It’s been over two weeks since my favourite music festival in Romania finished.
Yet I am still scrolling through my photo gallery, re-living that glorious weekend, with tickets for next year already brought, eagerly awaiting next August.
Summer Well’s tagline, “a festival like a holiday”, is the best way to sum up the festival. It manages to combine the relaxation of lazy Sunday with the hype of club. Two things that sound like they would never go well together are combined to form a delicious cocktail of an experience, something I have only found at Summer Well.
Even before stepping foot on the grounds of the Stirbey Domain, where the festival has been hosted for seven years now, you’re already a new person. The giddy excitement of the festival goers queueing in front of the entrance is a contagious, transformative sight. With glittery faces, neon colours, sheer tops and colourful hair, it’s hard not to catch the excitement of the mass of people who share the same love as you for this festival. And once you’re actually inside the Domain, it’s like you’re entering a bubble of good music, delicious food, and great atmosphere. It’s hard to believe the busy city of Bucharest is only half an hour away from this place.
This year Summer Well outdid itself and gave us an extra evening of our favourite festival. Usually beginning on the second Saturday of August, this year proved to be an exception, because on Friday, Summer Well started with a Night Picnic. The highlight of the evening was a full hour of the Bucharest Symphony Orchestra playing covers of songs from the 11 artists that were to perform over the weekend. There were picnic blankets scattered all across the grass in front of the stage, gathered around the small tables with homely decorations. The food court, organised in the style of a food festival, was opened ahead of the festival weekend, too. Night Picnic gave us a taste of the artists that were soon to step on stage, as well as proving to be the most opportune time to explore the Domain ahead of the busy weekend.
It was a very cosy evening, even with the huge turnout.
On Saturday, things got into full swing. Oh Wonder were the first up on stage, and they drew in quite the crowd! They were one of the acts I had been very excited to see at Summer Well, and were better than I could have imagined. Their presence on stage was only matched by Glass Animals – they sang beautifully, they danced around, and what I loved the most, they interacted with the crowd. One of the most memorable moments happened between songs, when Josephine said she had been learning Romanian ahead of the festival, and knew how to say “buna” (hello) and “la revedere” (goodbye), Anthony commenting that it sounded like she was ordering a salad!
HONNE followed this amazing opening duo, who likewise blew me away.I surely missed them last year, when they had to cancel last-minute, but they truly made it up to Summer Well lovers with their performance. They sang all the favourites, and left everyone humming “Warm on a cold night” even after they had left the stage.
Sunday was the highlight of the festival. Nothing But Thieves, Birdy, and Glass Animals were all to hit the stage, and people were excited. It was even more crowded than it had been the previous two days, yet it only added to the atmosphere.
It was such a lovely feeling to see what a diverse crowd Nothing But Thieves gathered, and it truly made me realise that music does bring us all together – when you’re focused on the band and their songs, it doesn’t matter who the people dancing along beside you are, what’s important is your shared love for the same music. The band have an amazing presence on stage, Conor was captivating to watch. I didn’t want their act to end!
They were followed by an emotional show from Birdy. She has such an emotive voice and a very captivating presence on stage, even from behind her (very pretty) piano. I managed to keep my eyes dry, but the same can’t be said for most of the crowd. Birdy kept the audience on their toes, switching between upbeat and soulful songs. Despite the rain that made its appearance halfway through her act, all her fans sang along as loud as ever.
My favourites, however, were Glass Animals – I had been looking forward to seeing them ever since the lineup was announced! And I wasn’t the only one – a sea of pineapples rose above the crowd in anticipation of the band. They put on quite a show – from the gigantic, gold pineapple they brough on stage, to Dave Bayley getting off it to sing among the crowd. It was wild from the beginning to the end! I lost my voice from all the singing/shouting along, and despite being crammed between all the other Glass Animals fans, I danced my heart out. They were my favourite thing about Summer Well 2017.
Other than the amazing lineup, Summer Well has earned a place in my heart thanks to the multitude of things you can get up to while you’re cooling off from all the musical hype. One of its biggest sponsors, Orange had its famous tent and pool lounging area set up as per tradition, with VR experiences, charging stations for phones, and a temporary tattoo station. It also offered festival goers an outdoor cinema experience. There was also a zip line, allowing for a higher view of the festival. For the more adventurous, there was paddle boarding, and for those who wanted a moment of calm, there was yoga. And if you wanted to get away from the crowd but not away from the music, there was a DJ stage that allowed you to do just that.
There is always something for everyone at Summer Well.
This year, besides all the music fans, the festival was also attended by a lama, a pony and a peacock! Other friendly animals included a light up flamingo and a giant cat.
Summer Well puts on exhibition various pieces by a different artist each year, and this year, they included a giant swing and an even bigger slide.
And let’s not forget that Summer Well also doubles up as a mini food festival thanks to their continuously expanding food court and drink stands. (They offer so much choice that I have never eaten the same thing twice, and I still find myself wanting to try new food stands every year). I tried shaved ice for the first time ever, and I was very impressed with it. And although I am not a big fan of energy drinks, Red Bull had some amazing cocktails, and I ended up drinking more energy drinks than I have had in my whole life.
There’s a lot to do and take in while at Summer Well. A leisurely stroll around the Stirbey Domain offers some amazing sights, such as the Stirbey castle and its church. And after all that walking, the lounge areas, where you can take a moment and rest your feet, are a welcoming sight.
I cannot wait to see what’s in store for the next edition of Summer Well!