Summer loving: had me a blast!


Samuel Vickers, Second Year, German and Russian

After months of delays, cancellations, and compromises, the Lakota Summer of Love festival truly was a healthy and happy return to live music in Bristol. Taking place in a top-secret location outside of the city (a field about ten miles up the M4), the Lakota Summer of Love hosted thousands of students and attendees, young and old, for a weekend of dancing, DJs, and dodgems.

The festival took place over the 24th and 25th of July, with Saturday catering to house fans and Sunday reserved for drum and bass lovers. Upon arrival, however, it became clear that the Summer of Love was not merely a music festival, as it also offered a slew of food stands, draft beers and cocktails, and fair-ground attractions besides the main event.

For less than £30 per day, the line-up really could not be faulted: Wilkinson, AC13, Decksterity, Jess Bays, and Eats Everything were just a few of the acts to bless the adoring crowds with their presence and their work. Everyone was clearly relishing the chance to let loose and enjoy the live music, and the artists themselves were no exception. The atmosphere throughout the weekend was one of pure elation, tempered only by the palpable social anxiety after fourteen months indoors; this, however, was quickly overcome.

With excited fans in technicolour outfits closing in from all sides there was no choice but to get over any pangs of hygienic hesitation and throw oneself into the familiar crowd. University of Bristol student Alex Sparks pointed out that ‘Seemingly half of Bristol was there as I bumped into people I knew every ten minutes and danced with them until we saw other people.’

Everyone was clearly relishing the chance to let loose and enjoy the live music, and the artists themselves were no exception.

The journey to the Summer of Love was Tolkienesque at best, with transportation and five stages of checks to be passed before entering the festival grounds. To attend the festival, guests had to obtain a Covid-pass either by proving themselves to be double-jabbed or with evidence of a recent negative lateral flow test.

After making the trip down to the Bear Pit, attendees were redirected through a labyrinth of queues and logjams before arriving at the first security check. Here, having presented tickets and Covid-passes, guests were required to walk past a quite erratic canine drugs task force, with about a quarter of entrants being sequestered for a more thorough, human-led investigation. This was a persistent theme throughout the day, with an extremely vigilant security team zipping through the crowds, much to the dismay of attendees and DJs alike. This could have been worse, though, with second year student, Henry Buckland, commenting that ‘Despite the efforts of a holier-than-thou security team, the Summer of Love represented an exciting return to festival life for Bristol.’

More checks followed to distribute festival wristbands and then it was on to the bus stop. When buying tickets for the festival, it was recommended that you also purchase a bus ticket that would convey you up the short stretch of motorway to the festival site. Here, Covid restrictions were unusually really appreciated, with no more allowed onto each bus than the number of seats, resulting in a spacious and scenic trip up the M4.

The same cannot be said for the return journey, which saw crowds of students streaming towards the noble but still inadequate fleet of buses hired by Lakota, inevitably landing some with a 40 minute wait to get home.

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Despite fears of a ‘super-spreader event’, there was no tangible increase in cases of Covid-19 among the festivalgoers, perhaps proving the efficacy of the Covid-pass and the honesty of the self-reported lateral flow tests. Student and attendee Rosie Boiling reported that she ‘felt safe and relaxed and optimistic about the future of similar events.’

Featured Image: James Bridle Photography

Did you attend Lakota's Summer of Love Festival?