Tag Archives: festivals

Lodestar, Lode, Cambridgeshire

Lodestar, Lode, Cambridgeshire

Hey, we’re in England! We weren’t planning on being right here right now but one very lucky part of this diversion is that Lodestar happened in a field near us. We’ve been staying at a quirky, arty place called The Missing Sock, and Lode is a short bike ride away. Even better, Dragonette, my newest favourite band, were the finale, wrapping up the festival on Sunday night. So we had to go.

Lodestar is not a big festival. It’s actually a lot smaller than I expected, but as a result it’s very chilled. It’s like going to a park on a Sunday except there’s a decent line up of bands playing, rather than one busker with a three-song repertoire.

A small music stage under a tent awning, people sit on the grass watching

This is the main stage at Lodestar. It’s like a baby version of the tent stages at other festivals. The sound system packs a punch though, and it’s absolute bliss to be able to sit, chill and actually see the acts. Do you remember my shots from PinkPop? I mean, I loved that festival to bits, from the first poffertje to the last Green Day song, but it was pretty busy.

A crowd in front of a brightly lit stage. Dragonette are playing

That’s Dragonette on the stage. I really enjoyed their set, and joked to K that I’d written the playlist as they started with three of my favourite songs.

Crowd in front of a stage lit in white. A woman stands alone and sings.

Lodestar is tiny, and although it’s in a field in the middle of nowhere, it started packing up really early. This is Dragonette, the last song of the last set of the last night of the whole festival – and it was 8:30. We were back at the van by 9, wondering whether to go to bed early or go out or what!

We had a lovely, very relaxed day, and even ran into an old friend. I would definitely go back, take the van, and just chill in the sun for a weekend. I think it would be a real drag in the rain though, as there was no shelter. Plus, the festival is tiny, so the choice of everything is limited, particularly food. There was a Thai place, a pizza place, a burger place and what looked like a WI/school fete sandwich and bric-a-brac stall. All good options, and I love buying a book for 50p with a tea urn cup of coffee, but by 6pm, two had shut, one didn’t do anything veggie and the fourth was running out of food… If we’d had a picnic, and just been looking for beer and cake to top it up, it would have been a perfect day. As it was, I was hungry, with money to spend, not my usual festival situation at all!

PinkPop Festival, Landgraaf, The Netherlands

PinkPop Festival, Landgraaf, The Netherlands

I mentioned that we were heading off to PinkPop last week. I find it really hard to get good shots at a festival – partly because I’m just not that into getting up close, so all the acts are tiny, and partly because I tend to relax and forget about my camera.

PinkPop was an excellent festival. I’m not going to say it was perfect, but we had a very good time and had no major problems. I was very impressed with:

  • How easy it was to get into the camping, and to get away on Sunday – the last festival we camped at was Glastonbury, which was a nightmare so I expected it to take hours but we were in (and out) in about 30 minutes

Crowds walking to PinkPop

  • How polite & helpful everyone was – and how accommodating of my minuscule amount of terrible Dutch, which they mostly dealt with by switching to English
  • No, seriously, it was amazing –  everyone spoke bits of English to us – from the volunteer directing traffic to the kids who wanted me to take their photo with their iPhone. Or they found someone who could, usually by grabbing the person next to them.
  • The weather – it looked like this at about 10pm

Crowds watching the main stage at PinkPop

  • The chilled atmosphere – again, compared to Glastonbury, it was lovely. No pushing and shoving, surprisingly little drunken rudeness, just enormous crowds of people having a good time
  • The range of food – there was all kinds of stuff, from pasta to Thai food, a Dutch fondue to poffertjes
  • The cup collection scheme – they had this deal where you could turn in cups for vouchers for food. I thought it would be naff but it saved us over EUR 100
  • The site – well laid out, easy to move around, plenty of toilets, even at the camping

Crowds on the PinkPop site

  • The bands – we saw so many good acts including: THE KILLERS (finally!), The Script, GREEN DAY,  Paramore, Ellie Goulding, JIMMY EAT WORLD, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Kings of Leon, STEREOPHONICS
  • Green Day – yeah, not everyone’s cup of tea but I loved it. Great stage presence and crowd interaction. Plus, one of them had their kids with them – who slept through the gig. I haven’t seen them live since 2001 when they played Rock Oz Arenes. And they still played my favourite song.

Green Day on the main stage at PinkPop

I was not so in love with:

  • The camping – the site was fine, but to get somewhere within 10 mins of the festival you had to be there at 4am. Otherwise it was a 20-40 minute walk. 
  • The 7am wake up call – on Monday morning, what sounded very much like air raid sirens went off at 7am. We were home in time for dinner, which was not the plan.
  • The car parking – I would have liked to be warned that they were going to charge EUR25-30 for parking
  • The cost of food – beer and chips were relatively cheap and plentiful, everything else… not so much, particularly if you were veggie
  • The litter – it may seem like an odd gripe, but there were so few bins the stuff was everywhere. By midway through Saturday, it was really starting to bug me. This really wasn’t the worst of it.

Crowds walking through litter at PinkPop

Given that there were something like 60,000 people on site, it’s surprising how smoothly everything went. I do have a few tips for anyone trying it next year:

  • If you’re camping, take food and drink – they’ll let you take it into the camping, and you’ll be glad of a good breakfast
  • Make sure you know where you pitched your tent – yeah, we screwed this one up and it caused the most hassle of anything. Although even at 1am, people were still being nice to us and encouraging us in English!
  • Do take a rain coat. And sun cream – if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes
  • No Dutch? No problem! – I cannot emphasize how impressed and grateful I am to everyone we dealt with. I don’t think I would have been so gracious at 1am
  • Decide which camping you’re aiming for ahead of time – otherwise you’ll wind up driving round and round getting in the way. Ask me how I know.
  • Take your phone charger, and a Dutch adapter – they had at least two free charging stations, but I didn’t have my charger. I would have worried less about losing K in the crowds without a nearly-dead phone battery

Giant sign with PinkPop logo plus name

We had a really great time. It was a very relaxing weekend – no work, no email, no text messages even as my phone was on minimal battery. We discovered several great new bands, met some really nice people, ate all kinds of new and interesting things (I think I’m in love with poffertjes) and it was all marvelous.

Here’s one last photo for you. Yeah, they let me take my knitting. And I got most of a sock finished! So what more could I really want from a festival?
Me knitting in front of the PinkPop sign

I predict a really good night

I predict a really good night

Image is mostly black. In the centre, picked out in red light a band play

Sometimes I feel like I’m doing things in the wrong order – usually I don’t care though. As I write this, K’s packing for our trip to PinkPop and when the post goes live, we’ll be packing to come home. It’s our second festival this month, fourth this year, although we only stayed a night at the other three. Hopping from festival to festival is the sort of thing you’re supposed to do when you’re 19, not 29, but honestly, who has the cash at that age?

This shot was taken at Caribana, and we’ve also been to Caprices and Balelec.