Nova festival site
Nova fes­ti­val site

Nova festival site


It was a long await­ed moment, but here it is, Big Chill founder Kat­ri­na Larkin with co-pro­duc­er Vic­to­ria Burns new fes­ti­val for 2012, called Nova. Big Chill com­bined a per­fect blend of ele­ments, planned with a metic­u­lous atten­tion to detail that made the fes­ti­val such a plea­sure. Every­thing worked – the intel­li­gent mix of music, blissed-out ther­a­py area, imag­i­na­tive art trail – all set to a back­drop of East­nor Cas­tle, nes­tled in the trees. Nova Fes­ti­val at Bign­or Park is tak­ing its first steps in scaled-down fash­ion, offer­ing 5,000 of us the promise of a gor­geous mix of ‘art and music’ – in that order – with cre­ative salons, the­atre, hot tubs and more.

We arrive on Thurs­day on a hot, sun­ny after­noon and we can almost imag­ine we’ve wan­dered on to the set of a BBC Jane Austen dra­ma, as we sur­vey the peach-coloured Geor­gian house set in a land­scape of gen­tly slop­ing grounds with lush trees and wood­land. Starter point for the fes­ti­val activ­i­ties is the Nova Arms pub. which you enter through a cob­bled court­yard where a DJ pumps out old soul clas­sics. The pub is in the old sta­bles and it has a real buzz which instant­ly puts you into par­ty mode. We fol­low the wind­ing path to the Zen Gar­dens, a voy­age of dis­cov­ery as we come upon ther­a­py tents, instal­la­tions, sculp­tures, stages and ran­dom events which just pop up from time to time through­out the fes­ti­val. The path mean­ders past the out­door hot tubs and down into the are­na, an impres­sive open space with a dra­mat­ic and beau­ti­ful back­drop of the south downs. Fluffy Log­ic get things start­ed on the main stage on the qui­et first night, and their enthu­si­asm man­ages to rouse the small crowd into dancing.

Each day at noon, Sofar Sounds open the main stage with half a dozen or so dif­fer­ent artists. We get a sec­ond chance to see the same line-up lat­er on in a tiny tent in the Zen Gar­dens, and this inti­mate ses­sion seems to work far bet­ter; we are so close to the musi­cians we can exchange a bit of ban­ter, and they can try out new mate­r­i­al on us too. We loved the Ali War­ren band, and Brooke Sharkey. The Jok­er & The Thief get a great recep­tion and their gut­sy, bluesy sound are a great start to Sat­ur­day’s main stage. Dur­ing a break from the rain, there’s a rous­ing evening dis­co set from Crazy P, which seems to draw most of the fes­ti­val crowd together.

Brooke Sharkey at Nova.
Brooke Sharkey and Adam Beat­tie. Pho­to cred­it: T Schip­pel Hales
Ali Warren Band sing at Nova festival
Ali War­ren sings at Nova fes­ti­val. Pho­to: T Schip­pel Hales

On Sat­ur­day we stum­ble upon a life draw­ing class in the gar­dens, the five mod­els with paint­ed bod­ies are rem­i­nis­cent of pho­tog­ra­ph­er Spencer Tunick­’s naked pho­to­shoot at Big Chill in 2010. Of the lit­er­ary events, Michael Smith, author of The Giro Play­boy, is wry and engag­ing, and we enjoy an episode from his 2009 TV series Dri­ve­time on an out­door screen.

Nova achieved a good bal­ance of arts and music, though I think the music side is very impor­tant as it draws every­one togeth­er for the ‘feel good’ crowd fac­tor. I’d love to hear the opin­ions of any­one else who attend­ed, what did you think? The fes­ti­val suf­fered, like all out­door events that par­tic­u­lar week­end, with dire weath­er, which was espe­cial­ly dif­fi­cult for its debut. How­ev­er the atmos­phere was relaxed and upbeat and it was good to see such a wide range of ages attend­ing. Much appre­ci­at­ed were the free hot show­ers, looked after by a team with a food stall, so you could start the day with a hot show­er AND real cof­fee, what lux­u­ry. Final­ly, a big thanks to the trac­tor dri­ver who towed us out of the mud at the end. Look­ing for­ward to next year.

5 thoughts on “A new rising star called Nova Festival

  1. Sev­er­al peo­ple at the event were under the impres­sion that I was con­nect­ed with Nova – as one of the two founders, I just want­ed to make the point that I am not involved with the event.

    1. I was under the impres­sion it was Vic­to­ria Burns and I will make that clear. It was a very enjoy­able fes­ti­val any­way, despite the weath­er. Thank you.

  2. Great wee fes­ti­val. Par­tic­u­lar­ly enjoyed the camp­fire ses­sions (when weath­er allowed), with Sam Lee to the fore as orchestrator.Amused that the Bal­li­na Whalers were on the same site as Green­peace! The Hurly Burly crew kept folks spir­its up in the rain – fair play – as did the Nova Arms DJs. All the var­i­ous ‘sur­prise’ stuff around the site helped. Also good at times was the com­e­dy in theThe­atre Tent – Aban­do­man, Dr Brown and Late Night Gimp Fight stood out. And every­one got a trac­tor slide at the end!

  3. I agree Andy, the camp­fire ses­sions were a very enjoy­able way to spend the late hours. Remark­ably good spir­its all round, with peo­ple treat­ing the fes­ti­val like a big par­ty. Green­peace polar bear superb!

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