With tickets for the legendary Glastonbury Festival going on sale in the next couple of weeks, it’s easy to think that this year’s festival season is well and truly over. Yet the echoes of the brilliant bands that graced the stage at Head for the Hills have barely stopped reverberating around Ramsbottom Cricket Ground. And after another amazing weekend, the chat about the festival is sure to carry on even longer.
Of course, these days the festival season isn’t just about summer and music. The excitement starts as early as January with the Pokerstars Festival in London, and it stretches right through to the endless winter festivals in December, with their sparkling lights and Christmas treats. Whatever time of year it is, there is always festival fun to be had.
Head for the Hills may not quite rival Glasto’s line up, but then it doesn’t come anywhere near their big ticket prices either, with entry from as little as £10. Last year, weekend Glastonbury tickets cost a mighty £238 and they are rumoured to be even higher for 2019, possibly to make up their lost income from taking 2018 off. Add in the cost of camping in the middle of nowhere and it becomes a very expensive weekend indeed. Unlike Rammy Fest (sorry, Head for the Hills), which happens conveniently close to town with everything you need right on your doorstep.
Not that the Head for the Hills 2018 line-up lacked star quality, with the likes of rising rock stars The Slow Readers Club, 90’s indie giants The Bluetones and 2-tone ska legends the Selecter headlining on Friday and Saturday. These were backed by an immense line up of dozens of up and coming acts, local bands and special guests, including many making their festival debut in the smaller stage tent and on t’other stage. And they don’t get much more special than the Boomtown Rats, who headlined Sunday night. Proving that all that globe-trotting altruism hasn’t dulled his razor sharp edge, Bob Geldof summed up the sentiments of the weekend crowd with his heartfelt rendition of their most famous hit of all, I Don’t Like Mondays.
Anyone who has followed the festival as it has grown, will know that big names are nothing new here in Ramsbottom. We have enjoyed the likes of the Levellers, Soul II Soul, The Wonderstuff, The Proclaimers, Fun Lovin Criminals and The Stranglers over the last eight years. Some regular guests, such as Slow Readers Club, have been edging their way up the bill as their careers have taken off.
Despite the big names on stage, Head for the Hills remains pleasingly small scale as festivals go. Which means that you’ll never be stuck standing ten thousand rows from the front, struggling to see through a sea of flags and banners, and you’ll never have to queue for the loo for so long that you miss the band that you came to the festival for in the first place. It may be growing and gaining momentum as it passes its eighth successful year, but Head for the Hills remains a friendly, fun festival that feels very safe. In many ways it is the perfect training ground for little ones, rather than throwing them in the deep end of somewhere like festivals in Leeds or Donnington.
More than just music
Just like its famous South West cousin, Head for the Hills is about much more than just music. Like previous years, 2018 festival goers were treated to an extensive and intriguing arts programme including magicians, circus acts and even ‘live hangman’, as well as everything from art to brass bands. With side shows and tents galore to choose from, there was always something to do while you waited for the next band. Naturally there was plenty of food and drink on offer too, to keep the revellers bouncing, including a range of stalls showcasing local producers and breweries.
A favourite with the fans
As ever, Head for the Hills went down a storm with the crowds, who took to social media to share their enjoyment. “Thank you for putting on such a great festival. Our feet are killing us but we’ll be first in line for tickets for next year!!” said @MrsSmith0510 on the Head for the Hills Twitter stream, while @mikechitty reported he was “Ears ringing. Head sore. But happy!”. I know the feeling! That said, we’ll all be there again, same time next year to do it all again.