Houghton 2018 Review

- a world-class festival, right on our doorstep.

Ah Houghton, you’ve done it again.

It’s not often that thousands of people are drawn to Norfolk for music, but Houghton Festival’s winning formula - beautiful grounds, an emphasis on extended sets, a 24-hour music license and premium production – ensured that the 2018 edition delivered another unbelievable weekend.

Craig Richards and the team behind Gottwood Festival had spotted the potential for something special in the sprawling grounds of Houghton Hall (which has recently housed a Damien Hirst exhibition) and they were right to think so. The picturesque Norfolk countryside replete with woodlands and a lake was the ideal environment to host pitch-perfect sound systems and stages, including The Quarry, a subterranean bowl and Terminus, the ‘secret stage’ sunk in the woodland.

The weather was the only factor not quite as good as last year, but revellers didn’t let rain get in the way of play. It’s difficult to pick out highlights since the programme was so consistently good, but stand-out sets for us have to be the inimitably cool Donna Leake in the Giant Steps tent for a psych-jazz and funk set, Optimo who served up some curveball reworks into the early hours of Sunday morning, Ethiopian Jazz forerunner Mulatu Astatke, and a formidable run at the Pavilion stage to end the festival, of Joy Orbison, Craig Richards, Ben UFO and Helena Hauff.

A moment of the festival that sums up the surreal and immersive atmosphere of Houghton had to be during Midland’s Sunday night set, where within about ten minutes, almost everyone in the crowd was clutching, shaking or dancing with ferns. Only at Houghton.


The music wasn’t the only thing on offer, it was once again complimented by an emphasis on art, with many of Craig Richard’s own illustrations decorating the stages, and sculpture tours held around the Hall's grounds. Yoga, life-drawing and record-buying was also on the programme. 

Houghton has well and truly put Norfolk on the festival map, and we couldn’t be more proud. Same time next year – see you there.

 Words: Ellie White

Pictures: Houghton