Nine days to go, and the build down at Shangri-La is well under way. The hexagons are up, and the old artwork from last year is ready to be coloured over with new messages, new ideas and work that reflects this year’s theme of encouraging the politics out of punters.

This year the site takes on a different turn – shifting out of corporate hell, Shangri-La has been over-run by faux political parties, all of which want to grab your attention. We’ll have Harry’s one-man show where he’ll be contained within his own slumber party for the duration of the festival; Love Bullets will be back with a whole new set up, the CND Maze, and Brainwash who will be using images to subvert you into a world well away from that of the festival. But more from them very soon.

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Across the site – the festival is almost empty, apart from a core crew of techies, roadies, scaffies, and chippers (yep, I don’t understand what these mean either) working away on getting the small little bits of the site together. The main shells of all the main stages are up, whilst the cows are safely locked away in the mote. With most of the site unoccupied par the security that potter through every now and then to have a little look around.

The few tents that are up around the site sit in the staff campsites – where production assistants are working away from laptops in bell tents and caravans, furiously levelling their respective abodes making sure they don’t topple down the hill at the advent of any rain.

By night – the sites workers retreat away from their fields and towards campfires or crew bars, where fiendish stories from previous festivals are told amongst bitching about who’s got the best toilets, and who’s got a flat space to camp on.

Production at Shangri-La is well under way too – with the arts crews and production crews all on-site already. Tomorrow the teams of volunteer painters, décor artists and more bring the field from a pile of scaffolding and wood into its final form.

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For the production teams – planning for the festival begins 10 months before, in August, two months after the festival has finished. It’s at that stage that decisions are made as to next year’s theme, and research begins on how it will work visually. It’s at this time too that mad plans start to hatch as to little takeovers and walkabouts that could happen on site, whether that be plotting to place a massive bronze statue in the middle of the field, building a replica speakers corner, or re-fashioning old circus junk into artefacts that bewilder with entertainment.

We’ll be blogging more on-site this week as things happen. Tomorrow is when the real fun begins. Over the space of the week – we want to get as many messages, slogans and ideas across for us to splatter throughout billboards on the field.

More to follow

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