With summer being just around the corner, Balter Festival is back for its third year. Taking place over three days at a top secret location roughly an hour from Bristol, a temporary settlement harbours some of the most colourful characters you’ll ever have the fortune to meet, gathered together by a love of great music and general debauchery. On the 3rd of June the gates swing wide, and you’d be bonkers to miss the Buckfast and jungletek fuelled carnage that ensues.

Balter is a small independent dance festival that has sprung up from raves and the south-west underground scene, which have grown in popularity in the last three years. This year there’s even more, with ten stages linked up with some of the biggest sound systems from the scene. When you’re not rigside there’s plenty to draw you in, with interactive workshops ranging from yoga to hula-hooping, a menagerie of circus mischief and festival games, amongst a multitude of good food and independent clothes stalls. On top of it all, Balter’s populated by the safest heads about, a mishmash of ravers that feel more like an extended family than a group of nutty partiers. Heavily influenced by south-west free party culture, the line-up is brimming with big jungle and raggatek acts. For a relatively small festival it’s gone above and beyond to secure an amazing amount of musical diversity. There are big names in hip hop, garage, drum & bass, reggae, dub, bassline, ska, gypsy; the list goes on. With over 200 artists playing over the weekend there’s always something you can find to get your stomp on to.

If jungle is your thing, there’s plenty to indulge in with heavyweights like Feyder, FFF, Humb and Nottingham’s own Omen Breaks. If it’s hip hop and grime, there are big names from the UK scene on the Sika Stage, including Leaf Dog, Smellington Piff and Devilman. Reggae and Dub are definitely not in short supply either, with Mungo’s Hifi and Solo Banton being two of the biggest acts to grace the Irie Bingo stage. 24 hr Garage Girls are also out in force, taking over a stage for the weekend to provide you with snappy two step beats and wobbly basslines. They’ve got old skool garage legends DJ Luck & Mc Neat, plus big DJs like Deadbeat and Cellardore ft. Mc Starvos. There’s also no short supply of dirty bassline bangers with Phatworld and Ali Monsta. Aberystwyth’s finest, Black House, are back as well, running a stage for their 2nd year. On the Friday they kick off with ghetto funk acts Featurecast and Father Funk, two of the biggest names in the new scene emerging from Bristol. They combine classic funk, soul and hip hop samples with bass heavy breaks and deep funky basslines to create tunes that are guaranteed to get anyone on their feet. To finish, on Sunday, they’ve got the Born on Road vs Chopstick Dubplate soundclash, not to be missed for anyone with an appreciation for ragga jungle.

“A menagerie of circus mischief and festival games…”

A real grassroots event pulling out all the stops to try to show you what a festival used to be like, and what other festivals should aspire to. With only a short time to go, there’s a real sense of excitement in the air. On the 3rd of June Balter is perfectly situated for the ultimate post exam blowout, before everyone goes their separate ways for summer. Tickets are in their final tier now, priced at £100 for a whole weekend and are available here.

Rob Barber

Images Courtesy of Jak MCS

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