According to the organisers before the festival…. “On arriving, a short stroll through a leafy copse will take you from the car park to the camping area - a peaceful undulating meadow nestling at the foot of the South Downs. Once you’ve pitched your tent on the Thursday, a brief walk up the farm path takes you to the stables. Here you can enjoy a tipple at our very own pub, The Nova Arms. You can spend the afternoon watching our mad medley of pub entertainment, and the evening at our campsite campfire sessions, or watching a film with the family at our outdoor cinema.”
Alas the rain put paid to such an idyllic arrival.
Our experience started badly. We arrived at about 6:15 pm on Friday evening to find a row of cars waiting to get onto the site. The site was so muddy that cars had to be towed on and off the site. We were assured that this would only take a few minutes. After waiting for almost an hour we decided to park down the road and walk in. This was probably the right decision however with all our kit, it was arduous and took about 30 minutes to struggle in and then find a place to camp.
The organisers had clearly not prepared for the possibility of a wet weekend. There were insufficient covered areas, places to sit, metal tracks on main thoroughfares etc. - other festivals manage this and it makes a big difference when it’s wet and muddy. At a wet festie it’s good to have plenty of places to sit and tents in which to shelter. There were nowhere near enough of these places. We spent a lot of time wandering aimlessly from place to place.
Things we enjoyed: The Greenpeace arctic display; the Adventure Land Crazy Golf; and I enjoyed the DJs at the Nova Arms on Friday night. There was also some good art around and the site was picturesque.
We bought early bird tickets when they went on sale in 2011 without any idea who would be playing and for three reasons: it was local; the Big Chill pedigree of the organisers; and we enjoy festivals and wanted to support a new one.
My first impression was that this was a festival with no focal point. This first impression was borne out over the rest of our stay. The acts that I recognised on the line up were few and far between. One or two I was keen to see - Norman Jay (who cancelled just before the event); The Phenomenal Handclap Band (who also cancelled); Speech Debelle (on before we finally got set up); and Psychemagik, and Ghostpoet (who we missed as we’d already gone home). The programme gave no additional information. Just a list of names which I thought was unhelpful. This is the first festival I’ve been to without a proper programme - either included in the ticket price or available for around a fiver. Here’s the Nova programme…
By Saturday afternoon we’d had enough.
Here are my photos. The weather played a big part in a less than great experience but - even if the sun had shone - for me there was just not enough quality stuff in the line up. The feedback on Facebook and Twitter is very mixed. People seem to have either loved it or hated it. I’m in the middle. It was OK but the weather and the uninspiring line up mean I’m unlikely to go back if it’s on next year. A shame as I had high hopes for Nova. 2/5