How Beat-Herder made me fall in love with music festivals again

Celebrating Beat-Herder 2019
Celebrating Beat-Herder 2019

Columnist Mike Hill finds himself under the stars in a Lancashire field surrounded the north's craziest party people.

As sure as spring gives way to summer it happens at the same time every year.

Dancing in the garage at Beat-Herder 2019

Dancing in the garage at Beat-Herder 2019

No sooner have the credits rolled on Coldplay then it’s, “Do you know what, I think I’d like to go to Glastonbury next year.”

To deal with this terrifying prospect I have a well rehearsed routine honed over the best part of a decade.

“Do you remember the year it poured down and there was mud everywhere? People’s tents floated away. That could happen.

“And what about the toilets and trying to find your tent in the dark and all of your clothes smelling of smoke and the sleep deprivation and the not being able to wash properly.

Fancy dress at Beat-Herder 2019

Fancy dress at Beat-Herder 2019

“And what if you booked your tickets and then found out Travis were headlining. Or Shed Seven. They even had Rolf Harris not so long ago.

“That’s if you can even get a ticket, do you know how hard it is to get a ticket? And no we’re not glamping, we could go to Las Vegas for that kind of money and see Tom Jones.

“Besides we’re too old for all of that anyway what with my back and your shoulder and the hayfever.”

This time the well rehearsed routine didn’t feel like it was working so a new tactic was needed.

Beat-Herder 2019 at Dockber Farm, Sawley

Beat-Herder 2019 at Dockber Farm, Sawley

And so last week I returned home from work clutching tickets to go to Beat-Herder - Lancashire’s very own orgy of barminess and beats set out in a farmer’s field off the A59.

One visit to the communal toilets after an e-coli burger should be enough to put anyone off and with a bit of luck it might even rain.

We wouldn’t even need to camp to end this annual obsession with living out your mid-life crisis sat in a field waiting for Sister Sledge to appear.

Best of all we could take the children too so if the weather didn’t do its worse then their constant moaning could fill in the gap.

DJing from inside a car at Beat-Herder 2019

DJing from inside a car at Beat-Herder 2019

READ MORE: How this '50 something' mum became an instant convert to the mammoth music festival Beat Herder

And so it was we ended up in the sun kissed heart of the Ribble Valley experiencing, well, the most fun-packed, life affirming, just plain bonkers weekend we’ve had in years.

How bonkers? Well there was an Arab fortress with flames billowing out of the four cupolas, a church full of dancing nuns and vicars, a full replica working men’s club with a drag act on stage and a 30 strong drumming ensemble from Hebden Bridge all clad in black leather.

There was a night club in a launderette, another in a garage with the young and beautiful raving on car bonnets, a wild, Wild West hotel and a group of madcap Mexican wrestlers reeling around a fountain in lucha libre masks and capes.

In the middle of the woods the queue for the tattoo parlour snaked passed an old curiosity shoppe and a secret passage leading who knows where. Maybe to the indoor swimming pool rumored to be hidden somewhere among the madness or maybe to the waterfall just standing, tumbling away in and among the trees.

God only knows what the sheep would make of it all.

Party time in the woods at Beat-Herder 2019

Party time in the woods at Beat-Herder 2019

All of this and every kind of dance music to lift even the most reluctant of groovers to their feet.

And dance we did, rediscovering along the way one of parenthood’s great joys of the ages, embarrassing your kids with your moves - something which is so much more enjoyable when you deliberately set out to do it.

The kids have never been high fived and fist bumped by smiling strangers so many times in their little lives before and have certainly never been for a riddle and found themselves stood next to a man dressed as the Riddler.

Or spotted Rupert the Bear cutting loose to a New Orleans brass band with a group of rambunctious Roman soldiers and a rocking Rubik’s Cube.

Oh, and even the toilets weren’t too bad with patrons encouraged to take a cup of woodchips to their seat with them to help compost the world below.

Besides we can all hold our breath when we have to.

But the very best of all, we won’t have to go to Glastonbury next year as we have something so much better on our own doorstep.

Mission accomplished.

READ MORE: How you can be at Beat-Herder 2020