Small Festival, Big Opportunity | The Student Pocket Guide
by Nathan Wadlow
The UK summer festival season is a period in our social itinerary that we greatly look forward to. Each and every year, without fail, thousands of people all ages, interests and nationalities, come together in a celebration of music, art and culture – whether it’s battling the muddy plains of Glastonbury or surviving the ear-bursting volumes of Download. But it’s not just the big players in the British scene that have helped to establish our nation as the ‘go-to’ festival state. Between the months of May and September, the popularity and our love of festivals is clear to see, with several smaller festivals on a local scale taking place across the country every weekend. They are the hidden gems of our carnival calendar, and events we should be taking part of! That’s not to say that the Readings and Bestivals should be snubbed, they are incredible in their own right, but here are a whole host of reasons why you should take a step off the commercial track and try something unique this summer…
The great thing about small and medium sized festivals is that they provide an opportunity for people to embrace and take pride in their local community. It can feel great knowing that something as exciting and appealing as a festival is right on your door step, especially not having known about it before. Socially, it’s great too. The size of the smaller festivals naturally gives them added intimacy; you could have the nostalgia of seeing old friends and faces whilst also getting the chance to meet new people.
Festivals of any size do their bit to support their local community, whether it’s through hiring a nearby security firm or purchasing produce from a local supplier. The difference with smaller scale festivals is that you are more likely to see it. Festivals often celebrate the surrounding area, showcasing local business and trades, from arts and crafts workshops to delicious deli counters. On a larger scale, they also help boost tourism over a short-term period, injecting a bit of life into the local economy.
The attraction of going to a smaller festival can introduce you to parts of your local area which you may never have ventured to before. Add that to the fact you could be embarking on a whole new festival experience, really makes for a time of ultimate discovery. Smaller scale festivals often have a strong identity or niche genre, whether it be jazz, folk or techno. They also have a strong focus on showcasing local artists, with large portions of line-ups being set aside for these performers. Who knows, you could walk away having found a new favourite band.
Finally, and arguably most important to some, there are the practicalities. Times are hard, with social life budgets shrinking for many. The instant benefit of attending a smaller festival is that quite simply, it will save you money. Firstly, there’s the ticket price, which usually are at least half the cost of major festivals. Then, there’s travel. Depending on how close you live, getting to a local festival could cost you minimal amounts, especially if you pitch up with mates. And, if you didn’t fancy a whole weekend of it, you could easily pop down for just the day or evening. All in all: less stress, less expense, more options!