Saturday the 7th of August marked the first in a series of open air events from Labyrinth Events. After months of planning and jumping over government hurdles, the brand kicked things off with a bright and funky day, even managing to pull off a last minute line-up change, thanks to Covid travel restrictions. This is the first of the series and what a special day it was.
Location & Travel
Creating a festival out in the sticks comes with its own challenges, but through the logistical work of the Labyrinth team these obstacles were navigated to produce a slickly run operation. The festival site is situated on Souldrop Road in Sharnbrook, Bedford. For those who don’t know, this is a very rural area with very little surrounding the site. Given the countryside location, Labyrinth offered shuttle buses to and from London running at various times and also frequent buses to Bedford station, ensuring that travel to and from the festival was easy.
Drop off/collection points were close to the festival gates and site was small and accessible, there was even strong mobile signal (which as we all know is a must these days).
Deep within Bedford’s luscious countryside, the grounds of the eccentric Tofte Manor played the perfect host to this spectacular day out. The centuries old grand house sat perfectly in the background of this summer festival, while the beautifully kept gardens and sharply trimmed hedges acted as a natural perimeter for the site.
Flat ground with short cut grass throughout made for easy travelling between stages, bars and stalls. Alongside the two stages and various stalls, found a comfy VIP area with some backstage access and facilities. Of course the festival wouldn’t be what it is without a mention of it’s psychedelic labyrinth path that was tucked around past the main stage.
Security were thorough and friendly upon entry, giving a safe and warming welcome to attendees as they arrived. Stewards were also very polite and helpful with directions or other issues. The festival featured multiple food stalls and one big bar tent of which staff were always friendly, quick on their feet, and serving with a smile.
With large bars, packed with fast and friendly staff, queues were never too long and service flowed smoothly. A variety of drinks were available including Beers, wines, cocktails and spirits as well as a handful of non alcoholic sodas and minerals. A little on the expensive side, with water and minerals for £3, cans of beer for £6, double spirits for £10 without a mixer and a bottle of wine for £27. More the average festival price, but nothing outrageous.
Alongside the bars were also two cocktails stands from NIO Cocktails offering a small selection of their tasty drinks for £10 each. The bars and cocktail stands also implemented a discount on your next drink when you returned the cup, a popular method for saving money and staying eco friendly!
A handful of food trucks and stalls operated at Labyrinth giving attendees a tasty selection of meat and meat-free meals. Fresh oven-baked pizzas from Alpine Pizza, hand prepared burgers from the MOB Kitchen, coffee and even the classic festival essential ice cream van were located in and around the food area. However, the standout stall has to go to Loaded Hash Brows, who offered a variety of toppings for their crispy fried potato treats, a unique and very filling meal.
The crowd at Labyrinth was certainly a happy one. Smiles and bright clothing everywhere, the perfect combination for one of the first festivals back after almost 2 years of no partying. It was clear to see the appreciation on everyone’s faces as the familiar feeling of dancing in a field surrounded by like-minded folk came back to them. No trouble, no aggression just lots of love and dancing.
Production & Sound
The Labyrinth Stage saw a day full of live acts and unique DJs. The stage was of a simplistic design, sized to perfectly to suit the festival. Getting into the summer spirit, the front of the stage was doused with a greenery, trippy labyrinth decor and hanging sunstrip lights. Throughout the day the arrays of Fresnel and PARnel lights dazzled the crowd, injecting tension and excitement to the the artists’ performances. One set event saw the use of a large LCD screen in the centre of the stage. As the sun went down the light show got into full swing, a combination of the sunstrip lights on the back of the stage and rows of moving head beams on the top created lucid and smokey displays as the closing DJs performed.
Tom Dixon Stage
Built into a tree line, the Tom Dixon Stage comprised of a tucked away tropical hut featuring more greenery and brightly coloured decor. A row of hay bales acted as a border around the dance floor which was centred with a towering metallic sculpture. As night time fell, the true magic of this stage came to life. Flower shaped, stand alone lights burst into colour and flickered throughout the final sets, creating a truly magical display.
The talented UK artist played his debut Labyrinth set in the middle of the day. Keeping it strictly live, this artist performed an energetic funk and synth-filled set. The LCD screen came into action on stage with clips of the famous Blessed Madonna dancing to her infectious collab with Fred Again “We’ve Lost Dancing”.
It’s always nice to see a variety of music at festivals, even the smaller ones. Elder Island came on stage fully equipped with an armoury of different instruments and dove straight into a set packed with psychedelic and melodic vibes to ease people into the day.
If you haven’t heard of this lady then you need to find out. The unique London DJ took full control of the Tom Dixon stage as the evening began. Josey played a coolly orchestrated set, spanning multiple dance genres that were packed with groove and energy to keep the small tropical stage moving.
Labyrinth have made something really special, and importantly; their own. The unique location that offers jaw-dropping country views, a grand manor and a cosy festival site are hard to come by. A memorable experience for those in attendance, which was widely apparent from the smiles as people left.
Catch Labyrinth back in Bedford next month, as Ame, Dixon, TSHA and many more descend on Totfe Manor for another party to remember. Final tickets available here.
Words: Omar Thorne