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A Love Letter to Music: LSTD 2024 Recap

Love Saves the Day (LSTD) isn’t just a festival; it’s a vibrant tapestry of music, community, and sustainability woven into Bristol’s cultural fabric. Renowned for its inclusive atmosphere and commitment to spreading love, its 2024 edition maintained the high standard it has already set for itself. From its eco-conscious practices to its diverse lineup and unforgettable experiences, this year’s event captured the essence of celebration and camaraderie, set to the pulsating beats of dance music that echoed through the city.

Atmosphere 

I have always referred to LSTD as England’s friendliest festival, known for its culture of love and inclusivity. Different festivals attract different people, and the LSTD crowd remains my favourite. Team Love (the organisers of LSTD) strives for everyone to “arrive with an attitude of care towards each other, the festival site, and the wider planet.” This ethos was reinforced upon arrival by initiatives like the ‘Don’t be a Bystander’ campaign and prominent reminders about drug safety and testing, displayed on signs throughout the venue and on screens before acts.

Image credit: Giulia Spudafora

Safer spaces provided attendees with free suncream, ponchos, glitz and glam, and most importantly, resources to prevent domestic abuse and sexual violence. A centrally located drug safety station offered drug testing services and conducted surveys to gather data on substance use, demonstrating a commitment to harm reduction and attendee well-being.

Security maintained a safe environment without dampening the party mood, ensuring everyone had a great time. Their presence was reassuring yet unobtrusive, allowing festival-goers to immerse themselves in the festivities without worry.

Transport

For the first time this year, I travelled to the festival on foot. This will be my preferred method in the future. While other options like the Love Bus are great and absolutely essential, walking proved to be the most relaxed choice. It allowed me to avoid queues and the associated stress of beating the crowds. A destination point given by street name started a clear route through Ashton Court Estate to the festival entrance.

Line up 

For the second year running, I had a lengthy list of acts I wanted to see—a blend of favourites from previous years and unfamiliar names recommended by friends. Our day began with Oppidan at Brouhaha, whose energetic garage set ignited the crowd’s enthusiasm. Edits of familiar tracks filled the air, creating a welcoming atmosphere encouraging everyone to relax and dance.

Image credit: Alistair Brookes

The festival also showcased the remarkable growth of emerging artists like 4am Kru and YUQT, who had previously performed on smaller stages to more intimate audiences. Anticipating a similar vibe this year, I was pleasantly surprised to see them draw some of the largest crowds of the day, demonstrating the pivotal role these events play in elevating talent within the music industry.

Groove Armada ended the night on a high with a timeless and infectious set. I overheard someone say, “Mate, Groove Armada, you can’t get better than that.” I couldn’t help but dance.

Audience

The spacious layout and smaller crowds allowed festival-goers to dance with abandon, free from the usual pushing and shoving. Whether in the front, back, or middle of the crowd, it was easy to find your perfect spot and fully immerse yourself in the music.

Image credit: Alistair Brookes

I was struck by the diversity within the audience, encompassing a wide spectrum of ages, fashion styles, and groups. These differences dissolved seamlessly as everyone united under the festival’s atmosphere, where the crowd’s camaraderie was palpable. I attended the festival with my partner, who, in true festival fashion, managed to lose both his sunglasses and ID (cue eye roll). After scouring the ground, we resigned ourselves to their loss. To our surprise, kind festival-goers approached us shortly after, having found and returned the lost items. Such an act of kindness was unexpected in a festival environment, but if it were to happen anywhere, it would be here. 

Hidden Details

Image credit: Giulia Spudafora

LSTD offered a variety of activities to enjoy between the stages such as an inflatable church with impromptu weddings and a secret ball pit, but one particularly memorable highlight was the betting station. Here, you could wager any items you had for a chance to win a mystery prize, taking on both mental and physical challenges. After indulging in a few too many drinks, we struggled with the mental task, managing to recall only three words of a song. The physical challenge of running in circles for a minute also proved difficult; we lasted about 45 seconds before I had to bid farewell to my precious poncho! 

Image credit: Alisdair Brookes

The crowd was a mix of vibrant energy and relaxed enjoyment, with many people simply chilling and taking in the atmosphere. Spaces with the purpose to relax and recharge were dotted around the festival. I spent some much-needed time in a hammock overlooking the entire grounds, an opportunity to people-watch anyone passing by, soak up the immaculate atmosphere and find some oomph to keep dancing through the night. 

Food

In line with Bristol’s vibrant food scene, a high street of food vendors offered an abundance of fresh, affordable options. After much deliberation over the tempting choices, I decided on a giant Turkish kebab, generously layered with crisp salad.

Upgrades

Following the heavy downpours of 2022, it was a welcome sight to see even more sheltered spaces and stages at this year’s festival. Team Love clearly learn from past challenges, ensuring that attendees can enjoy the festivities regardless of the weather. While an English festival wouldn’t be complete without a bit of rain, the evening downpour couldn’t dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm. Spirits remained high as everyone continued dancing through the showers… leaving us a little soggy after the loss of our ponchos. 

Sustainability

“Love Saves the Day is our love letter to music and its community,” says Team Love, as they aim to set a new standard in festival practices. Alongside promoting sustainable travel options like electric scooters, bike parks, and the ‘Love Bus’ shuttle, the festival implemented a comprehensive range of initiatives. These included vape recycling stations, free personal ashtrays, anti-fast fashion messages, and partnerships with Music Declares Emergency and Climate Live to integrate climate awareness among festival-goers and performers. To maintain transparency and accountability, LSTD has also published a publicly available sustainability report which can be accessed here.

As events across the UK strive to adopt similar practices, LSTD sets a commendable example of how music festivals can lead the change towards a more sustainable future. These efforts reflect a growing trend among festivals to prioritise sustainability, setting a standard for responsible event management. As the festival season unfolds, it will be interesting to see how other events follow suit with similar initiatives. Keep an eye out for an upcoming article discussing these initiatives and the associated audience participation in more depth.

Food for thought

While the overall organisation of the event was impressive, the close proximity of the stages proved to be a double-edged sword. This setup made the festival compact and easy to navigate, but the sound from overlapping sets occasionally interfered with each other. Although a minor drawback compared to last year’s more spread-out layout, it was a slight inconvenience in an otherwise well-organised event.

As the echoes of music and laughter fade from Love Saves the Day 2024, it leaves behind more than just memories. It stands as a testament to what festivals can achieve when driven by passion and purpose. With its initiatives paving the way and the infectious rhythms of dance music uniting us all, LSTD continues to set a high standard for festivals nationwide, inspiring others to follow suit. Ultimately, the festival lived up to its name, affirming once again that love truly does save the day.

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