Walking into Kaleidoscope Festival was a pleasure in itself, friendly staff, no queues, no airport security just good old fashioned ticket checking and 'have a lovely day'. It was quickly evident that a lot of thought had gone into this family friendly festival set on the pristine grounds of North London's Alexandra Palace. The main stage set just below the palace, looking towards central London creating the most spectacular of skylines.
The Go! Team were amongst a well worked line-up bringing their feel-good party atmosphere to the main Hill Top Stage and it wasn't long before the sun-drenched audience was dancing to their Northern Soul inspired indie pop beats.
There were plenty of smaller stages and kids areas set along the sprawling hillside with a larger Words & Comedy stage within Ally Pally itself hosting the enjoyably caustic Katherine Ryan and later headlined by punk poet supremo Dr John Cooper Clarke - something for all the family. The food stalls and chilled out Cloud 10 DJ area were situated en route around the perimeter of the Palace. There were also theatrical offerings in the Victorian basements which had the only queues of the festival, a welcome change from recent festival experiences.
With the best sight-lines I've ever seen at a festival for headliner support Ghostpoet we managed to enjoy the set sitting on the grass incline only 50 meters away with hundreds of people standing in front still managing to see the whole stage. Maybe all festivals should be set on hillsides from now on. Despite a few technical glitches with the main stage sound which Ghostpoet seemed unaware of it was a delightful experience.
What better way to close the day than with the fluffy uplifting pop of The Flaming Lips and the balloons and confetti laden experience of their live festival set?
The numbers and layout were just right, with organisers deserving praise for a fully rounded experience. The current UK heatwave played its part too as did the majestic Ally Pally standing like a proud grandmother overseeing the wellbeing of all. I'm not sure what she would have made of The Flaming Lips with their blow up mushrooms, robots and floating unicorns but the theatrical audiovisual experience was certainly welcomed by everyone else. Although Wayne Coyne sometimes seems so busy with all the stage admin and tricks that it was hard to keep the set moving but it all added to the the laid-back North London vibe. Their hits were all included with David Bowie's Major Tom also making a welcome appearance. As dusk fell standing further back to get the full skyline it was truly a magical Kaleidoscopic experience.
Plenty more of the same for next year please!