The Big Chill has become a significant date for many festival lovers and its popularity has grown since its conception in 1994. The Big Chill has become more widely known from 1998 when it found its home in 'The Enchanted Garden'. The festival has grown from a mere couple of thousand attending to a capacity of 35,000 and due to a number of reasons is now held at Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire. The Big Chill has gone on to open a number of bars guaranteeing a crowd who know exactly what this name is all about.
Behind the scenes at The Chill have led to a number of changes but people who go to The Big Chill always seem to love it and year on year return for more. It's the festival of choice for many people who want to be entertained by great progressive music, relaxed atmosphere and a warm crowd. I went for the first time in 2004 and was blown away by the quality of acts performing. The vibe is set to create a unified experience making sure everyone is on the same level.
There are always specific acts that have enabled this festival to exist and it's great to see originals like Tom Middleton, Norman Jay, Gilles Peterson and Mr Scruff all there this year. The food is exceptional! With such quality in the confines you're guaranteed a great culinary experience unlike a lot of UK festivals. It's all the little things that complete the Big Chill experience, masseurs, the cinema, 24 hour cafe, stalls and little stages make this quite a special place. The size of the festival gives The Big Chill its charm so rather than a tiring experience it can be very 'chilled'.
There has been some debate about the line up in recent years. Due to the popularity of music that The Big Chill promotes, other festivals have cottoned on to it, and created more competition. When The Big Chill first started out genres like trip hop, break beat, dub and world music were still quite a niche market but now they are much more known and accepted and it's pretty normal for bands/acts from these genres to be included in many of the more commercial festivals.
Despite business challenges and the fear that The Big Chill might be losing its uniqueness it's fitting that the organisers have certainly gone to town this year. There are some great names on the bill and let's not forget The Big Chill is unique and 2010 looks set to enter the history books as one of the most memorable to date.
Some great pioneers like Massive Attack, Thom Yorke, Gregory Isaacs, Roots Manuva, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Bonobo and M.I.A all getting a spot on the line-up. There's amazing stuff from America like Roy Ayers, The Phenomenal Handclap Band and Dam Funk accompanied by loads of cool dance artists including: Andy Weatherall, Theo Parrish, Benji B and acts from Hospital Records. There's world music from Tinariwen and dub from Easy All Stars, plus lots more to cater to everyone's musical tastes. This just gives you an idea of the quality of music, great visuals and eco friendly ethos that all play a part of The Big Chill. I think this has the potential for a classic!
I'm really looking forward to going back to The Big Chill. It's the music and the ethos that creates this unique progressive atmosphere. Can't wait!