In their own words, “Noisily offers an alternative to mainstream festival culture, an inclusive haven where underground music thrives and self-expression flourishes“, and it certainly is a hidden gem in the current over-saturated festival market.
It ticks all the boxes for my personal criteria of a ‘proper’ festival’; independently owned, with a great ethos, incredible care and attention to detail on everything from the decor to the varied programming… as well as a true sense of community that is not limited to the four days that the festival is on! Where egos are left at the gate and punters can get down for 4 days in a secret forest paradise with no fear of judgement.
Noisily has been on my festival hit list for a while now after hearing many whispers from friends who have been over the years – and I wasn’t disappointed. Shout out to a few of my pals on the Noisily crew who had been extolling its praises for years and influenced me to finally try it out – cheers Rachee, Lizy & Sarah!
Those Festival Facts
What? Noisily Festival
Where? The grounds of ‘Nosely Hall’ in Leicestershire, UK… the festival is in a gorgeous little woodland atop a hill stretching down into a wooded valley.
Who? A snug 6,000 experienced ravers!
Attracting a diverse crowd of all ages into one of the most idyllic, natural festival sites on offer, Noisily favours music across the heavier side of the electronic spectrum. This is balanced out by the oasis of the Mind Body Soul area which offers a myriad of ways to relax and rejuvenate.
I was kindly invited along to check the festival out by my lycra loving pals at Burnt Soul and I went with my festival friend Jessi aka Where’s My Tent who was also reviewing the festival – you might recognise her from previous posts like this one from Download a couple of years ago or you’ll have seen her if you caught our Instagram live over Glastonbury weekend. We actually met through our blogs at Secret Garden Party back in 2017 and remain firm friends but this was our first festival actually going together! Jessi’s lovely friend Laurie also came along for the ride.
That Festival Life of Luxury
How much Powerpuff Girl energy is this!?
I arrived early Friday after the girls had already had a warm-up night and I arrived to some serious styyyyle! The lovely people at the boutique campsite, Portobello Tents, had kindly offered Jessi a stay in one of their luxury Lotus Belle tents… and, wow! I’ve been lucky enough to stay in some boutique options before but I’ve got to say that they all paled in comparison. For starters, Lotus Belles are gorgeous spacious structures and adding to that some divine finishing touches including a dressing table, memory foam mattresses and robes; we were in for a relaxing stay.
I mean would ya look at that!
Jessi enjoying those memory foam mattress vibes
I unpacked my clothes onto hangers (luxury or what!?!) slung on my trusty Lady Jane Sequin shorts, had a quick photoshoot with the glorious tent (would be rude not to!) and headed into the festival with the girls. We took a short meander through the ‘Mind Body Soul’ forest to the top of the steep stairs that lead into the beautiful wooded valley that hosts the festival and wandered in to have a bit of an explore and pick ourselves up some cocktails.
Noisily Nourishment & the Festival Atmosphere
“Noisily is a festival that celebrates the individual, cultivates understanding in the collective, and explores what it means to be human in today’s World.
We loved this lady’s handmade pom pom outift!
Coney Woods makes a beautiful location for the festival, the valley feels like a magical secret escape and the natural landscape means that there are loads of areas to explore. Once we’d picked up a delicious selection of cocktails we rested in the open clearing in the centre of the site where there is loads of space to lounge and soak up the atmosphere of the festival, whilst you watch the aerial circus performances that feel like they are constantly happening across the weekend.
Chowing down some samosas, looking elegant in a hammock!
The food & drinks offering was really excellent, something that pretty important to me! I gorged on everything from delicious stone-baked pizzas and spicy homemade samosas to nourishing Acai bowls for breakfast. We also loved the excellent range of cocktails (but not so much the queue at the bar!) and we particularly enjoyed the froze (frozen rose) bus as well as the scrumpy cider slushies.
The non-food traders were wonderfully curated, with quality and varied wares and a great focus on vintage including my pals – Smoking Gun Vintage and Inka.
Cider slushies, Inka, Froze & Smoking Gun Vintage
Though Noisily is small and intimate, the stage area builds and the overall look of the festival is something really special. I haven’t seen a huge amount like it in the UK, it reminds me of photos I’ve seen of big festivals across the pond like Electric Forest in the US or Shambhala in Canada.
My friend Lizy, pictured here, is part of the decor team at the festival – you might remember her from a guest post she did a couple of years ago about what it’s like to do decor at festivals. The decor is a really integral part of the whole Noisily experience, Lizy works with a whole team including Noisily’s art director Ruth Herbert, who had this to say about the festival;
“Art is a huge part of the experience at Noisily Festival. As the music is important for dancing, the carefully curated art installations and stage designs help festival-goers lose themselves in a visually immersive playground. Surrounded by nature, art and music allows that rare opportunity to engage with life on a different, and much more personal and playful level.”Ruth Herbert – Art Director
Little touches like this really added to the community vibe.
Musical Explorations at Noisily Festival
So I think there’s a bit of a misconception (at least amongst people I know!) that Noisily is purely a psytrance festival. Whilst personally I can really get into a bit of psytrance sShout out to the Tribe of Frog stage at Boomtown in 2013 and two seasons in Goa for turning me on that one haha!), I know that psytrance can be a very polarising genre! BUT for those of you that swear against it (and I know there are MANY!) Noisily is in no way just a psytrance festival; there’s only one stage dedicated to the genre at the festival, although the festival is firmly routed in Psy culture.
The programming is, however, all electronic music with no live stages and sits decidedly outside of the mainstream – I think I had heard of like two of the DJ’s?!
The largest stage, the Noisily stage pictured above is a beautiful wooden structure in the forest which had awe inspiring light shows, projections, smoke and bubbles as the skies darkened overhead and represented a side of the techno and House spectrum.
Meanwhile, the Treehouse and Leisure centre stages were more bass-oriented and where we spent the majority of our time. My friend Rob designed and built the beautiful Nook stage below which was new for last year and played more chilled out global beats.
The Parliament of Funk was always a vibe across the weekend and played host to a whole heap of takeovers from many different genres.
Buuuut… I have to swing back to psytrance now; The Liquid stage was epic! My favourite of the stage designs and always boasting an amazing dedicated crowd as gigs in the psytrance scene always seem to have.
Obviously, after our strenuous day of drinking cocktails and sitting on the grass, it was time to head back to our humble palace for a costume change…
Jessi and I switched into our Burnt Soul Rebel catsuits and I borrowed a Headspace crown from Jessi & some Bottle Blonde Studio tinsel earrings.
Friday Night’s Alright!
Our Friday night was so much fun! We spent it meandering around every single one of the stages, getting our faces painted, watching a circus show, and having a good old boogie…! One of our highlights was the WXMB 2 collective takeover at Parliament of Funk – an all-female collective of DJ’s and women in the music industry who also put on other talks and events. They were playing fun tunes and we met a load of lovely girls there who we danced with all night.
Making the most of our glow in the dark catsuits!
How epic does the Noisily stage look at night?! GIF captured by Jessi
We finally wandered back to the tent after everything had finished at about 4am ready for a lovely sleep!
No filter on this lush sunrise over boutique camping
Self Love Saturday at Noisily Festival
On Saturday morning we just about managed to drag ourselves out of those ridiculously cosy beds just in time to head off to a glorious hot tub session which we had prebooked with the lovely people from SOAK.
Can you tell we went out the night before… ? Ha!
Photo by Jessi… I loved that Beyond Retro swimsuit you can just about see but I left it somewhere after this photo – doh!
After a nice long soak I was still in the mood to pamper myself so I headed further into the Mind Body Soul woodlands in search of the massage that I had booked the day before. Which incidentally was the BEST MASSAGE I’ve ever had in my life, let alone at a festival (Brian hun, if you’re reading this, marry me, please?)
After another nap (I was treating myself okay and those memory foam beds don’t mess around!) we got ready for the evening…
We headed out to dance and bumped into some of my lovely pals who I first met at Meadows in the Mountains many moons ago just as it started hammering it down and we danced (slipped around in the mud) at The Treehouse stage for a bit before the rain got a bit too much. That fruity outfit above wasn’t too suitable for the weather (weirdly!) so we took cover in the Leisure Centre, the only covered stage at the festival. By then I was fully soaked through so we laughed and dripped and ran all the way up the stairs to the shelter of the tent to try and salvage our faces and dry ourselves off. Unfortunately, I succumbed once again to the sweet sweet memory foam mattress and called it a night but Jessi and Laurie were brave warriors and went out again until sunrise!
I woke up on Sunday feeling the benefit of those beds once more (seriously how will I ever sleep in a tent again!?) and I left the party animals snoozing whilst I went out for a little explore before I had to hit the road to get back home for work in the morning…
Luckily I had my trust Carny Valley rain cape ready this time for any eventualities, but I needn’t have worried as the weather had all cleared up and the Noisily crew were hard at work covering the sticky mud with hay!
My first stop was the Mind Body Soul area where I headed to a beautifully decorated tent emblazoned with the word ‘Mind’ in the middle of a woodland clearing. I wanted to catch a talk from the Noisily festival directors, who were chatting in a panel about the way that they wanted to bring the spirit of Noisily outside the festival (bravely early in the day for a Sunday!!)
“It’s about mobilising the collective beyond the woods… and creating a proactive change beyond the festival”Noisily Co-founder
They spoke of their new initiative ‘Noisemakers‘:
Noise Makers aims to activate the festival community and create real-world network of innovative, engaged and active conscientious contributors committed to taking action and making positive change out in the world.
A network of humans who share information, knowledge and solutions, united in improving ecosystems, climate and social justice. Supporting their extended network to be more confident in taking action and making the change that they want to make.
This sort of thing is what really excites me about festivals, their potential to be incubators for good ideas and positive change, I’m super interested to see where they take it!
All we had time left for on Sunday was one quick costume change and a little explore before I had to find my lift back home to Bristol.
100% more prepared this time in our Carney Valley rain capes!
Really loved Noisily as an exercise in not arriving at a festival and GOING HARD all weekend! This is something I definitely enjoyed getting better at last summer. When you’re working full-time but still heading to 8-10 festivals you’ve got to learn some restraint somehow and being able to dip in on a Friday and leave on a Sunday night isn’t something I’m totally used to, but it can come in handy. That saying, I’m a big believer in getting stuck in for the entire duration of a festival (if you can!) and I’d definitely try to come from the Thursday to Monday next time to get the full Noisily experience with much less napping!
It was ace to spend time with these two as well, I’m used to kind of being a lone ranger and coming and working, or coming as a pair or with a huge sprawling group… 3 really is a magic number! ❤️
Have you been to Noisily before? What did you think of it! Let me know in the comments. As ever, if you’ve got any questions or need any advice I’m here! Check out my full guide to the best UK festivals here.
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Disclaimer: I was given a guest list to Noisily to capture it for my friends at Burnt Soul to share on their Instagram and blog. The incredibly beautiful tent we stayed in was gifted to Jessi (Where’s My Tent Blog) and we just came along for the ride! I paid for all my food, drink, hot tub & massage session and as always, all opinions are truthful & my own.
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