On an unseasonably grey Friday afternoon in June, as another dull week at work drew to a close, 5pm not only heralded the start of an unbelievably necessary weekend, but also marked the beginning – for this intrepid reporter - of the British festival season.
We were heading down to Sunrise Celebration in Bruton, Somerset – a hyper-green festival centred around the Summer Solstice and situated on an organic farm just a falafel’s throw away from Britain’s most famous jamboree, Glastonbury.
A healthy British downpour in the run-up to the event had rendered the site a muddy mess from the word go, enforcing an equally British irony on the festival’s name and inspiration.
Setting up in the humble surroundings of the comparatively under-populated campsite, it quickly became clear that the temporary inhabitants of this swampy scene were the type to be unmoved by the weather.
With little more to navigate the site than blind hope and the chalkboards outside of each tent that documented the night’s entertainment, it also became apparent that this was a festival more about the spectacle and spreading good vibes than individual musical performances.
That said, there was a wealth of underground and undiscovered talent on show, particularly down at the infamous Chai Wallah tent, ranging from the nu jazz and turntablism stylings of the Portico-esque Lund Quartet, to the bass- and patois-heavy energy of Mungo’s Hi Fi, right down to the incendiary mash-up skills of Bristol-based DJ Parker, and the inevitable, somewhat comical selectors of the Psytrance tent.
Aside from the refreshing musical variety, the gastronomic delights on offer were sublime. Despite being overwhelmingly vegetarian for an unashamed carnivore like myself, there was a huge choice of reasonably priced, organically sourced refreshments available, from curries and burritos, to sushi and facon (fake bacon) baps.
Up by the Stone Circle, where dreadlocked crusties and laid-back families mingled with aplomb, new-age practitioners manned countless tents offering healing practices of just about every kind you could think of, including one massage that involved playing two gongs at either end of your body, as well as the hilariously infectious laughing therapy at the Well Being tent.
The arrival of sunshine on the Sunday was a much-needed respite from the otherwise grey skies that engulfed the site for the rest of the weekend, injecting a final dash of adrenalin into the loved-up revellers in The Bimble Inn tent, who danced away their worries of the impending Monday to the brilliant South London-based reggae band, The Drop.
It’s the energy, open-mindedness and spirit of this diverse crowd that truly make Sunrise a festival like no other, and although you shouldn’t attend expecting untethered debauchery, you won’t have to look far to find it if that should be your decisive penchant.
Overall, Sunrise Celebration is a jovial celebration of liberalism in music, food and organic arts, with an admirable mentality of sustainability and environmental friendliness that we could all learn a lot from. And it’s the vibrant, colourful coming together of these ideals that have gifted Sunrise a loyal and openhearted clientele, the likes of which are unparalleled.
By Adam Tiran