Eroica Britannia @ Bakewell Showground
As I sit here typing, the radio’s telling me about 12 hour queues for folk getting into Glastonbury due to the inclement weather, so I guess I shouldn’t moan about a bit of mud. I won’t let the fact that I needed about six changes of clothing and ended up throwing away a pair of boots colour the fact that this is an event that has found a real niche on the UK festival scene.
Perhaps because it’s right on our doorstep, it’s easy to overlook the significant strides the festival has made in a short period of time, winning Best Non-Music Festival at last year’s UK Festival Awards.
It’s all about the vintage cycling here you see, hinging around the ‘Ride’ on the Sunday when close to 4000 cyclists take in the sights, sounds and smells of the Derbyshire countryside. All competitors are dressed in vintage clothing, must ride pre-1987 bikes and stop a couple of times on the way around for tea, cakes and a bit of a chat.
So not surprisingly the rest of the festival follows suit, with countless stands offering vintage cycling memorabilia and the entertainment punctuated with talks from Chris Boardman and David Millar. For non-enthusiasts like myself, there’s also plenty more to keep you entertained. The ‘Best In Show’ competition (for the best dressed man, woman and dog!) drew a big crowd while the family tent was an ideal place to hang out if you had kids in tow. Meanwhile, the array of fine booze and food was as good as I’ve seen at a festival.
So if you like cycling, there’s no doubting you’ll love Eroica. But even if you don’t, it’s worth a visit just to sup endless pints of Jaipur and people-watch some of the most handsomely-dressed but muddy festival go-ers in the land.
Words: Phil Turner