‘To revel in the joy of community and creativity’
Smugglers Festival is a gathering on the last weekend of summer each year, on a beautiful woodland in East-Kent. It’s a small, intimate festival, rooted in community from the outset.
The festival was started in 2011 as a collaboration of various musicians connected with the Smugglers Records label. Spearheaded by Deal band Cocos Lovers - but also influenced by many other artists on the local scene including songwriter Will Varley - Smugglers was born mainly out of impatience with the usual routes in music performance and production.
Deal had become a hub for artists and muso’s - drawn there perhaps by the history of skullduggery in the town - and this made fertile ground for creative collaboration. The label had been releasing music to general critical acclaim when the idea of a festival emerged. It was a large and wild undertaking to say the least, but there was demand for it amongst the increasingly piqued interest of the East-Kent scene.
Fast forward a decade and Smugglers Festival has become as established as any in the good UK festival canon, with its own unique reputation for DIY spirit, production values punching far above its weight, and a truly magical experience to attend.
It boasts one big stage (The Main Stage) , and four smaller (Gilly’s Wood, Nomad’s Land, Chai Angles and The End Stage). It has about 2000 attendee’s every year, a number organically dictated by the size of the land itself.
Smugglers is a lucky festival - not least because of its position in the calendar (right at the end of the festival season), and on the map (near both London and Dover; ideal for tour routes to and from Europe), it’s been able to secure amazing music line-ups over the years, and being run by touring musicians has given it access to some of the best underground music on the scene. Because of this and its community roots, it also boasts some of the best crew in the country both on the team and in the family.
It’s an if-you-know-you-know jewel, and it just gets better as more of you come to know it. Our purpose, as stated at the top, is to celebrate that which nourishes, challenges and grows us as humans - art of all kinds.
Alumni includes, but not limited to:
Tinariwen, Deerhoof, This Is The Kit,
Hailu Mergia, Penguin Cafe Orchestra,
Ibibio Sound Machine, BCUC,
Soccer96, yndi halda, Willy Mason,
Kit Sebastian, Surprise Chef, Kikagaku Moyo,
Fimber Bravo, Alabaster DePlume,
Alash Ensemble, Parvathy Baul, Penelope Isles,
Will Varley, Snapped Ankles,
Melt Yourself Down,
The London Bulgarian Choir, Baque Luar, ICHI,
Maja Lena, Rachael Dadd, Rozi Plain,
Lunch Money Life, The Evil Usses,
Rioghnach Connolly, The Breath, Honeyfeet,
Cocos Lovers, Vels Trio...
...the list goes on.