For three days a year, Beat-Herder is without question or hesitation my favourite place on Earth.
Escaping reality – especially while incessant political balderdash dominates news agendas (and Facebook) – to this tiny, beautifully preserved corner of the Ribble Valley is always a blessing.
Now in its 11th year, Beat-Herder is a festival with a reputation firmly established. Renowned for its quirkiness, its ability to marry the bizarre with the absolute outlandish is testament to the months of hard work that goes on behind the scenes.
It’s not the biggest festival in the world by any stretch but what it may lack in size, it more than makes up for in heart. And there was plenty of that needed on the first day as the heavens opened; the ensuing deluge turning ground underfoot into a boot sucking mud bath.
Walking/stumbling around the site wasn’t the easiest of tasks – even with the sun brightening up Saturday and Sunday – but the reward far outweighed the risk.
Wild and vivid creations, live music could be found at each of Beat-Herder’s 19 stages, all boasting their own idiosyncratic identity, all brimming with talent.
Veteran rockers James headlined the Friday night playing a set heavy on new material; Paul Taylor once again had The Fortress in the palm of his hand and Norwegian DJ Todd Terje, topping the bill on Sunday helped keep those flagging bodies upright.
Good Foxy showed once again why big things are expected of the Clitheroe quintet; psychedelic folk master Donovan offered up some mellow Saturday afternoon vibes and Booka Shade smashed it.
Beat-Herder for me will always be just as much about the festival goers themselves; the 10,000 people who turn up every year come rain or shine, who sing and dance and create an atmosphere like no other.
When a cavalcade of caravans from Bradford rolled in and pitched up next to us on the first day, the temptation to up sticks and move sites was very much real. One hour later, we were sat in the middle of their caravans, swigging gin, arranging our next festival.
I ended up spending a large chunk of the weekend with an excitable bunch of Mancunian misfits, a Crossfit wannabe from Clitheroe and a lying Riddler – the letter for this year’s fancy dress was ‘R’.
Keeping in touch with all these lovely folk is what makes leaving Monday just that little bit less depressing.