Beacons Festival 2013 Review

The festival market nowadays is brimming with high capacity mega festivals that attract the top charting performers from across the world on a yearly basis. With these festivals being the generic blueprint for what the majority of people think a festival should be, we decided to head underground and take a step into the weird and wildly wonderful world of Beacons Festival 2013. Far from the generic, Beacons is a little boutique world of electronic music madness with rustic, homely beers and nibbles from across the North of England, that attracted 5000 youthful festival lovers yearning for the opportunity to explore the endless and enigmatic possibilities available to them in a field in North Yorkshire.


The electric Beacons crowd tearing up the North Yorkshire fields.

This year saw Beacons invite some of our favourite Manchester friends to to help add to the madness over the weekend. Local and incredibly popular Manchester club nights Juicy, Now Wave and iDiOSYNC were all on hand to showcase what makes Manchester one of the best cities in the country for innovative and amazing parties. It proves the capabilities and talents of the promoters , DJs and venues, when they can not only produce weekly and monthly parties in basements, bars and warehouses, but can also be diverse enough to fill tents at festivals outside of Manchester and away from the familiar and loyal fans in the city. The Gorilla team were also on hand to let the Beacons Festival flavours marinate in before the popular club is handed the reigns of their very own stage at next year's festival. If like me you appreciate the brilliant line ups brought to Gorilla each week, you can only imagine how exciting it will be to see what they can do when allowed to curate some festival chaos in 2014. Manchester represents.


Bonobo headlining the main stage on Friday with collaborator Eryka Badu

Acts and Atmosphere

Beacons is a festival that delivers a real homely North Yorkshire simplicity. It looks like farm yard with hay barrels for seats, and the only real decor aside from the tents is the rough and rolling beauty of the hills above Skipton. That stripped back and simple ethos isn’t representative of the line-up. Beacons did something in my opinion that not many festivals this summer have done, which is showcase the absolute best artists that are literally about to smash the glass ceiling and break into the big time. The likes of Bonobo , Django Django and Bondax are creating a bang in the most basic way, by quite frankly tearing Beacons festival apart. The lively and electric set that Bondax played on the Saturday day time was one of several sets over the weekend that kept me and hundreds of others stomping the soil as they led us on a merry dance around Skipton like a pair of bass propelling pied pipers. SBTRKT played an expectedly brilliant set on Sunday, which was followed on the only open air stage by a mesmerisingly deep and dark techno masterclass by James Holden, who procured something rather special under the moonlit sky to close the festival, leaving the audience - myself included - completely stunned.The arts and crafts centre boasted incredible activities and opportunity to embrace and delve into the unknown and frankly bizarre. This included some circus face painting, early morning Yoga and a theatrical and maniacal singing collection of stories by some curious characters from the topsy turvy world of Beacons.

The Maniacal moustached story tellers stir up an obscure yet brilliant performance

Food and Drink

Beacons did what little boutique festivals are brilliant at; it created a little village community feel. With it being so small and personal it made the trip to the burger van more than a necessity. We were treated to incredible food and beer including BBQ meat boxes from Reds BBQ , a festival favourite in Ghandi's Flip flop and a Whitelock's beer tent that formed the social hub of the festival, bringing in the Beacons festival folk for ale and merriment; a wholeheartedly welcoming affair that really added to this bizarre little North Yorkshire community we had created. We attended some whiskey tasting in the morning, drank ale in the afternoon and ate boxes of BBQ meat in the evening. A frankly amazing, rustic and honest homemade weekend of beer and feasting.

Home made entertainment to match the amazing homemade food at Beacons Festival 2013

 The Final Words

The best festivals are those that give you the tools to manufacture your ideal weekend, not one that is manufactured for you. Beacons succeeds in this by serving up an array of eclectic and diverse options, activities and moments to use how you please. It was fantastically and thankfully hassle free, with a simple yet warmly welcoming atmosphere complemented by a developing and rich line-up of artists from across the music and arts world. Full of like minded people, the festival's only agenda was to ensure everyone was partying, playing and prancing around the place like they’re off their heads on happiness. Beacons is a boutique festival, it is your bespoke festival, it is simple, satisfying and all that I wanted from a weekend with my favourite friends in a farmer's field in Yorkshire.

Photographs by Ed Tang