The Trip @ Kelburn Garden Party
This year has seen excellent conditions for the British festival season and Kelburn Garden Party didn’t miss out.
Kelburn Castle & Country Centre is a magical corner of North Ayrshire near Largs on the west coast of Scotland. There is a host of live music events that take place over the summer every year and most recently it was the turn of the the Garden Party.
So lets’ take a trip around Kelburn Garden Party…
After being blown away by the Psychedelic Forest Disco in May, you and a horde of your friends have been slowly hyping yourselves up for the Kelburn Garden Party. Arriving in blazing sunshine and looking forward to finally getting out the car, the volunteers direct you into the campsite. The tents go up quickly, it’s still Friday afternoon and you’ve already established a small enclave that will (hopefully) stand strong until Monday.
Exploring the grounds, you pass an army of staff members putting the finishing touches to the stages. There’s no music yet, so you and a band of travellers move towards the forest. After a quick run through the assault course you venture into the Secret Forest, discovering a giant’s castle, a gingerbread house and a tower that feels a lot higher than it is when you’re at the top.
Heading back into the campsite, a cool breeze blows along the road and paths. The west coast of Scotland feels more like the French Riviera. As a few midges come out to join the festivities, a few more friends arrive and it’s time for the weekend to really begin.
You pick up your band from the Pavilion and join the migration towards the Pyramid Stage. After passing through the gate the Friday Warm-Up Party is well and truly underway, with Jen and The Gents gracefully welcoming Friday night as you lie back under some sort of half-teepee with a smooth Thistley Cross Cider (A whole warehouse of this was drank over the weekend apparently) from the bar placed in the nearby bandstand. Closer to the Country Park lies the Wee Butee Tent. Here, the likes of DJ Krash Slaughta and WeeG ensure the crowd have their dancing shoes on. Before you know it, it’s time to head back to the campsite and catch some sleep before what is usually the biggest night at a festival.
Waking up on Saturday morning, you’re quickly made aware that black tents are not designed for constant sunshine. After dragging yourself out with a big bottle of frustratingly warm water you find the coolest place you can and await the arrival of the last few of your group. After their tents are constructed your enclave and the entire campsite has turned into a sea of colourful fabric and bobbing heads. You all decide to visit the waterfall, hidden beyond the music stages down a small glen near Kelburn Castle itself. A few of your fellow campers have also journeyed to the shaded pool and a few are dipping into the refreshingly cool water.
By the time you’ve walked back to the tents you’re fully dried and ready for the evening’s antics to begin. Passing through the main entrance to the forest and the Square Stage stands over you with skanking sounds being belted out by Victorian Trout Conspiracy. As always with these guys their big energy acts as a gravity well, pulling in everyone within earshot and blasting the crowd into action.
After expending a good amount of energy, you all head deeper into the forest. The Secret Forest itself is closed off by now but there’s a trail near the Viewpoint Stage that takes you up the hill a bit to a sheltered circle of trunks around what appears to be the setting for a small bonfire. Resting in the shadows of the trees surrounding you, you kick back and lose track of time. The one problem with this place is that every corner can keep you happily occupied for hours on end. The Stagger Rats have started to play at Viewpoint and you move to the pond immediately behind it where someone has considerately left a few sofas to sit next to the water and soak up the gutter pop as it pushes more endorphins into your system.
The sun begins to retreat and the bass starts to rumble. Mouse Outfit have burst onto the Viewpoint with help from Dr Syntax and Sparkz. You weren’t really expecting or planning to hear much hip-hop but this is, as a reveller near you proclaims, ‘unbe-fucking-lievable’. By the end of their set, the place is bouncing and you’ve heard covers of some of the greatest tracks in the genre.
As night descends on Ayrshire the DJ’s come out to play. DJ Noface once again brings his unique mix of house, garage and dubstep to Kelburn. The strobes and UV lights are out and the entire forest is having the party of the year.
After a night of drifting between the various music venues, dancing like your life depended on it and hearing just about every genre under the sun, the music stops. Everyone returns to the campsite but the party’s not quite done yet. Voices in tents attract people like moths to a flame, in just a few hours you’ve met more great new personalities than you’ll ever remember from all walks of life. Seeing the sun is rising, you call it a night. You’ve got another day to enjoy.
Coming to after your half an hours slumber, it’s time to start Sunday. Easing you into the day are Roy’s Iron DNA at the viewpoint stage playing their mix of chilled out electronica that sounds majestic in the blazing sunshine that’s flooding through the trees. Viewpoint Stage at this time of day has a nest of hay sprawled in front of the stage and revellers from the night before get comfy and let the day unfold.
Back at the campsite, as the sun begins to set on Kelburn, it’s time to rally the troops and get involved with the final night of live music. First act you set your ears own are Edinburgh based electronic jazz collective, Hidden Orchestra. The evening is beginning to liven up at the Viewpoint stage as Riddim Tuffa takes to the decks and crowd is quickly growing in numbers eager to get their skank on. Screams of ‘Lets push things forward’ echo through the forest as Riddim Tuffa drops his remix of The Streets into the mix.
It’s gone Monday and you find yourself in front of the Chapel Perilous Arts System dancing away to drum and bass with some jungle thrown in. The weekend is beginning to wind down and as it begins to get lighter the last remaining revellers are chanting ‘One more tune’. Back at the camp-site the festivities are still in full flow as a mass of people gather around the camp-fire with music playing for hours. 7am rolls around and it’s time for that horrible decision, stay awake or try to sleep?
Sunshine is still blazing on Monday afternoon as the campsite slowly begins to shrink in size and the festival site begins to come down. As the campers begin to leave it’s clear there is one thing on everyone’s mind, what a truly brilliant weekend that was!
Tempted by the magic of Kelburn Castle? Make sure you buy tickets for the Psychedelic Forest Carnival here.
Oscar MacAndrew & Kyle Wilson