Phil Giles

ieperfest – the cleanest festival i have ever seen!

I recently took some time off from the busy life at MetaBroadcast to attend a festival in Belgium called Ieperfest. After going to another Belgium festival called Groezrock a few years ago, me and the guys really enjoyed the atmosphere and different cultures of festivals abroad and wanted to explore more. We stumbled across Ieperfest through one of the bands playing, who had posted about it on their facebook page.

Over time the line-up grew and we knew we had to go, so we got the tickets booked and paid for our Eurostar to Belgium.

the green policy

Leading up to the festival I was taking a read through the website to prepare for the upcoming festival, and I stumbled across a page on the website called ‘The Green Policy’. This page is full of all of the incredible things this festival does to try and have as little impact on the planet as possible.

When we arrived at the festival and got everything set up we decided to go for a wonder around and get our bearings. The first big thing I noticed around the campsite was the bins. Boring yes, but very important, there were three bins in each group, general waste, recyclable waste and compostable waste. I immediately thought that although the thought behind this was great, from previous festival experiences and the drunken states I’ve seen people in no one would respect this.

To my great surprise, by the end of the festival the campsite was 90% clean! There were a few spots where some people didn’t respect the rules, but all in all, everyone did their part and kept the camping area very clean. And I really love this. Everyone digging in and helping made the whole experience so much more enjoyable. There was no need to constantly wonder what you’re standing in, or trying to find a safe place to sit.

cups, cups, cups

The same rules applied in the arena when seeing bands, and again everyone respected this! One big difference from all other festivals I have been to is the use of reusable cups. Every festival I had been to so far used paper disposable cups, which as you can imagine covered the floor by the end of the festival. Ieperfest tackled this by using plastic reusable cups, which on your first drink cost one extra token. Incidentally, they use tokens instead of cash at all the outlets for food and drink and have a stand where you can exchange cash for tokens. Knowing that you had paid for your cup meant that people would return with their cup to the bar and get a fresh cup the nest time. And when you are totally done you can hand your empty cup in and get your token back!

Again this made for a great experience, as at the end of the festival the arena was as clean as it was on day one!

the unmentionables

OK, this is a bit of a grim one so I won’t go on about it too much, but again I think it’s a great step in more eco-friendly festivals. Toilets. Yep that’s right toilets. The toilets at the festival were surprisingly ok! They didn’t smell and were well respected. But the best part of them was all of the “contents” *heave* were used to create compost for growing more food! Now that’s done lets swiftly change topic…

more than music

One last thing I would like to mention from Ieperfest was the ‘more than music’ tent. As you can gather from the name this tent was for everything but music! So a bit of a note here, the hardcore scene and the alternative scene in general, is notoriously involved in politics, being eco-friendly and in a lot of cases veganism and the straight edge lifestyle. And from that all of the food and drink in the festival was fully vegan! This is where the more than music tent comes in. The tent was full of stands from loads of different organisations from animal rights to feminism and everything else in between. All of these stands had free and paid books and leaflets, t-shirts and other merchandise.

Throughout the day the tent held a multitude of discussions and documentaries around all of these issues and helped educate people on them. I think this tent just explains the whole ethos of this festival. I found myself in a few interesting discussions and watching some hitting documentaries while there was a break in bands i wanted to see.

all in all

I think Ieperfest have really hit the nail on the head on how to run a festival. Getting the attendees involved in keeping everything clean and friendly and making sure everyone has a good time is genius. This cuts down on overall clean up costs which keeps the festival cheaper, and also lets the festival spend the money where it counts, on the music!

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