When Bestival booked itself onto the Isle of Wight ferry in 2016 and moved to Dorset, we got a little tearful.
Some of us realised we were getting older, others regretted taking it for granted. Others said they knew it was coming for years.
Five minutes later a new festival at the same venue was announced - Eklectica at Robin Hill
After the lineup and ticket price were announced this week there was the expected flurry of comments - some positive, some negative. The event will have four 'stages' or similar venues, with a mixture of cover bands, performance artists, dance music in the woods and an African-themed section. Day tickets are £35, two days are £65.
Some commenters seemed to be expecting a replacement Bestival, perhaps unhappy at the quirk of having Elton John and Stevie Wonder tribute acts on a site which once hosted the real thing.
I think we need to be more realistic.
Inaugural years at festivals are a big financial gamble and are always going to be on a modest scale. The first Bestival in 2004 had a couple of decent headliners but it was small scale with only a few thousand turning up on the Friday and Sunday to see The Bees and Zero 7. Saturday was more popular thanks to Fatboy Slim and Basement Jaxx. It was helped along with the backing of a BBC Radio 1 DJ whereas this hasn't yet got the same clout.
The return of the Isle of Wight Festival in 2002 was similar. The main event was only one day (Rock Island), the headliners were OK (Charlatans, Robert Plant) and ticket sales were not great (according to Wikipedia it attracted about 8000 and had a capacity of 22,000 which sounds about right. Most people I knew got in free through various giveaways). I seem to remember it had local authority money to kick-start it and I'd be surprised if it made a profit.
Bestival and the Isle of Wight Festival both picked up steam within a few years and turned into world class events with crowds of up 50,000 - 60,000 on some years. The Isle of Wight Festival is still going strong with Rod Stewart and Arcade Fire headlining this year.
It might also not be the case that the organisers of Eklectica want to create another huge festival. Some of the Island's best festivals - V-Dub Island, Jack Up The 80s, Rhythmtree - are fairly small and they are affordable. Eklectica costs about one third of the Bestival ticket price (admittedly for fewer days) so it is more realistic to ask a family of four to come for the day.
Presumably the rest of Robin Hill will be open, so it is actually only £20 more than the normal cost of entrance to the park (sorry, this wasn't meant to turn into a sales pitch).
I think some of the negative comments are from those who weren't expecting cover bands at something called Eklectica. I can see their point - I was a bit surprised too - but the concept is clearly to combine main stage mainstream acts with artsy performers and other entertainment around the site. The venue is a children's adventure park so you'll have an Abba tribute act performing alongside a toboggan run whilst a DJ plays some tunes in a Japanese themed woodland. You'll be able to ride on a Time Machine and then watch mime artists or a 'speed painter' in an amphitheatre. I'd consider that more eclectic than most festivals.
My main point is this though - anyone willing to invest in a new event which could be ruined by bad weather, poor ticket sales or first-year teething problems deserves credit for taking the risk. Without encouragement and local support I'd say they will be less inclined to build it up to something big.
Let's hope we are talking about Eklectica's launch in 10 years' time.
I recently wrote an article for Buzzfeed with the title of '16 reasons you must visit the Isle of Wight this summer'. Within 12 hours it had been deleted and my account removed.
Initially I assumed there weren't enough cats or LOLs but it turns out it was too much of an advert for the Isle of Wight. To be fair, it was.
Anyway, here's a very similar guide which I can happily host on my own blog.
1. The sun will shine, because the Isle of Wight gets 500 hours a year more sunshine than London.
3. ...and so is David Guetta
4. We've also got festivals celebrating our love of garlic...
5. ...and campervans...
6. ...and Jason Donovan.
7. If you've got a yacht you can turn up your collar and join the world's largest yachting regatta...
8. ...or race around the Island with 1500 other yachts...
9. ...or play cricket in the Solent.
10. And whilst we don't have Bestival anymore, we do have a fringe festival in a Victorian seaside resort...
11. ...and there's a new festival in September on Bestival's former site.
12. You can learn to surf...
13. ...jump off a cliff...
14... kayak into smuggler's caves...
15. ...or just have a cup of tea by the seaside
16. There are loads of quirky places to stay...
17. ...and it's only two hours from London
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