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As the late, great environmental philosopher John Muir once said: “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” – If the universe was a good time and the forest wilderness being an intimate underground music event set deep in the lush green woodland of Grimsthorpe.

© Photography by Haydon Perrior for Here & Now 

Last week we took ourselves on a two-hour journey from London, away from the hustle and bustle of fast-paced city life and escaped into the depths of Forbidden Forest. A festival with a devout following of foresters, all eager for a day and night of explicit electronic music consumption.

We had the pleasure of sharing in the first outing at their new home, after having moved from Wymeswold Forest in Loughborough, and we have to say we were really impressed.

© Photography by Haydon Perrior for Here & Now 

A simple four-stage layout themed in all of its individual glory. From the Disco Express to the Reactor, the Rift to the Manor; each arena presented itself as an entirely standalone ecosystem. The first thing of highlighted mention has to be the lack of overspill of sound from stage to stage. The stages were relatively adjacent to each other, you could move freely between them with an absolutely fractional carrying of sound from one into the next. If it wasn’t already apparent that having a festival amongst natures natural oxygen tanks also comes with copious acoustic benefits, it was becoming quickly noticeable.

© Photography by Haydon Perrior for Here & Now 

We have to also point out that there was an impressive amount of different installations. In terms of refreshments, amenities and merchandise, there was a lot to indulge in if you needed a breather from the high-intensity musical experience that enveloped you.

Moving onto the matter at hand, the music. Offering a wide range of sonics from disco to the almighty drums and house through to the hammering of robust techno, there isn’t really a vibe that exists that you couldn’t catch on-site at FF.

© Photography by Josh Hiatt for Here & Now 

Their lineup programming showed some serious maturity in terms of educated and informed artist choices, perhaps maybe some adjustments would have been better suited in terms of set times but you have to take into account other commitments for artists; that is something that, unless you have had an involvement in event management or booking artists, you simply won’t be able to appreciate the level of potential frustration it can bring.

© Photography by Sophie Harbinson for Here & Now

We were really pleased to see the magnitude of different tiers of artists, too. FF is definitely to be advocated for their championing of up and coming artists as well as established power-punchers. Take for example Alisha, the lady of the moment in the tech house world rising at breakneck speeds due to a burgeoning level of talent and hunger, along with a great team around her. We have had the privilege of knowing and watching Alisha for a number of years and we are still always blown away by her performances. For someone at such a young age to be able to command a crowd with relative ease, just by being herself, now that really is something.

© Photography by Sophie Harbinson for Here & Now

There were a lot of respectively standout performances throughout the day – ABODE golden boy GW Harrison, PAX, Bibi b2b Skream, A.M.C., Turno, Flava D, Horse Meat Disco, Alan Fitzpatrick, Nicole Moudaber – We could honestly go on and on about it, looking back and quantifying it just makes it even more impressive in terms of big names. It could even be said that you are a real appreciator of many different genres then you will struggle to see everyone you want to see. Some people might take that as a negative, but we think that is an instrumental sign of a good festival.

© Photography by Matt Stephens for Here & Now 

After a couple of years of dying to make our descent into the forest, we broke that abstinence with one hell of a show. You often visit festivals and bring an excessive amount of expectation with you, this can be because of the hype online both in chatter and visually, you then get there and it doesn’t live up to the anticipation. Well, that certainly didn’t happen, and we are glad that there isn’t too long to wait for the next edition of Forbidden Forest as their pre-sale and general admission has near enough sold out already… telling you all you need to know about what kind of experience is on offer.

© Photography by Sophie Harbinson for Here & Now

Top marks for a top day, taking the edge off the four-hour round trip in a pleasantly received fashion.


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