By Lily Davis
Classing myself as a bit of a ‘fake hippy’, it is somewhat surprising that I haven’t made it to the Out of the Ordinary Festival before – especially as it is literally a five minute drive from my house. Fortunately, 2011 was my year. Though after pulling into Knockhatch’s incredibly long drive, it appeared that every other person with a faintly bohemian calling had also decided to venture to the three-day festival, held between Eastbourne and Brighton for the last five years.
Saturday was the epitome of a glorious summer’s day, proving that the rain dances must have paid off and appear to be lasting well into the following week – with temperatures of 27 degrees undoubtedly making up for our long lost Summer. Karma man.
Walking through the entrance was like walking into a bizarre scene from Alice in Wonderland. After being given the nod by a couple of comparatively out-of-place and over-dressed bouncers, you were met with a vibrant haze of laughter, flowers and wind chimes. Combinations of colourful umbrellas were hanging from the trees, and giant, purple letters spelled out the word LOVE – each decorated by an equally fluorescent individual standing on top of them, further blurring the boundaries between nature and manmade.
Each stall is manned by a friendly face and there is an overwhelming sense of ‘oneness’ that you cannot shrug off once you enter this mini-Glasto. Reggae music fills the air and the opportunity to take part in a yoga class or even a self-healing tent suddenly doesn’t seem so, out of the ordinary. Neither does suddenly deciding to pack it all in and join this circus. Since what could be more tempting than a world connected by music, nature and love, where the people seem so laid back they might fall over – and regularly do. Remembering to ‘don’t worry, be happy’ as they pick themselves up.
Now, I understand this might not be everyone’s cup of herbal tea, but the OOTO Festival not only gives the residents of East Sussex a chance to host a fantastic family event but also the opportunity to share the countryside with those who respect it the most. There is nothing like a field covered with blankets, flags and peace stones. Stalls selling everything from flower-pot hats to shisha pipes, traditional afghan pants and not forgetting the homemade cider.
As the light falls, it is not just the cider that takes priority but also the music. The children have been put to bed and the accordions are cast to one side, in order to allow the music tents to fill with fancily-dressed people. As the sound of guitars escape into the atmosphere, they are met by a combination of fairy lights, candles and dream catchers. It really does emulate a fairytale – with the greatest stars of the night being Dark Designs, producing a captivating performance that further demonstrates the spirit of this far from ordinary festival.