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Ashton Court Festival, Bristol

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What is Ashton Court?

Ashton Court is a big country estate situated on some land immediately next to the City of Bristol (which is south west England's largest city, and the 2nd largest in the whole of the south of England, the biggest obviously being London, which is a lot bigger by far, but anyway, nevermind that).

What is Ashton Court Festival?

It is Bristol's best kept secret. Obviously, the most famous summer music festival in the UK is Glastonbury Festival, in the neighbouring county of Somerset, although Glastonbury Festival is HUGE and expensive, and is basically a temporary city of tents and mental people and stuff (and music).

Ashton Court Festival, on the the other hand, is much smaller. It used to be free (back when I first went to it in the mid-90s), but now it costs £6. It happens on the Saturday & Sunday around the middle of July. It contains several music stages, various stalls, several music tents, a comedy/performace art/dance tent, various other little entertaining things, hopefully lots of sunshine, and many happy people walking around or sitting around in the sunshine and happy atmosphere.

Here is the entrance, where you have to pay.

Looking back the way I came, here are people walking up the hill towards the festival. In the distance is the City of Bristol, although you can't see it very well.

One of the stages

Find Music?

Another stage

A stall that caught my attention

I must admit, this stall caught my attention too, and I did have a long look at what they had on offer, but then I remembered I had to drive home along the M5, which is a rather busy Motorway this time of year. No time to be hallucinating about pink sheep or whatever.

Early on in the day, a few people gather round the Orange Stage

The Fringe Tent, where this musical comedian sang a love song about Tony Blair

Also at the Fringe Tent, a Brazilian dance group entertain us with their grass skirts and karate-kick-style dancing. There were some VERY impressive moments when the more confident members of the group were doing flips, spins, handstands, and spinning fly-kicks, which got some good cheers from the audience.

A woman dances to some drumming, whilst a small gathering of people watch.

Two telephone boxes walk accross the festival, with two people holding signs saying "DANGER - RADIATION". Then a young boy pushes over one of the telephone boxes, breaking it, and the young man inside emerges looking shocked and angry. The young boy runs off. One of the women in white gives chase, but I don't think she caught him.

Here they try to put the phone box back together.

This was the most BIZARRE and SURREAL experience of the festival. These dark pictures were taken inside a red tent called The Cube, where nerdy looking men displayed really bizarre moving images onto the three screens, whilst simultaneously creating the most SURREAL sounding series of electronic beeps and bass rumbles. Some of the rumbling bass tones really shook the entire ground. Many relaxed young people lay around for ages, just soaking up the weirdness, and the smell of cannabis filled the tent. Sometimes the sounds were actually rhythmical though, and then some people stood up and danced a bit. When it was rhythmical, the odd pulsing bass notes (which seamed to happen almost randomly, just prodding at you every few beats) totally shook the ground and went right through you. In total honesty, the closest I've ever come to feeling like how it must feel like to take hard drugs, but without being on anything and whilst still feeling completely normal. The entire experience was a compelete and utter paradox, and beyond any words.

Back in the Fringe Tent, I briefly stop to observe a play about a woman with a giant purple strap-on penis.

People relaxing in the sunshine, listening to loud music.

A closer look reveals a small gathering of really enthusiastic people stood right next to the stage. Personally, they weren't my kind of music. Too much like teenage new punk kind of stuff.

At about 5pm, I decided to take a break away from the noise for a short walk through the nearby woodland, including a large deer park.

Back at the Fring Tent, they were starting a comedy session. One of the comedians was really boring, but 3 of the others (including the host) were EXTREMELY funny, and had great witty banter with the audience. Once of them was this rather butch looking man, who came onstage wearing nothing but a thong, saying all his clothes were in the wash. He has a pink mohecan, and said he liked to collect Care Bears and My Little Ponies (toys that young girls play with). He also said he was in love with Miss Piggy from the Muppets. Then somebody shouted out about puppeteers having their hand up a puppets ass, or something like that, and the comedian responded by saying, "Don't you dare insult Jin Henson, or after the show I will take you outside and wrestle you, which, considering my appearance, with be extremely humiliating for you, so just quite while you're behind!" The audience loved this and he got a great applause and much laughter.

8pm, making my way back down the hill towards the car park. Parts of the City of Bristol can be seen, a view which is even better in real life, as you can imagine.


My Other Blog: Tell the Sky

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  • I'm Marcus
  • From Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
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