Knockengorroch: Go Wild in the Borders
To review an experience at Knockengorroch, it isn't as simple as rating the bands and DJ's gracing the stages but providing a glimpse of what a festival such as this has to offer. Located in the borders it is not the easiest to access unless you drive, get a lift or the knock bus (trains and bus switches required by public transport) with the nearest village Dalmellington offering the last chance for supplies. The festival site is on a family run farm in the midst of a valley, with forests on either side and a river running through the site, once you are on the campsite you are free to roam the hills, swim in the river and camp amongst the festivities.
This year camping spots were few and far between as the festival was full to the brim, and after an hours walking we eventually found a spot under the trees next to the river, it really is a beautiful way to wake up at a festival looking out at the valleys and washing your face in the clear water compared to the stench of toilets and litter most frequently found at outdoor festivals these days.
Knockengorroch has a range of events through the day for kids and adults alike, from hula-hooping classes to whittling, joining the Knockengorroch zine or capoeira. You can certainly fill your day with something productive. For those of us there for the drinking and music, we were kept entertained by the finest selection of ales and ciders on offer and this must be one of the few festivals where you can buy Buckfast by the glass.
The festival site itself has four musical areas, the main stage playing host to The Beat and Treacherous Orchestra and has a more folk/ world music focus. The Sheiling tent has a wider array of musical genres, with local acts such as Digital Jones, Lorraine McCauley and of course the legendary Mungo's Hi-Fi Sound System keeping a range of reggae, dub, jungle and dubstep going into the very wee hours of the night. This indoor tent also offers a warm, dry place to dance and a selection of cocktails to be sampled. The music tastes varied widely from Eat Static to King Creosote, Ska Cubano to The Banana Sessions - there is a lot of music to tap your toes to. Further music can be found in the acoustic bar, which has live instrumental music all day into the late hours and many will also be found jamming around the site, and in the Longhouse with Wierdstring being a staple band not to be missed. Knockengorroch will not have the most up to date DJ's and high level headliners but you will see up and coming local talent, as well good old time favourites.
With a large roaring fire to sit near, a Celtic fireshow and a policy of once you are in you are in (not subjected to continuous bag searches for your bottle of water or those cans of beer you have hidden in your boot), they even provide their own locally sourced water for free around the site and an outdoor hot tub to relax in. Knockengorroch is truly a festival with a personality all of its own (and an abundance of hippies). Ultimately it lets you run wild in the Scottish fields and cannot be beaten as a perfect opener to the festival season.