Having started as a private party for friends in 2001 Blissfields has gradually developed to become one of the best small festivals in the UK. It has a reputation for booking a very strong undercard of rising bands; from Mystery Jets playing to about 700 people in 2005 before they became an established group, to what now seems an incredible three pronged attack of Super Furry Animals, Laura Marling and this year’s Glastonbury headliners Mumford & Sons all gracing the main stage in one glorious evening in 2009 when the capacity of the festival was still only at 1,250. Last year Blissfields again managed to get in early with the likes of Jake Bugg, recent top 10 hit-maker Passenger, Charli XCX (who played to a handful of people on the main stage as nearly everyone on site attempted to cram into the Bradley bubble second stage to see Charlotte Church) and now chart big guns Bastille who return as the 2013 headliners.
2013 looks like being another big year for emerging talent at the festival with the likes of Breaking More Waves featured and approved artists London Grammar, Chlöe Howl, Josef Salvat and Matt Corby all playing. Added to that is a smattering of old-school festival favourites like Dub Pistols and Zion Train and local acts, many of whom have found their way to Blissfields through local competition heats. One of those is Breaking More Waves home city band Is Bliss, surely the most perfectly named band to play Blissfields?
In addition this year the festival features a brand new cinema stage. Promising a comfortable and chilled atmosphere this will feature a selection of short films specially chosen by the festival from public submissions for those who want a break from the music.
So what makes Blissfields a yearly must return to event? It’s because its charm and appeal runs deeper than just its well curated line up. It may have moved site from Bradley Farm to Vicarage Farm near Winchester and increased its size to 3,000 paying punters, but it has still managed to retain much of the atmosphere of its earlier days by holding onto and valuing its independence and keeping a local all-inclusive character. For example this year at Blissfields there will be a real ale bar selling 10 beverages including 4 local real ales and ciders. There's also a well run kids area run by Angel Gardens that will include all sorts of arts, crafts and a fire show in the evening.
It’s the combination of that atmosphere as well as the artists playing that has resulted in Blissfields 2013 selling out well before it starts, in a year where many festivals are struggling to shift tickets.
Blissfields may have sold out but if you've missed out on a ticket you can get a flavour of this compact but totally complete festival in the video below. We'll be bringing a full review of Blissfields 2013 in our usual '10 things we learnt' style very shortly after the event.
Arlissa - Ghosts
Blissfields 2012 - (Official Video)