If you’re more into smaller festivals than the larger, more commercial events then Blissfields festival, set in the heart of rural Hampshire is a definite a must-visit. This year’s festival took place on 3rd July to the 5th and it certainly didn’t disappoint, with a line-up including headline acts from American pop-punk band Sleigh bells and hit-spinning brothers 2manydjs.
With only 4,000 people attending, the atmosphere at the festival was extremely chilled out and family-friendly. When we arrived, we were impressed with the laid-back, hippy atmosphere and how much was on offer, especially considering how tiny the festival was. Wandering around the small site, we soon realised that the festival wasn’t completely all about the music, although the line-up was pretty impressive for such a small get-up. There was so much to do and even if you wanted to come for the day and didn’t end up watching any music at all, you still wouldn’t get bored. Whilst exploring over the weekend we managed to fit in playing a free game of golf, staring in wonder at the several birds of prey that were on display (you could pay a few quid to hold them), watched a mesmerizing fire-show, sat in the audience of a wood-sawing show (the end product ended up being a carefully carved owl) and wandered through the many tiny vintage shops that were selling a large variety of trinkets and embroidered goods.
On Friday afternoon, whilst we munched on Jamaican jerk chicken from one of the many small food stalls available, we sat and enjoyed the soothing vocals from singer-song writer Nick Mulvey on the main stage. He finished off his enjoyable set with a warm, grateful departure, bidding to the audience ‘See you soon, see you at another festival!’. Next up was a vibrant performance from Tune-Yards who impressed with their drummy, electric-bass fuelled set.
As the afternoon rolled into evening, we enjoyed a performance from British singer-song writer Dan Croll whose relaxing vocals were perfect for the chilled-out crowd who were by now swaying in time to the music in the early evening. One song that stood out particularly was the soothing ‘Maway’ from his debut album ‘Sweet Disarray’.
Next up on the main stage was indie quartet band Spector who livened up the crowd with hits from their first album ‘Enjoy it while it lasts’ including ‘Twenty-nothing’ and finished off with an emotional performance of their single ‘Never fade away’, prompting synchronised clapping and swaying from the audience.
By the time Sleigh bells were headlining the main stage, the earlier sunny weather had turned into drizzly rain. This however, didn’t appear to bother the crowds, and the noise-pop duo brought in a sizeable crowd who danced their way throughout the energetic set. Vocalist Alexis Krauss was most humble, exclaiming several times what a great audience the crowd were, and how they had no idea what to expect. They gave a great performance mingling and interacting with the crowd, with Alexis even joining an ecstatic audience in the crowd, putting on a fantastic show and proving their worthy title as Friday’s headline act.
With music from the main stage finished for the evening, we decided to explore many of the other stages. We enjoyed the electric atmosphere and performances in several tents that were open late-night, such as The Hustle Den and the Hidden Hedge, which was open to 4am for the party animals out there. However the artists that really impressed from the smaller venues was the exceptionally quirky Electric Swing Circus in The Larch, an intimate tent venue slightly more closed off from the rest of the festival. The six-piece electric swing band excited the crowd with their lively set, encouraging pretty much every person in the tent to dance along, many even attempting to swing-dance with both friends and strangers alike. When they played childhood classic ‘Everybody wants to be a cat’ featured in Disney’s aristocrats, the crowd really let loose, with many singing along to the old classic.
Feeling slightly worse for wear on the Saturday, we headed straight to the main stage to listen to an early set from DJ Little Chief as we sat on the grass lining our stomachs for the day with bacon rolls from a quirky café stall. Next we enjoyed a set from London-based band Famy who kicked start the afternoon, impressing with their hammering rock tunes.
The rest of the day was spent more fairly laid back than the Friday, soaking up the hippy atmosphere, people watching and getting involved in many of the daytime activities on offer. However, there was one act we were sure not to miss and that was 2manydjs incredible headline set on the main stage. Brothers David and Stephen Dewaele set the place alight, mixing up hits from the likes of MGMT, causing the huge crowd to go absolutely mental, and finishing off our experience at Blissfields on a fantastic high.
Written by Ellie Swain
Photos by Heather Berrisford
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