What’ll your festival destination be in 2018? A far-flung island paradise, or a cruise ship traversing the high seas? Perhaps somewhere with a secret forest rave and audiophile soundsystem? Chances are it won’t be a dilapidated holiday camp on the edge of a down-at-heel British seaside resort. That’s because the last few years have seen the slow and steady decline of a great British institution: the weekender.
The first such event of any real note was the Southport Weekender, which began in 1987 and catered to fans of soul, jazz and the then emerging Chicago house scene. For more recent generations, Tidy Weekender in Prestatyn, Bloc Festival or Bangface Weekender in Southport were probably their first real introduction to the joys of the weekender and the strange delight to be found in watching DJs in a hall more used to bingo and mother-in-law jokes.
My first was the inaugural Bugged Out! Weekender in 2012, which took place in Bognor Regis, a town that unfathomably manages to be significantly less glamorous in reality than even its name suggests. A bunch of us from Mixmag went down and saw Julio Bashmore, Hudson Mohawke and Ben UFO play in a theme pub, and Kevin Saunderson and Green Velvet bang it out in a bingo hall. Then we went back to our chalet and nailed shots of coffee Patrón until midday before heading to the freezing beach at two. One of us was eventually found face down in a plateful of Papa John’s pizza, with only sunglasses to protect their eyes from fusing with the pepperoni.