When you think of Cornwall, the first things that spring to mind are pasties, beautiful beaches and ruddy-faced cider drinkers. Starting on the 8th August however, myself and almost 50,000 others were treated to a weekend of great music, fantastic food, and the best surfing competition the U.K has to offer (despite the typically British bad weather!).
As a local, I have been to Boardmasters almost every year since 2013 (my sister having gone to her first Boardmasters in the early noughties remembers it as nothing more than a small rave tent!) For us in north Cornwall, the festival has always felt like the high point of the dog days of summer, and aside from a last-minute cancellation on the Sunday night of 2014 (Thank you, Hurricane Bertha), it has always delivered in bucketloads.
The trip down to Cornwall can be quite daunting (especially considering you’ll be doing it hungover on the Monday back), but the views offered by the festival will make it all worth it. Most people opt to take the train or coach to Newquay, which can be very reasonably priced – then it’s just a 30 minute shuttlebus to Boardmasters. These shuttles run every half hour throughout the week, so it’s very easy to get to Fistral beach for the surf and skate competitions.
Some might opt to fly down from London or Birmingham to Newquay airport, which provided you book early enough can be fairly economical. Prices start at around £60 for a return, which is roughly the same as the train.
Despite our proximity to the festival, many of us local to Newquay and the wider Cornwall area will choose to camp. The camping only costs an extra £10 on top of your ticket, and the campsite is electric with that festival energy and it’s definitely worth mucking in with your fellow festival-goers. Recently, as with most festivals, glamping has become an option for those with an aversion to passing out in a hedge at 4am. Once again, these wigwams can be *relatively* cheap if you book early enough. On this note, Boardmasters almost never sells out but your tickets will be a lot cheaper if you book in advance.
Because Boardmasters is located so idyllically on a dramatic Cornish cliff edge, the weather is a law unto itself. I’ve experienced beautifully sunkissed Boardmasters nights, and rain so bad I’d have been drier if I’d gone for a surf – but at the end of the day you are still in the U.K and just have to embrace the wild weather our islands throw at us, so pack for all weathers and hope for the best.
For those hoping to head down to the beach, Fistral (where the surf competition is held) is the most popular choice. Porth beach is the closest to the main festival grounds, being only a 15 minute walk away and very easy to access.
Boardmasters has a wide range of musical genres, spanning different decades, countries and tastes. In 2018 it played host to such acts as Catfish and the Bottlemen, The Chemical Brothers, Years and Years, Craig David and many more.
The Main Stage hosts all your favourite big names, both classic and modern, with names such as Jamiqroquai, Snoop Dogg, The Kaiser Chiefs, The Chemical Brothers and George Ezra gracing its floorboards in the past decade. Here is where the main action is, where everyone gathers to hear the classic bangers of the year or their favourite artist’s latest hit.
Unleashed does exactly what it says on the tin, and it does that well. Boasting the biggest rave tent in the south-west, Unleashed is home to everything from grime, garage, electro and house – the perfect atmosphere and energy for you or the raver in your life.
The Land of Saints played host this year to the sensational Lily Allen and Everything Everything, and regularly serves up the finest alternative and indie acts in Britain. Originally called the Mavericks stage and dedicated to all things rock (shout out to the Darkness in 2015 goes here), the stage has diversified and gained a cult following at the festival, attracting almost every subculture you can think of.
Last but not least is the Keg & Pasty which is possibly my favourite, just for its uniqueness. Decorated inside and out like a traditional smuggler’s den, serving (as you’d expect) hot pasties and a selection of local ales and ciders, as well as your usual vodka mixer. Local is the word in the Keg & Pasty, which showcases local talent of all genres from ska tribute band Rudi’s Message to local comedian the Kernow King; a true taste of Cornwall!
Going back to Boardmasters year after year isn’t just about its proximity for me. It’s an experience unlike any other, showcasing the best of British music and the scenic Cornish coastline. If you’re looking for something a bit different, something with a classic festival vibe, but in a distinctive and (very) special atmosphere, then Boardmasters might be your thing. Roll on 2019!