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Last ever Shindig Festival

Shindig Festival - 23rd - 26th May 2024

Where’s My Tent Review

Shindig Festival 2023 (Guest review: Neil Bannerman)

Written on 13TH JUNE 2023 www.wheresmytent.com
“If you want to party, come on and join our party, it’s a shindig!” – Shindig, 8fold

Shindig is a festival that has been on my radar for a few years now – being on the May bank holiday weekend however there always seemed to be plans that meant I could never make it down. So when Jessi hit me up earlier in the year asking if I’d like to go and do the review on her behalf I jumped at the opportunity, and having now been I can safely say that it was worth the wait and I’m already working on getting a crew together to go next year! So sit back and crack open a nice cold west country cider, and I’ll tell you why you too should come and party next year at Shindig Festival.

The site - Shindig Festival at the Dillington Estate:
Shindig takes place on the Dillington Estate, Ilminster, in the heart of the West Country. It’s easily accessible by way of the A303, the M5, and public transport options via Taunton which is a few miles up the road. Upon arrival, you’re guided by happy, helpful stewards, which gives a lovely first impression to the punters.

I brought the campervan along and so was based in the live-in vehicle fields. These were well-organised, with a decent amount of space for each pitch. The car parking was beyond these fields and on the opposite side of things to the tent fields, meaning a little bit of a walk when setting up/coming back. A metal roadway runs the length of the camper and parking fields so putting your ankle out on uneven ground before the festival even starts needn’t be a concern.
The camping fields were fairly spacious. I spent some time with pals up in the camping fields and didn’t feel that any of it was overcrowded, and there were good access paths throughout so you didn’t have to traipse through endless tents and trip over guy lines getting home at the end of the night. I’m happy to confirm that it’s pretty easy to locate your tent after a few too many delicious local ciders.

The toilets on site were clean and plentiful, both in the campsites and in the arena itself. I always carry around some loo roll just in case, but at no point in the weekend did I actually need it. All of the campsite toilets had water points, as did the larger toilet blocks in the arena, so it was always easy to stay hydrated (important in that blazing late-May sun!) If I had to make one criticism, it’s that the urinals weren’t signposted that I could see, and on the Sunday I was still discovering that toilets I’d been queueing a while for over the weekend actually had somewhere to wee just around the back. Put some signs up guys!
Other festival essentials were located at the entrance to the arena and obviously signposted – an information point, corner shop, first aid, fire response, lost kids tent, and so on and so forth. I bought a programme for the here for a fiver, it worked as a great clashfinder and had a beautifully illustrated map of the site in the centrefold. I’ll definitely be hanging on to it as a souvenir. Inside the arena, the merch shop offered custom t-shirts printed to order, which is a wicked and much more sustainable way of handling things that I’d really like to see at other festivals.

The festival hosts seven venues mostly within two areas: the Village Green contains the Dig Inn – a large stretch tent acting as the main stage – and the aforementioned Ghetto Funk Nightclub. Meanwhile the Bay of Good Vibes hosts Tutti Frutti and Shimmy Discotheque, along with other venues both inside and outside of these areas.

The vibes at Shindig:
The site was full of happy, smiling people, roaming performers (big up the pirates!), friendly bar staff, stewards, and security, and as somebody who’s been to both Glastonbury and Shambala multiple times, I have to say I was astonished at just how family friendly Shindig is. Children of all ages were welcomed with wide open arms and I didn’t see a single kid (or parent for that matter) not having fun in the entire festival.

That’s not to say that Shindig was some sort of weird playschool weekend though. Over the weekend I met people of all ages – from twenty-somethings up to people in their sixties. If you ever wondered what happened to the people who grew up around the rave scene in the early nineties, I’m pretty sure they all come here now. The theme for the weekend – The Mad Hatter – made for a wild kaleidoscope of colourful costumes on Saturday, but it honestly felt more like the theme was “The Cheshire Cat” as in the whole weekend I didn’t see anybody not grinning from ear-to-ear, nor did I once feel what I can only describe as that sort of aggy atmosphere you get at other festivals from people clearly there only to get wrecked. I bumped into old pal and proper legend Casey, who it transpired was the daytime arena manager for the weekend, and she mentioned on the Sunday that over the course of the weekend she’d encountered no trouble at all save for the occasional lost child.

Activities and stuff:
For a festival of its size, Shindig really does have a decent amount to do when you’re not dancing the day and night away. On Friday afternoon, I kicked things off by attending a gin class hosted by the guys at 6 O’clock Gin, who also had a little cocktail bar going. Whilst there we learned about the history of gin and of the company itself, all whilst being plied with little gin cocktails to try out. By the end of the class I was feeling pretty tipsy, but I dare you all to drink five gin cocktails in forty-five minutes and not feel a little merry! On the Saturday I meant to attend a macrame workshop but due to hitting it a little too hard the night before, sadly had to give this a pass! Other workshops there included steam bending, metalworking, and yoga and massage in Cushy, a little sanctuary to retreat to when you’re feeling a little tender the day after the night before – and let’s face it, you probably will be at some point!

For the younger revellers, there was a whole raft of activities such as aerial hoop, graffiti and DJ workshops, a climbing wall, and even a halfpipe with skate lessons for the cooler kids on site. If you’re reading this and you’re a parent whose kid had a go on that halfpipe, know that you’re raising someone cooler than I could ever hope to be.

The food:
For a smaller festival there’s a great selection – I didn’t revisit a single food stall in the entire weekend, nor do I regret that fact. I ate everything from delicious burritos to Raclette-smothered mac and cheese, a gorgeous halloumi wrap and even an oatcake breakfast taco thing on Monday morning (10/10 would devour again.) Whether you’re a meat-eater or a vegan, and no matter what allergies or intolerances you may have, you’ll find delectable sustenance to fuel your weekend. I’m sorry I didn’t take any photos of the food beyond the mac and cheese, but I’m afraid I devoured it all before even having a chance to get my phone out. You’ll just have to trust me when I say it was penomenal. If you prefer to sit at a table to eat, there are a few banks of the standard six-point festival tables (you know the ones) spread around the arena, and handily a few of these are under shade so you don’t go getting burnt whilst going to town on your churros.

The music:
“But what of the music?!” I hear you crying out. I always had the impression that the music was more focused towards alternative kinds of dance music – and how wrong I was. Don’t get me wrong, as mentioned there is literally a venue named the Ghetto Funk Nightclub, but don’t let that fool you; overall there’s a huge variety of both live music and dance music, with something for everyone. The Dig Inn played host to a wide variety of acts including headliner Sister Sledge (feat. Kathy Sledge). The Ghetto Funk Nightclub had the beats, and Tutti Frutti hosted a different takeover every day: Friday’s I Love Acid supplied enough TB-303 to last a lifetime; The Altern 8 takeover on Saturday brought early nineties piano house rave bangers, and Sunday’s AWOL takeover provided a hit of jungle and drum and bass. Naughtylicious A little further afield and overlooking the site, the Church of Love provided a weekend-long service of ghetto funk and party beats.

Most of my weekend was spent bouncing between the Dig Inn, Ghetto Funk Nightclub, and Tutti Frutti, with highlights including Sister Sledge (obviously), Oh my God It’s The Church, Too Many T’s and friends, JFB (also with friends), Erol Alkan, Stanton Warriors, Nightwave, David Rodigan, Suspicious Jazz Rollups, and Beans on Toast. To be honest, I could probably list everyone I saw as highlights as it really does feel like the organisers spent a lot of time curating the lineup and as a result, every one I saw knocked it out of the park.

So there we go! My first Shindig was a ridiculously fun experience, and you should absolutely give it a go. Tickets for next year are out now for £200, with a payment plan option to spread the cost over ten months if you don’t have that to drop in one go. If you’re not persuaded by that, well next year is their tenth birthday, and word on the street is that they have something special planned. Bring your family, bring your mates, bring everyone you can - they’ll all bloody love it.

Read more Shindig reviews HERE