Beat-Herder is a singular blowout in the pantheon of British summertime festivals. Small yet perfectly formed, it boasts stages crafted in various stunning guises: from a vaguely-Eastern iron fortress to an almost supernaturally-formed ring of earth.
The effort and creativity behind the festival are apparent in all corners, from the hand-painted signs adorning every water-point, sink and toilet block, to the tunnels and shop-fronts and full-size rave-church buried in the woods. The northern hospitality is abundant, the food is top-notch, the layout of the site is simple to navigate in a hurry, yet easy to get lost in for hours when the desire takes you.
Never more than a minute away from a quirky bar or another crowd of happily dancing revellers, you can spend your days bouncing from one adventure to another.
From a pint of ale in the Beat-Herder and District Working Men’s Social Club, to Sunday Service in The Parish Church, to The Perfumed Garden, The Snug & Hotel California, there are a multitude of idiosyncratic venues to explore and enjoy.
The musical line-up is almost irrelevant at this point, but the creators of this festival never rest on their laurels when it comes to booking. Acts as diverse as fierce French electro don Vitalic ('Stamina' was a definite crowd favourite) and Boney M share the Beat-Herder stage, keeping the cosy main arena bouncing throughout.
This year the Toil Trees rave-in-the-woods stage belonged to retro house and disco as John Morales, Mr Scruff and Paul Taylor delivered belting sets in the charming woodland setting.
Last year's brand-new stage The Fortress hosted an array of names from the harder end of dance music, from Lisa Lashes to Slipmatt as well as a devoted crowd of hardcore ravers.
The more unconventional side of the North was well represented with indie/hiphop from Gideon Conn, proto-comedy from Charlie Chuck, as well as two genuine YouTube sensations in the form of Davos and The Brett Domino Trio, who de-constructed the art of creating a hit pop song brilliantly, much like his video above.
Throw in some indie dance in the form of Jagwar Ma, the glorious 2manyDJs, and a late-night session from The Sunshine Underground, mix that with a heavy heavy portion of drum n bass and breaks scattered across the many stages, and you can begin to appreciate the array of tastes this unpretentious festival caters for.
With too many highlights to cover, Beat-Herder 2014 was an absolute triumph.