In case you missed it, DEPOT does pop up events very, very well.
Chances are you already know about its famed Bingo Lingo, and if you don’t, you’ve definitely heard of By The Order Of, a limited number of events staged as an homage to everyone’s favourite talking point, Peaky Blinders.
After last year’s much celebrated DEPOT in the Park, the praised event organisers revived the festival for 2018, marking the start of the summer season with a huge line up of music, entertainment and food set in the sprawling grounds of Cardiff Castle.
The first weekend of June looked like a normal busy weekend on the main streets of Cardiff city centre, as people hurried to fix their caffeine cravings and not-so-wisely spend their payday gold from the day before.
Hidden inside the city’s iconic medieval landmark was something a little dreamier, with pops of sound and colour created to provoke a smile upon entry.
Bubbling inside the castle walls was a playful, dance enthused glitterfest, with crowds of people turning up to make way through those towering castle gates to get their first taste of festival season.
With glitter face-painting and family activities spanning the course of the day such as crafting and circus tents, there was plenty to keep the little ones, and those not so little, occupied.
Beneath an unexpected blaring sun sat activity tents, food trucks and bars, and a booming main stage. With our own blankets and Pimm’s on tap, it was the best kind of boujee picnic one would expect from the DEPOT team.
With picnic tables and parasols designed to match the flags pinned across the grounds, the splashes of orange, purple, lemon and fluorescent pinks and blues are what I imagine happy would be as a colour.
With plenty of breathing room and festival goers clearly more intent on enjoying the whole day rather than causing a scene, there was very little to worry about. To put it simply, it was a very easy day and from what I saw, everyone was very well behaved. With less mud, stress and mess of more commercial festivals, DITC was a stark contrast to the stereotype.
I had two friends with me, and for one of them, this kind of environment would usually be her worst nightmare. As a welcome surprise, she probably had the most fun out of all of us- proving that events done well can triumph over the dread that clouds the festival and live music scene.
As the sun started to crawl across the castle grounds by mid-afternoon, the heat started to get sticky and dehydration was clearly on the horizon. DEPOT, knowing full well how to run a festival, made sure free tap water was available and easily accessible with a water station set up next to its bar. It’s a small touch, but it went a long way.
One of DITC’s biggest selling points was its line up of entertainment, which was varied enough to satisfy even the most sonically picky person.
With DJ sets pumping from the stage over the course of the afternoon, profiling acts such as Fleetmac Wood and Horse Meat Disco, the range of sounds was enough to keep things lively even when the heat started to get to the best of us.
Kicking off the evening of headline acts was a nostalgia trip designed to bring the best out of memory lane. The Fratellis took everyone back to their student days, while Sister Sledge injected a healthy dose of disco into the heart of the night, proving to everyone that the girls still have it, and that ‘it’ never really left.
As for the food, it was a pick ‘n mix of hungry curiosity. DEPOT is known for showcasing some of the most beloved local food traders, so it didn’t come as a surprise that standards were high. It made sure to cater to the tastes of both adults and children and while queues were sometimes long (the gelato girls certainly had their work cut out for them), DEPOT’s street food feast included traders such as Dirty Bird, Urban Cheese Cake, Tukka Tuk, Brother Thai, Mr Croquewich, That Fish Guy, and The Pork Society.
As a vegetarian, there was plenty to choose from but as a cheese fiend, Mr Croquewich had my heart. When I die, bury me with one of those sandwiches.
The familiar buzz of childlike chatter and sound of strangers’ laughter made for the best soundtrack in between live acts, as we took selfies and inhaled gelato before it became a casualty of the heat. If you’re wondering what flavour I chose from Il Gelataio, it was pistachio (always pistachio). For those who aren’t so obsessed with the nutty flavour, there were also tastes of salted caramel, wild cherry, and everyone’s childhood favourite, mint choc chip.
Fizzing over with the warmth and magic of an unexpected sunny day, DEPOT in the Castle fused together the best of the Cardiff food scene with stage spectacle and enough fun to keep even the most apprehensive (and grumpy) of us, young at heart.