Review: The Wickerman Festival 2010

The Wickerman festival, now in its 9th year, is a small but perfectly formed event with a really eclectic line-up of music and a chilled out family vibe.

Jayne Robinson

Date published: 28th Jul 2010

Two things immediately stand out about The Wickerman Festival. The first is the giant Wicker Man itself - whose eerie, imposing presence looms over the festival arena from a nearby hillside. The second is the sheer volume of kids. They're absolutely everywhere. 

Not that this is a bad thing. Oh no, the family friendly aspect of The Wickerman Festival is one of its great USPs - there's plenty going on for kids, adults and big kids alike. And while there may have been a few parents' hands positioned over their children's ears during certain performances (I'm looking at you, Goldie Lookin Chain), it's a great opportunity for a family weekend away. 

The Wickerman Festival, now in its 9th year, is a small but perfectly formed event with a really eclectic line-up of music. This year for example, saw appearances by The Buzzcocks, I Blame Coco, Fabio, The Charlatans and Tony Christie to name but a few. The festival is, of course, named after the 1973 movie of the same name, which was filmed in these parts and follows the story of a strange pagan community who lure a policeman into burning inside a giant wicker man as a human sacrifice. Nice. Thankfully, the festival is a much happier affair - and the only thing you'll be asked to sacrifice here is any booze that you attempt to smuggle into the arena.

A great alternative to the UK's behemoth music festivals, The Wickerman is a stripped back, relaxed affair with one main outdoor stage (named The Summerisle Stage in another link to the film) and a few tented stages interspersed with food and drink stalls. And with an outdoor laser quest game, an ice rink, BMW displays and loads more, there's plenty to keep everyone busy in between the music. 

Headlining the main stage this year were The Charlatans, Ocean Colour Scene and The Go! Team, who, of course, all delivered incredible performances. As did veteran dance act 808 State, who took to the decks on the main stage after the Saturday night's iconic fireworks display and midnight burning of the Wickerman.  

I Blame Coco - daughter of Sting and Trudie Styler - was stunning on the Friday afternoon, drawing a large afternoon crowd in the sunshine and enjoying plenty of banter with the crowd in between a tight set of consistently great electro pop tunes. The Futureheads were similarly stand-out, with the type of up-tempo, energetic set that they've become well known for over their four album career. We caught up with Barry Hyde, lead vocalist of the Sunderland band, before their set. Watch the video here (if you like): 

Classic punk rockers The Buzzcocks drew one of the largest crowds of the festival on the Friday evening - which apparently hadn't been anticipated by the organisers who put them in the Scooter tent rather than on the main stage. Hundreds of people stood outside the tent, unable to get in - while inside things were crowded to say the least. 

Special mention must go to acoustic Scottish beauty Rachel Sermanni, whose arresting performance in the kitshly kitted-out acoustic tent on Friday afternoon drew a sizeable crowd. Largely, admittedly, of besotted, beardy young men. Listen to Rachel on her myspace page here

A world away from the bunting and lace of the acoustic tent was the Bass Camp - the Wickerman's dance arena which consisted of the tent, the U&A Recordings tent and of course the double decker bus which hosted Funkademia DJs during the day. Taking the party into the wee hours, the Skiddle tent featured performances from Fabio, Kutski, Utah Jazz and Manchester's Murkage Cartel to name but a few. Perhaps though, the dance arena - which had been moved to the far end of the festival site this year - could do with being back in the midst of the action for 2011.

For a small festival, Wickerman really packs in a bit of everything. From 70's punk to 2010 synth and from chilled out family vibes to late night pounding bass. And, this year at least, from scorching sunshine to driving rain. But even the radical mood swing that the weather took on the last day did little to dampen the atmosphere of what, for many, is a highlight on the UK festival calendar. And it's not hard to see why.

See if you can spot yourself in our video tour of The Wickerman Festival site: 

Find out more about The Wickerman Festival here.

Reviewed by: Jayne Robinson

Tickets are no longer available for this event