How Smaller Festivals Can Hold Their Own Against Larger Festivals

Article by: Yousif Nur|@yousifnur

Fri February 19, 2016 | 00:00 AM

For a festival with a capacity that’s smaller than Brixton Academy or Radio City Music Hall, Blissfields near Winchester, UK is a prime example of a small festival that can very much hold its own against the Glastonburys and Coachellas of this world. And just as the smaller (boutique, as they’re often known) festivals are able to take on the big boys and triumph, they’re also able to add their own unique flavor to the festival ecosystem, inspiring new directions and introducing festival lovers to a whole world of fresh, often intimate, experiences.

No Money? No Problem!

Let’s get straight to the point. Festivals can be an expensive pastime and this pretty much goes without saying. Because of the significantly lower overheads and larger fees that the established acts charge to headline, not to mention the smaller space the festival itself takes up, it means a huge saving on ticket prices, which for you ultimately leads to spend your money on street food stalls and drink. A ticket at Reading this year will fetch you back around £215 ($309) for the entire weekend. Whereas a ticket at somewhere such as Blissfields will set you back a measly £90 ($129).

Music! So Much Music

Gone are the days where the major fests have all the fun. Nowadays, the small festivals are also bringing in the heavyweight acts, as big stars can often see the appeal of playing to smaller crowds – i.e. a more intimate connection with their fans. Alternatively though, there’s the opportunity to catch an up-and-coming act that may turn out to be your new favourite band. This combination of mainstream and off-the-beaten-track type acts is a musical treat, and when combined with the smaller setting, is priceless. Blissfields – as mentioned above - this year for instance have established acts Dizzee Rascal and Everything Everything topping the bill, The Secret Garden Party, near Cambridge, has Primal Scream and Caribou and you’ll be able to experience these superstars up close and personal, which is a rarity.

Camp Like Royalty

Fancy a home from home at your festival? If regular camping doesn’t quite cut it, then how about a step up in luxury with boutique camping? Smaller festivals provide some sublime ways to combine style and comfort for the weekend. Often, they’re complete with a bed, bedside table, lamps and even a rug, all inside a yurt. Some even include adjoining toilets, showers and a pamper chamber. Try getting that level of treatment at one of the major players without having to spend a small fortune, or be a A-list performer. Green Yurts provide yurts for Boomtown and Shambhala and the living quarters they provide have to be seen to be believed.

Posh Nosh For Not Much Dosh

The feeling of paying over the odds for a flimsy, tasteless cheeseburger can leave you feeling underwhelmed. Fortunately, specialist food stalls from across the globe pitch themselves up for a weekend with nourishment from everywhere you can think of. Vegetarian? They’ve got you covered. Got a hankering for cous cous? Chances are they’ll have it. Want a bit of ethically-produced chocolate cake for dessert? You got it. Best of all, they won’t charge you the earth for it either. In contrast, visitors are willing to spend a good amount of money on decent food too, so clearly we’re talking serious gourmet business.
Often, well known restaurants will also get involved such as the Hawaiian Kua Aina and popular UK BBQ joint Bodeans ( will be on-hand with mini-outlets to deliver fine dining to the boutique festival clientele. This, together with a range of independent traders, makes for a veritable smorgasboard of culinary delights. Nom!

Hide N' Seek Is Kinda Pointless

As you can probably expect, the sites used by miniature festivals are often so small that you can find your friends without too much difficulty. This also lends an intimate feel to be with your pals whilst eating, drinking, watching bands and sleeping under the stars without all the noise. Plus it’s a great way to meet new people without it being a daunting experience or getting squashed in a massive crowd of music fiends. Take Standon Calling for instance, which takes place just north of London, where the capacity is just 10,000 and it takes a couple of minutes to trot from one stage to another. There you can literally leave your friends for an hour or so and reconvene whenever you want to with absolutely no worries (unless they got too wasted to find their way around!).