Several weeks ago, I visited Jupiter Rising, an independent arts and music festival held at Jupiter Artland – the award-winning sculpture park on the outskirts of Edinburgh. This was my first time at this festival, so I wasn’t sure what to expect – but I soon realised that this was a small festival with a lot to offer.
With a capacity of around 1,000 people, the festival is a cosier, more casual affair than many. There were no long queues or other irritations associated with larger outdoor events and, most importantly, the Portaloos were clean and plentiful. Camping was encouraged, and the meadows did look like a glorious place to stay, but I decided to make day trips over from the city instead – a welcome option since it rained (hard!) on Friday afternoon.
Despite the weather, Jupiter Artland was still a stunning setting for a festival. The sculpture park stretches out over 100 acres, and there’s nothing quite like walking through a wild meadow on your way to the main arena – even in the pouring rain. Friday’s wet weather also added a touch of magic and mystery, cloaking the area in a light veil of mist. Doubtless, that magic would lose its sparkle quite quickly without a raincoat. Luckily, the tents in the arena (the appropriately named Rainbow Round Top and Boob Bar) provided shelter from the elements before opening act George Erith’s swinging indie bops, like ‘Face For Radio’ and ‘We’ll Be Alright’, reminded us all that it was still summertime. Next, the chaotic noise-rock/prog/jazz/post-punk of Kaputt (think Squid crossed with Viagra Boys) rounded out my Friday night, the Glasgow ensemble blasting out a pulsating set to an audience of all ages.
On Saturday, the Sun put its hat back on, providing a better look at the festival’s idyllic surroundings. The main arena sat across from Jupiter Artland’s most impressive feature, Charles Jencks’ Cells of Life, a series of interconnecting terraced landforms surrounding four small lakes. More than just a striking centrepiece, it allowed festival-goers to walk on the hills, swim in the water or just kick back and enjoy the views.
Inside the curves of these sculpted hills, The Fountain of Life stage cleverly created an informal amphitheatre-like setting. Soulful singer-songwriter Mychelle – one of a series of acts curated by Young Fathers’ Alloysious Massaquoi – matched this stage perfectly and her songs, like ‘Forbidden Fruit’ and a cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Is This Love’, really hit the spot in the sunshine.
Later, comedian Josie Long would also perform here, drawing a huge crowd. Her polite, political outrage provoked some strong laughs. Back in the Rainbow Round Top, Glasgow African Balafon Orchestra blew the roof off, their catchy afro beats getting the whole tent chanting, grooving and dancing through a pretty intense hour-long set. Emma Pollock (of The Delgados fame) then provided the farewell performance to my weekend. Her challenging, emotionally charged melodies (from songs like ‘Clemency and Alabaster’) still lingering with me for days afterwards.
My experience at Jupiter Rising was just the tip of the iceberg, with plenty more performances to enjoy across the weekend. Various workshops and activities were also available, including: a creative hub, yoga classes, bedtime stories, and a positive mental health space. If you’re looking for a well-organised, relaxing, family-friendly, festival experience within a short drive of the capital, next year’s Jupiter Rising should be right at the top of your list.
Tickets for Jupiter Rising 2023 are available now.