Boardmasters returns! The UK’s biggest Surf, Skate and Music Festival returns after two years off. Of course, like for most festivals around the world 2020 was a write off and in 2019 Boardmasters also had to cancel due to the weather. The north Cornish coast was battered with high winds and rain forcing organisers to pull the plug. This, however, made Boardmasters 2021 all that more special and while we’re on the topic of weather, I think I can confidently say this year’s conditions were very close to perfect. I’ve been to many a festival where I’ve been squelching around in mud wearing a transparent waterproof poncho, I’ve also been nearly cooked in my tent during a heatwave, but the Newquay forecast of sun, cloud and a moderate breeze made it impossible to complain either way! Sunday brought in a bit of Cornish mizzle (mist and drizzle) but not nearly enough to dampen anyone’s spirits.
Up the road from Newquay, set atop the Watergate Bay headland looking out over the Atlantic, Boardmasters delivered on an action packed five days. There really is something for everyone at this festival! Start your long weekend by taking the shuttle bus straight from the festival down to Fistral Beach where you’ll find another mini festival right by the sea. On Thursday I managed to catch the end of the Junior OPEN for under 18 boys and girls and saw two of Britain’s most exciting young surfers; Alys Barton and Stanley Norman crowned as winners. Back up at the festival site the main stage played host to the UK’s largest silent disco for the second night running.
Friday at Boardmasters was nothing short of epic! Highlights from the first day of live music included a show stopping performance from Geordie heartthrob Sam Fender, the soulful tones of Lianne La Havas (who performed a spine-chilling cover of Radiohead’s Weird Fishes) an electrifying, energetic performance from Kano and of course Foals took to the Main Stage for Friday’s headline set. The band played a sensational 90-minute performance packed with their biggest hits including My Number, Spanish Sahara and finishing with Two Steps, Twice.
On Saturday morning the clouds broke, and Watergate Bay was drenched in sun until it set. For a dose of rest and relaxation (and the perfect hangover cure) festival goers headed for the Zennor Haven, where there was yoga throughout the day along with massage, reiki and reflexology. The perfect way to prepare for an action pack day ahead.
For many of the punters it was their first event of this size back since the pandemic began in early 2020. The festival was also the first in a long while for a lot of the artists with both Masie Peters and Becky Hill feeling noticeably emotional as they looked out over the crowd during their performances. Inhaler delighted in playing their first live gig in 500 days and Gorillaz played only their 4th gig this year after a 3-night run that the O2 last week. The Gorillaz’ Cornish debut didn’t disappoint, with a set list full of crowd pleasers, an amazing light show, plus they were joined on stage by the likes of Slowthai, slaves and EARTHGANG.
Jorja Smith, who closed the festival out on Sunday night, was also celebrating her first gig back and did so with huge smiles across her face after every song! Meanwhile on the Land of Saints stage Jamie XX played out the weekend with a DJ Set inside the festivals largest tent. There was also a surprise from Mike Skinner who, since the easing of restrictions, never seems to miss out on a party. He turned the festival’s dockyard area into a massive rave for all those that still had the energy.
After the last 18 months we’ve all endured in this country, the novelty of just being back at an event of this size could have been enough to please most, but Boardmasters delivered on a quality festival from start to finish. I’m already looking forward to the next one!
Published on 21 August 2021 by Owen Williams