Mayflower Park played host to possibly one of the most colourful festivals the UK has ever seen this Saturday. Set against the backdrop of the River Test and magnificent cruise liners setting sail from their homeport, the atmosphere of the entire event screamed eccentricity. HOLI ONE redefined the festival experience by placing its focus on the concept of expression and celebration of life primary to that of music. HOLI ONE festivals have previously achieved great success across Europe and more recently last year in London where it turned Battersea Power Station into a riot of colour over a sold out weekend.
Southampton marked the beginning of the festivals UK tour this summer so expectations were high. Festival goers arrived in all white in anticipation of the hourly countdowns where coloured powder was released in a euphoric culmination of togetherness.
Gates opened at midday and it was surprising to see that the area of the festival was actually quite small, however crowds trickled in throughout the afternoon and soon the space was packed with excited revellers.
Bristol based Ben Wood provided a comfortable mix of deep house beats with familiar chart tunes which managed to get those who had taken to lazing in the sun up and dancing within minutes. His well constructed set seemed to ease those who were unaccustomed with deep house into the nature of the genre and the following line up for the day ahead.
Next, local Southampton band Uhuru took to the stage and gave one of the most energetic performances of the afternoon despite frontman Connor Daniel being seated and sporting a leg cast. The singer broke his leg at a recent Arctic Monkeys gig but this only complimented the festival through his resilience to rile the crowds liveliness.
The day came to a close with a set from Ministry of Sound DJ Tim Cullen. From chatting with party goers throughout the day it seemed that his headline set had been a deciding factor for many of them and he did not disappoint. Cullen riled the crowds into the late evening and he proved his worth through his admirable ability to read the audience and keep them interested after a long day of messy mischief.
Each artist catered to the upbeat feel of the festival and kept the audience animated, however at times the deep house and dance genres became a little exhausting to listen to continuously. HOLI ONE’s event organisers appeared to acknowledge this by splitting up the artists with Bollywood-style performances by the Trishool Dance Academy from Leeds. Not only was the dance academy a surprise but they also added to the unique message and history of the festival from its Hindu origins. While Ben Wood blasted exhilarating remixes of Top 40 hits, Trishool offered unforgettable modern Indian dance beats. The highlight of the day was watching the crowds explode into activity in an attempt to copy Trishool Dance Academy and the ripple of laughter that followed.
The only negative of the day came when acquiring powder for each countdown. It was disheartening to see that the prices were a little expensive in contrast to the free spirited message of the festival. Five bags of the special powder cost £10, and considering that there were countdowns hourly from 2pm til 11pm, it appeared participating in the whole day would leave revellers significantly more out of pocket than just the ticket price. Luckily this did not take away from the playfulness of the festival and soon powder was being mixed with water in inventive ways to make it last longer.
Overall the day was a unique experience that has yet to be replicated on the UK festival scene and therefore could be considered unmissable. As the day came to the close festival goers left in an deluge of blooming social frivolity and rainbow hues, eagerly searching for somewhere to carry on the evening with the new found energy and lust for life the festivities had provided.
To fully get a feel for the festival, check out this GO PRO video shot on the day: