Art & Culture

If you go gallivanting around the British countryside this summer, it’s highly likely that you might actually bump into and trip over a full-blown festival if you’re not careful. Such is the extent of the proliferation of new festivals in the UK that somewhere along the line they all seem to have lost a bit of meaning from those original events in Glastonbury and Pilton in the early ‘70s.

When faced with the prospect of a beer can, filled to the brim with warm, golden piss, imminently connecting with your forehead while you watch another crap band doing their best Arctic Monkeys impression at Reading Festival, it’s fair to say that some of the spirit of good will has evaporated from this oh-so-British institution.

Even Glastonbury, the seminal festival of modern civilization, has lost some of that conscious vibe integral to its origins in recent years, as Michael Eavis chooses to allow ever more people to join the small metropolis that gathers in his backyard, slowly submerging the entire West Country into the muddy abyss.

So in the face of all that, it’s refreshing to know that festivals like Sunrise Celebration still exist. Situated on an organic farm between Bruton and Frome in Somerset, Sunrise takes place on a weekend in late June to coincide with the Summer Solstice, and it’s this cheery occasion around which the whole festival is centered.

The clue’s in the name: Sunrise is a celebration of life and beauty and a cause for thanksgiving – to the Earth and to each other. The focus is on encouraging sustainable living, good will, and environmental symbiosis, and unsurprisingly this has earned them numerous green awards in the past.

The Sunrise landscape is dotted with teepees, yurts and stalls providing all sorts of workshops on new age spirituality and environmental protection, while the musical programme consists of a healthy mélange of conscious dub-reggae, worldly folk and jazz, and experimental electronica. Potential highlights include Mungo’s Hi Fi, Hidden Orchestra, Gaudi, and Dizraeli and the Small Gods, while the Chai Wallahs tent will be an obvious choice to anyone who’s visited them at Glasto, Bestival or wherever else.

Sure, it’s a hippy-fest, but I for one think festivals could take on more of an ethos and theme as Sunrise does, or risk being rendered meaningless events of debauchery and escapism. In any case, the way the world is looking right now, who could argue that we shouldn’t all be a little bit nicer to each other.

Sunrise Celebration takes place on 21st-24th June. For more info and the full line-up, follow the link:

By Adam Tiran