The first thing you notice is that the campsite is spotless. It was the Sunday when we arrived.
The Sunday of a festival. The day when the place should resemble some circle of hell.
Not one of the nine ones we are familiar with: limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, fraud, and treachery.
Maybe a 10th one which consists entirely of squalor, frustration, inconvenience and bad smells.
There no litter at all. It was as if the Japanese fans from the World Cup had decided to go to a festival in Ireland.
The toilets were at least of a standard putting them above the 80th percentile of Dublin rented accommodation.
It was almost eerie walking through.
Like when you are in a Scandinavian city and everything is so perfect you are afraid that there is some awful cult running the place and everything seems fine until you notice no one has any fingers.
But to the best of my knowledge this was not a cult situation.
This was Kaleidoscope — the first family-friendly festival I’ve been to. I was there doing a Book Thing.
I’m always doing Book Things these days. I’ve been to plenty of festivals with a family-friendly zone.
But family-friendly zones at a Big Grown Up Festival is like getting a salad at a chipper.
You have the option but you are exposed to a lot of battered sausage.
It’s the same on flights where there is a certain muttering of “well if you wanted to have a life you shouldn’t have had children”.
That’s a fair point. But there was none of that feeling here.
This was a festival explicitly for people with families.
There were still bands there MAKING NOISE WHEN I WAS TRYING TO DO A BOOK THING. PLEASE HAVE A BIT OF CONSIDERATION.
The main difference was drink. It was like a glimpse of what life would be like here if we didn’t bring pallets of cans to a festival.
I saw one man mildly drunk and I nearly rang the guards or Joe Duffy.
That doesn’t mean you couldn’t have a pint if you wanted to.
The queue for ice-cream was far longer than the queue at the bar.
Going to the bar was like going through airport security during the afternoon. You had your choice of hatches.
It doesn’t mean there weren’t those stresses that happen at all festivals.
Namely, trying to make arrangements to meet someone.
At Grown Up Festivals the main challenge is trying to get a group of people to make a decision and go to something.
And there’s always some legend who has got lost or is completely naked having woken up in the forest with no memory of anything.
In Kaleidoscope’s case the chief impediment to logistics is small children insisting on not wanting to follow The Plan.
Like, if you’re not getting absolutely balubas yourself and a bit of an introvert, does your enjoyment of a festival and the atmosphere depend on there being about thousand ABSOLUTE SESH MONSTERS there who are giving it loads.
Is it all very well to be holier than thou and say you see you don’t need drink to have good time but does someone need to do the work instead?
I don’t know, I think there must be a happy medium in between the World Health Organisation’s zero craic binge drinking definition and Man Asleep With Something Written With His Own Poo On His Chest.
Kaleidoscope won’t be enough for the Wheelbarrow Of Drink people.
But it was damn good fun all the same. And very clean.
Did I mention how clean it was?