Doune The Rabbit Hole

Cardross Estate, Stirling

Nicola Meighan

Four Stars

PECULIAR and colourful goings-on have become the norm at Doune The Rabbit Hole. When the music and arts festival launched in the grounds of Doune Castle in 2010, it revelled in Alice in Wonderland references, with suitably-named stages (Tweedledum, Tweedledee), giant toadstools, day-glo rabbits and curious potions.

The festival takes place at Cardross Estate these days, but its original locale and psychedelic spirit prevails. Sights like unicorns and dragons handing out bananas, and a bride and groom waltzing round in glow-in-the-dark outfits come as standard.

The programming is equally magical, thriving on local grassroots music, and inspired global names. This year's bill welcomed Japanese avant-garde combo Sax Ruins, LA's Awesome Tapes From Africa and experimental pop diviner Julianna Barwick alongside Glasgow's reggae instigators Mungo's Hifi and psych-rock swashbucklers Trembling Bells.

Highlights included electro-pop deviant HQFU raising the roof, Bossy Love bringing the luminous R&B party, and Treacherous Orchestra invoking a trad-punk ceilidh rave into the night. Admiral Fallow, De Rosa and C Duncan were well worth battling the rain for, and the Baino tent was revelatory – from the a cappella thrills of The Crying Lion through Richard Dawson's primal folk-poems to Sound of Yell's guitar incantations.

Most mainstream festivals come under fire for routinely male-dominated programming, and could take a leaf from DTRH's Sunday night line-up alone. It saw brilliant, diverse sets from visceral piano heartbreaker Kathryn Joseph, indie-rock trailblazer Emma Pollock and psych-pop necromancer Cate Le Bon – not to mention one of the last-ever gigs from hip-hop dissidents Hector Bizerk, who felt more incendiary and vital than ever. Is it too much to hope that this festival might somehow magic them back for us next year? Stranger things have happened.