This summer on 28th June I attended what has become a Europe-wide festival experience. Centred on the Hindu festival of colours associated with India, Holi sees hundreds of people gather to throw powder paint in beautiful colours of green, yellow, purple and orange at strangers. The first of these European takes on the religious festival was staged in Berlin in 2012 by Holi Concept GmbH, and has been growing ever since, with this year’s event in London becoming their second to sell out.
Held at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park amidst the backdrop of the stadium and arenas, the bursts of colour were heightened by the modern setting. The highlight of the day was definitely - and perhaps obviously - the colour throwing, which took place once an hour to fill the air with the bitter tasting powder. This was accompanied by a selection of DJ sets throughout the day, with dancers also taking to the stage to perform traditional Indian dances to a mix of hip-hop and Indian musical influences, amongst others. DJs this year included Drunken Masters, ESKEI83, Zane Lowe and Bombay Boogie Soundsystem. Although it wasn’t my usual taste in music, it got people dancing as everyone crowded in front of the stage, which gave it a club-like atmosphere outdoors.
This was unlike any festival I had attended previously, however, there were some downsides to it. Firstly, it still had the obligatory overpriced drinks and food. Secondly -and very unfortunately - it was pouring with rain, which may not be seen as a bad thing if you’re going to be covered in colour - but the lack of shelter and massive queues to enter the festival left many people starting their day soaking wet and cold. There was also a need to queue for everything during the day, from buying coloured powder paint, drinks and to visit the toilet, which became a little tiring.
I worked at the same event when it was hosted in Wembley, but a few weeks after attending this one I noticed many issues with the festival. For example, the contactless paying system implemented was not functioning (repeatedly!) and the vouchers given to customers were not explained to any of the staff, leading to problems for various people who attended.
Overall, the Holi festival was great fun – there was silly dancing and a chance to get completely covered in paint! I would definitely recommend going, but only buy the basic ticket as the supposed perks of the more expensive tickets seemed to cause people more problems. The event had a great atmosphere and will be unlike any other festival you attend – it’ll definitely be more colourful anyway. Let’s hope there will be better weather next time!