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Boomtown Fair
Ian Taylor

Five ways Boomtown Fair stands out from the festival crowd

Nine-storey rave palaces, ski lifts, saloon bars... Boomtown isn’t your average festival. Here’s why

By Justin McDonnell
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A mobile jailhouse spins by. The captives are all gyrating to rock 'n' roll. Boozy pirates roar out some gypsy-folk shanties atop a shipwreck. A reveller dressed as a pregnant nun raves to a monolithic boombox. Welcome to the weird world of Boomtown Fair.

Since 2009, Boomtown has transformed the rural green hills of Hampshire into the maddest place in the country – thanks to a team of wacky architects who help construct a whole pop-up town. If you’re not the fancy glamping type, if you feel more at home at a cocktail bar than a juice counter, or think gourmet grub should really be served indoors, then Boomtown could be the one for you: a rough and ready music festival which puts the ‘boo!’ into boutique. Read our top five reasons Boomtown is in a league of its own.

Five reasons to visit Boomtown Fair

Boomtown Fair
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1. Prepare to meet the neighbours

The festival is made up of Hollywood-quality film sets and spans a dizzying eight neighbourhoods in total. From the rumbling, reggae-themed Trench Town to swinging Mayfair, the sprawling avenues teem with weird fun. The scale and non-stop activity of the place can leave you feeling as bewildered as a UKIP councillor caught up in a Hare Krishna parade.

Boomtown Fair
Peter Huys

2. Discover some under-the-radar gems

At Boomtown, the focus isn’t necessarily on drawing in big-name acts. With a penchant for swing, bass and breaks, its selection criteria is concerned with artists who have a well-earned reputation for making crowds go crazy. From this year's line-up, some top picks include raspy faux-Irish punks Flogging Molly, electro-swingers Caravan Palace, brilliant Malian duo Amadou and Mariam, plus a weight of great London DJs including garage pioneer DJ EZ.

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Boomtown Fair
© Neil Mach

3. There’ll be storeys to tell

This year, Boomtown is constructing a gargantuan rave-palace. The crazy chateau will be nine storeys high, with cascading light and lazer shows incorporated. Warp Records mainstay and glitch trailblazer Squarepusher will be getting busy with the beats, bringing booming bass to the rather wonky lords and ladies of rainbow-glo manor. It promises to be quite the spectacle, and could potentially explain all those bulging eyes.

Boomtown Fair
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4. There’s no need to be a slave to a schedule

There’s no point in dragging your groggy husk of a body off to a midday slot of wrinkly ska veterans, even if they did once have a Top Ten hit. Boomtown doesn’t play by the rules and neither should you. So, ditch the timetable and discover over a hundred interactive micro-venues, which throb endlessly with new bands and leftfield DJs spinning sounds.

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Boomtown Fair
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5. Expect marriages and deaths, and maybe even a birth

Boomtown is about a lot more than music. It’s bursting with utterly bonkers curios and situationist art to get fully involved with. Stop by Shaman Loco’s shop to peruse his trinkets, while sacrificial fire-shows blaze on in the background. Looking to lock down a lover? Grab your blushing bride and waddle down to the Inflatable Church. Craving a date with death? At Boomtown, you can even attend your own funeral. Anything goes. It’s all very inappropriate and very, very fun.

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