Earlier this month , from June 2 to June 4, the eighth instalment of the beautiful Forbidden Forest Festival took place. This unique three day festival is a celebration of the audiovisual wonders of house, techno and drum and bass, located on the strikingly ethereal grounds of Belvoir Castle in northeast Leicestershire. As the sun etched its way through gaps in the towering foliage, daily lineups boasted a colourful array of acts,across four memorable stages: The Bunker, The Manor , The Reactor, and the debut Castle stage.
For the first time, fans were able to enjoy the sold out festival as a boutique overnight affair, as an alternative camping experience, hosted by Candypants, celebrated its debut. In doing so, it offered weekend ticket holders a silent disco night, a 24 hour market place equipped with food stalls and secure on-site lockers.
The opening night, exclusive only to these weekend campers, saw Defected Records present the legendary electronic duo Groove Armada to grace the stage for a super-styled groove riddled DJ set. Their performance was matched by other house heavyweights, as Rinse FM resident and Beatport’s artist of the month recipient Low Steppa played tracks that left festival goers frolicking across the grass paved dancefloors. As usual, Defected’s Glitterbox club series came prepared to deliver an unforgettable stage experience. Funk – heads across the castle’s grounds enjoyed the sweet, ear melting musical curation provided by legendary tastemaker and Glitterbox fan favourite Melvo Baptiste. Those with an appetite for bass had their hunger satiated with a raw and captivating set from HomoBloc and Warehouse project resident Gina Breeze, who’s genre-bending blends interestingly incorporated elements of acid, techno and disco.
The GRAMMY nominated DJ producer duo Camelphat returned to the forest stages for a third time headline space following their 2017 and 2019 performances, spearheading the Saturday with their usual progressive tech house magic. The surrounding woodland served as a canvas for the immersive stage production , equipped with vibrant lasers and dynamic smoke machines, creating an artistic visual experience that translated the memorable soundscapes into an optical affair. Their performance was riddled with new music, creating a night that “belonged to CamelPhat”.
For those with an ear for all things 160 bpm and above, Saturday June 3 was truly a day for the history books. Iconic masters of the drum ‘n’ bass genre, including Andy C, who’s live performances have won him numerous awards and acclaim, Hedex, Wilkinson and High Contrast, sent breaks and bass pulsating through the low ends of speakers, sending sound waves through the grounds of northeast Leicester. Movers contorted their bodies to the fluid sounds of liquid DnB pioneers Hybrid Minds, who returned to the festival for the second time.
Patrick Topping, founder of label and event brand Trick, also left his mark with his third return to Belvoir Castle for an euphoric set riddled with enough masterful production to draw ears from all corners of the festival.
Sundays also provided a plentiful platter of acts for the skank-loving ravers to move their feet to. Girls dont sync, the energetic, female only DJ collective that pledges to create an “army” of female DJ’s through tutoring and mentoring schemes, supported headliners with an inspirational set, leaving crowds sticking their hands up in the air in praise and awe. Sharp – tongued MC BRU-C also took to the stage with his usual infectious lyricisms.
For those looking for irresistible soulful grooves under Sunday’s clear skies, French DJ – producer Folamour took to the stage offering fan favourite melodies in combination with newer tracks from his new album, Manifesto.
Check out our selection of the best images from Forbidden Forest below
Tiffany Ibe is Mixmag’s digital intern, follow her on Twitter
Written by: Tim Hopkins