IF you have driven past the Matterley Estate near Winchester in the last few weeks you would have seen what appears to be a new city rising from the ground and that can only mean one thing, the most exciting weekend of the year is here. Yes Boomtown has risen again!

Paying for entry into Boomtown is much more than buying a ticket to go to a festival, you are agreeing that for the time you are there you become a citizen of one of the craziest places on earth.

As 66,000 people descend on the site the biggest problem seems to be deciding who to go and see and the best ways to get from stage to stage. There are 1000 acts ranging from Napalm Death to Lauren Hill via a bit of acoustic folk and just about every type of dance music you can think of. As I wandered the town it soon became clear that the best way ahead was to pick a couple of acts I definitely did not want to miss then just leave the rest to fate. As I made my way from Copper County to Whistlers Green I could well end up somewhere completely different as I caught a glimpse of something wonderful or heard a noise from behind a door and decided to investigate and see where that took me instead.

The beauty of Boomtown is that you never really know what is round the next corner. From the obvious and immense Relic, Nucleus, Town Centre and Lions Den stages to the dance areas in the woods to the strange and obscure behind almost every door.

Lauren Hill, Chase & Status, The Streets and Gogol Bordello drew some of the biggest crowds of the weekend, but for me Slaves and the immense Prophets of Rage were my personal highlights. Having said that almost every act I caught added to the variety of the experience. From the jazz funk of Necktr to the heavy thrash of Napalm Death there was just too much to take in over four days. The show includes a full theatrical team that play characters based all over the site or wander from district to district. I spent a good few hours just sitting quietly people watching.

The stated aim of the Boomtown organisers and creative team is to provide ‘a world of unity, creativity and freedom’. Seven words that say so much but at the same time still don’t sum up just what an experience the team have provided. They have supplied so much more and the only way to understand that is to experience it yourself. This was my first time here but I certainly hope it won’t be my last.