Paper Monitor: Festival season in Watford

Something big is happening in Watford.

The portable toilets (with hand gel) have been installed, "hairy Swedish eco-freaks" have gathered and "Hare Krishnas with a vat of vegan curry" are on hand to provide lunch.

"It's like a really bad festival," a woman "with a disdainful air" tells the Times.

But this is no rival to Glastonbury, it's a gathering of protesters, residents and members of the press for the start of the Bilderberg conference.

For the uninitiated, it's a "meeting where global policy is drawn up behind firmly closed doors by a small group of the West's uber-elite". That's according to critics of the gathering, as channelled by the Independent.

But this year's meeting is in stark contrast to previous outings, the very existence of which was denied and the public allowed nowhere near, says the Times.

For the first time there's a published guest list, with attendees set to include Chancellor George Osborne, his opposite number Ed Balls, Christine Lagarde from the IMF, Google's Eric Schmidt and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

There's even an agenda of sorts. And a press pen.

Among those making the most of the facilities is John Sergeant, reporting for the One Show.

"A fabulous outing and so very British," he tells the Guardian. "We're on the side of a hill in the glorious sunshine, friendly policemen everywhere; I feel like I should be playing skittles and bowling for a pig."

But despite the spirit of openness, the papers find that they have little to say about what is actually happening inside the venue - the luxury Grove Hotel.

"The observant reader will ask: was Osborne really there? And Balls and Clarke? Frankly I have no idea," admits The Times.

Nor does anybody else.

It doesn't help that the limos with blacked-out windows didn't slow down to allow the occupants to chat with protesters "blowing whistles and shouting 'scum'".

Still, there's always next year.

"They'll be holding a press conference," promises the Guardian.

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