From small acorns, massive oak trees grow – and that’s certainly true of the boutique Mugstock Festival.
Now in its fourth year, founder Alan Govan has watched his brainchild blossom into one of the best family-friendly festivals Scotland has to offer.
Alan came up with the concept about five years before the first festival was staged in Mugdock Country Park in 2015.
Having grown up in the Borders before moving to Glasgow, Alan and his wife spent weekends getting out of the city and into the countryside.
Together, they came across Mugdock in East Dunbartonshire – and kept going back for more.
He said: “We knew there were two castles on the site but we were on our seventh visit before we finally found the second one!
“It’s such an incredible site – I find new places every time I visit. And I thought it would be a fantastic venue for a festival.”
Jointly overseen by East Dunbartonshire and Stirling Councils, Alan approached both about the possibility of staging a festival in the park.
And he was delighted at the response.
He said: “Both local authorities were very supportive of the concept and they have continued to be so to this day.
“I couldn’t have organised Mugstock without their continued support – so a huge thanks has to go to both councils for their help.”
Alan admits to being “obsessed” with festivals from a young age and has attended Glastonbury on numerous occasions.
The obsession became work too – he helped put on a one day festival in the Borders for local bands and worked with Sistema Scotland on the Raploch Big Noise gig in Stirling, to coincide with the London Olympics.
He said: “The events company for that gig are actually behind Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations – so I paid very close attention!
“I gained confidence and experience from that event and decided I’d like to give it a go myself.”
In 2014 he formed a not-for-profit company and joined forces with the two councils to organise the first Mugstock in 2015.
Alan said: “That first year was a steep learning curve, organised mainly by a group of hard working volunteers.
“But we managed to achieve charitable status that year too.
“We don’t just want to put on the best festival every year; we want to see what social impact we can have.
“So since 2016 we have provided tickets for Sense Scotland, which works with people who have disabilities, and Refuweegee, a community-led charity set up to ensure that all refugees arriving in Glasgow are welcomed to the city in style.
“This year, some of the refugees will be taking part in the festival by offering arts and crafts classes.”
Links have also been developed with pupils at Strathblane Primary School, who provide festival decor.
Mugstock will this year boast seven stages with more than 150 acts performing from Friday, July 27 to Monday, July 30.
Acts already announced reinforce the commitment to showcase musical diversity and emerging talent.
And it’s this diversity which makes demographics at the boutique festival so different from others.
Alan explained: “Most festivals target the 18 to 25 year olds – that’s the smallest demographic at Mugstock.
“We try to appeal to all age groups so we have lots of families who come along.
“Around one third of people on site are 12 and under and that helps to create a nice atmosphere.
“We get a lot of positive feedback on how safe people feel at our festival.
“We use Mugdock’s Victorian walled garden specifically for our family and children’s area. It’s contained so wee ones can run around and enjoy it.
“Unlike other festivals, we don’t allow unaccompanied teens to attend which I think also helps with our family-friendly ethos.”
The main stage this year will boast a canopy to keep the crowds dry, just in case the Scottish weather can’t be relied upon.
This year, campers in the festival’s three campsites will also be able to enjoy showers, free of charge.
And with so many nooks and crannies to explore, as well as two castles, being able to wash off the day’s activities may well come in handy.
Alan added: “Mugdock is a unique site and is well worth exploring – it’s one of the reasons we wanted to hold the festival here.
“We’re sure the sun will come out this year too!”
A wee taste of what to expect
The first of more than 150 acts to perform at Mugstock 2018 have been announced.
Colonel Mustard and The Dijon 5 will take to the main stage on Friday night.
Founders of the Yellow Movement, Glasgow’s shiny disco ball hat wearing, unicorn crowd surfing, genre hopping entertainers have captivated audiences across the UK. Other acts also announced include a highly eclecitc folk rock group Tide Lines; Grunge soul music masters Girobabies; former X Factor contestant Emily Middlemass, from Glasgow; Supa & Da Kryptonites, a band so funky they have performed at all four MugStock’s; Captain Hotknives, an entertaining, uncompromising and very, very funny singer songwriter from west Yorkshire; and Gage, a hard rock band all the way from South Africa.
There will be at least seven stages, including the main stage, the secondary stage Chameleon, the Butterfly Stage for acoustic acts and The Glade for dance music lovers.
The festival will also boast the finest Scottish beer, priced at no more than you’d expect to pay in your local pub, and Prosecco on tap! And in addition to three venues on site, there will also be a selection of tasty and reasonably priced street food.
For those who want to make a weekend out of it, there’s a choice of three camp sites – including one for families and one by the dance tent.
And in addition to the music, festival-goers can enjoy theatre, comedy, spoken word, roaming performers, fire shows and onsite art.
Early bird tickets are available now, priced £65, with day tickets from £27. Over 60s and teenagers are half price, with children 12 and under free. For more information, visit http://mugstock.org.