© Steve Turvey

GQ Hype

Lost Village is the best boutique festival in Britain by miles

Set in an abandoned forest in the verdant Lincolnshire countryside, Lost Village is a chic, boutique festival that promises stages that look like film sets, roaming actors, Patrón cocktails and epic feasts from the likes of Hawksmoor

All well-executed festivals are magical, but Lost Village takes the idea of otherworldly to a whole new level, as a totally immersive experience from start to finish. “As the name suggests, we like the idea of people getting lost and stumbling on things they didn’t expect or, perhaps, even know existed,” says festival co-founder Jay Jameson. “In a world so often calibrated by data-perfect algorithms, we are increasingly interested in disorientation, weirdness and unpredictability. In short, it’s an abandoned village in the middle of a forest, with more than a few shades of Stephen King.”

© Andrew Whitton

More than a few shades indeed. Set in the verdant countryside just outside of Lincoln, Lost Village is a holistic fantasy world, with actors who prowl the woodlands and the most incredible set-like stages. There’s the Junkyard, where old cars and scrap metal make for the perfect plinths to dance on (and in), the spooky Forgotten Cabin (the bar is actually inside), the Burial Ground and, GQ’s favourite of all, Air Base, an abandoned airport where an actual plane – again, all accessible – takes centre stage. And that’s just half of them.

© Andrew Whitton

It’s a festival that thrives on the little details, whether that’s putting on secret sets at the Watcher’s Holt (a pergola covered courtyard behind an abandoned house in the middle of the forest) or the fireworks ceremony that takes place on the lake on the last night. “On one hand Lost Village is very chilled and relaxed – and being in the woods really emphasises that – on the other hand it can often feel like a surreal fever dream,” says the other cofounder, Andy George. “We will often create small, hidden spaces or experiences that only a couple of hundred people will encounter. But this means that no two visits are the same – or even close.”

© CFARUOLO

Little wonder, then, that Lost Village scooped up both Best Small Festival and Best Festival Production at the UK Festival Awards in 2017. Now, as word starts to spread, it’s fast becoming the hottest boutique festival in the country, not just because of the next-level production but also thanks to the food and drink. The brands involved are, simply put, exceptional (think Wilderness, but without the Tories). This year, guests nursed hangovers with turbo Bloody Marys from the atmospheric Żubrówka Forest Bar and that Dishoom bacon and egg naan. Then Dishoom wasn’t just a food truck, but a whole boujee tent that was packed to the rafters from first light until the small hours. “We really wanted to stay distinctive,” says George. “Which is why we were the first festival to re-create a Dishoom restaurant, then turn it into a club at night showcasing some of the best South Asian artists we could find.”

© Steve Turvey

By mid-afternoon, the Patrón lake house was the place to be, with Margarita masterclasses taking place across the weekend and a Patrón cocktail automated dispensing machine on hand for those who couldn’t face queuing. Drinks in-hand, festival-goers lounged around the sides of the stunning lake, enjoying every bit of the bank holiday sun. Over on the other side of the water, the tribal banquet room saw some of the country’s most celebrated chefs curate incredibly dining experiences each day. Jackson Boxer and Neil Rankin both featured, while on the Sunday, there was a roast of epic proportions courtesy of Hawksmoor. GQ highly, highly recommends grabbing tickets for one of the banquets as early as possible – it really was a festival highlight and well worth the £60 ticket, when you consider that’s for three courses and free-flowing alcohol.

© CFARUOLO

For those looking to nourish the mind and soul, there’s the Institute of Curious Minds, where various talks are held (Jameson called Jeremy Deller “a real highlight for 2019”) and an Energy Garden, where guests can enjoy massages, sound baths, yoga classes and more. There’s also the spa, complete with therapeutic wood-fired hot tubs. A note on looking after yourself: if you’re over the age of 21, then only the VIP camping will do. This is “glamping” at it’s very best – we’d highly recommend the Grand Bell Tents.

And the music? “Most festivals are big tents in a big field with big name headline acts. We’re just not that. While we do have big names in the mix, we’re just as focused on people discovering future stars,” says Jameson. The line-up this year was a cracker, with exceptional sets from MC of the moment Slowthai to electro heroes Maribou State and Bicep. “We always wanted to attract a mixed crowd who were always attracted to an idea, rather than a specific genre of music, for example,” adds George. While all the music, GQ can confirm, was completely brilliant, he’s not wrong. This approach is a world away from, say, Wireless, where you’re paying specifically to see the biggest mainstream artists in the world, rather than for a full, completely unique experience. It’s also, we suspect, why the vibe at Lost Village is so positive. As George puts it, “Who needs headline artists when you can have bacon-naan rolls for breakfast, eh?”

27 - 30 August 2020. Register now for tickets at lostvillagefestival.com

Head to GQ's Vero channel to see more incredible photos from Lost Village and our other favourite festivals. Follow GQ on Vero for exclusive music content and commentary, all the latest music lifestyle news and insider access into the GQ world, from behind-the-scenes insight to recommendations from our editors and high-profile talent.

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