Have you ever been to a festival? I hadn’t been to one either until recently, so 2017, it was decided, would be the year that we lost our festival virginity. After work on Friday 4th August, the hubby and I packed our car full of every item of camping equipment we owned and the kitchen sink and we headed off to a secret location in Norfolk to meet a group of friends at The Harlequin Fayre.
Not knowing what to expect in the slightest (Our friends had said it would be a nice hippy festival and that was all we knew, exciting!…)We had both had a pretty tough week as we were 9 weeks pregnant and I had a miscarriage the previous weekend, so we felt like we needed a bit of cheering up and some sort of a distraction; it was perfectly timed.
The secret location…
After driving down lots of country lanes and somehow quite easily finding the correct field (The address was a series of directions, rather than a specific postcode or road name, yes it was that in the middle of no-where!). We were greeted on the gate by our friends and some friendly hippies – they had rainbow jackets on a dreadlocks!!! – Our wristbands were made of natural material bands rather than the usual plastic ones and the vibe was instantly chilled – there was no-one running around shouting, no-one throwing up after too much boozing, and the field was grassy, not muddy!!
My first can
That evening after putting up our pop-up (which took all of 2 minutes!) we headed over to where all the action was. I was expecting huge tents and stages, loads of generators everywhere, rowdy groups of young adults and people shouting down microphones, but I was so wrong. Walking into the entertainment area was like stepping into a different world, but not the festival world that I was expecting. Firstly, there was plenty of space and no mud, as opposed to the jostling and mud splatters that I was expecting. Then there were the quaint small tents selling flower headbands, handmade jewellery and clothes, fairy lights were strung above our heads and lanterns and welcomed you into vendors areas. We made our way to the main tent, where a folk band was playing. Although the organisers suggest that you support the local producers and suppliers of ales and ciders that were selling their wares at the Fayre, you are also allowed to take your own food and drinks into the entertainment area, so we did take ciders in for the first night. I opened my can of Kopperburg, when I realised that I had never drunk out of a can before! Yes, at the ripe old age of 31, I was drinking my first can!! Its not because I thought I was too classy for cans – ( I have drunk my fair share of Lambrini before!), its just that I have never been a huge fan of fizzy drinks since I was a child – I would always much prefer to have a glass of water that a lemonade. So it turns out, trying to drink out of a can is difficult if you think about it too much – I was trying to drink bending forwards so it didn’t dribble down me, squeezing closed my eyes and just making a mountain out of a mole hill – I found the best way to drink it was to bend my knees and stick out my left hand for balance whilst drinking out of the can in my right hand he he he!!
The whole event seemed to be so child friendly. Lots of people had children with them and they also brought carts with them, so that when the children got tired, they could go to sleep in these carts (They looked so cosy), and their parents didn’t have to end their evenings. Great idea!
I wish I could describe the clothes that all the other festival goers were wearing…but I just can’t!! Let me just say that you could wear practically anything you wanted there and still not stand out,. It was completely unfashionable, which I loved; it didn’t feel like anyone was judging anyone, for how they looked, for what they did, for how they spoke, for what they spoke about. It felt like everyone knew how they fitted into the world and were just happy people, happy to accept the norm and happy to accept the abnormal.
There was a fairly fluid plan written on a chalk board full of events that were going to be on throughout the long weekend – from yoga and meditation, to trapeze and aerial silk lessons, basket making and a huge long lists of different folk bands and musicians. This was definitely my kind of festival!!
The activities and shows
Over the weekend in the daytime, the group of us did yoga, aerial hoop lessons, basket weaving and aerial silks, meditation and tried out many of the vegan and vegetarian food stalls and organic beer varieties. It almost felt like a retreat (if we ignore the drinking in the evening), with plenty of exercise in the daytime, wholesome food and 100% outdoor appreciation time.
We watched a show inside the circus tent, with skilful aerial silks artists and a fire show close up next to a huge fire pit with a group of girls doing acrobatics whilst balancing and throwing various objects on fire – so impressive to watch.
There was a tree that we could write down our wishes and tie them to, we had a drumming session with about 40 people sat around a fire literally just drumming – surprisingly therapeutic> Away from the music there was a healing area where you could get access to a range of homeopathic healing in a private environment. There was even a women’s tent, which I didn’t go into, but it was meant to be a safe haven for women to be able to breastfeed, although if there had been women breastfeeding outside of that area, I don’t think anyone would have batted an eyelid.
Amongst the activities that were on but we didn’t get to experience were poetry, walking theatre, cabaret, comedy and a huge kids area (OK we did go to that bit!)
Is it weird that I am writing about a my experiences at my first music festival and haven’t really mentioned much about the music yet?? Well it’s not because I didn’t like the music, it’s because the whole of Harlequins Fayre left such an impression on me, a good impression and I feel like the music was only a small part of my overall experience.
The musicians were incredibly talented, some of my favourites being a group that used spoons to make some remarkable sounds, loads of folk-type bands, a lady that had a real vintage 1950’s style voice (…can some-one’s voice be vintage….?!), a string quartet, and jazz bands. There was even a band that made music out of recycled objects.
We drove home on the Sunday afternoon, although the Harlequins Fayre carried on until the Monday. As far as true happiness goes, I don’t think anyone has the answer, but this festival gave me the time and the tools to reflect on my life and certain events. I went to the festival relatively unhappy and left feeling content. So My husband and I lost a baby the week beforehand, but we have friends and family that love us, we have our health, we have the means to stay alive, and we have each other and for that I am will always be grateful.