Dark Horse Music & Arts Festival 2016

Dark Horse Music & Arts Festival 2016

Intimate camping festival on the Isle of Man

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I’ve been looking forward to the Dark Horse Music and Arts Festival since I bought early bird tickets in March. At the time, news of the event was by word of mouth and true to the earthy spirit of the weekend I heard about it in a yoga class. Limited to just 500 tickets for this first year, it was an intimate and free-spirited celebration of music and crafts under the beautiful blue sky at Silly Moos Campsite.

During the day you could watch live music, participate in crafts and demos, join free yoga classes, or just hang out around camp fires. In the evenings the bar was rammed and the music line-up was amazing. I’m even planning on buying the John Langan Band’s CDs…think Mumford and Sons on Acid. Check out the video of them at the bottom of this post.

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Dark Horse Music & Arts Festival 2016

Folks gathered around the Mother T’s chill out area and camp fire

Josh and I camped with two other sets of friends but we ran into so many lovely people we know. Of the five hundred people there we at least recognised half – the Isle of Man is a very small place. Being with so many folks we knew really made it feel like a massive house party rather than a public festival.


Daytime tunes at the Boom Shack

Family friendly festival with crafts, music, and a family camp site

It was a family friendly affair, especially in the daytime, and kids ran around everywhere playing ball, listening to tunes and once I spotted a group hilariously practicing how to protest. Your next generation of eco-warriors were in full training at Dark Horse!

A separate, and more quiet, campsite was set aside for families who wanted a bit of peace and quiet at night. It was a smaller cluster of tents and campers on the far side of where the beats were playing.

Dark Horse Music & Arts Festival 2016

Yoga classes were held by various instructors throughout the weekend

Free yoga classes held in the sunshine

Yoga classes were held throughout the day by various instructors and what was great was that it came part of the weekend. All you had to do is show up to be part of the practice. I spotted a lot of the yoga instructors set out in force including Dave Smyth, Abby Dixon, Sian Coleman, along with a host of other yogis.

I feel a tinge of guilt for not joining in too but to be honest it was a festival and I was sipping on various tasty boozy beverages all weekend long. Actually, I don’t feel guilty.

Dark Horse Music & Arts Festival 2016


All kitted up for a weekend of fun! One of the fancy dress themes was ‘Manx Folklore’. Can you spot my elf ears?

VW Campers were out in droves but not Daisy Blue

Sadly, Daisy Blue parked herself in the drive that weekend, despite us packing her up for the camp-out. Vintage cars I tell ya! We had her ready to go and then she wouldn’t turn over. Fortunately Josh has a van that we could throw our stuff into.

She’s set to be fixed in the next couple of days but she really missed out at Dark Horse. There were so many other VW camper friends that she could have met including the ‘Bay of Pigs’ who camped alongside us. Really lovely people.

Dark Horse Music & Arts Festival 2016: Volkswagen camper

Our neighbour the ‘Bay of Pigs’ VW camper

A mini-festival inside the festival

Flo the Coffee Van set up a brilliant little area. There were tables and benches to hang out at, a tent to crawl under and relax, and a ‘Boom Shack’ for live music performances all day and night long. I met Annabel, Flo’s owner, a couple of weeks ago at another event. She’s all positive energy and huge smiles.

Dark Horse Music & Arts Festival 2016

Annabel serving up brews in Flo the Coffee Van

Dark Horse Music & Arts Festival 2016: Silly Moos Campsite

Flo the Coffee Van’s mini festival village

One of my favourite set-ups was the yurt at the Mother T’s area.

It was put together as a quiet space where you could just walk in, sit around with friends or on your own, and just chill. It has the same vibe as the Mother T’s shop in Laxey of which I’m not surprised. Val, the charity’s guru, has a very eclectic and comfortable style and from what I heard, this is her personal yurt.

Dark Horse Music & Arts Festival 2016: Yurt

The chill-out yurt at the Mother T’s area

If you’ve not been inside one before you might wonder how they’re constructed. Think wooden frame covered with canvas and sometimes other waterproof materials. Inside there’s a skylight that can also be used as smoke ventilation. No smoking or shoes allowed in this baby though.

Dark Horse Music & Arts Festival 2016: Yurt interior

Rest and relaxation was exactly what we did

We spent quite a bit of time just chilling at our own camp and it was so nice to just kick back, roast marshmallows and have a laugh. If you’re like me and find yourself sometimes caught up in work and technology you’ll understand what peace a break can be. My phone battery even died which was a blessing in disguise – a full weekend without Facebook or Instagram? Bliss.

Dark Horse Music & Arts Festival 2016

Mega-marshmallow + two Leibniz biscuits = Manx smores

Mega-marshmallow + two Leibniz biscuits = Manx smores

Recycling our rubbish at the end of the festival

At the end of it all we packed up and went home happy and recharged with a full few bags of rubbish in the back of Josh’s van. The festival has a green policy and tossing your trash and abandoning tents was frowned upon. In fact I spotted very few bins.

It was certainly an eye-opener to sort all of our waste and see just how much we used. See just how many recyclable items could have made their way to the incinerator if we’d have just thrown it all away. It’s making me re-think how we camp and how much plastic packaging we use.

For more information on next year’s event

This year the festival was a bit of a trial but next year it should be bigger and better. It’s likely to be better advertised and open to more than the sold-out 500 tickets that were offered this year. In my humble opinion, the more people enjoying the vibes and supporting local enterprises the better!

The festival also took place at Silly Moos Camp Site just outside of Ramsey. It offers camping throughout the summer and you can find out more information here.

To keep up to date on what’s happening, like the festival’s Facebook page and check out their website for more information.

Dark Horse Music & Arts Festival 2016: the Fecktones

Local musicians included the Fecktones – they’re always a good time!


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