Bearded Theory Spring Gathering
Catton Hall, Derbyshire
24th-2th May 2018

I’ve heard a lot of positive things about Bearded Theory over the years, mainly from people who go to Glastonbury, who along with Boomtown name it as the festival that comes closest, though on a much more manageable scale.  Though I’ve been tempted to go a few times, in previous years it clashed with Liverpool Sound City – just down the road and no need for camping, plus Glastonbury is only about a month later, and though I don’t mind camping, I don’t want to do it twice in a month unless I need to.

This year, with Sound City being moved to the first bank holiday weekend, and Glastonbury not on, it seemed like the perfect time to give it a try.

We took our young child to Glastonbury last year, and it’s obviously a very different experience to going on your own, as you can’t whiz around the massive site like we normally would.  So we got to thinking that if we only see a small bit of Glastonbury, would it make more sense to see more of a smaller festival with a Glastonbury-like vibe?  Since a lot of the people I know who go to Glasto go to Bearded too, it seemed like the perfect choice.  But would it live up to our high expectations?

In a word, a resounding Yes!  The organisers have managed to pull off a festival which is run by people who love festivals, rather than a mega corporation only interested in money, who go to the N’th degree to try and ensure that everybody has a great time at the festival, whilst also being professionally run and with an impressive lineup.

Every festival I’ve been to, test your ability to look at the positives over the negatives.  For example, last year at Glasto it took us about 4 hrs to get from car to campsite on the hottest day of the year.  You could spend the entire weekend dwelling on it and come back and tell everyone how overrated Glasto is, but we chose to have fun and forget about it.

Likewise, a 2 hour journey to Bearded took us 6 hrs due to slow moving tailbacks, meaning we missed The Whip and Reverend and the Makers who we were looking fwd to, many reasons for the tailbacks were given on social media, and trusted sources say there is rarely any traffic problems, but regardless, it’s one of these things that can happen going to any camping festival.

My mum used to tell me about a cousin who decided to move to London, she took the train down, got mugged, jumped on the next train back.  I lived in London for 10 years off and on, and never really had any problems.  So our opinions of London are probably very different, unfortunately she was unlucky.

Likewise, I didn’t see any problems at Bearded, on the contrary everybody we spoke to was friendly and helpful.  But on social media there were several reports of tent thieves.  Their victims will obviously have a very different take on the festival.

Unfortunately there will always be a bad element at any festival, taking pleasure out of causing other people misery.  The festival quickly organised a collection to try and replace some of the things stolen.

Apparently this year was worse than previous years – perhaps having a big name like Robert Plant meant more people on-site who were only there for 1 artist and no interest in the festival itself, who knows.

Being able to walk 10 mins to the car and 15 mins to the main stage, was bliss!  Only slight fly in the ointment was trying to get our child past the fun-fair to get to the kids field.  The fun-fair looked lovely, but at £3 a ride, you can soon end up spending more than your ticket there alone!  Perhaps it’s an essential part of the economy of the festival, and in any case it was a relatively small gripe within the context of the festival.

The kids field has everything to keep young’ uns entertained.  Our lad particularly enjoyed the messy play area, the lego tent, and the disco.  The only difficult part was getting him to leave to see a band (so we gave up in the end!) just as well it closes at 5pm otherwise we’d never see anything else at the festival!

Normally when I’m at a festival with a photo pass, I’ll whiz around trying to catch as many bands as possible, but since I was writing a diary r.e. going to bearded with a 4 year old, I only saw a few bands each day.

Bearded theory with a 4 year old – Day 1

Bearded theory with a 4 year old – Day 2

Bearded theory with a 4 year old – Day 3

Of the bands I did see, The Coral were amazing, Jesus & Mary Chain absolutely brilliant, The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican provided joyous comedy and fun on a Sunday afternoon, Fun Lovin’ Criminals do what they do best, Sleaford Mods are yet to win me over, but I think I’m starting to thaw, Idles were the talk of Sound City with good reason, and it was fab to see Crazyhead after all these years!

We all enjoyed it (the wee man even asked if we could live there!) so I think we can safely say we’ll be back next year!

For more photos take a look at my Flickr account.