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10th February 2014

Opinion: Are music festivals just for Summer?

Sam Bartram considers the role of music festivals outside of Summer

Music festivals have always been closely associated to the summer season with pop-up tents, crap weather and that token near-naked raver. However the growing trend of festivals being held at different times of year casts a certain dilemma over when really is the optimal moment to don the wayfarers and head knees deep into mud, cider and dance stages.

The likes of Bugged Out, Pleasure Principle and, to a smaller extent, Manchester’s very own Pangaea, have all grown on the back of demand for music festivals all year round. It seems for many dance-hungry students that summer is just too long to wait for the next weekend blowout. Yet there may be more practical positives to March music festivals than just getting your Jackmaster or DJ EZ fix. For example, the cost of festivals continues to increase steadily as summer inflation coupled with a thinner spread of artists arguably means you get more for your money at different times of the year. Even putting financial matters aside, the saturation of the British summer festival market has seen the popularity of European festivals surge – something that will not appeal to everyone, despite the idyllic settings and guaranteed sunshine.

Where does this leave us then? Well for those of us located in Manchester, the Bugged Out! Weekender offers a fresh mid-year alternative. With an established line up featuring many mainstay techno and house artists such as Joy Orbison, Ten Walls and Dixon, Bugged Out! gives a different edge in being held at everyone’s favourite family resort, Pontins. It’s not quite the Croatian coastline, in fact it’s far from it, but the idea of staying in apartments and having indoor pool parties is far more appealing than spending the weekend in a damp and poorly pitched tent. Whilst it might be easy to let out a little giggle at this choice of venue, the use of an old resort shows a level of ingenuity which surely creates intrigue to what the rest of the weekend might hold.

Not for one second would it be right to suggest that the summer music festival will remain anything other than dominant but as the niche that Bugged Out! is tapping into continues to grow, so will the number of festivals held across the year. With all things considered, March music festivals offer an alternative that should not be dismissed just because the name isn’t ‘Hideout’ or ‘Bestival’ – the financial and geographical practicalities mean that autumn, winter and spring time events such as the Bugged Out! Weekender should be penned into your festival schedule.

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