Smack bang in the middle of nowhere, The Big Chill is the rural, family orientated festival that does exactly what it says on the tin.
Shifting focus from the hardcore, up-all-night antics British festivals are more usually revered for, The Big Chill pleasantly descends upon Herefordshire’s remote and placid countryside to promote hench music in the most harmonious of ways. Nestled safely in the mountainous bosom of the Malvern hills, this arty four-day live music extravaganza welcomes anyone, of any age, from all walks of life. With babies crawling freely amongst traipsing tribes of teenagers either on their way to a tent or to check back in with their ‘rents (who can mostly be found picnicking about the Deer Park stage with a Pimms in hand), this festival promotes the kind of idyllic lifestyle Walt Disney dreamed of.
Although each year’s lineup makes little sense or has any level of predictability, everything always comes together. Bringing the best in obscure, incredible, bizarre, unprecedented and up-coming talent, both brand new and well-established artists appear sporadically upon stages and in tents at all hours. Keeping the schedule low-key, with no pressure to go see or fear of missing out on anything, the vibes are relaxed and the ambience acoustic.
Headlining this year was Kanye West, The Chemical Brothers, Empire Of the Sun and Warpaint, whilst the more left-wing likes of Devlin, Aloe Blaac, Jamie Woon, Jamie XX and Ghostpoet took cover under tents located around the site’s peripheries. Despite Kanye’s disappointing set and regular rain showers, the festival’s chilled out attitude remained upbeat. Dionne Bromfield was the talk of the temporarily-constructed town, astounding crowds with her moving tribute to her late godmother and national treasure, Amy Winehouse. Roots reggae singer/songwiter Horace Andy also took to the stage, calling up his son Tafari Hinds to join in. A celebration of love, peace and loyalty fuelled this maxin, chillaxin’ event, promoting a sense of peace that washed over audiences and inspired everyone.
Taking the concept of boutique camping to the great outdoors and removing any element of kitsch, The Big Chill is the ultimate get away for anyone who has a sense of adventure and an open mind. Brrrrrrilliant.
Text and photography: Milly McMahon
All images taken with Lomogrophy Diana F+ Medium Format.