This unique festival situated in the heart of the Pembrokeshire countryside is a new edition to the music scene in Wales, supporting local artists as well as known names from further afield.
With 2018 being it’s first year, Westival is still a baby in comparison to festival giants such as Boardmasters and Glastonbury, but isn’t far from the same unique joining together of like-minded people and perfectly tailored music.
Offering underground disco, afro and techno music, the acts are meticulously picked and chosen to suit a specific theme, keeping each day of the weekend in harmony.
Organized by two local boys, Joe Worley and Jack Lear, the heart of Pembrokeshire and South West Wales is felt through each aspect of the festival. From the decorations (ft massive disco ball and hay bales for outdoor seating) to the food stalls (greasy burgers or stone baked veggie pizza and barista style coffee) every detail is perfectly designed to suit all variety and tastes, in keeping with the whole underground festival vibe.
After a weekend of dancing, drinking and camping in such a beautiful area of Wales, I truly believe this festival is one of a kind, a completely unique experience – one of harmony with your fellow festival goers that is often lost through giant success and increasing size of a festival.
I was surprised by the amount of people making the trip all the way down to Wales from various places around the UK and even further afield. Being only in its first year Westival hadn’t made a name for itself prior to 2018, therefore these people had bought their tickets through word of mouth or from seeing the carefully selected lineup and promotion. These people had little expectations and everyone I spoke to said it had exceeded theirs. The music is at the forefront of what makes this festival one to watch for the future.
Speaking to Joe and Jack you can tell how passionate they are about this festival and making it a success. The music is so important to both of them and they don’t fear being swayed into changing any of the selected styles of music to attract a different audience. The people Westival attracts, it seems, are a happy crowd, not following as sheep but seeking festivals that provide a unique experience and radiating a passion for good music and like-minded company.
I spoke to Joe about how he felt the first year of Westival went, and what his plans are for the future of his carefully curated little festival…
Where did you get the idea from to begin a project on such a scale as Westival?
For me, it seemed like a natural progression. We began Westival as a private party in 2017 and the response we got from that was much bigger than we thought it would be. I’ve always been a lover of music but when I was younger I didn’t think one day I’d start a festival, it was that first event that really spurred me on and the excitement and motivation I get from bringing the festival together is enough of a reason to make it bigger and better from here.
What made you decide on this genre of music? And how do you go about the process of picking and choosing the lineup?
Personally, I love disco and afro music and I’m a massive fan of live percussion and live African bands, so I really wanted to bring these genres together alongside the classic dance music of house and techno, which is what the smaller Cave stage is heavier with. Disco music has been picking up over the last few years but in terms of afro and disco music together I think there is a lack of festivals that cater for both of these genres, and that is what makes Westival pretty unique.
How do you feel the first year of this festival went?
Judging by the feedback we got, everyone was a massive fan of the intimate vibe and the warm atmosphere which is definitely going to be maintained for the next couple of years in terms of the scale. People also said they were really big fans of the quality of the music, which was pleasing to see as it means we don’t always have to spend thousands on big headliners, it means we can book artists that we think people will enjoy and discover new music within the genres that they like. Overall it was definitely a success and has confirmed the fact that looking at camping festivals in South Wales, you’d be lucky to find one like Westival.
What can people expect for the future of Westival and what are your plans for 2019?
We are eager to get the 2019 lineup out as we believe people are going to love it, we have a higher number of underground artists this year which should appeal to people who love these genres of music. They’ll be a lot more going on too and the field will be fuller with more stalls and artwork up throughout the days. Production will also be improved this year and our aim is for an increase in ticket sales, whilst still keeping this intimate atmosphere as it’s what people were so positive about. In terms of the future, we’d just love to see Westival grow. By investing the money we make and not charging too much for tickets and alcohol etc, people know that this is a fair festival. Hopefully within 4/5 years it will be one of the best boutique festivals in the UK!
An intimate underground party has been organized to promote the return of the festival this week on Thursday January 24th at Undertone in Cardiff, there will be limited tickets on the door so it’s best to grab yours in advance from their facebook page.
An event was also held in Haverhub, the Old Post Office in Haverfordwest in December which was a massive success.
Joe said, “the aim of these events is to raise awareness of what the festival is all about, increasing exposure to the name and music we provide.”
“Funnily enough we had a really good response to the festival from people outside of Wales and Pembrokeshire, but not so much inside the county.”
With hopes to change this, Joe mentions that Jack and himself are “really positive” for the future of Westival and that local people will enjoy the festival.
The boys believe when people in Wales and Pembrokeshire come to these events it will truly “make an impression”, engaging locals with the underground disco, afro and techno music on offer, whilst supporting Welsh artists as well as known names from further afield.
Wesitval 2019 will be taking place in July this year.