The Scene @ Boomtown Festival: The Twin Trail 2023
By / August 25, 2023

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In its fifteenth year, Boomtown festival took us on an epic five day journey of music and theatre with this year’s storyline – Chapter Two: The Twin Trail. It invited us to look at the theme of duality of life whilst following immersive theatre trails and quests.

Photo Credit: Boomtown

The theatrical opening ceremony set the tone as Inja repeated…we were all invited, all united. The crowd spread as far as you could see and held up peace signs whilst setting the intention to spread love and embrace music this weekend.

Acts spanned genres from drum and bass to disco and hip-hop with Chase & Status, Sister Sledge, Sub Focus, M.O.P, Cypress Hill and Mungo’s Hifi all drawing huge crowds. Other highlights included Peaches’ high-energy punk performance art, SHYFX opening the Origin stage on Sunday before A Little Sound, Mura Masa and an hour of pop joy at the Barbie Party.

Photo Credit: Sian Herbert for Boomtown

The cityscape was created for 66,000 festival goers to interact with its immersive theatre storyline. We picked up ‘permits to work’ from Let’s Be Avenue and went on exciting quests, which included writing a filthy poem for Shelly at the Post Office and being sent into the Betterverse to become a verified citizen. The storyline and immersive theatre venues are unlike anything else found in festivals around the world. The dedication to this aspect brings so much fun and creativity to the sets and experience.

At one point, in Let’s Be Avenue, there was sheer joy and chaos swirling with Boomtown Bobbies cycling with sirens, handstands, a game of duck duck goose, spanking, soundsystem delivered by Grime (in the style of Prime delivery) whilst hundreds of other people were completing quests for the likes of The Luck Exchange or raving in Soapranos laundrette.

Photo Credit: Lucas Sinclair for Boomtown

The humour and attention to detail of the storylines, set design and hidden venues make this wondrous maze almost impossible to completely explore. This is what pulls the crowd back each year to almost sell out the festival before the lineup is even announced.

For such a huge festival, it’s created quite a cult following. I saw multiple Boomtown tattoos and some homemade merch created by fans, showing just how much this festival means to people.

Having not been to Boomtown or to such a large festival for a few years, I was worried that I might be slightly overwhelmed this time. However, I was pleasantly surprised that the crowd was diverse, bursting with good vibes and people looking out for one another. We even saw some young families and met some parents who loved the psy-trance area.

Photo Credit: Sian Herbert for Boomtown

Every day we enjoyed the Don’t Tell Dad game show where members of the crowd took part in talent competitions – the show encapsulated everything we love about festivals with the crowd coming together to share their quirks, cheer each other on, and create some rapture.

Away from the hustle of the city, there are spaces to rest and recharge. The Twisted Roots stage in a woodland leads to the Valley Village, which hosted Kanga Wellbeing. Here they hosted wellness therapies like sound healing and we took part in Kundalini yoga with Kate Burnett, which was a beautiful, healing way to start Sunday.

Every day we also enjoyed crafts and workshops at Rebel Girl Club such as Ru Paul’s Flag Race or meditation and art. We took a spin in an aerial hoop where you could try circus skills and made a flower crown from willow. On the outskirts of the city there were also many services for wellbeing including Safer Spaces and the Samaritans, showing a dedication to wellbeing and balance.

Photo Credit: Leora Bermeister for Boomtown

Practical Info

Whilst this five day extravaganza is an epic adventure, getting to the campsite with your belongings and booze was no easy feat. Be prepared for a long journey, potentially up hill with your luggage. Luckily we managed to get a £15 taxi to save queueing over an hour for the shuttle bus to the site. We opted for the Skylark camping, which included a bell tent, showers, flushing toilets and a pamper parlour. This really helped us feel refreshed each day as we had somewhere comfy to return to.

One thing that can usually put a dampener on the experience is queues and we were delighted that this festival had plenty of loos, food stalls, and bars. The food choices were great, even for vegan or vegetarian options. The queues were longer during headline acts, but we never really had to wait more than ten minutes for anything.

Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Boomtown

We were very lucky with the weather and had mostly sun, with a couple of showers that helped prevent the site from becoming too dusty. There are lots of hills and stairs so it can be challenging for even the fittest of people. Boomtown has accessibility options that you can read about on their site. Some acts like the incredible Peaches also had BSL interpreters.

Some music went on until 4am, like The Tribe of the Frog, which we were camped next to. Because of this, earplugs and an eye mask were very helpful to catch some extra sleep for this marathon of a festival.

Photo Credit: Sian Herbert for Boomtown

Tickets are already on sale for next year 7-11 August 2024 with two phases sold out.

Dates: August 9-13, 2023
Editions: 15
Attendance: 66,000
Artists: Hundreds
MFW Beer Index: £5.50/500ml
MFW French Fry Index: £5.50
Highest/Lowest Temperature: 25C/12C
Reusable Cups? No
Free Water Stations? Yes

Photo Credit: Boomtown

Written By

Kate Stewart is a writer, photographer and PR based in Sydney, originally from the UK. Having worked at Glastonbury's Shangri-la, Notting Hill Carnival and Vivid Sydney, she continues to explore her love for all things music and immersive experiences.