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Alternative Music: The Rise Of The Mini Festival In The UK

Matt Crisp May 21, 2023

The UK is rightly celebrated for its major music festivals such as Glastonbury and Reading & Leeds, and these events have evolved into sprawling cultural juggernauts over the past decade. However, the BBC reports that in more recent years, the UK has also enjoyed a rise of the so-called ‘mini festival.’ 

As the cost of living crisis still bites, the cost of attending one of the larger music festivals has become prohibitive for some people, and getting tickets in the first place can take a lot of luck and advanced planning. However, smaller and more localised events are more accessible and affordable. 

One such event is the Devauden Festival in Monmouthshire, south Wales. It started as a family event in 2010 that was more like a village fete, but this year 4,000 people are expected to attend over three days. The organisers are committed to supporting local and up and coming acts, and ticket prices for overnight camping start at £33.

Festival organiser Jeremy Horton told the BBC: “We wanted to provide a showcase for local talent and original music, bring the community together and more pertinently raising some cash. Affordability and keeping tickets value for money is really important as it’s part of why we’re popular.”

He added: “We make sure food and drink are good value too so traders don’t cash out on a captive audience so you’ll be able to buy a pint here for £3.50 or £4, which is decent value. Tickets for some major events these days are scary. Especially in this financial climate, people still want to have fun and a good time but they don’t want to or have to pay the earth.”

It is thought that there are now about 800 such mini events taking place around the UK this summer, which is remarkable considering that the festival industry appeared to be in dire straits just a few years ago due to the pandemic. 

John Rostron, chief executive of the Association of Independent Festivals, said: “Small festivals are ridiculous, extraordinary value for money.”

He added: “If you compare them to concerts, especially the big ones in stadiums, you can go to a festival for a third of the price and watch 10 bands, every day for three days – and some of my favourite musical discoveries have been by accident at festivals.”

“You can also let your kids run around or play in the playgrounds and everything you want is in one place; food, drink, music, culture, literature and sometimes comedy – or you can just sit by your tent and chat with your mates.”

For anyone who is still disappointed to have missed out on Glastonbury tickets, taking a punt on a smaller event with a few unsigned acts might just be an eye-opening experience this summer. You can guarantee that the headliners will not be a world famous band well past their heyday, but you might just get a chance to hear some real alternative music.

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