Somehow Victorious Festival is already in its fourth year. Every year it has expanded, attracting bigger acts and bigger crowds and yet somehow I’d never been.
But this year one of my dad’s favorite bands, Madness, were headlining the Friday night opening party, so my mum and I decided to book tickets and take him.
Victorious already sets itself apart from the rest of the festival circuit with its reasonable ticket prices, a day ticket averages from £20 – £40, a far cry from the £190 a weekend at local competitor Bestival might set you back. These low prices have kept the event accessible to locals, which is essential to keeping them on side, a wise move from the organisers.
Growing up in Portsmouth has developed in me a slight cynicism which didn’t let my expectations of the event get too high. As a teen I’d regularly complain that there was nothing to do here in ‘Pompey’. It was easy to feel like the city just had nothing going for it. But now, thanks to weekends like Victorious, that teenage petulance is starting to wear off for good.
Having always avoided Southsea Common on the festival weekend, I was completely surprised by the sheer logistical huge-ness of site. The level of organisation was clearly high and showed in our hassle free experience. Entry on the Friday afternoon was smooth and friendly, no hands-y security or loud cattle-herding stewards. Which was incredibly refreshing, trust me, some festivals get it SO wrong.
I love the sensation of entering a festival, the mish-mash of genres floating over from different stages, the laughter of strangers, the smell of chips and the sharp taste of cider. It’s like entering wonderland, everyone is happy, no-one has to go to work and anything could happen.
If you want, you can break into song or dance at any moment, wear glitter, flowers, or even a fez, and people are more likely to join in than bat an eyelid.
Okay so maybe you can tell I like my festivals. But as we began to explore the site further I knew I was going to like this one in particular.
I mean, how many festivals include war statues, cannons and even a castle?!? A castle with a champagne bar and sea views no less. That’s another unique feature, I’ve never been to a festival where you can watch the sun set across the water whilst sipping craft cider and swaying to your favorite band. Victorious has managed to take all the best bits of Portsmouth and add them to the usual festival formula to make for a truly unique experience!
As well as a champagne bar, there was a real ale tent on site with an unbelievable amount of beers on offer and there were also two other large beer tents near the stages. Unfortunately, despite the choice, getting served was a bit of a nightmare. As the night went on the queues got longer and longer, particularly in the night’s main area, the Castle stage. I set off while the Charlatans were on stage in search of a shorter line, the Real Ale Tent’s seemed bearable, but even that took thirty minutes to get to the bar. I didn’t mind too much though, as it was right next to the Real Ale Stage where Craig Charles Funk and Soul Club were really getting down.
Overall, the beer tent queues were pretty awful, to the point where you have to wonder if it’s an intentional ploy to slow drinking. I hope that isn’t the case, as ultimately it only gives sneaky festival-goers another reason to smuggle in their own booze.
On a lighter note, the food stalls were all just awesome. Literally something for everyone. My heart nearly stopped when I saw The Garlic Farm stand (because as I’ve said many a time: garlic is life) Their Garlic Fries were so good, I think I could live on them alone for the rest of my days.
We tried the Flaming Cactus for dinner and were not disappointed. The veggie burritos were jam packed with filling and the nachos were pretty decent too!
I managed to get back from the beer tent just in time for Madness. The crowd was gargantuan. It was hard to say if the huge gathering was a demonstration of Madness’ crowd appeal or how much Portsmouth just needed to party.
I am surprised and proud to say that Victorious Festival manages to encompass the traditional historic and seaside glory of Portsmouth, whilst bringing in its up-and-coming music scene, the unique Southsea vibe and all the while still being affordable. I felt proud to be from this majestic city and be a part of its history and I can’t wait for next year!
Early bird tickets for next year are already on sale here.