Review: Eden Festival 2018
It’s hard to believe that this year was Eden Festival’s 10th birthday.
Festivals and events can come and go and we have become used to hearing news of annual festivals unable to continue due to financial constraints. It’s a difficult world to operate in – yes, the ticket prices are pricey, but look around a festival site like Eden and you’ll see how much needs transported, assembled, staffed, then dismantled. The profit margins won’t be as high as you might think. It puts the price of that ticket into perspective a bit, doesn’t it?
Organisers of this year’s Eden Festival promised an event that would be even bigger and more exciting than previous years. The line-up was mostly made up of favourites who were returning to play again, having performed over the previous ten years.
Last year, the festival was hit by bad weather – continual rain led to the site becoming a quagmire. Not ideal when there is so much walking from stage to stage involved, and the camping situation…oh my goodness, let’s not even talk about that.
This time, however, Dumfries and Galloway was experiencing what could only be termed as ‘tropical heats’ for the region. The Eden site looked that little bit more colourful and bright with the sun beating down on it, and festival-goers were clearly enjoying the temperatures. As were the midges, who were out in force.
This was my 4th time at Eden Festival, and it’s always a festival I look forward to. My first visit was 5 years ago, when I was (obviously) younger and happy to party until the early hours. Eden is great for this – the music does not stop until around 7.30am every day, and starts again at 11.30am. Ideal for those with the stamina to last.
I think we can safely say my days of partying are now over. I like my sleep and hangovers tend to take me about a week to fully recover from. It took me a wee while to come to terms with the end of my partying days, but I’m all good with that now. So, this year, I decided to do Eden sober. Now there’s a sentence I didn’t ever expect to write.
I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I know people who wouldn’t even consider it. But for me, the pros outweighed the cons, and it also meant I can now give you a nice, clear headed review.
For the love of Glamping
Due to my love of sleep, we chose to hire a Squrt (which is a small Yurt) from Cloudhouses this year. For the price of £250 (!) you can get yourself a fully set up – but completely unfurnished – small Yurt complete with a tiny 3ft high wooden Yale-locked front door. Cute. It is situated in the Glamping area which seems close to the site, but do not be fooled, it’s actually up a giant hill which you can only gain access to on foot. The Glamping field was awesome. It was quiet in terms of human noise and the music was obviously still loud, but that was to be expected. There were posh toilets with pine toilet seats and ceramic hand basins complete with hot water and paper towels. There was also a special beauty yurt which provided free use of hairdryers, GHD straighteners and charging points for your phone. And the view in the morning – well, you can just look at the photo (right) to see. It was a lot better waking up to that than crawling out of your tent and being faced with one of your campsite neighbours being sick down the side of someone else’s tent (I’ve only ever seen that happen once and it was at Wickerman to be fair, so I’m sure nothing like that happens at Eden). If you’re planning a special trip to Eden with friends and can afford it, you should definitely consider the Glamping area. Top tip: it’s still bloody cold at night in those things so take plenty of layers!
Eden does not try to attract very high profile and expensive musicians to play at the festival. Instead they prefer quality, and the thing I have always enjoyed about Eden is their ability to put on acts that are always worth listening to. That’s a pretty hard task considering they have to book 300 acts for the whole weekend.
Groove Armada were the main draw, and they headlined the Devorgilla Stage on the Saturday night. It was a DJ set and they played a wide range of classic and well-known tunes, with everyone dancing the night away.
DJ Super Hans and I are done
The act I was most looking forward to seeing was DJ Super Hans AKA Matt King. Some of you will know him from Peep Show and I have spent months explaining to people who he is. His DJ sets are made up of anthemic 80s/90s/00s tunes, and they’re totally up my street. I was genuinely so excited for this – out of the whole weekend, he was the one person I was most keen to see. Indeed, on Saturday morning I realised that it was ‘Super Hans day’ and, after checking the official programme, planned my schedule around his set time of 10.30pm.
To be honest with you, I’m still recovering from this but… HE DIDN’T SHOW UP. Yes, that’s right folks, as I stood with my friends in the Snake Pit (the area which connects the passages to the dance tents), I caught a glimpse of a rouge piece of white masking tape on the chalkboard which detailed the line-up. DJ Super Hans had been covered up. Another DJs name was written over it. Clearly in denial, we decided to return at 10.30pm, ‘just to check’. It definitely wasn’t Super Hans. I had a look in the other tents – he wasn’t in any of them. He was the only act I really wanted to see and he didn’t show up. I was devastated (and still am).
But I can’t let this Super Hans tragedy get me down. I must rise above it. If you’re Dumfries and Galloway Standard you’re maybe still in denial – their review in last Friday’s newspaper said that Super Hans was there (unlike any actual journalists from the Standard, so it would seem).
Thank goodness there were plenty of other musicians to see over the weekend though.
My musical highlights from the weekend were:
Little Fire in Rabbie’s Tavern on the Friday early evening – shame there was such a small crowd but not many people want to be in a warm tent when it’s about 26 degrees outside.
Elephant Sessions on the Friday night on the Great Mountain stage – a great folky sound on a beautiful stage.
Smiling Ivy at the Melodrome Theatre – their pop/punk/ska sounds sounded great, and reminded me of Annan’s now disbanded More From Jim. Shame about the midges around the stage though! Trees = midges = “aww gad I’m being bitten AGAIN!!”
Talisk at the Great Mountain stage – they sounded amazing and the light show further added to this. It’s clear to see why they were the winners of 2017 MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards Folk Band of The Year.
I’m sure Super Hans would have been added to that list HAD HE SHOWED UP. (I’m sorry if you were unwell or something, Super Hans. I still love you really).
Danger: WET PAINT
Inevitably, it rained. And it actually rained in quite dramatic fashion on the Saturday, just as The Dangleberries started on the Devorgilla Stage. Proper torrential rain it was. Loads of security guys ran to the stage and had to shut off their set three songs in because water was coming through and they were at risk of electrocution. And since there are about 100 people in that band (ok, there’s only 10 of them), it was best way to avoid a potential tragedy. I think the power went out on other stages too. Overall, it was all a bit of a ‘thing’ for about an hour or so until it stopped, the sun came out, and within about an hour it was like nothing had ever happened. Nobody was that bothered, everyone just sheltered in the many music tents. It was slightly unfortunate that it happened after the paint fight though – the powdered paint turned into real paint after the downpour. That was fun to remove when I returned home the next day!
Happy 10th Birthday, Eden
So, at the start of this review I was banging on about being sober at Eden for the first time ever. There was a point to that, trust me. This year I saw a new side to Eden – I saw it through the eyes of partiers, live music fans, children, parents, staff, and organisers. And what I can say is that it is an incredibly well put together festival, with the most positive and friendly atmosphere of any festival I have ever been to. There is loads to do if drinking and partying isn’t your thing – there’s so much to see, and absolutely loads of workshops, stalls and activity areas to go and absorb. Because everyone is so happy, you could easily pass a day just making friends with everyone too – I never saw a single bit of trouble during my time there, nor have I ever in the previous years. There’s no ‘hipsters’ either – you know the type, don’t act all coy with me. Quite the opposite actually – anything really does go
So, a big well done goes to the organisers, the staff, the volunteers and the festival-goers who have made this festival a success, and who have done so for ten whole years. Eden Festival is by far my favourite Dumfries and Galloway festival – here’s to another ten.
You can check out our photos from the weekend here: Eden Festival 2018: In Photos.
Tickets for next year’s Eden Festival are on sale now here. Early bird tickets are priced at £89 for an adult but half have already sold out, so I would get a shimmy on if I were you.