Festival Preview – The Big Chill

We’re now well in to festival season and there are plenty of treats still to choose from. One that keeps grabbing our attention this year is The Big Chill. Alongside the label and the bars (The Big Chill bar on brick lane being a perfect Sunday hang out) as of the original boutique festivals this eclectic affair has grown from a small event with a loyal following to one of the bigger players, having been bought out by Festival Republic last year.  Regular fans feared that the festival would lose its eclectic independent vibe, but last year turned out to be one of the best yet, despite the influx of messy teens that were missing from previous years. What’s more we can vouch that this is one of the most beautiful festival locations we’ve come across, set in the beautiful town of Ledbury in Eastnor Castle Deer Park, it really is an idyllic location.

So without further ado, here’s Plain and Simples top reasons to check out this year’s event.

Tom Middleton hosts his own stage.

Yes, one half of Global Communication Tom Middleton is set to curate his own stage at this year’s chill. Having performed at every year of the festival for the last 16 years, 2011 sees Middleton host a stage of his own to build on those experimental, progressive and ambient electronic sounds he’s become famous for.

Tom Middleton commented: “Fantastic to still be involved in The Big Chill! To have witnessed its growth and evolution from a humble 500 folk in a field to hosting 10′s of thousands of ‘Chillers’ at the glorious Eastnor Castle. And heart warming to see Festival Republic’s clear investment in preserving and expanding upon the original spirit of The Big Chill. The truly eclectic and entertaining line ups of classic artists and DJ’s to suit all tastes playing alongside the hottest new talent, with inspiring art installations, genuinely family friendly areas, the ultra chilled holistic therapies, and endless stalls punting a vast choice of ‘mouthgasmic’ global gastronomy. I’m looking forward to Djing and also curating a tastemaker space stacked with Function-One over the 3 nights showcasing the sickest underground emotive electronic and bass music Artists and DJ’s on the scene.”

Mr Scruffs tea tent.

A long standing fixture on The Big Chill Line up, Mr Scruff’s tea tent is located next to a beautiful lake, complete with floating art installations. Not only can you get one of the best cups of tea you’ve ever had. (Mr Scruff has his own blend no less) but you can also enjoy a function one sound system blasting out DJ’s playing reggae, funk soul, and everything Ninja Tune, making it the perfect daytime stop, or your final wind down destination on the way back to your tent.

Musical Discovery and foreign flavours.

The Big Chill earned its name for presenting unknown and eclectic music, and aside from booking Kanye West as a headliner (which, frankly, we’ll avoid) Festival Republic have tried to ensure that this ethos has been maintained, making the Chill a great destination for musical discovery. Cue the likes of  BBC Radio 3 World music award winners Konono no1, Afro-futurism from Spoek Mathambo.

The Big Chill Radio Stage with BBC 6 Music.

This year the Big Chill radio has teamed up with BBC Radio 6 music to present their own stage, alongside broadcasting across the festival. With DJ sets from artists such as Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor, Maurice Fulton and Bill Brewster, and live broadcasts from BBC Radio 6 Music. Also confirmed are film screenings of PJ Harvey shorts and Beastie Boys: Fight For Your Right Revisited.

The People and food.

After all, great music is only one half of what makes a festival brilliant. Having been 7 times, this journalist can safely say that on the whole this festival is packed with lovely folk. And the food is beyond good for festival scram!

2ManyDJ’s Headline the main stage on Saturday Night.

Need we say more? This will be epic.

The Chemical Brothers headline Friday.

See above.

And…Four Tet, James Blake, Jamie XX, Ghostpoet, Metronomy, Janelle Monae, Norman Jay, Redlight, Luke Vibert, Kissy Sell Out’s festival of light..

All in all The Big Chill is one of the best festivals for the more open minded music lover who wants a bit more then tear out trance 24 hours a day, and one of Plain and Simple’s top tips for the summer.

The Big Chill takes place from 4th to 7th of August 2011 at Eastnor Castle Deer Park in Ledbury, Herefordshire.