The festival hoping to make Strathallan Castle its new home

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Strathallan CastleImage source, William Starkey
Image caption,
Strathallan Castle was home to T in the Park for two years before the festival shut down in 2016

The bones of T in the Park are still very much visible in the Strathallan Estate.

Large pedestrian bridges lie disassembled in fields while empty hard standing roads - built for the event by DF Concerts - encircle the majority of the grounds.

The area was significantly altered to accommodate tens of thousands of campers and a throng of festival traffic in 2015.

But with T in the Park having run its course, a fledgling Scottish festival with less than 2% of T's last head count plans to move into the grounds next summer.

"It feels a bit like we're Jack, we've just climbed the beanstalk and we're in the giant's house," says Alan Govan, co-founder of Mugstock music festival.

Image caption,
Mugstock music festival business partners Alan Govan and Stuart Nelson

He conceived the idea for the non-profit event while at university with friend Stuart Nelson.

Both grew up playing in bands in small Scottish towns - where if they wanted to perform, they had to organise gigs themselves.

The two first launched Mugstock in 2015 in Mugdock Country Park, and while turnout was modest, it was not without impact.

It was right on Glasgow's doorstep and successfully accommodated music fans of all ages and backgrounds.


"Mugstock is absolutely for everyone," Stuart said. "If you're differently-abled for any sort of social or physical reason, if you're poor, we also reach out to refugees.

"We want to make it so if you are 90, nine or nine months you can turn up, experience something and be part of it."

Mugstock also welcomed a large proportion of Scottish acts across many musical genres - Idlewild lead singer Roddy Woomble, Malcolm Middleton from Arab Strap, hip hop outfit Stanley Odd, ska band Bombskare, Emma Pollock, Rachel Sermanni and many others.

Showcasing home grown talent is a tradition Alan and Stuart hope to keep alive in 2020.

Image caption,
Glasgow samba band SambaYaBamba perform at Mugdock country park

Alan said: "We've spent a lot of time handpicking the very best stuff we can show you because there's so much more talent than there is space for it to be seen.

"There's more and more talent appearing while venues and festivals are shutting down, so it feels more vital that there are these spaces where they can go."

In the last decade a number of festivals have permanently dropped from Scotland's musical landscape - notably RockNess and Loopallu as well as T in the Park.

Others have struggled with funding and poor weather, including Mugstock which was cancelled this year during heavy rain and flooding.

But Stuart believes financial uncertainty should not stand in the way of something "culturally and artistically significant".

He said: "It is far more expensive to put on outdoor events than ever before. Musicians are still very underpaid and while everyone seems to agree that festivals are a great idea, getting support for them is often very difficult.

"We've tried to help a lot of acts that probably wouldn't get festival slots around this sort of size because we just see them as being really worthwhile.

"We're feeling the crunch like everyone else, and as a result there's a few festivals that have been left hanging and had to close down.

"If you look at their legacies, they should probably have got some help."

Image caption,
Both Alan and Stuart prefer the 'safe' community feel of smaller festivals

It may be a challenging climate in which to grow a young festival, but Alan and Stuart are also optimistic about their advantages.

Their proposed campsite at Strathallan comes practically ready-made - with a water system and fibre broadband, again brought in by DF.

The festival's following may also be small - 1,500 visitors in 2018 - but both Alan and Stuart have noticed the same fans returning year after year, often families with young children.

Image source, Kathryn Knight
Image caption,
Kathryn Knight brought her two children Solomon, one, and Cara, four, to Mugstock in 2015
Image source, Kathryn Knight
Image caption,
The two children have returned to Mugstock every year since - here they are in 2018

Mugstock is set to take place at Strathallan Castle from 31 July to 3 August.

The name of the festival, despite the new location, will remain the same for the foreseeable future - much like T in the Park or Doune the Rabbit Hole, which both moved from their namesake homes after a few years.

Unusually, the final day of the event is a Monday. Bars will be closed on the last day but coffee shops will be open with a few performances on to give campers a pleasant farewell.

Alan said: "The idea is a 'take Monday off' campaign and to have self care after a festival - don't just rush into the car hungover and make a questionable decision.

"The small festivals have this sense of community that I felt the larger events did not - it's about that same escape, being in another world but with that sense of safety.

"You feel like you can come out of the weekend feeling better than when you went into it."

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