Beautiful Days 2012
One festival that never fails to get the vibe and atmosphere right is Beautiful Days, the brainchild of the Levellers, this year being held from 17th to 19th August at its regular home of Escot Park, near Honiton in Devon.
Normally it sells out at the end of July, in 2012 however they sold out at the end of April, something that surprised Farrow in the current climate. 'I was fairly sure we would do OK as there is always high demand and we were coming off the back of a very good festival in 2011 with good weather. Add to that the fact that it's our tenth anniversary which has probably attracted people who have maybe been once or twice before. But I was certainly surprised at the speed we sold out.'
'I took the decision before Christmas to stick my neck out and book Frank Turner as a headliner whose live shows are fantastic and will probably be headlining everywhere next year. Also with PIL who have had great press and Tull - people laughed at me when I booked Ian Anderson but I think for our audience we got it right, and the great press and reviews he's getting for the Thick As A Brick tour prove that. So I'm happy this year, we've got three headliners that are right for our audience and have actually been in the media!'
Something else that must be helping is that the audience at BD seems to be getting younger, maybe those who went as children with their parents in the early years are now going with their friends in their teens. 'there were definitely more teenagers and younger adults on site last year, and that is a really healthy thing.'
So does the tenth anniversary mean any changes or surprises? ' We definitely have a few new things, obviously the big thing this year is putting in a new venue, a seated theatre basically creating what will be another arena on the other side of the river, with more venues and bars. Then we have a few new ideas for the finale up our sleeves.'
None of this could happen without a huge team - 'the majority of the production crew, from Oxfam Stewards, gate crew, security and all my production staff all come back year after year so there is very rarely any vacancies. I've got a great team of people, in fact most of them are probably over qualified for what they do, we've definitely got an A-team'.
The site also plays a large part in the atmosphere of the festival. Escot Park is a beautiful landscaped estate with several tenant farmers working the land surrounding the park and Georgian stately home. 'We've always been careful not to make too many changes in any one year as there are always potential teething problems. So we never make radical changes. Every year in the winter we improve the site, the landowner lets us put in more drainage, plumbing and metalled roads. It's not an easy site to work as there isn't a flat piece of land anywhere, over the years we have probably got round that and crammed in as much as we can. Not having any extra space has prevented us from getting bigger which I think in the long run will prove to be a blessing'
'The site is very important, some of these events that are on flat showgrounds or racecourses are a bit soulless, I think one of the reasons Glastonbury has become so successful is because it is in a beautiful part of the country. People want to feel they are camping in the countryside. It's taken us a while to get everything right but you can't take anything for granted, I just hope we can keep it going for many years to come.'