Archive for the ‘Free festival’ Category

22nd-29th May 1992: Spiral Tribe, Bedlam, Techno Travellers, Circus Warp, Circus Normal, Adrenalin and DiY at Castlemorton Common Free Festival, Worcestershire

October 5, 2012

UPDATE 1.3.2018:

Interesting query from Hardcore Bob in the comments: the Techno Travellers (who we’ve now added to the headline) had their rig in the blue and red marquee, so where were Circuses Warp and Normal, and Bedlam? Let us know in the comments 🙂

I missed Castlemorton but I believe everyone who says it was wicked. Interesting that dr_box (see below) mentioned the police herding him onto the common, people often forget that the travellers and soundystems were pushed/chased there by the cops. By the way, if anyone has exact dates for this please let us know, we know it’s quoted as going on for 6 days, but we need some sort-of-facts! Thanks!

UPDATE 5.10.2012:

We came across three longish (slightly chewed) VHS videos of Castlemorton free festival recently. Thanks a million to youtuber discodelinquent (great name by the way!) for uploading them. Discodelinquent has also uploaded some footage from Sugarlump parties. We’ll probably do a post on Sugarlump sound system sooner or later… Meanwhile, enjoy these videos:

Here’s a quote about Castlemorton from ‘Adventures In Wonderland’ by Sheryl Garratt:

Mr Arm (you know who you are!) let us scan a load of newspaper cuttings from his scrapbook. Big up! :

The following photo was captioned “Festivalgoers on Castlemorton Common yesterday, enjoying the sound of music in the Malvern Hills”.

The following photo was captioned “Common nuisance: The 20,000 hippies encamped at Castlemorton common yesterday”.

A classic headline:

Click on images for larger versions:

The following picture and article appeared with the headline: “Villagers threaten to burn out hippies -An illegal festival in the Malverns has driven people living near the site to breaking point”

Continuation of article above, click on image below for larger version:

The following article and photo appeared together:

Here are a couple of videos, the first one’s been online for ages, the second one’s newer and includes some footage taken near the spiral rig-

Thanks youtuber Yangow for the first vid, and thanks youtuber hemustbemad for uploading the second (he credits his friend Matt with filming).

Old friend Atomic Robot Man was there, and he sent us this page from his diary:

These great photos courtesy of Pete Dibdin whose work can be found at :

The photos below are from George McKay‘s book ‘Senseless Acts of Beauty’ and I believe they were taken by Alan ‘Tash’ Lodge (whose excellent website you can find in the links on the right hand side of our main page.

The Riddler (who has a great site, well worth a browse), has some pics of castlemorton here:

A Flickr pool with some pics of Castlemorton:

Commenter Jam Smoot told us about this mixtape:

A couple of contributors remembered some tunes they heard at Castlemorton and here are a couple of youtube links for them (see this post for details: )

Tim Aldiss’s site has his account of his trip to Castlemorton (his rave diaries are a good read, look at the other entries while you’re there)-

Here are a couple of Guardian articles about Castlemorton etc:

This lucky lucky person was there too:

dr_box wrote:

Castle Morton was an experience.. I’d been visiting a mates place in East London and he was coming over to mine in the depths of West Wales afterwards. we’d heard that there was a festi down near Bristol that weekend, so set off on the hunt along the M4. At one of the service stations along the M4 we got a lift from a Green godess fire engine that was loaded down with kit and Hippies, it was one of the vehicles spiral tribe was using to get to the festival. As we got close we found out that the festival might not be on, so set off on a hunt. the police herded us up to Castle Morton, by the time we got close there were several miles of trucks and busses full of people. At one point the line stopped and a guy with us got out and started counting vehicles as he walked towards the front. when the line started moving again, he waited for us to catch up. he’d counted over seven hundred vehicles, and he hadn’t reached the front of the line.

When we got there, the sun was setting and from the hills overlooking the site you could see the site starting to pulse with light and hear blasts of sound as things were set up. Travelling off all the way to the horizon there was a ribbon of headlights delivering more people to the festival.

Blinding weekend, my mate had his first E experience, Watched the police try and drive through the centre of the crowd. they got stopped in the middle, and a nameless longhair got passed over the crowd, and started selling Acid off the bonnet of the police car. after futilely attempting to get out of the car the plod ended up just laughing at the sheer balls of him.

Nighttime had more than its fair quota of low flying helicopters with spotlights. (although someone did take a potshot at them with a firework)

Last of the truly fun free festivals.


21st-23rd June 1991: Circus Warp at Summer Solstice Free Festival at Peasedown St. John, Somerset

June 12, 2011

Does anyone else know anything about this party? Matt and Paula reckon it was the solstice weekend, which seems to make sense. The dates we’ve put in the post title are Friday to Sunday, anyone know if that’s correct?

Shout going out to watermouse who alerted us to this video, thanks! And an even bigger shout out to dj jenjen (aka mis-chief) who shot the video 😀

2nd May 1992: Circus Warp, Spirals etc. at Lechlade festival, Gloucestershire

May 13, 2011

Hello Graudian readers! Thanks for visiting, but thanks to a mistake on this page, this isn’t the page you’re looking for! Click here for the Castlemorton Common free festival page. Cheers!

Here’s a report from someone who wishes to remain anonymous:

A disused quarry in Gloucestershire was the venue for this 8,000/10,000/15,000-strong free technofesty blowout. Who counts the numbers anyway ;P If it was based on the number of cars it would be an underestimate- 4 people per car was the absolute minimum those days. Police estimates are always ALWAYS under (for obvious reasons), especially at ‘oppositional’ events e.g. free unlicensed 3-day festivals, reclaim the streets etc. demonstrations.

This pic of Lechlade featured in an article in Select magazine:

An excerpt from Atomic Robot Man’s rave diary:

Missed Castlemorton due to leaving my brain at Lechlade. A long drive up. I think we got the location of the party from the news reports:

When we arrived we had a jittery moment because the police stopped our car on the way in. FFFFFFffffUUUUUCCCCkkkkk! Oh no, it’s OK, they’re just telling us where to park, politely. A few metres away a dealer was standing in the middle of the road bellowing “Rhubarb and Custards! Callies!”

I think the big white tent in the pics above was DiY’s but I don’t remember there being a rig in there at this do.

This blue and orange marquee in the pic above was Circus Warp’s. I also remember a load of far out UV stuff dangling from the roof of their tent, including bicycle wheels. Also a mad max robot and some red/orange speakers too:

A fantastic atmosphere but there was a little friction between the hippies and the ravers- heard a few expensively dressed ravers getting harangued by the crusties: “OOOOOooooh dress to IMPRESS!”. Oh yeah, and someone laughed at my hat. I deserved it for sure 😉

Other sights and sounds:

Flinching at the sheer excessive volume of the beat coming from the Spiral system in the blazing sunlight on Sunday morning, when we felt particularly fragile.

A brew crew/keta/acid/whatever casualty rolling around on the ground trying to scratch the tattoo off his arm.

A bunch of well-spoken but off-their-tits Oxford medical students who came and sat in our car, and jabbered with us for either 3 minutes or three hours.

A misty and gentle sunrise over one of the huge trout ponds (which, incidentally, contained huge trout).

Seeing some poor fucker who’d overdone it being carted away.

Finding a lost crusty puppy.

Taking photos of ourselves and the next week wondering what the nice girl in Boots thought was wrong with our faces in the pictures.
The aftermath:

It was even mentioned in the Commons:

Sir David Mitchell (Hampshire, North-West) :

I noticed that on the spring bank holiday about 30,000 people attended a pop festival at Lechlade in Gloucestershire, and if more itinerants and hippies come to my constituency in the pre-solstice period, the noise disturbance, the petty crime and the filth that they will leave behind will cause my constituents great anxiety.


On 21 June, the summer solstice arrives and large numbers of hippies, itinerants and new-age travellers can be expected. Some of my constituents call them by names that cannot be expressed in parliamentary language.

26th – 29th July 1991: Spiral Tribe at Happy Daze Free Festival, Bala, Wales

October 18, 2010

UPDATE: The ‘Magic M’ tape, apparently recorded at this event, turns out not to be anything of the sort- it’s a Sven Vath tape! Sorry about that!

Another party I missed out on, but sounds like it was a cracker. Amino Clang, who wrote this, is a dear old friend and fellow veteran of many amazing nights (including the 1992 Happy Daze Free Festival). I think this experience affected him so deeply it made him build his own bowel-shakingly loud soundsystem 🙂

Incidentally if anyone can help out with exact dates that would be great. Enjoy the read!

The first time I heard of a festi (that’s what Teknivals were called before they added the “TEK” bit), the first time I heard of Spiral Tribe and the first time I took acid are all intertwined in the same dreamy weekend – Happy Daze Free Festi in Bala and I still can’t work out if it was 1990 or ’91, but what a weekend!

“Have you heard? The festi has come to Bala this weekend. It’s only down the road, are you comin’?” He asked.

“What’s a festi?” I answered. I was only 15 but I had been a stoner and a mushroom tripper for a while already and I wanted to know more. Anything to do with a festival had to be better than dossing about in my dead-end backwater of a home town for the night… again!

I decided that the best way to find out would be to go and check it out so that night (the Friday I think) I got a lift down there in my mate’s dad’s ancient Landy. When we got there we turned into the dusty field (it was summer) past a single police car with a couple of pissed off looking coppers in it and drove onto the site.

As soon as we were past the “Police Blockade” my mate got up on the roof of the Landy to check out the territory and we drove through a couple of fields of sensible looking vehicles painted in the full spectrum of the psychedelic rainbow, other (less sensible) vehicles, marquees, strung-up tarps, funky backdrops and loads of people – traveller types, raver types, local farmer types, everybody, all ages, all colours (mainly due to the dust!) and all classes just chilling out together and enjoying the evening sun.

We hadn’t been there long before another mate offered me half a “Double-Dipped Purple Ohm” and before long I was coming up and asking for the other half ; )

I spent most of the night on top of the Landy (we had put a mattress on the roof) laughing hysterically listening to the sounds of the festi come at me from all directions (all kinds of music, each coming from a different direction, all combining together to make a beautiful noise before separating out again to be a full surround sound experience) and watching the technicolour night sky go wild before my eyes (acid can do that to you sometimes!)

There are a couple of things that have ingrained themselves in my head, but almost my entire memory of that night is just laughing uncontrollably on top of that Landy.

1. I remember going for a walk about the festi (still giggling uncontrollably) and seeing a fully hippified crusty type sitting cross-legged in a little makeshift tent with a sign advertising “Hash for Cash”. I think we stopped to buy some, but couldn’t really be sure!

2. I remember LOTS of people shouting “Hash for cash”, “acid”, “ecstasy”, “whiz”, etc, etc, etc, but mainly just “Hash for Cash”. Except there was this one couple of geezers walking about shouting “Acid… to my wife the other day…”. I guess they were trying to be discreet. Not surprisingly that just made me laugh some more.

3. I remember one guy trying to stop me from laughing and saying that he would give me a spliff if I could stop laughing for 30 seconds. I struggled, but despite his attempts to scupper me I managed it… and then the fucker backed out of his side of the deal, so I guess I just carried on giggling.

4. I remember one of my friends trying to skin up, but finding it difficult because the tobacco was wriggling about like worms and wouldn’t “Just stay still long enough for me to skin up… pleeeaase?” (more laughter!!)

Eventually the driver was saying that we had to leave because he had to get back so I got back in the Landy and we started to head off. I guess I must have had my head down just listening to the festi go on around me again before we left, but that sound just would not leave me alone. We got dropped back in town and started the walk back to my house (still fully tripping and still hearing the festi like it was right there around me – “Acid… to my wife!” HA HA HA HA, “Acid, Hash for Cash, Ecstacy, you name it we got it!”, etc, etc, etc, ad nauseam). Eventually we got home (still hearing the festi) and made it up to my room (still hearing the festi) and got into bed (still hearing the festi). Trying to get to sleep was quite an experience I can tell you, what with that fuckin’ noise going on! However, I think I did experience all of creation from the perspective of both an electron and a universe simultaneously, so every cloud…!

The next day I was still on another planet for most of the day trying to make sense of my mental experience, but eventually I went home and got some sleep.

The next day again (Sunday I guess) I had heard that my brother had been spotted at the festi (he and some mates had come down from Sheffield where he was at Uni) so I thought I would try to get back down there to see him. He was not there, but Spiral Tribe were.

There I was, standing in front of the Spiral Sound System hearing these driving beats come out of the speakers, watching the world go by when somebody walked past selling mushies (I had done these before and knew I liked them) so I bought some, ate some and started to come up (here we go again!).

No adventures into “The Pit of Eternal Laughter” tonight, but I did spend a long time watching the sounds pour out of the speakers, just standing there in a state of complete amazement dying to go up and ask if they had a tape of this amazing music that I could have, but never quite getting it together. It was like some kind of marching beat, but with a really heavy kick to it, so heavy that the ground was literally shaking. The system was so loud that I thought I had to move closer a little bit at a time to let my ears adjust while I was dancing (ah the naivety of youth! I have seen much bigger rigs since then and I generally walk straight up to the front to check it out properly).

It wasn’t just a relentless hard techno sound though – there were plenty of wishy-washy bleepy trippy techy sounds fluttering about above the system too. An altogether driving, up-beat, tranced out, hypnotic sound that just didn’t let up but never made you feel unwelcome. My only regret was that I didn’t find this on the Friday.I love techno and always will and this was my first introduction to a sound that has captivated me ever since.


Ah, Happy Daze!

24th-27th May 1991: Sweat and DiY at Avon Free Festival, Sodbury Common, Chipping Sodbury, Avon

December 23, 2009

UPDATE: Steve just sent us this clipping:


There are some black and white pics on this excellent site:

And here’s a couple of colour photos:

DiY was there, but no idea about other soundsystems in attendance. This was a year before Castlemorton and there were apparently house systems there according to this page: (it’s a great article which was apparently copied from the now-defunct DiY discs site).

For the first time the major festivals appeared not so much as hippy events but akin to the great orbital raves of 1988. Here, indeed, was the true spiritual heir to the Summer of Love. The commercial rave scene could no longer genuinely claim to represent love, unity or spiritual celebration. Chipping Sodbury, the eventual site of the Avon Free Festival of 1991, featured various house systems and was really the first free festival so explicit in it’s reveration of dance music. The antagonisms many travellers felt towards these foreign new sounds, also began to become apparent. Fair point, if you have to live on a site with a baby, five days of hugely amplified house is probably not ideal. However, it is undeniable that the influx of this culture breathed new life into an atrophying festival scene. The Avon Free in 1987, for example, had been without joy, a paean to negativity.

Alan ‘Tash’ Lodge had some unwelcome police attention there, the text below is from his page:

In May 1991 at a small “free festival” near Chipping Sodbury in Avon, a major police operation was mounted and road blocks were set up. The police were attempting to search most of those attending for controlled drugs. This “blanket” activity was held by our counsel to be illegal, since the police must act on individual grounds to suspect any particular individual. The law says that they must not make judgements on colour, style, appearance etc.

This was, however, exactly what was occurring and I was asked by lawyers to go and photograph the circumstances for later use (slides 134 – 142). I have engaged in this activity many times and know police frequently object or are obstructive.

This occasion was no different and while photographing, was threatened with arrest. It was never clear exactly why, but it would have achieved getting me out of the way. I was also subjected to a search myself.

The story is described in a statement that I made to record an official complaint against the police.

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