If you’re a die-hard music lover, summer means one thing above all else – festival season. Whatever your genres of choice, from hip-hop to heavy metal to classical, there’s no end of exciting events to get in on across all corners of the UK. From legendary Glastonbury Festival to rock-ready Reading Festival and smaller, more intimate affairs like Victorious Festival and Camp Bestival, there’s tons to keep your calendar busy.
One gathering that’s fast gained a massive reputation is Boomtown Festival. Launched in 2009 and taking place on the outskirts of Winchester each August as of 2011, this quirky festival combines a diverse line-up with imaginative scene creating and storytelling. With each event known as a ‘Chapter’, large scale sets and live actors will bring this year’s story to life. It’s centred around a set of common beliefs and principles known as ‘The Six Pillars of Boomtown’, so if you’re looking for a festival with heart and soul, this one’s for you.
If you’re making tracks for the Matterley Estate this summer, here’s everything you need to know about Boomtown Fair.
Photo credit: Kirsty Black
Boomtown runs from Wednesday right through until Sunday at the Matterley Estate in Hampshire. There’s camping on-site for the duration in distinct ‘Campsite Villages’, as well as facilities for campervans and live-in vehicles at an additional fee. There are a number of ways to reach the festival, including by taking trains to Winchester.
The address for the festival is: Matterley Estate, Temple Valley, Winchester SO21 1HW
If you’re travelling out of the capital to get to Boomtown, public transport is quick and efficient. You can catch South Western Railway services from London Waterloo and Clapham Junction direct to Winchester. Services from London Waterloo to Winchester take around an hour, give or take a little.
Once you arrive, join a shuttle bus service to the festival site from directly outside the station. Return tickets cost £10.
Things to do at Boomtown Festival
Photo credit: Kirsty Black
Putting every bit of its sprawling site to good use, Boomtown Fair Festival promises surprises at every turn. Organisers go all out to offer an experience that’s a world away from ordinary, with immersive sets and imaginative activities to be discovered across all five days of the event. With access to all areas via your Boomtown ticket, here’s just a sample of what’s in store.
Line ups and music
Whatever your sound, Boomtown aims to offer something for everyone. Whether your Spotify rotation is firmly retro or bang up-to-date, decidedly rap, dance, folk or a little bit all over the place, the Boomtown lineup never disappoints.
Organisers love to keep each lineup close to their chest until nearer the event. But expect more big names like Gorillaz, Lauryn Hill, Groove Amada, Wu-Tang Clan, Limp Bizkit and M.I.A to take to the stage as these acts have in the past.
Areas and stages
In Boomtown World, expect far more than your usual series of stage zones and refreshment areas. This festival goes all out, with a number of immersive, eccentrically-styled “Districts” for you to uncover as you search the vast site. Think forest parties one minute, before making art and music as you celebrate life from an abandoned, overgrown zoo the next.
Organisers are always coming up with mind-boggling new ideas for their Districts, so there’s no telling what might await you next August. Past themes have included a western-style mining village, a high-tech metropolitan utopia and a lawless refuge built from shards of scrap. Each concept is more than just its appearance; it’s an all-encompassing experience that transports you to a different time and place entirely.
Theatre and circus
There’s far more to Boomtown than top name and emerging music acts. The five day festival covers all bases in terms of art and culture, not least in its spectacular theatre and circus shows. Taking place at set times across all districts, these performances are always a treat for the senses and ideal for when you want a break from the big stages. Be prepared for acrobatics, dance troupes and plenty of pyrotechnics.
Boomtown are serious about offering something for everyone, especially when it comes to the youngest members of the family. Kidztown is a colourful city in miniature, designed to entertain and inspire growing minds through music, art and culture. The Kidztown calendar events only grows each year, so expect wacky carnivals, family-friendly tunes, places to play and plenty of opportunities to dress up!
Tips for enjoying Boomtown Festival
With all the right planning and prep, you can ensure your festival experience stays on track. We recommend you:
- Pack carefully. Don’t be tempted to pack light and make sure you’ve all the essentials like your ticket, I.D, waterproofs and sunscreen. The festival has a handy packing list on its website to ensure you don’t miss anything.
- Book a locker for any high value items. Lockers can be reserved online.
- Take the train. Roads around Winchester and the South Downs National Park will be very busy during the festival. By getting the train into Winchester and making use of shuttle bus services to the site, you’ll avoid much of the traffic.
Food and drinks
Food and drink are an essential element of the festival experience. Whether you’re the grab a burger and go type or prefer to sample something exotic, Boomtown covers all the bases. There’s a diverse selection of food and drink stalls spread across the site, with plenty of options for vegetarians, vegans, and those with a gluten-free diet. Sustainability is one of the festival’s core principles, so local, seasonal, fairtrade and organic products have been given priority among the many traders.
You’re free to bring as much of your own food and non-alcoholic drinks into the site as you like, provided you can store them properly. As for alcoholic drinks, these are okay to take in, but there are limits on how much each festivalgoer can bring. Meanwhile, no glass is allowed whatsoever.
Places to stay at Boomtown Festival
Your standard Boomtown ticket will provide you with access to three Campsite Villages where you’re welcome to pitch your own tent. These are located right beside the event districts, so you’ll never need to travel far when your sleeping bag beckons. If you’d rather not bring a tent with you, you can pay for pre-pitched camping for an additional fee.
If Boomtown glamping sounds more up your street, you’re well-catered for here too. When you’re willing to pay the extra, take your pick from yurts, bell tents, tipis and sleep huts, and enjoy enhanced facilities like communal chill-out zones and hot showers. There’s also an area for live-in vehicles like caravans and campervans on-site, with an additional fee charged for access.
If you prefer the comfort of a hotel, you’ll be best staying in neighbouring Winchester and using the shuttle buses to and from the site each day. Budget options include Premier Inn Winchester and The Winchester Hotel. Mercure Winchester Wessex and Holiday Inn Winchester are good mid-level options, while the nearby Lainston House offers something more luxurious.
Boomtown Festival accessibility
Boomtown is a place for everyone. That’s why organisers provide a comprehensive range of accessibility services. These include viewing platforms at the larger stages, BSL interpreting, and a dedicated campsite with facilities for deaf and disabled citizens, known as The Meadow.
For more informational on accessibility and to make arrangements, check the Boomtown website’s accessibility page.