The Houghton Festival
The Houghton festival delivered across the board..beautiful location, amazing line-up, super friendly lovely people, incredibly well organised, it took 10 minutes to get from your tent to the main area and every random encounter was brilliant..for me the overall experience was the closest I have experienced to a proper old skool rave – it is exactly the sort of place and people I have been searching for at festivals over the years and not always finding..until now.
One of the great things about it was that it was the first time it had ever happened which meant no-one group had put their stamp on it or made it a certain way yet. As a result every just got on with it and it just rolled out very naturally and beautifully thanks to the general good vibes of everyone there, from the organisers, to the punters, to the staff, to the artists. We spoke to one of the production managers working there and they said the aim was to treat everyone as well as they could be treated no matter who they were. And you really felt it. You were made to feel welcome, a guest in their delicious domain. So often at festivals you are barked at and herded around, made to queue for everything, made to feel like you are just being rinsed of your cash, a cog in the music machine. This was not the case here…
Houghton understood that you need to make everyone feel good, not just through the music and the setting but by each and every person to person encounter. The crowd itself were a brilliantly varied collection of clubbers, musos, norfolk locals, cool poshos, loved up londonites, young ravers, old ravers and a very healthy smattering of party people & here-we-go hedonists. The great thing is that there wasn’t an overbearing of any one group and most importantly, despite where we were from, we all fell under the same general banner: smiley chatty friendly folk who were up for a dance, a giggle and a bit of quality random banter. Over the course of the weekend we identified ourselves not from the groups we came from but the group we became. Everyone just felt chuffed they had gone there on a bit of a punt, not really knowing what it would be like and it had been a gloriously correct decision.
We weren’t 100% sure what we were doing there but we knew pretty quick it was definitely where we wanted to be. And what a place to be it was. Set in stunning grounds of a stately home by a beautiful lake, there were lots of little magical forest glades to get lost in, weird shit to stumble upon and admire. The trees themselves were lusciously lit in a myriad of different colours and there was even a sculpture park which we initially thought we had found but on returning to it in the light of day, turned out just to be a collection of trees that had on our night-time inspection appeared as if they had faces sculpted into them. Apparently the real one was pretty cool too…
Houghton really got it right on so many levels. They had a cap of about 7000 people which seemed like the perfect amount of people as there were tons of people to have fun with but you could always get away from the crowds and nothing was to much of a hassle. The only place you had to queue for on occasion was to get into the Quarry, a rave style amphitheatre which drew big crowds depending on who was playing, especially Andy Weatherall who we caught the last bit of his set which rocked & was dynamite throughout apparently. Other highlights were Nicholas Jar who did an incredibly eclectic set which was nothing short of a truly uplifting and transportive journey. You got the feeling throughout the weekend that all the djs were playing what they wanted, without feeling the need to appeal to a mainstream crowd and the sets were all the better for it.
Despite a very well thought out dj selection there was however hardly any visible documentation of the line-up anywhere in the festival which, although a little frustrating at first, it meant rather than have a fixed plan of who to see, you instead wandered from tent to tent led by your ears or by word of mouth and stumbled upon amazing sets by accident. Was this itself chance or an actual intention of the festival? They had thought of so much it did seem possible this too was deliberate. We did miss a few djs we would have liked to have seen (Scruff, N.O.W to name a couple) but we were undoubtedly disposed elsewhere having a right rollocking time and the quality of tunes was good everywhere so it didn’t really matter where you were. We did have an amazing dance toColeen ‘cosmo’ murphy’s set which I think (eek) was in the Brilliant Corners tent – memory slightly blurred and facts on the hazy side but we definitely had a total moment to the disco classic Native New Yorker. Cracked magazine posted up their fav tracks from the weekend which was great as filled in a quite few gaps of the weekend…click on link below to get a taste of the tunes…
Craig Richards finale set was off the chart, and being the man behind the curation of this festival, was a perfect example of the Houghton experience . If this festival is anything to go by djs should organise and curate festivals more often because Craig and Gottwood, who produced the festival, knew exactly what was needed to make a magnificent party. Everyone I have spoken to who I have told that I went to Houghton have all reacted the same way..oh my god, you were at houghton! I heard it was brilliant. I’m so jealous. I’m definitely going next year…and that, in some ways, is really my only concern. I hope that Houghton stays exactly the way it is and doesn’t expand too much because it was bang on.
Inevitably all festivals become a victim of its own success and end up becoming something beyond their original intention but I really hope this does not happen with Houghton and (perhaps opitmistically) feel that it won’t. I was sort of in two minds about telling everyone how good it was so as to keep it under the radar but that just felt wrong. People need to know about this and I believe in Houghton. They got so much spot on I am sure they will want to keep it exactly as it is…and can we please have a big massive hand for the 24/7 non-stop no curfew music policy – not even Glasto has that!
So would like to thank the organisers for giving a shit and putting on such a great festival and also to all of you random bods who we met and chatted to on our travels throughout the weekend…2nd storey, the guy at the record thingy, the german notting hillbilly and his girlfriend at the lake, the two guys we were sat next to crumpled up in the corner of that little tent, the couple in the queue at the quarry, the guy who looked like a Victorian circus dude, the french girl who wanted a tissue to take off her lipstick, all our other encounters who have now slightly blurred and especially to birthday boy M.P and all of his brilliant festival gang who made it for us – pleasure hanging out with you all…until next year!