Ah, the annual FnS trip to Belladrum Tartan Heart Music Festival. Something to look forward to and never disappoints as a festival. This year we have two guest reviewers, Jill M from Aberdeen with some words also from her young son Calum, aged 10. Read their verdict on Bella ’13 below.
Also some random images at the bottom of this page from myself (Still Burning) in no particular order but they maybe give you an idea of what you can take in on a day at Belladrum. Musical highlights for me were Saint Max and The Fanatics at the Seedlings tent and Meursault from the Hothouse tent.
Belladrum is a firm fixture on our Summer schedule but this year we decided it was time to go up in the world and indulge in Glamping and so on festival Thursday our party of 5 (Myself and my 10 year old son Calum, my best friend Lynne and her two kids Marcus 15 and Nikki 11) packed everything into our hired motorhome and pointed it towards Belladrum.
The journey was rocking as we were all excited to what the festival had in store for us. Marcus and Nikki had never experienced a festival before so the excitement was intensified for our little party. All went well through Inverness with the festival being well sign posted but we missed the junction turning down into the Estate since there was no sign there and quite a few groups we spoke to later had suffered the same problem, but all in all it was not too much of a delay.
On arrival at the site we were met by a fleet of security guards and since we had all our paperwork available we gained a smooth passage to the caravan / campervan area.
I had decided to go all out and pay for the electronic hook up and after being directed to that area, I did find a lack of help to organise the hook ups with a bit of a free-for-all underway. Lucky for us we had a couple of hook-up cables and managed to stretch them to the second power point past our pitch. This may have been an issue for another van. I feel that having someone actually organising the hook-ups would have made the process easier.
We then had the task of getting our wrist bands, while we had no issues we could have had, as the policy of being able to prove the under 12 children was being used and some people had not read the clear instructions that identification may be required, resulting in their kids not gaining access. It was very clear in the ticket pack so it is something to be aware of in future for any other festival goers.
Having been to Belladrum before but we never arriving earlier than 11pm we were unsure if there was entertainment on the Thursday night, but we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the Main Area to find a great selection of bands playing at the Black Isle Grass Roots Stage, with Rhythmnreel being particular favourite with our party, getting us all in the mood straight away. We then had a tour of the food and drinks area. We found plenty of choice in both Food Stalls and bars with something for everyone. It should be noted that even a Real Ale bar was present for the discerning beer drinker and was certainly very busy the whole duration of the festival. I would say that the food was slightly over priced for what it was but that is usual for festivals. The only down side to the main arena this year was a lack of entertainment for the kids in our party. Previous years the fun fair area had more for them to do. But since we were in a group we found other things to do to keep our little ones happy.
Heading back to the caravan site the pathways were very well lit with no issues getting from the main area to the motorhome, and there was plenty of security on show to assist and aid should you require it. While sitting at the motorhome we also saw a golf buggy with police in it, they were regularly making a sweep of the campsite, which was very pleasing to see. While the campsite was buzzing with excitement at no point was it too loud to allow our party to hit the sack and prepare for the main events of the following day.
While we had a fully functional motorhome our party was too large to use the toilet facilities all the time, so we used the campsite facilities. We found them to be plentiful and easy to spot. The toilets were always clean and fully stocked with toilet paper and able to flush. Chemical Toilet points were also available. Definitely better than any other festival that I have attended.
Yippee Friday arrived and we had our breakfast and headed back down to the Main Arena to where we set up for the first band to start. We had purchased a set of inflatable chairs and settled down for an afternoon of chilling… probably my only mistake of the whole weekend… the chairs were quite expensive and to be honest we spent the most part of the time dancing around, or chasing after them as they blew away! Maybe a chair hire stall would be a good idea where you can hire a chair by the hour so you don’t have to cart it around with you if you don’t want to.
We watched the first 4 bands of the Friday afternoon and it was a great selection with something for everyone, with Fatherson in particular getting us jumping around like wild things. Marcus and Calum got right into the festival spirit and got dressed up, Marcus in a Morph Suit and Calum in a Pikachu costume (bought at one of the stalls in the main arena). We saw a lot of people dressed up and it was fun to see and be part of.
The highlight of our Friday was Seasick Steve (Lynne just about fainted as he came down to shake hands at the end!!), our group were right down the front even with the kids and found the crowd to be respectful of the fact that they were there. So while it was crowded at no point did I feel threatened or scared for Calum the youngest of our group. I could not say how it would have been at Twin Atlantic performance as we went to see Alabama 3 instead at the Hot House stage, but during the festival we found people to be considerate of the kids and it gave a very relaxed atmosphere.
While we should never complain about the sun, it had made an appearance very early on and it had been too much for our group so we headed back to the campsite before the end of Alabalma 3. Again the campsite had an excited festival buzz but was nowhere near loud enough to make it difficult for the kids to sleep.
Saturday arrived and we had decided that all of us would dress up that day, however myself, Lynne and Nikki had not taken anything with us. This was easily resolved by with a trip to the main arena and a visit to a couple of stalls, leaving Nikki in charge of what we would be wearing. This was fun and certainly got us noticed with bright pink wigs and blue ‘70’s jumpsuits, we certainly stood out.
Heading back down to the Garden Stage we watched a few bands there with the Festival favourites the Dangleberries putting on an awesome performance, and definitely were one of our favourites of the day. Due to the dress up getting from one stage to another proved to be a wee bit of a challenge as we kept getting stopped to get photos taken. We were definitely flattered and enjoyed the experience, but it may not be something anyone else would have enjoyed.
Later we headed to the Free Range Folk stage to see our friends The Lorelei, who put on a brilliant performance with the crowd fully partaking it a lot of good old fashioned stomping, and burling, but by the time they finished and we started to make our way back to see the main band James. We also had to spend the last of our beer tokens. While we found the beer tokens to work the majority of the time, you do have a mad rush at the end to make sure that you get your money’s worth. We had monitored ours but still found ourselves at the end with 3 each which was £12 per person that needed to be spent, if we did not have the kids this would not have been an issue but we knew that we would be heading back to the campsite shortly. Due to a lot people being in the same boat as us the bars were very busy, so we missed James, we did however catch the fantastic firework display, a spectacular end to the festival.
We had wanted to catch one of the sing-alongs, however they were on so late we struggled with the kids who were tired by that point. It would have been quite good if they had been earlier, so they could experience at least one.
All in all the festival was well planned and the organisation was second to none, from the booking of the tickets right through to the end, with being directed out of the campsite, I could not find fault with much. It is definitely a family festival with us making loads of new friends and worth the £95 for an adult ticket. There is so much choice you feel that you only scrape the surface of the festival however when you look back at what you did you’ll be blown away, we will definitely be going back again next year.
My Thoughts Of Belladrum – Calum (age 10)
One of my favourite times of the year is Belladrum, because it’s so much fun how you can see the bands in front of you and experience lots (I mean lots) of new bands.
I really liked it how I saw lots of people enjoying themselves.
One my favourite times was on Saturday when we all got dressed up with the things we bought from stalls at the main arena.
I really enjoyed seeing our friends The Lorelei and seeing one of last year’s favourites The Dangleberries.
It was good how the toilets and the waste points were so close (even closer than we thought) but it was also really organised well and made daily pickups at the waste’s points.
I liked all of the new things at Bella like the roller disco.
One thing I did not like was the way to get in the main arena on the Saturday because I know it was all about health and safety but you cannot enter without an 18 over. Even if you have a 15 year old with you cannot cross to the main arena so that meant if we needed to go back to the van we wouldn’t get back in.
But part from that I think Beladrum is a family recommended festival.
If you get asked for identification for your under 12 don’t be shocked so bring in case because it may happen.
FnS would like to thank both Jill and Calum for their contribution, its much appreciated.
Belladrum Tartan Heart Music Festival website