We all love a good festival in Europe, it’s just the epitome of summer isn’t it? So it’s no wonder there’s a new festival popping up every year. And this year was no different, being the inaugural season for Weekender Festival in Jersey.
Ok, there was a festival on the same site called Jersey Live (it ran for 12 years), but from what I hear from the locals, Weekender was a very different vibe. “More Bestival” as one gal told me and “Focused on more than just the music” as another said. So I was really keen to experience the brand new event whilst I was on the island.
I attended Weekender on both days, Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd of September, but they were very different experiences. The first day was all fun and sunshine and glitter whereas the second day was rain and wind and mud! So naturally most of my photos are from the former! But both days had really great line-ups and experiences, I just thought I should set that out at the beginning in case you’re like “Kara why are you wearing the same outift in every photo, babes?”.
Ok, I’ll stop rambling, here’s everything you need to know about Weekender Festival 2017.
(FYI I’ll write a separate post about my time in Jersey so keep your eyes peeled for that one, kids.)
Weekender Jersey 2017
The Stages and Layout of the Festival
Let me give you a mental tour of the site of Weekender. You see, this is definitely a boutique festival, a local festival you could even say. It’s set on one big field with a few little areas cordoned off but generally it’s pretty open plan. It actually reminded me of when they put concerts on in Hyde Park, like over the Olympics 2012 or Party In The Park back in the day.
At the top end you have the main WKNDR Stage, which hosts all of the big acts you want to see, adjacent to a long bar. The other side of the stage is the Delta VIP Lounge but more on that later…
A bit further down is the Made In Jersey stage with local acts and a family area complete with entertainers and a giant slide, etc. Then there’s the food truck area they’ve named Feastiville and a secret club called Wonky Factory (again, more on that in a sec). And finally a fun fair and two other stages – Full Flow and the iPop Dance Arena. Neither of these last two were my thing to be honest so I didn’t spend much time down this end, they were mainly house and dance music. The iPop in particular was full of 14 years olds in crop tops, I’ve never felt so old.
But in general Weekender had a community vibe with a capacity of 8,000 people. Although they were selling tickets on the door so I think there were a lot less people than that. Like I said, it’s definitely a boutique festival, folks.
Despite being a smaller festival, the line-up was BIG. I was actually really impressed with the acts that were playing, people like Lethal Bizzle, Wilkinson, Happy Mondays, Pendulum and Blossoms are who you would expect at much bigger festivals, right?
As I’ve said before, I think this is the best thing about going to boutique festivals, you can get right up close to your favourite bands. I was continually in the first couple of rows without any hassle. And at one point Lethal Bizzle ran around the mosh pit at Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes! Mate, he couldn’t do that at Glastonbury, could he?
And both of those guys were amazing by the way. Such different styles of music, yet both Lethal B and Franky C killed it.
Other highlights included Blossoms and Circa Waves and Happy Mondays. Oh and Becky Hill singing Afterglow because I bloody love that song. It was worth braving the wind and rain of day two for that bad boy.
I did leave early on day two though, I have to admit. I was just over my feet being constantly wet (didn’t bring wellies like a total rookie) and so I missed the last couple of acts. Which I’m annoyed at myself about because it was Wilkinson and Two Door Cinema Club who I really wanted to see! But hey, I’m getting old now, I can’t be standing in the rain all day. I went to the pub. Soz.
Delta VIP Lounge
Yep, VIP babes. How would’ve though it, ay?
This area was pretty cool with a viewing platform for the main WKNDR stage as well as a stage all it’s own, exclusively for VIP guests. And it showcased some awesome acts like The Mariachis, Goldie Lookin Chain and even an epic DJ set from Bez off of the Happy Mondays. I definitely felt like this VIP Lounge was good value for money with this additional entertainment. And this tent was a total refuge when it was raining!
There was also a Feel Unique tent offering festival hair and make-up for a charity donation. They did me up in these glittery disco buns (below) – how fab are they?!
There was also DELICIOUS food from the catering van back there and you know I’m hot on festival food. It’s the first time I’ve ever had Cuban Picadillo and it was just so good. I’m definitely going to try to make this at home (recipe post imminent!).
One of my absolute favourite memories from Weekender Jersey is dancing in the sunshine to retro tunes from the likes of The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac and ACDC (from a DJ set obvs!), in a place called the Wonky Factory.
The Wonky Factory was a secret outdoor club type place that definitely reminded me of festivals like Glastonbury and Bestival. You had a to walk through a fireplace in the fence of the festival, through a trippy tunnel and emerged in an Alice in Wonderland themed nightclub tent, with Drum & Bass music and colourful streamers.
This bit wasn’t really my scene but as you walked around the corner there was this tiny little DJ set playing my fave songs with everyone singing along and having a grand old time. It really was awesome.
Then to get out of the Wonky Factory and back to the rest of the festival you had to make your way through a maze to get out! Complete with weird little rooms to have a lil dance in on your way out.
It was such a nice touch and definitely made a small festival feel like it was on a bigger scale.
Feastiville is what Weekender Jersey calls their area of food vans, however I was a little disappointed that the selection was quite small.
I understand it’s a smaller boutique festival but I think that maybe I had quite high expectations as it was a part of the festival that was emphasised on the website beforehand. You see, each food stall was supposed to have a tasting platter of its menu on offer at a fixed price of £5, between 1-4pm. I went over around 3pm and couldn’t see anything advertised about this, but maybe it all ran out?
Saying all this, I did eat some DELICIOUS halloumi fries from a food van. They were insanely good. So maybe quality over quantity is the takeaway here.
Being a big event on the Jersey calendar, I liked that a lot of local things were incorporated into the festival. Local beers and ciders were on offer at the bars, Jersey Water provided refreshments, local businesses like Frank & Betties (vintage clothes) sold their wares and local charities like Peas & Glove raised money.
So it all felt like it was part of the community, you know? I just thought this was a really nice element to Weekender.
The Weird and Wonderful
Naturally there were a few quirky things added to the mix. Which honestly I think makes a festival. It’s these kind of things that you tell your friends about when you get home, like yeah Lethal Bizzle was good but OH MY GAHD THERE WAS A KARAOKE CAB.
Yep, karaoke cab, that was one of the quirks at Weekender. Josh and I climbed into the back of a purple taxi, put on some props like giant sunglasses and cowboy hats and sang Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ as loud as we could. And it cost £1 to do which is ridiculously cheap for a festival, where they usually take the piss I think. So much fun!
They also had a giant slide at the festival, which again was heaps of fun, more than I thought it would be. I mean yeah there was a fun fair but the rides were expensive and the giant slide was cheap and way more fun than the waltzers IMO!
Oh and there were even people walking around dressed as Star Wars characters! Got a photo with Chewie, obvs.
I definitely appreciated that they had these kind of things at the festival and it made me agree with the girl I mentioned in the intro – Weekender was definitely “more Bestival”.
Getting Home & Other Info
I think talking about getting to and from a festival is important because it can often be the downfall of your festival experience if the event hasn’t been well managed. And anyone who has ever been to Glastonbury, knows that first day is actual hell on earth.
But being a small island, Jersey was a very simple process. On the way there I got a taxi and on the way back I decided to walk one day to see how far it was. It was just over an hour walk to get back to St Helier but definitely doable if you’re struggling to get home.
It’s also important to note that there were no ATMs at the festival, so bring cash with you. I saw that an on-site vendor did provide cashback if you’re stuck though.
Overall I had a really great time at Weekender Festival in Jersey. Although it was smaller than anticipated and I wasn’t thrilled with the food choices, the line-up, the secret club and the quirky activities were all things that reminded me of much bigger festivals.
And of course, even with the rain on day 2, I’ve still walked away with a really good impression of this festival and would totally recommend a visit next year if you can! Just remember to bring the wellies, yeah?
Oh and little sneak peek, I’ll also be posting about what it’s like to be backstage at a festival… so watch this space, folks!!
Would you go to Weekender Jersey? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!
Total Blogger Transparency: I enjoyed a complimentary visit to Weekender Jersey but all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I wouldn’t play you like that shorty.