It already feels like a long, long time since I was standing in a field in Portsmouth with my brother, gripping a pint of vaguely warm beer and yelling along to James Bay – “lonely water, won’t youuu, let us wanderrrrr” But Victorious Festival is already just over three weeks ago (and I’m already looking forward to going again next year).
Somehow, as Victorious has grown and grown (from its humble beginnings in Portsmouth Dockyard in 2012, to a capacity triple that and a site that now spans across several Southsea landmarks) it has still retained its charm and independence, which is why I’ll continue going year after year, and why it’s consistently my favourite festival.
I don’t know of another festival anywhere in the world where you can drink champagne in a castle overlooking the sea, eat delicious street food, visit a real ale tent (or a wine bar), watch music at a seaside stage with seagulls flying overhead, go on a funfair ride, listen to swing music and eat fish and chips all in one day!
It’s difficult to capture all of the reasons I love Victorious Festival, not only because this would end up being very protracted and lengthy, but also because it’s impossible to describe the atmosphere without having experienced it. Even with the increasing numbers that flock to Victorious, this year just as all of the others I felt that the whole ‘vibe’ was just chilled and easy-going – it’s so family friendly that the amount of children being towed around in Radio Flyer wagons and whole broods sharing a rug and a picnic just makes the tone so much more laid back (which is important now I’m in my mid-30s!) I would genuinely go even if there weren’t any bands I wanted to see – though with their talent of booking artists on the verge of hitting the big time, there’s no doubt that every year the line-up gets better and better. (Who could have called that Lewis Capaldi would draw such huge crowds to the Castle Stage when they booked him last year?)
So, what were my highlights?
To me, the experience is just as important as the music, but whilst scoffing an entire Papa John’s pepperoni pizza or a chicken burger the size of my head were definitely peaks of my festival weekend, the line-up this year was undoubtedly the best I’ve seen yet. Two Door Cinema Club were my favourites of the Friday night – with their upbeat indie pop setting the tone for the weekend. On Saturday I loved the nostalgia of seeing All Saints, Ocean Colour Scene and Badly Drawn Boy helped me relive my ‘indie stage’, and Professor Green put on a great show. My high point of the whole weekend however was James Bay – I thought he was absolutely incredible live and the atmosphere was electric. I’d love to see him play live again.
I didn’t watch as much music on Sunday, but I always love Tom Grennan and Band of Skulls. I’ve also heard that New Order closed the weekend with a fantastic show. It might sound ridiculous that I missed some of the major artists, but for me half of the fun of a festival is meandering around and taking in everything there is to offer. Personally I always love the stalls they have on ‘Market Way’ (I found a lovely vintage headscarf and only barely managed to restrain myself from buying the entire clothing range from Strong Island). I loved the addition of the street food area and their commitment to finding independent and local vendors never goes unnoticed – I particularly loved the teriyaki shack, pad Thai and my buttermilk chicken burger (I wish I could remember the name of the stall!) The Vegan Vice stall also seemed to be pulling in the crowds. I also really can’t under-sell the beauty of the setting, and that’s what really sets Victorious apart from other festivals. We spent quite some time in the Southsea Castle Champagne Bar on Saturday, listening to the DJ sets and perching on hay bales whilst the bunting fluttered overhead.
What else can I say, except for the fact that I’m already excited for next year! Early Bird tickets are available for the entire weekend for £90 (such a bargain) or day tickets are £25 for Friday or £35 for Saturday or Sunday. You can guarantee the line-up will be just as good (if not better) as this year as their commitment to finding the best bands, activities and food is always second to none.
Have you been to Victorious Festival before?
*press tickets were gifted in exchange for coverage, all opinions my own