Rock Werchter: The perfect festival for people who don't 'do' festivals

Good music, good food and minimal mud

Anna Rhodes
Tuesday 11 July 2017 16:37 BST
The festival, located in Belgium, had so much more to offer than good music
The festival, located in Belgium, had so much more to offer than good music (Rock Werchter )

Festival season can be a difficult time for those of us who love music but hate their camping culture, all-night parties and minimal showering.

What are you to do when the line ups are so good but your hatred of mud, drugs and beer swilling is rife?

Well the simple answer is: head to Rock Werchter.

Rock Werchter is located just half an hour from Brussels, near the Flemish town of Leuven - just a two-hour trip on the Eurostar from London St Pancras.

Situated on a huge farm, you would think it would be mud central. However, the organisers know what they're doing – sand is everywhere, and plastic paving fills the main site of the festival, meaning the chance of sinking into a pile of mud is zero to none.

Charli XCX put on a show shopping performance (Rock Werchter)

Being so close to Leuven, a shuttle bus back to the town centre, about six miles, ran every couple of minutes, ferrying those who chose not to camp back to hotels. I took up this option, and apart from the fact that my feet were wrecked from the walking back and forth to the bus, it was convenient, and meant I could come and go from the festival at will. There was no need to stay around for the headliners who weren't of particular interest.

Prophets of Rage, who played an afternoon set on the Friday, really got the crowd going, with Charli XCX offering a full blown pop concert just the day after. True Blood put on an outstanding show, while System of a Down proved that their eponymous style has not aged – they had everyone up on their feet, singing (sorry, screaming) along.

Linkin Park took a less metal-focussed approach to their headline performance, which was a slight disappointment for old-time fans. After concentrating on their newer work, and an acoustic version of "Crawling", the set felt as though it was lacking the classics. However, hats off to Chester Bennington who performed two songs from within the crowd, cradling a young girl’s face as he sang. All a bit too mushy for those of us who spent our teenage years being told to turn the music down while blasting Meteora on repeat, but they have changed their style in a way that can speak to an audience that perhaps would not have considered listening to them before.

One thing that became clear to me during the festival was the accessibility of the grounds. There is a separate entrance for those in wheelchairs and with disabilities, and the plastic paving over the grass made wheelchair use possible – I saw many a wheelchair user knocking back the beer and managing to get a good spot right at the front of the barriers, with minimal issue.

Prophets of Rage (Rock Werchter ) (Rock Werchter)

This is something that I feel stood out, because the site was filled with such a wide demographic of groups – young people, older people, families, young children, those with mobility issues – it was a truly inclusive place, made to be accessible for all attendees. Werchter work with a dedicated disability charity, to ensure that their festival meets the required standards and can help as much as possible.

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The culinary offerings were a delight. From Vietnamese nibbles, to pasta, to artisan pizza, to a wide selection of vegetarian noodles and Thai green curry (of course interspersed with a Brattwurst or two). The backstage bar offered an array of fine wines, spirits and a good selection of beer, with a dedicated Bacardi bar taking centre stage behind the Slope. However, such gastro pleasures came at a price – the price of food averaged out at around £7 per meal, with the site operating a token system. At €2.75 a token, bank balances took a hit over the course of the weekend. €2.75 for a beer is not a hefty price, but almost quadrupling that for a pizza caused a few financial issues.

All in all, the festival was a huge success. Good food, good music and a nice, clean bed in Leuven, a charming town with quaint, quiet streets that offered a good morning stroll – for me, this makes a good weekend away.

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