A few post-greenbelt thoughts

This year’s Greenbelt programme contained a piece by Maggi Dawn, who sadly wasn’t able to be at the festival. Reading the programme on the tube back from a post-festival get-together, I really connected with Maggi commenting:

Whether Glastonbury or Global Gathering, at their heart, all festivals are actually less about gazing at bands from the back of a field, and far more about the day-to-day encounters we have around the site. We have a fundamental need for these real-life meetings, because without them, we cannot create or sustain community. Yet, strangely, that’s one of the paradoxes of this idea of festival: we immerse ourselves in order to be able to leave it. Showing up is what makes the festival work, but Greenbelt is also all about not being at Greenbelt, about taking the infection away and breeding it in the day to day communities that sustain us.

I love the second-half of the paragraph, but it was the first that really struck me. I had one of those years where I felt like I didn’t really see the festival in the programme sense. I turned up for a few minutes at several gigs, and took a lot of photos (all of which sit on my laptop awaiting editing, I’ll post again when something’s on flickr) but I wasn’t able to really get a sense of what the festival was like this year. And that’s okay.

David Dark and I had a brief exchange about the “deep magic” (I called it magic, he added the deep) that keeps so many of us working at the festival. We run ourselves ragged, get frustrated, and channel it all into conversations about how we’ll fix it for next year. Always next year. (almost) Always hopeful. It’s quite a thing.

The festival may or may not be in perpetual beta, but the feature set is somehow compelling.


  1. I saw almost no music but had a great festival just wandering around and hooking up with old friends, many of whom I only see at Greenbelt. Greenbelt is also amazingly frustrating to be involved in, as any good idea that works seems to be ignored, cancelled, or inexplicably moved to somewhere completely unsuitable the following year. But hey! We go back anyway….

  2. hey james

    i think ‘deep magic’ is a quotation from narnia? was it deep magic that made aslan come back from the dead? it would certainly take something like that i think…


    sorry not to get to talk with you this year!


  3. Yeah, that’s the source. In some ways it does feel like a resurrection each year.

    Sorry not to get a chance to talk with you either. I’d hoped to spend more time in Camp Fury but as it was I left the tent before most people were visible and returned very late. It seems to go that way every year, so I guess we need to make a trip to Belfast in the near future!