Infest Festival 2022 - Festival Infrastructure Review
It’s the end of August in Bradford and that can only mean one thing – it’s time for Industrial Summer Camp 2022 also know as Infest Festival. After a covid-induced hiatus of the in-person version of the festival (2021 was the year of Stay-In-Fest which was a partial return by being a purely virtual festival) everyone was roaring to enjoy this upcoming weekend of seeing old friends, make new friends and enjoy an amazing line-up.
This year was my very first year attending Infest, and I felt that the festival deserved a review in itself. I have been fortunate enough to have attended both M’era Luna and WGT in the past and I came into the weekend wondering if Infest would feel the same. I personally enjoyed both M’era Luna and WGT, but always found that the majority of the festival goers purely attended to see and be seen, which always made me feel under pressure to look and act perfect and be ready to be judged. From the very moment I stepped foot onto Bradford University I felt welcome and yes, the Festival is held at the University and yes you can indeed stay in the halls on site - roll straight out of bed and onto the dance floor!
Your typical Infest festival goer isn’t just there to show off or ogle, instead they return every year as this is more like a community or a family reunion. I saw people running up to one another, hugging, laughing, sharing stories after not having seen each other for months or maybe even since the last festival. Equally I saw people strike up conversations with strangers as if they had been friends for years. The Infest community is welcoming, warm, supportive, open minded and will take you just the way you are without scrutiny. They create a safe space for people to explore their identities and show nothing but love. After all everyone attending is there to have a good time!
Now this review will not touch on any of the artist playing this weekend as I will write about them separately, but I have to talk about the amazing hosts! Every single act was introduced by a diverse hosting team who managed to find many creative ways to introduce the acts. May it be speeches loaded with puns, people in unicorn costumes, giant flamingo rubber rings, our beloved Drag Monster King Confuza (just call them Daddy) giving us a mini drag show or puppets like Clem and Lil Confuza getting involved on stage. Every single person added that personal touch to the day that made Infest such a memorable event for me.
They either made us thoughtful with their words, had us in stitches with jokes or engaged with us by having us shout along to whatever was happening on stage at the time. At one point the whole hosting crew joined Caustic on stage with placards to protest for the rights of people with a uterus.
And then there was the Doof wagon. From my understanding this was only the second year the Doof wagon had joined the event, but it felt like it had been part of the structure for years. In between the finals sets of the Saturday and Sunday evening Lee would wheel the Doof Wagon into the outdoor area and get everyone dancing to some serious bangers from bands like The Venga Boys or Scooter. Those were the best 30-minute parties I have ever attended. Even Clem sang and danced along to the songs!
Let’s talk accessibility at the venue. Now I need to point out that this is written from the view of a person who is able-bodied, but I am hopefully doing an OK job to cover this section as I think it is so important to talk about this subject.
The venue being a University is a great foundation to make the event accessible. Parking is just a short distance away from the area used for Infest and there is a dedicated area for just blue badge holders. Parking itself was free as long as you printed out the permit from the website and had it displayed in your car window. The directions to the venue from the car park are signposted with clear instructions. There are a lot of even and paved paths, ramps to overcome smaller heights as well as lifts to help with stairs. The actual festival is based over 2 main rooms as well as 2 adjacent rooms for the market. The main room with the stage is connected to a second room which was the home of the merch stand. These two rooms are connected by stairs, but there is a stair lift for a wheelchair right next to them as well. I found accessible bathrooms as well as a gender-neutral bathroom.
Seating was available all around the venue and there was plenty of it, so you didn’t have to look far to find somewhere to sit down. Throughout the weekend I have seen several people with wheelchairs in the crowd, as well as people having brought camping chairs to sit down between sets. Any other festival I have been to, this could have caused potential issues as camping chairs are usually not permitted. On top of all that Infest offers an accessibility pass which allowed people to find additional seating in allocated areas if required.
The food options on site were really good as well. In the outdoor area was a tent with a food vendor and seating options. The prices were lower than you average festival and there were plenty of options on the menu for those with food allergies as well as vegetarians and vegans. Having tried a few options I can confirm that they were all tasty and the cook even took some tips from us on how to best grill a vegan cheese toasty!
Very close to my heart is the fact that Infest isn’t just about music and creating a safe space, they also want to make a difference with their event. Every year they put on fundraisers in forms of coffee, tea and cake sales, raffles and having donation tins available around the venue. In the last 10 years the Infest team have managed to raise and donate an incredible 57k GBP and this is just based on the records they managed to keep, but we all know it is very likely to be a lot more than that. The only negative thing I have to say about Infest is that they need to be more vocal about the amazing work they have already done! However, they now have a section on their website dedicated to just their charity work so head over there if you want to know more about it: https://infestuk.com/charity/
My bottom-line verdict is that Infest is an incredible festival to attend which is put together by an amazing team that clearly cares about the event and the experience they create. It is accessible, affordable at £70 for 3 days (that was the 2022 price) and always has a great mix of new and known music acts in their line-up.
I have already cleared my calendar to attend next year, which by the way will take place from Friday 25/08/2023 until Sunday 27/08/2023 and I hope to see you there!