The Great British Alternative Music Festival
Friday 5th October to Monday 8th October
@ Butlins, Skegness

For music fans there’s nothing better than a music festival – spending your days watching bands that you love, eating and drinking, with like minded fans – it doesn’t get much better than that!

Even if the band that you really want to see have an off day and leave you feeling disappointed , more than likely another band on the bill, maybe one you’d never normally consider going to see, will have you punching the air.

But for a lot of people, the fly in the festival ointment is having to camp.  I’ve been going to Glastonbury since 2005 and I love it, but I’m the first to admit that carrying a tent, sleeping bag, and all your stuff from the car park to the tent over grueling terrain for a couple of hours, whilst undoubtedly character building, is something I could well do without 🙂

Enter the holiday camp festival – designed to make use of their facilities out of season – comfy beds, hot showers, sit down hot meals at a proper table, indoor stages all on site, all at a seaside location, bliss!

Butlins do a wide range of themed weekend music festivals covering soul, disco, ibiza legends, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and even 2000s retro festivals (2000s already considered retro?  I feel old!) and of course the Shiine On Indie festival.

The one that particularly grabbed my attention is The Great British Alternative Music Festival which has been going since 2014.


This is a weekend of predominantly punk and alternative bands, including Sham 69, The Rezillos, GBH, The Exploited, UK Subs, Bad Manners, New Model Army, Spear of Destiny, The Blockheads, and also newer bands on the introducing stage including Liverpool’s own legends Pete Bentham and the Dinner Ladies.

The odd one out as far as most people are concerned seems to be The Boomtown Rats.  It’s funny, as a 10 year old watching Top of the Pops as they tore up pictures of John Travolta and Olivia Newton John  whilst yawning, to emphasise that they’d ended “Summer Nights” from the Grease soundtrack 7 weeks at the top, and they seemed like the coolest band in the world (though to be honest I bought Summer Nights myself, I was 10!)  Fast forward a few years to Live Aid and Sir Bob could do no wrong, yet in recent years the band don’t seem to be remembered well.  Hopefully they will win us over on the day!

For me personally, I’m really looking fwd to New Model Army.  I’ve never seen them live, and lots of people over the years have told me I have to, so I’m expecting good things!  Bad Manners are very much what I’d call a festival band, I loved them when they were in the charts, I don’t think I’d go out of my way to go to one of their gigs, but at a festival, their upbeat ska I can see going down a treat.

When The Blockheads were playing Glastonbury a few years ago I decided not to go, because much as I loved Ian Dury and The Blockheads, I couldn’t imagine them being that good without the man himself.  How wrong I was!  I caught them accidentally, and was blown away by just how good the band are!  Even Phill Jupitus on vocal duties couldn’t spoil it 😉 Absolutely superb.

I’ve seen a few people on social media pointing out the “irony” of rebellious bands playing at Butlins, but for one thing, Butlins is a modern family resort – no longer the 1950s Hi-De-Hi image of nobly-knees contests and cheesy comics, but more importantly, as previously mentioned, this isn’t the normal campers entertainment but special events to make use of the facilities out of season.

As for whether or not the bands are rebellious, well by the time I was 10, punk, at least in terms of bothering the charts was pretty much over, but I can still remember how straight-laced the 1970s were.  Lets face it, swearing on daytime tv was front-page news, to be in a band you had to dress nicely, with a nice haircut and be a good singer or be able to play their instruments – the punks tore up the rule book, and despite predictions that it was the end of civilisation by the popular press (who actually enjoyed a bit of punk on the sly) it wasn’t, and I think it genuinely opened up people’s minds, and society is all the better for it.

Through 21st century eyes, the punk movement all seems pretty tame now, but I firmly believe that they were largely responsible for that change in attitudes, which can only be a good thing.

John Lydon said in an interview many years ago that he finds it sad when people expect him to walk into a room gobbing everywhere – he’s no longer a 17 year old angry young man, the audience have moved on with their lives, so it’s unfair to expect bands not to move on with theirs.

On any thread relating to classic punk, you can set your watch by someone mentioning the butter commercials.  It makes me laugh, when he was a young lad, middle aged people undoubtedly told him he should stop swearing, get a nice haircut and a suit.  Now middle aged people tell him he can’t do butter commercials, despite the fact a lot of them probably have mortgages and other “grown up” stuff.

Ultimately, most of us are going purely for the music and the atmosphere, yes of course there is a bit of nostalgia thrown in, but there’s nothing wrong with that!

I’ve only had a quick listen to the introducing stage lineup, but they seem well chosen and should appeal to anybody who likes the bigger names.  Here are a few to check out:

I’ll pick out some more for future updates.

I’ll be writing daily reports from the festival for both this site and Urbanista Magazine UK.

Click Here for tickets it costs a bit more than normal festivals, but remember it includes your accommodation!