Castlemorton Common Festival

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Castlemorton Common Festival
Genre Electronic music
Location(s) Malvern, Worcestershire, England
Years active 1992
Attendance 20,000-40,000

The Castlemorton Common Festival was a week-long free festival and rave held in the Malvern Hills near Malvern, Worcestershire, England in 1992.


In May 1992 Avon and Somerset Police tried to end the annual Avon Free Festival, which had been held in the Bristol area around the May Bank Holiday for several years.[1] As a result, thousands of gypsies, new age travellers and ravers en route to the area for the expected festival were shunted into neighbouring counties by Avon and Somerset’s Operation Nomad police manoeuvres. An estimated 20,000-40,000 [2] people gathered on Castlemorton Common to hold a free party that lasted a full week, the biggest of its kind since the Stonehenge Free Festival in the mid-1980s.

Castlemorton hosted many of the large sound systems of the time such as Bedlam, Circus Warp, Spiral Tribe and the DiY Sound System, and bands such as Back To The Planet, Xenophobia (fronted by Spiral Tribe's MC Skallywag), AOS3 and Poisoned Electrick Head.[3] The Murder Squad - DJ Dread/MC Long Man (RIP)/MC Bad Boy V (AKA TJ Hook-a) They played non-stop dance music. Big name DJs also attended and the immediate high-profile coverage in the national media only served to swell the crowd further, making it an impossible task for the authorities to close the festival down.

A great deal of media interest surrounded the festival. Simon Reynolds wrote that "during the next five days of its existence, Castlemorton will inspire questions in Parliament, make the front page of every newspaper in England and incite nationwide panic about the whereabouts of the next destination on the crusty itinerary." [4]

Concerns about the festival and the way in which it was policed inspired the legislation which developed into the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.[5] This wide-ranging Act effectively made illegal such outdoor parties that played music, which was defined in section 63(1)(b) to include "sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats."

Whilst some have argued that Castlemorton, with its attendant publicity, led directly to the Criminal Justice Act and was the "final nail in the coffin of the unlicensed event",[6] others have seen the Act as a draconian piece of legislation which was "explicitly aimed at suppressing the activities of certain strands of alternative culture".[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McKay, G. (1996) Senseless Acts of Beauty: Cultures of Resistance, Page 120, Verso ISBN 1-85984-908-3
  2. ^ During, S. (2005) Cultural Studies: A Critical Introduction, Page 131, Routledge ISBN 0-415-24656-3
  3. ^ Carney, B. (2010) Take Your Protein Pills..., Page 141, Lulu ISBN 978-1-4452-6411-0
  4. ^ Reynolds, S. (1999) Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture, Page 167, Routledge ISBN 0-415-92373-5
  5. ^ Fielding, N. (2005) The Police and Social Conflict, Page 113, Routledge Cavendish ISBN 1-904385-23-0
  6. ^ ed. South N. (1999) Drugs: Cultures, Controls and Everyday Life, Page 30, SAGE Publications ISBN 0-7619-5235-7
  7. ^ Gilbert J. (1999)Discographies: Dance Music, Culture, and the Politics of Sound, Page 150, Routledge ISBN 0-415-17032-X

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