• James Harvey

Festival Review - Wickham Music Festival - 2019


Festival Review - Wickham Music Festival - 2019

Location: Wickham, Hampshire

Type: Day & Camping

Cost: £120 Weekend day pass / £190 Weekend & Camping pass


This year myself and a friend decided to skip our normal festival for the first time in many years, to try something different. We picked Wickham, due to the amazing line up, from ‘The Proclaimers’ to ‘Frank Turner & The Sleeping Dogs’. It is one of the strongest folk line ups of the year and all at a really good price for a camping festival.


Getting to the Festival was easy, finding a place to camp (we stayed in the quiet camping) didn’t take long either. The campsite is a short walk from the main arena with toilets all along the path. The main arena itself was compact, with the two main stages in massive big top style tents. Video screens to the side of the stage and one in the main food area.


The smaller bar tent with a stage for unsigned and local bands was set close to the entrance and sat next to the storyteller’s tent and the quiet disco (although that was more like a loud karaoke than a quiet disco). The food stores were mostly around the main stage and contained some really good choices, from Vegan to Full meat dishes.

W

hile the cost of food was at normal festival prices the portions where a lot larger than any other festival I’ve been to. A shout out to my favourites, Pan-Asian Street food, Pie & Mash (great breakfast & coffee) and the German sausage stand. The market area was really good as well, with many different stores spread around.


Toilet wise there was only one block of around 20 in the whole of the main area which was a nightmare due to queues, however the one saving grace was how clean they were kept throughout the entire festival.


The music itself was a superb line-up (I’ll review the bands in a different post) we had everything from The Proclaimers, Skinny Lister, 3 Daft Monkeys, Frank Turner & the Sleeping Dogs to Lil’ Jimmy Reed & The A Team, Winter Wilson, Elephant Session, The Kiefer Sutherland Band, Alabama 3. So many high-quality bands it was hard to choose who we wanted to see which is a really good problem to have.



The atmosphere was amazing throughout the festival, from the very helpful and polite security staff to the crowds which included people of all ages. Everyone was welcoming, friendly and well behaved. You could stand in the tents or bring your own seat and sit around the opening with great views of the stage and wherever you were, bad dancing was welcome.


So far so great, however there were a couple of things that need mentioning before my conclusion.


The toilets, while super clean, were nowhere near enough. Another block near the second stage and a third over near the bar stage would have been most welcome as the queues where very long.


I’m hearing impaired so always find it hard to hear words etc. to the songs but it’s never brought the experience down; unfortunately, the sound on the two main stages at Wickham was bad. Very high base, very bad balance, it was in fact the worst sound at a festival I’ve ever heard. My able hearing friend also said the same. We’ve been to everything from small 200 people festivals to massive 200k people festivals and the sound at Wickham didn’t measure up to any of them.



There was a no personal booze in the main area as well, even as a camper you were not allowed to bring your own into the main area. The beer and cider on offer ranged from passable to undrinkable so that was a little bit of a downer. With one exception the Cider from Moen Valley Cider was really nice, I recommend their Dragonfly one. Anyhow, maybe allowing the campers to bring their own in would have been better.


The festival was set up as a day ticket festival, and the campers was not really considered in the overall set up. The after-music experience was cramped together so you found it really hard to hear the very gifted storyteller due to noise from the comedy stage and the 'not at all silent' disco bleeding into the tent. Even watching the comedy, you could hear the loud singing from the silent disco.



However, this is something that can be fixed really quickly with a small redesign. Moving the storyteller and disco around the main area would fix it right way, adding more toilets in the main area and allowing campers to bring in their own drink or get some better breweries would improve things even more.


In conclusion, and noting the problem with the sound, it was a really enjoyable experience. A large part of that was down to the festival goers being so friendly and good natured. The line-up was one of the best we have ever seen at a festival and the market & food was very good. If you are in the area it’s a must for a day festival. The price makes it welcoming for campers as well. Those with children or those with mobility problems would find it extremely welcoming due to the compact nature of the main area.

Wickham Music Festival is firmly on our radar now and one we shall look forward to returning to in future years.


https://www.wickhamfestival.co.uk/

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