Festival fun?

Fun or fail, are these festivals getting it right or getting out of hand?

04 Aug 2011

Winter is full of festivals isn’t it? Well, it certainly is in the wine world with events at Stellenbosch and Limpopo last weekend, events in Robertson and Hermanus this weekend, Soweto wine festival coming up at the end of the month and everywhere we turn seeming to be an excuse to drink wine.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m as fond of a glass of wine as the next girl – but I am beginning to wonder if we’ve got these festivals right.
Too full for fun?
Last year I was at the Franschhoek Bastille festival – and swore ‘never again’. This year I was at Stellenbosch on ‘student Saturday’ which is not something I will be returning to in a hurry.

The Bastille Festival had nearly 4,000 people in one big sweaty tent this year, Stellenbosch had in excess of 6,000 on Saturday, Robertson Wacky Wine Weekend had more than 16,000 over the duration of the festival!

I have to ask – how is it possible to have a good time when things are that busy? Parking is a nightmare, you can’t talk to the winemakers, drunk people are strewn all over the floor – is this the best way for us to show off our wines?
On the other hand
There are festivals that do manage to be busy and workable at the same time – and, in defence of the ones I’ve just named, Sunday at Franschhoek Bastille Festival was extremely pleasant and comfortable and I understand that the Thursday Connoisseurs Evening at Stellenbosch was absolutely fabulous with space, time, lovely wines and chatty winemakers galore.

Should we perhaps designate one day as ‘Drunken Party Day’ and get it over and done with, so that serious wine-drinkers can indulge their tastes – and their wallets – in relative peace and quiet?
Is it safe?
I’m no angel when it comes to drinking copious amounts of wine, but between me and my husband, we do try extremely hard not to drink and drive – thanks Goodfellas for helping with that! Both Robertson and Stellenbosch have made strenuous efforts to lay on shuttle buses for the festivals, but on the evidence of Saturday when cars were parked in every available inch of a three kilometre radius, I’m not sure how much they were used. And just in terms of logistics and security – are all these festivals geared up if there was a fire or bomb scare?

If people attend these events, can they be sure that security personnel are on hand to keep them safe whilst they enjoy themselves? Sadly, I know from friends, this hasn’t always been the case.

Wine festivals are great fun, a wonderful way of relaxing with friends and family by tasting lovely wines and enjoying delicious food – all my favourite things in life.

Obviously we all want to do the same kind of thing and I don’t want to stop visiting these events, but now that they are getting INSANELY popular, perhaps it is time for the organisers to take a fresh look at how they manage their affairs.

We’ve all been to good ones, and I suspect we’ve all been to bad ones too, so let us have your thoughts on festivals in general and what we think they could do better.

Read more on: events  |  safe  |  cathy marston  |  festivals


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