Meadows in the Mountains 2018: A Magical Mountaintop Escape
I almost don’t want to write this review so that this magical place can stay just as secret and secluded forever.
A festival with community spirit – relaxing and chilled despite the music continuing well into the morning. This festival has something for everyone and the glue that binds it all together is its community feel.
Meadows in the Mountains takes ingredients from all works of spiritual and local life to regale visitors with a wondrous selection of activities. With workshops and activities ranging from puppet making to hula hooping to body movement classes, MitM fuels its workshops and incredible food stalls with the talent of the locals. It is more than just a festival, it is an experience. A time that marks a definite break from reality and, for some (including myself) a learning experience.
The lineup is far from chart-topping but that is not the point. Festival revellers can wander around this small but beautifully situated festival atop the Rhodope mountains, Southern Bulgaria, and come across most genres of musical talent. The eclectic lineup comprised of artists from electronic, folk, disco and drum and bass backgrounds as well as an exhilarating performance by Little Gay Brother (not one to miss) – who made sure to sprinkle some sass and sparkle all over the mountain. One of the most memorable moments of the festival was the Sunday morning sunrise itself – shining through an other-worldly mist above rolling hills, forest-coated mountains and seemingly-reachable clouds.
Other highlights included the Swiss electronic-with-a-twist band Kalabrese. The English, German and French lyrics are charmingly random, discernibly catchy and danceable. I am looking for future tour dates.
Bristol-based Young Waters daytime set was mesmerising, with harmonies which kept your hairs on end and enticed those entering the festival – enchanted and enthralled by melodies they instinctively came to sit and listen.
Agbeko, an 11 piece band of 20 somethings channelled the spirits of old ska and jazz together with modern lyrics to draw in one of the biggest crowds of the festival. A lovely bunch, you could find them wandering around enjoying the festival afterwards long after their set had finished.
Thor Rixon, with an alternative electronic vibe, was an act anyone would be delighted to stumble across. Accompanied by the mesmerising Phoebe Alice Lou they mixed some classic R&B into their unique sounds and I find myself still listening to them on Spotify.
The journey there was a long one, many Meadows folk explored beautiful Bulgaria beforehand. Flying from London means a 5-hour coach from the capital Sofia on the other end. But, ultimately, this adds to the unique sense of wonder and playfulness of MitM – so the initial slog is completely worth it. At Meadows, you feel part of something, away from reality and closer to nature. The ethos of the festival site discourages single-use plastic and emphasises the importance of giving back to the local environment and people – if this could be continued inside its camping facilities this festival would be even better.
As a Glastonbury goer, in comparison Meadows gives a more relaxed experience with beautiful scenery and weather to simply chill out in the day and wander round – coming across new talents and classes or even a giant canvas to paint on. Artists mingle with the festival goers and up-and-coming names, there is no stardom feel but very much the feeling that everyone is connected and there for the same reasons. I loved having the time, space and the feeling that I had all the time in the world to enjoy this beautiful place.
Alas, that was not the case and now the dream is over: I wish I could live up on that mountain forever. In any case, I recommend that anyone who shares the Meadows ethos, wants to explore the local culture and needs an escape from reality – then Meadows in the Mountains is the festival for you.