I am three days post Standon Calling, still a bit broken, but want to share my review of my favourite festival whilst it’s all fresh in my mind. You know me, honest and authentic to the core, so I want to share the good and the not so good. I would love to know your views in the comments or in my Instagram comments.
Firstly I am a bit of a unique festival goer, I had two jobs when there. Firstly I was a member of the Boutique Beauties & Lavish lovelies crew. My main job was working on the boutique camping reception, looking after the customers staying in the bell tents and yurts, lots of problems solving thrown in, sorting toilet issues, luggage labelling and general festival questions. I did four shifts every morning Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. In return for this I got weekend tickets to the festival and three meals a day.
Secondly I was there as press, which also would have got me weekend passes for me and my kids (but I wanted some child free fun!) Additionally this year the lovely press team found me a bell tent so I could sleep (for the few hours I did) in comfort. This was HUGELY appreciated. The bell tents are SO comfy and nice, the Green Yurts team did such an amazing job with these. I highly recommend a bell tent for some festival luxury.
The Highlights – Got to Start Here
Standon Calling has the best people working, this is my third year of being part of the crew and it’s incredible to meet returning friends and meet new people every year. We are a unit that supports each other in crazy busy times, the hugs are plentiful, and we party hard when our shifts are over.
This year was a good one, our team was the biggest ever. It was so nice to make new friends from different walks of life, old and young. We would sit in a circle until the early hours talking about anything and everything. If you are interested in joining the volunteering team do let me know and I can pass on your details.
The music this year was amazing. My personal highlights were Self Esteem and Years & Years the headliners for the Saturday nights and Friday nights on the main stage. We spent a lot of time in Electric Willows and loved Katy B, LF System and Sister Bliss. But the best place of all, and under cover on the Saturday when the heavens opened all day long was the Groove Garden. Always brilliant music, and I got to meet a few of the DJ’s when checking them in and out of the Boutique camping area.
I have to shout out the 90s indie disco we found in the Backstage Bar at midnight on the Friday night. We danced like crazy for two hours, and sang to every song. Indie.Amnesty you were brilliant.
There was some amazing food available from the food traders this year. As part of our volunteer rewards we got two meals per day from the traders. I tried to find the healthiest possible options, some days, but as the weekend progressed I needed more sustenance. My favourite was The Duck Shed, a lot of our crew tried their food and loved it. Vietnamese Duck Salad bowls were a winner with some goodness and a big bowl of salad.
Poptata chips were back, as good as ever, the best chips I’ve ever tasted. Multi-layers of perfectly seasoned fries, cheese, pink mayo, repeat three times. I had these on the rainy Saturday they went down very well.
Carnival Coffee run by Steve were back, serving the best crepes, tea and coffee, and were always open early. And Oh My Dog went down very well late at night. Shout out to crew catering as well where we had our breakfasts, super friendly staff and really great food
There were so many other highlights, the wellbeing area with tons of free activities for the adults and children, from nature walks to sculpture making, gong baths and life drawing. The hot tub area was back, I have visited this area before and LOVED it. You do have to pay for the hot tubs though.
There was a very cool glitter and photo booth area, Lucys Glitter Box, who took some pics of my friend Becca and I. And decorated me with some purple glitter.
There were loads of sponsored areas giving out freebies, festival shops selling the standard bucket hats, sunglasses. Plus of course the fairground rides.
And how can I not mention the fancy dress carnival on the Saturday and the dog show on the Sunday. Standon traditional highlights and well worth a visit. The winners of the fancy dress show were the Children of the Damned who were AMAZING!
There are always the lows that come with the highs.
It felt like the toilet situation was dire wherever I went. Firstly the toilets in the Boutique area kept losing power and the ability to flush on a regular basis. Every morning upon starting my shift I would be on the radio reporting broken toilets. Interesting though, as I spoke to the engineers who were fixing it, there were issues pipes being blocked by inappropriate thing being flushed down the toilets, as in alcohol cans.
The toilets in the main arena, as you would expect with a festival were dire. In emergencies I used them a couple of times, a very scary experience.
The hard work as a Volunteer
There were times when it was relentless and very busy. The first day on the Thursday checking everyone in, getting luggage from the top gate to Lavish lands and Boutique was full on. The Sunday and the Monday were similar levels of full on, but much harder at the end of festival with everyone tired and ready for home. We all found it hard and absolutely supported each other, but it was hard at times.
A few of our team were shouted at and treated poorly, not fair on a group of volunteers. Personally I didn’t experience this, as I probably would have cried!
The Paying Customers
Last year Standon felt like it was getting younger, even more so this year. The evening times were dominated by large groups of teenagers, that appeared to younger than 18. This is something that a lot of us noticed, particularly in areas of the festival like Electric Willows and the Cowshed. Standon Calling feels like a right of passage for the young, but at no point did I ever feel unsafe, and everyone was wonderfully friendly.
Not exactly a controllable one, but on Saturday it rained pretty much all day and all night. The mud was a challenge, thank goodness for wellies and a waterproof coat.
The good far outweighed the not so good. I loved it and had the best four days ever. Of course I’ll be back again to my favourite ever festival. Alex, you have produced the goods again, and over to Alex to share his thoughts
Standon Calling Festival’s Founder and Director Alex Trenchard reflects on the weekend…
“Yet again I’m blown away by the incredible atmosphere and spirit from everyone involved in Standon Calling. The smiles on the faces of our fabulous festival goers, all the artists and performers across a multitude of stages and the team who work behind the scenes to make this show such an enjoyable and inspirational place to spend four days, makes me enormously proud and happy to produce a show that people genuinely love and return to year on year. I truly believe this is the friendliest festival in the UK with such a diverse line-up and audience and I’m massively inspired by what I’ve just witnessed to create something even more special in 2024”
Standon Calling will return for its 18th year between 25-28th July 2024. Limited Super Early Bird tickets are available here: https://standon-calling.com/