Eden at its best.
What an absolute pleasure to return to the funny fluffy and furry friendly festivities of Eden. Such a beautiful setting and beautiful people. It would be pretty difficult to not have a fabulous time at this glorious nestled Scottish festival. In my opinion, if you can't get to Glastonbury, then this darling of a festival, is the next best thing. From the rolling curvy lay out, forever leading you to interesting places, past smiling faces to the extreme effort and passion that goes into creating nothing but feasts for your eyes. This year the main acts could not outperform the creativity and effort of the decorative crew and the effort people made with their attire to embrace the ‘Intergalactic’ theme.
It all started on Thursday night as we coasted down the track toward a very busy campervan field but incredibly, we easily found enough space to squeeze in two campervans and a caravan! Not long before the van exterior was adorned with bunting and solar power lights, chairs out, cuppa tea on. And it was not much longer after that, that we connected up with a tribe of friends and their family, in the peaceful family camping field. Their set up was much more spacious and quiet in the early hours of the morning. I can highly recommend this festival for children. There is so much for them to do and most of it for free. There are nice safe areas with regular activities to entertain them, you feel happy to leave them taking part in something and then collecting them later.
There was a huge Helter Skelter on the edge of the childrens area, which was fabulous to watch and fabulously lit up at night too.
Photo: Karen McKay
The children's area had so much going on, plus it felt a bit more spacious this year and was always full of skipping kids and big beaming faces. Beware of the glitter explosions and the flying Frisbees though. You have to be sharp in the kid's field! We sat among the tall wooden henge and the musical mounds while the kids juggled, painted and bubbled themselves exhausted.
The site had a few extra areas this year and some of the existing spaces had been improved. There was more space in the Lost Disco. And boy was it needed. The place was rammed with dancers enjoying the various disco grooves. In particular Saturday night was incredible. But we will come back to that.
The garden was looking absolutely beautiful, with Eve proudly standing over everything. So many people taking part in planting seeds and taking seeds away with them, which I thought was a lovely way of taking Eden home. There was a new area leading off from the garden which led to a nice area in the wood made out of wood, with a wooden bridge over the river and a wooden barn of cyclists to keep the roots reggae music pumping as well as a nice seated area and a hill top nestled viewing platform. Fantastic addition for somewhere different to hang about.
Also in the garden was a small wooden band stand, accompanied with lone piper, who welcomed you into the new layout of the healing and activity fields which were full of inspiring people running so many workshops.
Free stone work classes, wood carvings, free art class where all the work went to auction on the Sunday. We poked our head in at the engrossed artists, the peace from the concentration was entrancing and so were many of the creations. We skipped on and found a Mandala workshop run by a beautiful soul called Susan Moira Mackay. She also made the circular pebble and rock labyrinth which people seemed to enjoy.
Once you reached the middle there was a pretty tipi effect covered in dream catchers. The entire space was very peaceful to sit in, the sun baking down and the music from everywhere on site wafting over. Asking Susan why she encouraged people to build Mandalas on site she said, “it gives people the opportunity to express themselves with natural material .Building the labyrinth is a healing experience for me and Mandalas are healing for the people.” I certainly enjoyed making mine anad got a lot out of thinking what it all meant.
There was so much to see on our first day in, that we only managed to sit down in front of the Devorgilla Main stage at 4pm! We watched the Asazi Space Funk Explosion who were really good. A deep funky soul sound that drifted over our overwhelmed minds and tickled our souls back into life.
Apart from the usual curvaceous carved mushrooms on décor in the main arena, there was even a boat to sit in and enjoy the stage view!
We had another good wander after that. Gorging on the amazing food available and then delicious crepes topped off with a hot chocolate as the last of the soaring sun began to sink. A quick nip back to base, to layer up and grab more supplies and we were back at the main stage for the Dub Mafia. They were really quite outstanding. Such a strong voice filling every corner of the field and big heavy beats thumped everyone up onto their feet dancing to their sounds and stomping into the ground. Cat Empire were up next and were equally impressive with a different blended sound of Ska, Jazz and funk. We really did enjoy cutting some moves and grooves to them, so much so, us old timers actually got stitch's!!
Rabbies Tavern for a refill and to admire the fantastic décor with Scottish influence. Cosy tartan bar decor, a watchful mouse and fancy drapes made the venue look fantastic. Well done to the décor crew all round really. We refilled our reusable Eden glasses and poodled off to the Tipple Taxi for a quick toffee coffee cream and sprinkle shot before heading into the Snake Pit to loose ourselves in the maze of all night music, mentalists and marvellous madness.
Each venue in the snake pit brings a different delight, from the constant flashing dance floor in the Lost Disco, (tunes were all eras of disco), the Ghilli Dhu dance emporium spitting out everything banging from drum and bass to electro and techno, with its HUGE speaker themed DJ booth and time travel themed props. Then there is the Voltans psychedelic temple, a futuristic decorated utopia of mind bending music and eye bending graphics spinning across the patterned roof top. All very smile creating and intoxicating. And finally the wonderful Vishnu Lounge, with its sunken bath seating, hanging hammocks and comfy cushions. That wonderful ambient retreat when your feet can't beat and you need to calm your heartbeat. When you reach that tired stage, the Vishnu lounge will call to you, welcome you and snuggle you right in. At night you find exactly what you want in the snake pit. You will. The snake pit has it all.
Saturday was a slow start after taking three and a half hours to adorn out intergalactic costumes. We immediately rushed over to Mr Motivator and enjoyed just under an hour of silly synchronised aerobics and line dancing hilarity. You have never seen anything as amusing in your life. Hundreds of eclectic people, some of them wearing strange alien related outfits, dancing side by side, stretching and clapping to some really weird named dance moves and shouting HUH and weeeehaaaa!
Photo: Courtesy of Eden Festival
The Dumfries Community Choir were really incredible. Even impressing our nine year old group member and turning one dad to emotional tears. A fabulous cabaret of crowd pleasing covers. This Choir is not what you ever expect when you think of the word choir, but boy do they make you feel joy and sunshine in your heart.
We caught some of Tanzt in the Furry Chillum, a wonderful energetic Baltic sound which had everyone jumping and dancing together while we drank ice cold cocktails at the bar and refreshed our alien makeup.
Much wandering, eating and sitting in beautiful places then took place until it was time to be organised and get down to see Ms Dynamite on the main Devorgilla stage swiftly followed by Grand Master Flash. However we just could not resist the pull of the lesser known but locally popular Shakti Mama Disco in the Lost Disco of the snake pit.
She was incredible with her two hour set of stomping old school disco mixes, accompanied by the most impressive sequin outfit on site. Best dressed DJ in town. She really knows how to entertain the crowd with her energetic dancing and singing along to every single word of every song she played. Seeing as there was no actual Disco ball in the Lost Disco, (which I recommend to the festival should be installed for next year), Shakti Mama made up for it with her glitter gown and expressive long silver gloved hand moves. Fantastic two hours bopping about in our alien costumes with lots of other intergalactic space travellers. We danced until the sun came up and the cool air brought out the morning midge hour, signalling time for some sleep.
Photo: Courtesy of Graham Wynne Photography
Having had a much needed long lay in and a huge healthy veggie breakfast, we made it to the main Devorgilla stage at 3pm in time to catch King Lagoons Flying Swordfish dance band who look hilarious in their pointy gold hats. There unusual sound and enthusiastic energy had us entranced. The next band was Nubiyan Twist, who created a haunting lulling vocal sound along with very fast tribal bongos and bouncing melody. We really enjoyed this band.
Photo: Kim Ayres Photography
And finally Badger Badger with their fantastic mix up of trumpets, electro and funky beats. This band got us on our feet yet again and by the time they finished we had to go back into the Snake Pit and find some more dance beats to keep our dancing feet happy. In the Voltans temple we found exactly what we needed, we think it was Sionnach but it was hard to tell when you miss the intro and dance about giggling at your friends until you need fresh air from the temperature of your costume!
Sunday night was all about the drum and bass with our feet constantly stomping in the Ghilli Dhu, first to the slightly different yet great Bass music set of Mungos Hi-Fi and then a stupidly stompingly good, ridiculously bass boom Asbo Disco. Kept us impressed and compressed with the crowd until gone 2am. Then it was all about hot cocoa around the fire with the last people standing and a slow wander back to the comfort of the camping field and a hot water bottle to comfort us to sleep.
Eden festival was just wonderful. Its size is perfect, the people are wonderful and the entertainment, both for adults and kids is stupendous. Family festival with everything you need to make it extra special. You could not ask for more. Eden at its best. Long may it continue.
Best toilet graffiti of the weekend – We only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
Article: Lou Hyland