Just over a week ago, Bearded Theory festival in Derbyshire came to a close for the eighth time after a weekend of madness in Catton Park, also home to Bloodstock Festival. What began as a birthday party has now stretched into a three day event filled with all manner of live music, food and intriguing attractions. Before we get down to the best bits and the must-see moments of the festival, allow me, dear reader, to sum up the sheer eclecticity of the weekend, and how there’s nothing quite similar to some of the features Bearded Theory provided.
Though the festival only boasts four stages, it’s none the lesser for it, especially considering the size of the festival. Across from the dance tent, Magical Sounds – one filled with strobe lights, fairy lights, hanging butterflies and anything else whacky you can imagine – comes the festival’s main stage, which over the weekend saw the likes of Alabama 3, New Model Army and james play (more on that later).
Something Else Big Top provided a wide range of music, including 3 Daft Monkeys closing the stage on Thursday night, one of the festival’s traditions. Around the corner and out of the main arena came The Woodland stage (again, more on that later), which really is one of the gems of the festival, and one that saw artists from Mr Motivator (if he can be considered an artist) to Cara Dillon play.
Forgive my use of the nonspecific and vague term, but one of the coolest parts of the festival came from the fact that it had a small “Tipi Village” – as it says on the tin, you hire a tipi and stay there instead of in your usual camping area. Alas, we didn’t have the luxury of these lodgings, and perhaps camping in a separate area to the majority of the festival goers reduced some of the communal aspects to the weekend, but it’s fair to say that both the tipis and areas of public camping were quirky enough to be representative of the festival.
Whilst the music continued to three in the morning, the festival was equally equipped to look after the younger generation, with a children’s village and teen’s section, and a small cinema showing films throughout the weekend. This gave the festival a somewhat mixed demographic – catering to both extremes of over excited five years olds and overly drunk sixty years made Bearded Theory a family-orientated deal, which left a bit of a gap for a pair of adolescents.
Having been told good stories of Bearded’s food (and having prepped myself for the weekend with little more than cereal bars and several bags of Doritos), it was a huge relief to find I’d heard almost nothing but the truth. With all manner of vendors offering anything and everything, if you pay an almost totally consistent rate of £7.50, you’ll find yourself with either an ample meal, or (in the case of noodles and chicken) most of the way to one. And I’m not exaggerating when I stress the variety.
The most all round feature of the festival came in the extensive market. An absolute plethora of assorted gifts spread themselves across a dozen or so tents around the campsite, with food stalls offering some intriguing samples of blends you’d not expect. From glow sticks to silver jewelry, from beards for the World Record Attempt to some of the weirdest hats I’ve ever seen, you name it and someone was probably selling it. I wish I could say that I’d not spent hours looking around the shops, but, well, I’d be lying if I did.