IF you’re able to catch a pagan wedding, witness bright young things dancing on old cars, and a Manchester icon belting out his version of Madonna’s Like A Virgin, Beatherder must be here again.
Others may have compared Sawley’s annual gathering to a mini-Glastonbury, and there was enough mud spattered across Dockber Laithe Farm to entertain that theory.
But the three-day gathering in the countryside more closely resembled 60s-era Woodstock, with extra hippy stalls and international cuisine thrown in.
Now in its ninth year, Beatherder has always set the bar slightly askew, with its blend of eccentric programming and niche platforms for very different performers, under the banner of ‘beats and barminess’.
Within the same acre, the bass barely stopped in The Fortress, a cross between a tin shed and Samurai palace, the more sedate Perfumed Garden, Stumblefunk tent, and the Maison D’Etre lounge, offering either guitar heroes or comedy, with Patrick Monahan headlining.
Like previously, the woods appeared to attract the real oddballs, with a Wild West street recreated and a car-bonnet disco side-by-side.
First-timer Jon Maughan, 32, from Chorley, said: “There is a mix of older hippy types, here for the vibe, and younger ones, for the dance tents.”
Stephen Livesey, 31, of nearby Brinscall, added: “I’d definitely think about coming again – it’s just different. We’ve met people from all over the place, Halifax, Burnley, Warrington.”
Headliners Happy Mondays, James Lavelle and 2ManyDJs were well-received but the likes of Boney M and late-breaking special guests like ABC and Badly Drawn Boy, complete with Madonna encore, kept things suitably weird.
Much has been made of the festival’s avowed rejection of corporate branding and backing – though at £7 for a paella and £5 for a ‘rasta’ dog, someone was making money somewhere.
But if, like Barnoldswick couple Sally Wharton and Martin Hall, you want to get hitched inside a stone circle, then make way for the festival’s own ‘Grand National’ – 15 runners in rubber horse masks doing laps – Beatherder deserved to be the sell-out success it was.