Everything We Overheard at Boomtown Festival 2023

Dispatch from a paradise of donk and drugs.
A photo of people dressed up at Boomtown festival.
Photo: Jak Hutchcraft

It’s Monday and I’m sitting at my desk, drinking green tea and basking in silence. A highlight reel from the weekend is playing on repeat in my hungover head: gurning faces, relentless strobes, chaotic mosh pits, absurd costumes, thundering bass and rapturous joy.

Boomtown is a paradise for some and a hellhole for others. As far as fesivals go, it’s utterly unique. As proud champions of all things underground, the bookers get the best donk, jungle, punk, UK garage, reggae, gabber, drum & bass, metal, anti-folk, hip hop, ceilidh, noise and dubstep acts to play over the five days in August. Hidden away in a valley and hilltop forest in Winchester, this year had newer acts with names such as The Menstrual Cramps, Tchaidonksky, Ukulele Death Squad, Crack Street Boys, Scottish Gabber Punx, and DJ Gaylord, as well as classics like Cypress Hill, Shy FX and Peaches. 


The audience was a beautiful mashup of hip hop heads, crust punks, weekend warriors in fancy dress, reggae lovers, fresh-faced sixth formers, cybergoths, hippies, hench raver lads with their tops off and pretty much every subculture or micro-subculture you can dream of. This mix might seem like a recipe for conflict, but people were too busy having the time of their lives for beef.

What Your Favourite UK Music Festival Says About You

There are actors roaming the festival in character, tons of secret stages, gargantuan sound systems, bizarre art installations and interactive games. Now in its 15th year and with 66,000 in attendance, the only way to describe the experience of Boomtown is: an immersive theatre show meets an illegal rave.

I went this year and noted down all the weird shit I heard:

“Apparently they gave their cat brain damage by hotboxing the room.”

“It’s just a ping pong table that we wheel around festivals.”

*Walks into fake Irish bar* “My dad would be so proud of me right now.”

“Can you put my tiny dick in your bum bag?”

A photo of people dressed up at Boomtown festival.

​Photo: Jak Hutchcraft

“I was so mashed I thought it was a lake, but it was just rows of cars in the car park.”

“I don’t think I’m outrageous enough.” 

“We’ve definitely met before because I have an Excel spreadsheet of everyone I’ve ever met and what they do.”

“Should we get food or more cocaine?” 


“I want to shoot Suella Braverman in the face.”

“It’s not going to kick in, it’s noise music.”

“I bought the Reptar backpack at the same place I got the hamburger shoes.”

“Is that real police or are they costumes?”

“This used to be way more alternative. Now it’s just full of middle class wannabe roadmen.”

“It’s a Chicken Run-themed donk rave.” 

“You can have a Star Wars card or a Pokemon card. Choose wisely.”

“Is this music?”