Bearded Theory festival is a 10k capacity music festival held on a lovely site at Catton Hall in South Derbyshire. It is a small, relaxed and very friendly festival.
Some of my longtime readers might recall that 2014 was the first time that the festival was held at Catton Hall and as you would expect there were a few teething problems, though to be fair these were largely caused by the truly awful weather we had.
One of the things that I like so much about this festival is that they acted on all of the feedback they received last year and as a result made the festival even better this year. The team at Bearded Theory are determined that people will have a great time when they come to the festival.
Our party met in a layby a couple of miles from the site and we timed our arrival perfectly, as a result we were the first onto the site. Our arrival was painless and easy. The live in vehicle field this year was in a new location, it is huge, flat and well laid out. I understand that some people had to queue for some time to get onto the site but this wasn’t the case for us. Our arrival was smooth and easy and we were set up in no time at all.
There were numerous toilets and a shower block in easy reach and the entrance to the arena was just a couple of minutes walk away. In my experience the toilets were also spotlessly clean, even first thing in the morning. We were also positioned near to the wonderful woodland stage so if the mood took us we could simply chill out by the van and listen to the music from there. Ideal!
A word on the woodland stage. What a wonderful area this is. It is situated in a little hollow in the woods and at night is lit br fairy lights strung from the tree. A huge amount of work has been put into this are since last years festival. This year saw the addition of a beautifully designed stage, a fantastic upgrade to the sound system and the addition of a top eatery with Adele’s superb ‘Nana’s Kitchen’. This combined with a great line-up of bands ensured that the Woodland stage was a very popuar area indeed.
The festival proper at Bearded Theory starts Friday lunchtime but there is a line-up in one of the big tops. This years Thursday line up was very good indeed. Zombie Met Girl opened up and Barsteward Sons of Val Doonican followed up with their usual brand of musical comedy madness. Levellers frontman Mark Chadwick played a blinding set with a few of his solo project songs but the bulk of his set consisted of festival favourite Levellers songs.
3 Daft Monkeys played their usual excellent set of high-octane danceable folk tunes. This really is a band that gets better and better. They have been around for many years but I never fail to be impressed by the energy, enthusiasm and fun they bring to every performance. I will simply never tire of seeing them.
The evening was rounded off by Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs. If you have never seen this band you really should. They are the self styled godfathers of skunk, a crazy mix of punk rock tunes played in a skiffle style with a topping of crazyness. It all blends to produce an hour of unadulterated festival fun.
Unlike most of our friends we settled for an early night, a decision we were very pleased with come Friday morning. Bearded Theory is set in a great site for a festival, it is a flat site and fairly compact just a few minutes walk from the camping areas to any of the stages. It has to be said though that a festival can be a tiring experience as you dash around to see all the acts you want to see, spend a lot of time standing. Combine that with late nights and lots of alcohol and you know you are going to be pretty tired by the time you get home.
This year Bearded Theory made a massive in their younger customers. The children’s area was safe, secure and free to parents. The range of activities was superb and everyone from tot’s to teens were having an amazing time. The festival even recognised that in order to allow parents to have the full festival experience it might be necessary for the kids to have an extra day off school.
Taking children out of school during term time is becoming increasingly frowned upon so Bearded Theory came up with the perfect solution. The Bearded Theory school was born. With lessons based on the national curriculum and centred on the festival experience the school had close to 200 attendees who experienced a fun-filled day of learning overseen by qualified teachers. To the best of my knowledge this was a first for a UK festival.
Over the next few days I will be posting a review of the music at the festival. The next post in this series will focus on the first day proper of the festival.