We all know house parties can get a little out of hand, but in 2005 a group of sixth-form students from Derbyshire arranged a house party that’s grown so out of control it’s now a fully established festival celebrating its tenth birthday. Its location in the rural countryside of central England is a far cry from the disused quarry that it started in, yet the festival manages to maintain an intimate, fan-made atmosphere despite the growth of its success and attendances over the years.
Y Not is unique in its offering due to its diverse range of live acts. The pop-oriented ‘Big Gin Stage’ featured headliners Snoop Dogg, Basement Jaxx and Primal Scream as well as other large names such as Johnny Marr, Super Furry Animals and Ocean Colour Scene. The Giant Squid was home to a more alternative collection of bands from the likes of Arcane Roots, Black Peaks and Rolo Tomassi, all of whom gave those looking for a harder edge to their music a place to enjoy their weekend. Elsewhere on site, a stage known as The Quarry featured a ‘BBC Introducing’ showcase for up-and-coming acts to give them the important exposure that growing artists need. Being able to secure such established and wide reaching acts is another testament to the impressive growth of this festival’s success from such humble beginnings.
Not content with this mix of full-band music, Y Not Festival provided an acoustic tent complete with carpeted area and hookah pipes for those of a bohemian disposition to chill out in familiar surroundings. When relaxing wasn’t on the agenda though, festival goers could head to purpose made ‘club tents’ that featured dance floors and club tunes to party in. Whatever your preferred taste in music or however you like to express yourself, Y Not manages to find a way to suit your needs, making this an event that appeals to a wide range of audiences. With such a melting pot of scenes, genres and personalities on one site, you’d be forgiven for expecting some crowd behaviour issues, but due to the high standard of stewarding and well controlled areas, there wasn’t a glimpse of drama all weekend. On the contrary, the environment is so relaxing and well behaved that even families flock to this festival, with parents looking to indoctrinate their offspring into live musc from a young age. Some areas of the site feel designed to keep the family demographic entertained, with face painting stalls, hula hoop activities and countless food outlets serving stylish fare such as duck burgers and wood-smoked pizzas. In these areas you’d be forgiven for thinking you were at a super-sized country fate rather than a music festival and it’s this kind of atmosphere that gives Y Not a distinct personality.
The setting of this festival, amidst quaint English countryside, and the way the organisers retain the atmosphere of a small, family-run event despite the number of attendees growing to over ten thousand, makes for a unique experience that you simply can’t get from the more mainstream festivals. The size of the headlining acts is a testament to how successful the festival has become and how well revered it is by industry insiders and booking agents. The extent of the genre mix is a compelling proposition as it not only means the festival can attract a wide reach of people but it also gives attendees the chance to experience new styles of music that they would otherwise never hear. The combination of these attributes makes for an excellent festival and one that will hopefully continue to grow in strength as it enters its second decade.
Image credit: Tribe of Xanadu