The Fire Is Always Burning
In the ten minutes it takes to walk from one end of the Knockengorroch festival to the other, you will be plied with more smiles, more glitter, more hugs, more music, more offers of victuals, more warmth than ever before in your life.
You start at the naked sauna – when in Rome – jumping feet first into the river’s wishing pool to cool off. Someone offers you coloured gems for your rosy cheeks. You head to the first tent on the way: Shieling Tent. Depending on the time of day you could find yourself in hysterics with a stranger on a sofa at the lunchtime Jukebox Bingo vigorously trying to recall who the hell John Farnham is or hearing an epic punky cover of Abba’s Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (The Fuzzkills) or showing the non-Scots how to pas-de-basque through a Dashing White Sergeant.
Up the grassy stepped hill (perfect place to people-watch and steam the sweat off in between sets) is Maddie’s tent. Wooft, what a tent. Wooft wooft wooft go the beats in your ears and the psychedelic neon wall hangings in your eyes. Vibrant hanging toy animals and insects swing in tandem with your limbs. The best decks and the best decs of the fest.
Come back down the hill and there is the centre of the world: the campfire. Knock has at least one person tending to this fire at all times and it’s surrounded by seats aplenty, perpetually filled with a spectrum of sobriety and singing ability. A comforting constant, the campfire is the place to warm up after a deluge or to coorie into affectionate strangers at five in the morning or to take a load off your aching feet that haven’t danced this much in years.
After this brief spell of cosy cuddles and shared chips, you head along to the bar stage (Fraoch Cabaret), to grab a sweet cider and sway to mesmerising acts like Flew the Arrow and Ceitidh Mac. Opposite, the main stage (Bo Airigh) hosts the big wans. By late evening, the dreich weather has left you a wheen drookit and crabbit, but the moment Afro Celt Sound System wave as one onto the stage and the rain pours from the sky and the lights scintillate through the streaks you don’t want to be anywhere else. It’s like their thunderous voices and drums and flutes are controlling the weather itself: these magician musicians have the world at their whim.
Continuing on, you reach the chill zone of the festival. Here is where workshops live, including yoga, woodcraft, pottery, and painting with soil. The Tchai-Ovna tea tent is open till 1am and has the smoothest soothingest spiciest chai tea and lots and lots of cushions. Perhaps you take your tea along to the Langwhan (long house or lang hoose), which becomes your favourite place to be. Apparently, there has been a structure of sorts there for thousands of years – what is there now looks like a rustic rural church and it is a place of quasi-religious experience. Along the pews, you move, you sing, you surge, you close your eyes – together – as you listen to a myriad of acoustic instruments, from fiddles, to accordions, to a homemade cello-bass mashup, and more. The camping tents never feel too far away if you ever manage to peel yourself away from all a that to have a wee lie down, and even then you might get roped into more singing or more hugs.
Knockengorroch will fill your cup right up with all that is right and beautiful and warm in the world. There is where you will find your people.
Photo credit: ReCompose