News and views from north Bristol's urban village

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Nibley Festival 2012 Review


 photo credit Rockman of Zymurgy

Since being featured in the Daily Telegraph's top ten list of independent festivals earlier this year, it was no surprise that the Nibley Festival would be a sell out event.

Held on the village playing field and run by volunteers from the local community, Britain's "Friendliest Music Festival" has what near-neighbour Prince Charles might describe as a sense of proportion. Here's a quick review from a Nibley newbie.

Location: 9/10

What's not to love about the stunning views of the Cotswold escarpment and the Tyndale Monument?

Weather: 2/10

Rain on and off through the early afternoon, turning into solid rain by the evening. 

Ability to Cope with Weather: 9/10

Regular updates via the website and email reassured visitors that the show would go on and that it was being held on well-drained, high sloping ground. Not like certain other more high profile music festivals held in the west country that one could mention.

Food: 9/10

A good supply of tasty, mostly healthy and reasonably-priced food stalls meant virtually no queueing - quite an achievement with four thousand mouths to feed.

Community Involvement: 10/10

The sight of pensioners cheerfully directing traffic in the rain while Imperial Leisure leaped around on the main stage was a memory that will last some time.  

Musical Quality: 7/10

Difficult to compare with the big players in the festival world, but signing The Christians, Dodgy and The Selecter on the same bill was an impressive feat for an event with no paid staff and a limited budget.

Shopping Experience: 7/10

Plenty of beads and trinkets on sale, from a range of independent traders, apparently at good prices.  

Family-Friendly: 10/10

A distinctive feature of Nibley is its appeal to whole families. The extensive arts and craft tent, along with drumming workshops, a magician, rocket building and plenty of space to kick a ball around, meant that the younger generation were well catered for, even through many of them were down the front enjoying the music with their peers and (I kid you not) their parents.

People Watching: 6/10

The mono-cultural nature of the event (I spotted one black face among 4,000 punters) limited the range of opportunities for gazing out at the breadth of humanity. Despite this, the sight of men who were presumably barristers or senior aviation consultants by day appearing in their exotic multi-coloured suits and top hats, with wellies, and flowers in their receding grey hairlines was a sight worth taking in. As was the number of local teens who had been given dispensation for the day to dress down and shelve their independent school uniforms and riding outfits in celebration of Nibley's grand day out.  

Toilets: 3/10

Alongside discovering the Higgs-Boson particle, designing affordable portaloos which remain clean through a weekend remains one of technology's last final frontiers. 


Which just leaves space for the official Trym Tales Nibley Festival awards.

Best Movement from Stage into Audience and Back Again: Imperial Leisure's lead singer Denis

Most Unlikely Combination of Styles and Human Geography: Wotton-under-Edge's white ragga collective Aranka's Cackle, whose song Wotton is our Town was a masterpiece of ironic rural toasting. I expected at any moment to hear the cry, "Let me Hear Ya Calling, the Stinchcombe Posse!"

Best Food: for simplicity alone, the corn on the cob was a minimalist wonder of efficiency and taste

Best Senior Moment: a conservatively-dressed white haired gentleman in his seventies moving his shoulders up and down gracefully to the smooth sounds of The Christians as the rain poured down upon the crowd.

Best Band: The Christians

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John Beales said...

Nice review but the festival is held in North Nibley, Not the 'Nibley' indicated in the signpost

Al Shaw said...


Thanks for clearing this up.

Anonymous said...

Agree with pretty much all of it except the private schools bit. North Nibley and Wotton might not be far from horsey country but nearly all those teenagers go to the local comp (while still being a good bunch to have around).

Anonymous said...

Nice review :-) I saw more ethnicity but yes, not multicultural. Does that really matter though? It's attitude & breadth of mind not colour :-)

Talking of attitude, I do take 'smiling' offence at your attempt to stereotype the village & inhabitants.

North Nibley isn't full of pony riding private scholars and isn't 'over quota' on barristers.

It's just a village, with some people who started a festival, that went rather well... and I don't even live there...


Anyway - my review. Good fun, affordable, friendly, very safe, great music, nice food. Brilliant kids stuff. Not too muddy. Has the vibe of a cool village fete with good bands...We will return!

Bad points. Not enough chairs & we forgot our foldups - need more chairs/tables around the catering. Sound echoed a lot off Nibley House which meant some weird quality depending on where you stood! One ticket per stallholder seems very stingey & not in line with other venues (what if you need a wee?!) I didn't have a stall but it did strike me as a bit mean. Even a concession 1x 'helper' ticket would be something. You had the pitch money - now let the stallholder staff it :-D

Things that would have added to the experience - better signposting or a map on the back of the line up leaflet. (especially loos, which were reasonably plentiful, but not obvious at first look!) Policing the kids area so toddlers weren't being hit by stray footballs kicked by teenage boys(!)

Things that slightly got on my nerves, but probably wouldn't have bothered most people.... it was a sellout. This means (unless the bean counter was incompetent!) that there should have been a healthy profit.

For me, to pay full price for a sell out festival and then have a gazillion 'pleas' for 'free help required' on my Facebook feed - including one which was quite demanding 'We need help now' isn't really a positive thing.

We'll be back next year. With a few tweeks I would have zilch to moan about and I do like to moan :-D

Al Shaw said...

Thanks Anonymous.

My tongue was firmly embedded in my cheek when describing the fine residents of the surrounding villages.

On the finance side, 4,000 punters at £20 per ticket makes £80,000 income, plus whatever stall holders were charged. Additional income from sponsors, presumably.

After equipment hire costs, security, band fees, insurance, publicity, website, media, etc, I'm assuming there was some left over for next year.

Anonymous said...

:-) I know it was tongue in cheek - that's why my offence was 'smiling'

Exactly my point - there was plenty of profit to pay for emergency help (or say, feed the helpers!) I thought it was a bit cheeky to ask for help loads of times and then 'demand' it. but hey, I might be oversensitive.. also, my 'job' is facebook & twitter, so I notice 'bad usage' more than most I guess..

FWIW - the 'top hat' worn by your 'barrister' was actually a dressage topper.. Bizare or what?

Have a nice evening :-)

Georgie Anonymous :-D

Al Shaw said...

Further evidence of the town-country divide was my need to research what a dressage topper was (!)

Anonymous said...

.. maybe I'm Liberally Elitist and in denial?


btw - do watch the Olympics - dressage medals are very likely...


Anonymous said...

hehe just read your profile (cos I am very nosey) - a fellow Green to boot :-)

Anyway - I'll stop stalking you now...

cha 75 said...

i was one of the so called locals, that helped behind the bar and i must say i found it a very enjoyable day, most people could handle there drink and just enjoyed the day/night, it was even better when the selecter had to use the beer tent instead of the main stage as the rain really set in. Good Fun will do it again next year.

cha 75 said...

P.S the Nibley family are very money fixated more than community but who cares if you have enjoyed you'r time?

G Miller said...

have to agree with Anonymous...i grew up in wotton (which you misspelt btw!) and attended the local comp school. The crowd at the gig are indicative of the local population because they ARE the local population, (no postcode snobbery here) regardless of income or profession we all pull together for the benefit of the community. The Festival will always be a fantastic day regardless of the weather. It's just this year they got some incredible bands which was a bonus.

Anonymous said...

I would give the toilets more like a 9/10. Sure they were portaloos, but what do you expect for a festival? And at that none of the ones I used, even at 10pm were block and were still flushing. Hardly had to queue as well.

I also wouldn't be too hasty to criticise the organisers for their callouts for volunteers. They are all volunteers as well, and with the poor forecast this year I am sure they had a few volunteers who dropped out last minute. I think it would change the atmosphere of the festival if they were to get a load of paid stewards in.

Also be aware that profits from the festival have been used for other village/community fundraising appeals, as well as obviously being reinvested into the festival itself.

Hats off to all involved for creating yet another community asset for North Nibley :D

Roll on Nibley fest 2013!!

John Beales said...

I am not party to the festivals finance but some peoples maths is overly simplistic and nowhere near £ 80,000 income would have been produced; large numbers of volunteers received a free ticket for their efforts ranging from 2-200 hours ( guesstimate) contribution, large numbers of children did not pay the same price and some tickets were sold at an 'earlybird' price whilst others were sold to the staff of major sponsors for a reduced fee.
Twitter pleas/demands-just remember what it was like on Friday and Saturday nights. The 100% volunteer organisers would have been exhausted and very, very, very wet...the rain was horrendous.

Andy Davies said...

With the mentions of The Daily Telegraph and Prince Charles anyone would think you had a chip on you shoulder - you don't have to be a toff to live in the country you know...

Most of the people I know who went are bog standard working class people.

From what I remember it was sold out before the Telegraph even mentioned it.

I understand budget is approximately 2/3 of the number you mentioned and don't forget there are stages, security fencing, lighting, power, loos etc. to be hired; bands, medical and security staff to be paid.

The profit funds next year and local community projects

But don't forget it doesn't happen without a bunch of dedicated people working throughout the year, and then taking days off work before and after to get the site ready and clean up.

Two weeks ago they didn't even have a stage - someone sold the one they originally hired from underneath them!

Anonymous said...

I don't mind being asked to help. Once or twice :-) Three times is a bit wearing, and four+ time ventures into rude. But, there we go, just my opinion :-D

Free tickets for volunteers? That was my point - there was *nothing* offered for volunteers on Facebook etc.

I wasn't questioning finances/volunteers etc. I expect festivals to make money. However, one ticket per stall holder in with the pitch fee is quite stingey, and asking to help for nothing, whilst fine as a cheeky one off, shouldn't be persistent... particularly when other 100% volunteers appear to have had free tickets for 2-200 hours work?

It was making a point about how easily social media can be overdone on some things.

FTR I found the loos were fine. No music and fluffy towels, but it was a festival.

I liked it. A lot -I'll definitely return, if they'll have me. But as I said in my initial post, just a few tiny tweaks and me, champion moaner, would have little to moan about.

Long live Nibley!

Anonymous Georgie...

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