Boomtown Fair

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Boomtown Fair
Logo for Boomtown Fair festival.jpg
GenreElectronic, rock, reggae, dub, folk, world, hip hop
Location(s)Matterley Estate, Alresford Road, near Winchester, Hampshire, England.
Years active2009–present

Boomtown Fair is a four-day annual music festival held in the United Kingdom over the second weekend of August. It started in 2009 and since 2011 has been held at the Matterley Estate in Hampshire, which is part of the South Downs National Park. In 2018 the Fair took place over 9–12 August, with a limited opening on the 8th, and held a 60,000 capacity.[1] The event sold out of standard tickets in February 2018.

Each yearly instalment of the festival is referred to as a "Chapter"; this reflects that each instalment continues the storyline from the previous year, with the series having begun in 2009. The festival site is split into several districts, and the storyline narrative is reflected in the design of the districts, streets and venues, which are populated by hundreds of actors to play the role of inhabitants. The 2018 festival was entitled "Chapter 10: The Machine Cannot Be Stopped".

The festival is run by Boomtown Festival UK Limited.


2009: Chapter 1 - "BoomTown Begins"[edit]

Chapter 1 was held at the Speech House Hotel, Coleford, in Gloucestershire on the 7th of August.[2]

2010: Chapter 2 - "External Forces"[edit]

Chapter 2 was held at the Stowe Landscape Gardens, Buckingham, in Buckinghamshire, on Friday the 13th until Sunday the 15th of August, 2010.[3]

2011: Chapter 3 - "The Disappearance of Boom"[edit]

Chapter 3 saw the festival move to the Matterley Estate, where the festival has remained since. Chapter 3 was held on Thursday the 11th until Sunday the 14th of August, 2011.[4]

On the final day of the festival, Deborah Jeffery, 45, from Winchester, suffered a fatal heart attack after taking ecstasy. [5]

2012: Chapter 4 - "An Alien Presence"[edit]

Chapter 4 was held on Thursday the 9th until Sunday the 12th of August, 2012 at the Matterley Estate.[6]

2012 saw the arrival of the Arcadia "Spider" stage to the city.

2013: Chapter 5 - "Declaration of Democracy"[edit]

Chapter 5 was held on Thursday the 8th until Sunday the 11th of August, 2013 at the Matterley Estate.[7]

On the opening night, Oxfam steward Ellie Rowe, 18, from Glastonbury, Somerset, died after taking ketamine. [8]

2014: Chapter 6 - "The Loopholes of Time"[edit]

Chapter 6 was held on Thursday the 7th until Sunday the 10th of August, 2014 at the Matterley Estate.[9]

On the Saturday evening, Lisa Williamson, 31, from Hereford, was found hanged in a festival toilet after taking drugs. [10]

2015: Chapter 7 - "The Palace Has Risen"[edit]

Chapter 7 was held on Thursday the 13th until Sunday the 16th of August, 2015 at the Matterley Estate.[11]

The Arcadia stage no longer featured in the city, but was replaced by Bang Hai Palace, a large impressive center piece for the "DownTown" area of the festival.

2015 headliners included Noisia, Less Than Jake, Squarepusher, Infected Mushroom and Flogging Molly.

2016: Chapter 8 - "The Revolution Starts Now"[edit]

Chapter 8 was held on Thursday the 11th until Sunday the 14th of August, 2016 at the Matterley Estate.[12]

2016 saw the introduction of a large impressive new stage, "Sector 6", themed as an industrial power plant operated by Bang Hai Industries, a fictional corporation that is part of the storyline.

At approximately 4pm on the Friday, a discarded cigarette caused a large fire in the western car park, destroying 82 cars belonging to festival goers.

On the Monday after the festival, Olivia Christopher, 18, from Chesham, Buckinghamshire, was discovered dead in her tent after a suspected drug overdose.

2016 headliners included Damian Marley, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Madness, Seth Lakeman, and The Skints.[13]

2017: Chapter 9 - "Behind The Mask"[edit]

Chapter 9 was held on Thursday the 10th until Sunday the 13th of August, 2017 at the Matterley Estate.[14] In the weeks leading up to the event, the construction of the city was severely hampered by bad weather, which contributed to some extremely long queues at the gates, with some guests queuing for up to 10 hours.

Despite the problems on the gates, the rest of the event proceeded without incident.

2017 saw a redevelopment of the Bang Hai Palace stage into BangHai Towers, themed as the corporate headquarters of BangHai industries.

In 2017, headliners included The Specials, M.IA. and Cypress Hill.[15]

2018: Chapter 10 - "The Machine Cannot Be Stopped"[edit]

Chapter 10 was held on Wednesday the 8th until Sunday the 12th of August, 2018.[16] An extensive redesign of the festival site was undertaken, including a major redevelopment of The Lion's Den stage, and reconfiguration of a number of districts. New additions to the Fair included the addition of Paradise Heights in the previous location of Mayfair, and Metropolis, Main Drag, and Diss-order Alley replacing Chinatown in the city's Downtown area.

Festival organisers hoped to increase the capacity of the festival to 80,000, but the application was rejected. Instead they were allowed to open a day early, but only if attendees arrived using 'sustainable transport', in coaches, shuttle bus or cars with more than three people. [17]

This is the first year that the festival has opened on a Wednesday, albeit to a limited number of ticket holders. Only the western side of the festival was open on the Wednesday, with the rest of the festival opening the next day.

Gorillaz were announced as headliners for 2018[18], along with Die Antwoord and Limp Bizkit. Other acts will include Ben Harper, Jimmy Cliff, Amadou & Mariam, Sleaford Mods, Enter Shikari, The Skatalites, Morcheeba and Goldie.[19]


The festival is made up of four main areas: Hilltop, Downtown, Whistlers Green and Temple Valley. Across the four areas there are 14 unique districts, each themed around a unique theatrical identity. Each district has at least one main stage and a selection of smaller street or theatrical venues as well as small and medium-sized music venues.[20]

Daan at BoomTown Fair in 2009

The large stages of Bang Hai Towers, Sector 6 and The Lion’s Den differ from standard districts as they are designed to accommodate crowds several thousand strong, with vast stage sets at the centre with food and drink concessions in their arenas.

Charitable activities[edit]

Charity, Education and Awareness has always been a large part of the ethos of Boomtown with hundreds of ways for charities to take part, including guest list donations and stewarding partnerships.

Donations to various charities are made each year from the festival's profits;[21] in 2015 these were the Energy Revolution Initiative, Winchester Youth Counselling and Trinity Winchester. Tickets are donated to charity for raffles and competitions, and the festival works with Oxfam, MyCauseUK and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance who provide stewards. The festival also produces a fundraising CD at Christmas.[22] Since 2014, the festival have provided free children's arts & craft workshops at a pop-up event in nearby Winchester.[23]

In 2017, BoomTown partnered with Street Reach, a local Winchester charity that works with hard-to-reach and often vulnerable young people by engaging with them on the streets of Winchester.[citation needed]

Festival stewards[edit]

The festival stewards volunteers managed by either Boomtown, My Cause UK and Oxfam. Boomtown stewards cover Uptown, Oxfam Downtown and My Cause UK the gates for wrist banding. Volunteers pay a refundable deposit which is roughly the price of a ticket that is returned after their shifts are completed, and they are given free entry to the festival.

Family activities[edit]

Kidztown is the dedicated children’s area at Boomtown co-ordinated by qualified child and youth experts, including play-workers, early years specialists, artists and performers.

Past incidents[edit]

  • In 2017, festival goers faced chaotic queues of up to 10 hours trying to enter the site.[24]
  • In 2016, A discarded cigarette started a fire which destroyed more than 80 cars.[25]


  • In 2016, Olivia Christopher, 18, from Chesham, Buckinghamshire, was discovered dead in her tent after a suspected drug overdose.[26]
  • In 2014, Lisa Williamson, 31, from Hereford, was found hanged after using drugs.[27]
  • In 2013, Oxfam steward Ellie Rowe, 18, from Glastonbury, Somerset, died after taking ketamine.[28]
  • In 2011, Deborah Jeffery, 45, from Winchester, suffered a fatal heart attack after taking ecstasy.[29]


  1. ^ "Music festival granted extra day". BBC News. 2018-02-05. Retrieved 2018-04-04.
  2. ^ Boomtown Begins
  3. ^ External Forces
  4. ^ The Disappearance of Boom
  5. ^ "Mum, 45, died from Ecstasy overdose at music festival".
  6. ^ An Alien Presence
  7. ^ Declaration of Democracy
  8. ^ "Teenager died after taking ketamine at festival, inquest hears".
  9. ^ The Loopholes of Time
  10. ^ "BoomTown Fair woman 'went berserk' after early wake-up, inquest hears".
  11. ^ The Palace Has Risen
  12. ^ The Revolution Starts Now
  13. ^ "5 essential acts for this year's Boomtown Festival". Never Enough Notes. 2016-06-13. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  14. ^ Behind The Mask
  15. ^ "Festivalgoers left queuing for six hours". BBC News. 2017-08-10. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  16. ^ The Machine Cannot Be Stopped
  17. ^ "Road rules set for festival's extra day". BBC News. 2018-05-18. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  18. ^ "Gorillaz Announced as Headliners For Boomtown 2018 | Cultured Vultures". Cultured Vultures. 2017-12-06. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  19. ^ "Boomtown Reveal 200 Acts For Their 10 Year Anniversary | HTF MAG". Hit The Floor. 2018-02-08. Retrieved 2018-06-08.
  20. ^ "Boomtown's new Metropolis area". Mixmag. Retrieved 2018-04-04.
  21. ^ "BOOMTOWN FAIR RAISES OVER £116,303 FOR CHARITY". Daily Echo. Retrieved 2018-04-04.
  22. ^ "Boomtown Charity Support". Boomtown. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  23. ^ Neal, Charlotte (31 May 2015). "Boomtown Fair organisers bring carnival fun at Winchester workshops". Hampshire Chronicle. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  24. ^ "Festivalgoers reportedly faint in queue for Boomtown fair after festival ramps up security".
  25. ^ "Fire at Boomtown music festival in Hampshire destroys 80 cars".
  26. ^ "Woman dies at Boomtown Fair music festival in Hampshire".
  27. ^ "Woman dies in tent at Boomtown Fair festival".
  28. ^ "Teenager died after taking ketamine at festival, inquest hears".
  29. ^ "Mum, 45, died from Ecstasy overdose at music festival".