Sunrise Celebration 2009: Rated!

United Kingdom United Kingdom | 02 June 2009

Overall  8\10

This four-day bohemian experience in South Somerset was one to free your mind, body and soul, whilst listening to some funky jazz and reggae. Now in its fourth year, Sunrise Celebration 2009 aimed to further promote eco-living.

As one of the UK’s leading green, music and arts festivals, everything was stamped with a green seal of approval, from the solar powered cinema to the bio-degradable plastic cups and with glorious weather all weekend, five out of the six stages ran purely on wind and sun.

And what eco-friendly festival wouldn’t be complete without the use of wood fired hot tubs, saunas and solar powered showers? If that wasn’t enough to heat things up, fire walking was always an option. At £25 a pot you could learn to walk on hot coals, which was part of the opening and closing ceremony.

Above all though, hats off to the echo warriors of the toilet world at Sunrise Celebration as they had it sussed. Their smell free compostable and disposable loos were by far one of the best features of the festival. Compost toilets at festivals are definitely the way forward and Sunrise Celebration is at the forefront of this revolutionary loo experience.

Alongside the quality live music acts, there were various healing workshops, ethical fashion shows and talks on permaculture and sustainable living. When things got too heated festival-goers often laid about in the healing fields meditating under wind chimes and drinking local organic cider and honey wine.

Getting there and back 6/10

Sunrise Celebration which is located on Gilcombe Farm between Bruton and Frome, proved fairly easy to get to considering its potential to be a middle of nowhere festival. It’s 100 miles west from London, taking about two and a half hours down the M3 and A359. Bruton is the nearest train station, which is about an hours walk from the site; however, it’s not a fun one as there’s a serious lack of pavements along the narrow country roads. A big red double decker shuttle bus was in operation between the station and the festival site throughout the event, the only snag was that the bus running times could be up to once every two hours, which could cause a spot of bother if you’ve got trains to catch.

The Site 7/10

After last year’s flooding disaster the festival was moved to the new site, which of course, keeping in line with all things green is organically cultivated. With a much smaller capacity than previous years, everything on the festival site was within a few minutes walking distance, so you were never far from the campsite. Although the festival has had to scale down in size, many festival-goers preferred the smaller, more intimate vibe of the festival site allowing them to feel “more connected with everyone else.”

The main arena healing area within the mini tepee village was where the meditation and massages took place as well as featuring acoustic tent, Triban. The Chai Wallah tent was where most of the action was held and as the main stage it completely represented the entire ethos of the festival under one roof; Indian herbal teas and herbal shot bar, a shisha lounge, chill out zones with buckets and cushions for chairs as well as plenty of space to groove and jive to a whole host of live music. The main arena also had a kid’s area as well as the Dance Garden and two other stages amongst the market stalls selling instruments, clothes and jewellery.

The Glen Camping Field was an environmentalist’s heaven. In the Green Innovations Area there was a book cycle tent from which profit went towards planting new trees. The Hurly Burly stage and cafe had open mic for anyone to play and there was also a solar bandstand as well as wood workshops.
Atmosphere 9/10

This festival is less about the music and more of a gathering. Festival-goers at Sunrise Celebration were warm, welcoming and predominantly promoting the green message. The festival had a harmonious vibe to it with love and peace filtering from every bone in everybody on site. Mothers felt safe enough to let their children roam free and children felt safe enough to attack adults in pie fights in the kid’s tent. When walking around the arena, all you could see was a sea of smiling faces (and dreadlocks), this free spirited way of life for four days had everyone chilled out, however that may have been down to the various medicinal methods it takes to become “chilled out”. For those who were on a natural high, the festival was a vibrant and dynamic dose of fun with an eclectic mix of folks, gypsies and hippies ranging from six-month year olds to 60 year olds.
Music   7/10

Across the six stages there was a diverse range of music for your £99 ticket from gypsy jazz, funk, dance and beats to reggae, acoustic, ska, rock and world music.
Samsara 7/10
This Brighton based band were a whole heap of fun to watch, with their floppy long dreads and bouncy ska reggae beats, they were more refreshing than a glass of homemade lemonade. It’s no wonder that the crowd couldn’t help themselves jump a little higher and swing their hips a little faster. These green conscious yuppies raised concerns over the big brother state with songs about CCTV cameras called ‘Smile for the Camera’.  Barefooted front man, Jeremy Levitsky, got a real feel of the festival by suggesting that “everyone should get naked and back to nature,” whilst he cheekily smiled and jumped about in a ridiculous woollen hat.

Yes Sir Boss 9/10
Yes Sir Boss gave an explosive one hour set to the jam packed Chai Wallah tent with their county blues vocals laced with sexy ska riffs and funky saxophone beats. The Bristol six-piece were having a riot of a time and really getting the crowd to raise the roof with irresistibly catchy sing-along-songs like ‘I’m Not Guilty’, which leaves them begging for more. The band have a diverse range of music tricks up their sleeve as they pull out a few indie style hits as well as a big funky brass band feel. If that wasn’t enough to fill your boots, their cover of Justice ‘We Are Your Friends’ was electrifying. Yes Sir Boss’s blend of musical fruits resulted in the best smoothie you could ever have.

The Mirettes 6/10
Playing the Eartheart tent the self-conscious lead singer, Lawrence Willough, opens the set by saying that they had “toned down their songs for this festival”. They are talented youngsters who know how to hold a guitar well but power pop punk cords and teenage angsty love songs have all been done before. Trying to win over a sit down, head nodding audience which was mostly made up of bored parents and other youngsters, The Mirrettes played a fairly good ska version of Shaggy’s ‘It Wasn’t Me’. Unfortunately bassist, Hugo Newington-Smith, attempted to “break it down” by beat boxing. 14-year-old guitarist Tom Cory can definitely hold a beat, it’s just a shame about the rest of the band. A for effort though kids.

Lazy Habits 8/10
Lazy Habits certainly aren’t lazy about their shows and this funky hip hop lounge band knows how to spice it up! Their musical jazz stylings, mixed with beatboxing, lifted people from their comfy cushion chairs to dance the night away. The band gave an exhilarating performance that was just what the festival needed on a Saturday night as the finger pointing crowd sang along to the infectious new single ‘Even Out’. Their performance included up and coming beatboxer Vid Warren, who wowed the crowd with his flexible vocal skills and not to mention recorder playing ability before the groovetastic set ended with ‘Please People’.

The Love Birds 7/10
Taking centre stage at the Bimble Inn tent, this 70s sounding dirty blues rock and roll band provides a nice change to the ska, reggae, funk scene that dominated the festival. Front woman Lucy Wearing has PJ Harvey-esque qualitiy about her as she gave her best rock screech as well as drooling rock speech over gritty guitar riffs. These guys provided good old fashion palm muted fun in their slowed down version of Iggy And The Stooges ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’.

Meek 5/10
Based in Solarcadia in the Dance garden, Meek (aka Trevor Pixie) worked his charm on the decks trying to energise a Sunday evening crowd who by now have turned into monotonous swaying robots. Either they can’t be bothered anymore or Meek is just not charming enough to get the party started. His generic dance rhythms were unenthusiastic; leaving you with that same sober realisation you get in shoddy nightclubs when it’s well and truly time to go.


Despite all efforts to be as green as possible, the great irony is that many people travelled by car. This could have been prevented had the Sunrise Celebration crew been a bit more efficient with the bus timetable. Another pinch to make would be that there was no family camping area as some parents found it frustrating that a few all night ravers made sure the campsite knew they were still raving.

Random Events

Fighting pillow talk

Whoever coined the phrase “kids can be cruel” was obviously a victim of a vicious pillow fight. And this is exactly what happened on Saturday afternoon when the main arena was taken over by abundance of children, adults, pillows and foam sticks. The fight broke out and onlookers took a step back as they watched everyone whack each other with great passion. 20 minutes later and only the hardcore ferocious little ones were left leaving you with sore foam scarred calves, all in the name of fun of course.

By Sarah Kerr.

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