Well, I nearly didn’t want to write this but I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Hidden up on the hills of the Highlands on the Belladrum Estate is a majestic wee shindig for art lovers, food lovers, music lovers and (usually) mud lovers. This fabulous wee festival is known as Belladrum Tartan Heart and takes place every August – Belladrum 2021 is sadly cancelled but fingers crossed it goes ahead in 2022. Compared to the likes of Glastonbury, Leeds or Benicassim music festival, it’s a much more family-friendly affair, that has grown in popularity so much it sells out every year and Belladrum tickets are like gold dust!
Excluding Christmas, it is the only other time of year my entire family get together. Bella’s charm (and turkey) are the only thing that get us all in the same country at the same time.
So, get the glue gun out, it’s time to make those fairy wings, practice the dad dancing and find the face glitter as Belladrum is an intimate affair that will make you fall head over heels.
SO, WHAT'S THE CRAIC?
Set over 7 stages Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival showcases comedy, arts, music, dance and debates with family friendly as the focus. There are not many other places on the planet you can learn to juggle, attend a ceilidh, mingle with steam punks, do karaoke with a ukulele band, watch Tom Jones and practice yoga all on the same night. Heck, all before tea time. For ten years we’ve been rocking up and Bella still never fails to blow our socks off.
Keeping in mind the family friendly theme, Bella kindly offer all children under 12 to attend for free! Yup, that’s right you’d pay more for a carrier bag than you do for 3 days of entertainment, arts and “accommodation” for your wee one!
Also note because of this, some absolute numpties try and SELL the Belladrum children’s tickets. Please do not be fooled into buying one – all children under 12 go free. Although you will need to book an actual ticket, you don’t need to pay for it. I believe you do also require ID to prove they are under 12, although I’ve seen people use photos of children’s passports/birth certificates rather than taking their actual ones to Bella.
Grown ups take up more space, so we’ve to pay. However, unlike some festivals that charge a month’s rent in exchange for an A4 sheet of grass to pitch on, Belladrum tickets are not only affordable but also offer a payment plan because they understand we all unfortunately have to adult and pay bills and stuff.
HOW MUCH DO BELLADRUM TICKETS COST?
We have broken down the pricing for Belladrum tickets 2019, all of which are sold through the official tartan heart website.
HOW TO GET TO THE BELLADRUM ESTATE
Belladrum is based approx. 10 miles out of Inverness, near Beauly. The campsite opens 08:00am on Thursday. If you can, we recommend taking Thursday off work as the busiest times are 4pm-8pm on Thursday evening. Also means you can have your pick of the best camping spots and won’t miss a minute of entertainment.
- Living Local: Hop on a train/bus/boat/plane to Inverness and from there Stagecoach buses leave regularly to the festival. For surrounding Highland areas Ross’s minibuses are the chariots of choice.
- City Dwellers: All aboard a Bella bus! Share your journey with several other festival fans on-board a Tuned in Travel bus. Leaving from major towns around Scotland, not only will this option save you money, but help save the environment. From Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Stirling or heck order a private one for you and your pals – the options are endless! No need to tackle the mud in your wee Fiat 500 and you can enjoy that extra cider or two on the Saturday as you won’t be the one behind the wheel the next morning! Book a bus here.
- Other: Every year we pack up our car like Noah’s ark and head to Bella. However, sometimes it runs the same weekend as the Black Isle Show and there are several thousand other Corsa shaped Noah’s arks, traffic can get a little crazy for those choosing to drive. To avoid this, take a peek at Lift Share. As it works via Facebook you can check if you’ve friends in common with lift sharers (that’s hoping Jane from accounts isn’t friends with someone who insists on a no radio rule whilst driving) so it’s a safer, greener, cheaper way to travel!
At times, sharing a 2 hour drive with complete strangers sounds far more appealing than sharing it with my family’s singing and their 9 tonne of camping equipment. Also, don’t be a numpty and get caught over the limit on Sunday morning. If choosing to drive, leave extra early, opt out of the extra cider on Saturday, don’t forget your road trip essentials and be prepared with the Bella playlist for the journey!
Parking Passes are required but the walk from car park to campsite (depending on your choice below, is approx. 15/20 minutes) – Parking Passes can be downloaded here.
CAMPING AT BELLADRUM
- General Zone: Nicknamed by the over 30s as Armageddon. I camped in this zone back in the day when I too, was too cool to sleep and too cool to camp with the parents. Nowadays, I don’t think my hand sanitizer and M & S knitwear will be invited back. Basically, it is for the young ones. If you plan on attending dressed like a Love Island contestant, or if you even know what Love Island is, camp here.
- Family Zone: If you want beautiful portaloos and bacon rolls in the morning then camp with the mums. Suitable for all ages (we’re not joking – my granny’s been!) and the best part is the deafening silence during the night. Just as much banter but it’s very much lights out at bedtime.
- Quiet Zone: Although it’s a longer walk from the arena, the light sleepers or those bringing babbas might prefer the quiet zone as it does exactly what it says on the tin. Silence.
- CleanFields: For those that loved David Attenborough’s speech at Glastonbury this area is for you. Fingers crossed that’s everyone. As the name describes this is the super clean site. Not a single crisp packet or cider tinnie was left left year, so if you choose to camp here stay committed to it’s beautiful ethos.
- Club Clan Bella: Not a campsite, however if the idea of 3 days without a shower or straighteners is putting you off attending Bella then this is for. Club Clan Bella is essentially a VIP zone. For an additional fee to your ticket (£47 per adult) you have access to a VIP area with heaters, chargers, straighteners, free massage treatments, after parties, posh loos and so much more.
CAMPERVANS & CARAVANS AT BELLADRUM
If you’re feeling fancy you best be quick as Belladrum tickets for the campervan & caravan sites do sell out quick. These have an additional fee to your usual festival ticket. Each campervan or caravan will also require a blue windscreen hanger/ dashboard pass.
If you require electricity for your campervan or caravan, you can buy a hook-up ticket for an additional fee. Alternatively, pack a torch and some cereal bars like the rest of us peasants.
If you’re feeling fancy (and cereal bars ain’t your culinary choice) you can always try our quick, cheap and easy campervan recipes.
GLAMPING AT BELLADRUM
If you’re still not convinced that Bella’s campsite is the cleanest, friendliest campsites we’ve ever stayed at and you cannot pry yourself from the hair dryer for even a day or two then these glamping options are for you.
- Pitch Village: Not gonna lie, we have witnessed – and partaken in – some amazing family arguments putting up tents (think Monopoly times ten) so putting the calm back in camping is Bella’s pitch village. Imagine a campsite where all tents, equipment and bedding are there organised, ready for you. All you need to pack is your party pants and your belladrum ticket.
- Cloudhouse Yurts & Squrts: We’ve joked if we ever get married (which you can do at Bella) then our honeymoon would be in a Belladrum yurt. They’re just that darn fabulous. Electricity, fluffy rugs, actual beds, I can picture the boho-esque Facebook snaps already.
- Airstream: How much would you feel like a Rockstar sleeping in one of these bad boys. Luxury airstreams provide mini five star boutiques with central heating (it is the Highlands,) cold fridge for the morning after’s orange juice and all the little luxuries such as towels, duvets and hot showers.
- There’s no place like home: If you prefer your own fluffy duvet, bubble baths and your bacon roll not from a burger van then you can sleep in the comfort of your own home. Opt for a day ticket and nip home when you fancy.
BELLADRUM LINE UP
My sisters first attended Bella at a baby 9 years old and last year their dream came true when they were lucky enough to be offered a slot on one of the stages. You can check them out here. This is one of the many beautiful things about Bella, they nurture not only home grown talent but help all newbies become somebodies.
Ed Sheeran? He’s done Bella. Catfish & the Bottlemen? Bella got there first. Unlike the hugely commercialised festivals, Belladrum focus on talent instead of YouTube views so whether you’re a ukulele band, a bongo drummer or play both at the same time Bella offer the ears and the audience where others miss the beat.
That’s not to say they can’t pull out the big ones too – just when we thought last year’s line up would be hard to beat, the Belladrum 2019 line up includes Jess Glynn, Elbow, Tom Odell, Chvrches and not forgetting our fave sunglasses model, Lewis Capaldi. The line up is so good, after nearly 2 years travelling we’re coming home just for it and we know it’ll definitely be worth it!
There are numerous stages with The Garden Stage playing the headliners, Burke ‘n Hair stage to see my sisters 😉 , Hot House Stage for the up and coming acts, Black Isle Brewery Tent for Thursday shenanigans, Grassroots stage, Hot House stage and SO many more! Don’t just stick to the acts you know, take a wander and you will discover some incredible talent
BELLADRUM PACKING LIST
After over 20 music festivals between us, we have perfected our festival packing list. To ensure you pack your festival essentials and don’t leave anything behind, we’ve even created a handy downloadable checklist. Simply save it to your phone and tick off the items as you go!
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One year at Bella we had to be rescued by a tractor. Yup, THAT wet. Now before you wince in horror at the idea of attending dressed in Regatta there are so many pretty ponchos and vibrant raincoats that you have no excuse for a soggy Saturday.
Portable Battery Pack
A portable power pack can come in handy when you’re worried about your phone battery going dead after 1 day of snapping Belladrum photos. Why not purchase a power pack, which will last the entire 3 days!
On the other hand, we’ve all been sunburned at Bella at some point. Believe it or not sunshine does pop up to Scotland now and again so pack sun cream “just in case”, as sleeping bags and sunburn create the perfect nightmare night’s sleep.
Some of my most favourite memories is chilling at the garden stage with my entire family on the Saturday afternoon. The delight of Belladrum’s garden stage is that you can take camping chairs and picnic blankets and stay put all afternoon enjoying act after act. Our usual routine is to buy a picnic from the arena’s CO-OP and a cider or two from Black Isle Brewery.
Every year Bella is themed. From under the sea to psychedelic 70s we’ve rocked up and dressed up each year for the Fancy Dress Parade. Unlike the sunshine, the costumes always last more than a day and the entire weekend is dedicated to outfits equally as outrageous as the dancing. The theme is science fiction for Belladrum 2019, so pack the spock ears and sparkle because it’s gonna be out of this world.
CELEBRATIONS AT BELLADRUM
I found out my exam results en-route to Bella and even received a ticket as my 18th birthday present. One year we must’ve been on the nice list as Santa even delivered my family’s tickets. So when it was our parent’s 25th wedding anniversary we knew the one place to celebrate. From shout outs by bands to backstage access, mentions in the official programme to even my granny rocking up to surprise them it was an anniversary they’ll never forget.
It is our family’s go-to place to celebrate and so many other families’ too. We’ve witnessed proposals, there’s an onsite church for weddings and who wouldn’t want to honeymoon in the Highlands? Let the organisers know and they couldn’t be more kind in going above and beyond to celebrate with you.
As we were heartbroken to miss Belladrum 2018 due to being in Australia we contacted the brand Rhythmnreel (who kick off the weekend at the Thursday night ceilidh) via Facebook. They so kindly gave our family a shout out on stage and passed on a wee message from us in Oz, which let them know we were there in spirit.
BELLADRUM TOP TIPS
- Do not miss the crack it open ceilidh on Thursday night. Every single year it is our highlight. A few solid hours of bagpipes, beers and boogying. A definite baptism of fire of what Bella is all about. I’d buy a belladrum ticket for this alone.
- When Bella say it’s a family festival that is exactly what it is. From babies to grannies Bella welcomes them all with open arms. Don’t treat it like Magaluf’s strip and expect music until 3am.
- Do not be scared to dress up. There’s absolutely zero judgement when you’re part of the Bella family. We are so excited for Belladrum 2019 as the theme is space. Yes, ALL THE GLITTER!
- Alcohol is permitted within the campgrounds if you’re over 18. However the traffic is suffering enough on the Sunday without a hangover also. Take it easy on Saturday, no matter how good the Tomatin cocktails are, no cocktail is worth losing your license over.
- Did you know you can work at Bella? Spend a few hours waving cars in the right direction and you could end up waving your arms at your fave bands for free!
- Only buy official tickets from the Bella Website (or their listed retailers) to avoid fraud tickets. No matter if you think you’re getting a bargain, if it’s too good to be true or being sold by a third party it’s best to avoid!
- So many people miss the Spectacular Saturday night fireworks as they leave just as the last headliner finishes. Wait a couple more minutes as the fireworks and piper closing the weekend are a highlight not to be missed!