Skeptically envisioning a camel sanctuary, I was relieved to discover that Larmer Tree festival is actually one of the original festivals. Equaling my age of 23, this festival pre-dates the ‘niche middle-class-boutique’ festival explosion, hopefully attracting a crowd of people who have a genuine interest in more stripped back gritty music, art, theatre, workshops and carnival. I predict this will not be your poncey glow-stick-wielding teenage crowd who spent the last two weeks deciding which ‘worn effect’, bottom exposing short shorts to wear. Larmer Tree still echo’s the Bracknell Jazz festival it was inspired by, with revival bands such as the alluring Imelda May with her rockabilly-jazz-blues-sexy-curves-husky-voice-oh-god-get-in-my-pants style of music.
My dancing feet are getting all twitchy just thinking about the line up this year. Highlights are Johnny Flynn, Bellowhead, The Beat, Molotov Jukebox and The Bombay Royale…but my personal favorite would have to be that old salty dog, Sea Sick Steve. With his washboard blues, earthy charm and a beard that I could get lost in; he’s definitely an act to be experienced in real life. Similarly, Son of Dave, (another one-man band) showcases an eccentric mix of rustic blues gone technological, combining loop machines, beat boxing, mandolin and harmonica. Some smaller bands I’d recommend seeing are: broken toothed gypsy band Pronghorn, the enigmatic genre crossing Polly and the Billets Doux and the sexy folksters The Woodland Creatures who always get me jumping about like an eejit.
Not only are there six stages to dance around over five days, you can get involved with a plethora of activities, all of which scream hippy at me. These are things that you maybe haven’t tried before but in this West Country bumpkin setting, you may as well get stuck into. Go and talk to artists and watch them create, get involved in workshops, chill out and expand your mind with some holistic therapies, soak up some culture with the theatre, revel in the carnival and drop your kids in the youth zone. You can clearly see why they have been awarded with the best family festival. The festival has also won numerous awards…my favorite being the best toilet awards. No hovering to do a poo and slipping over in sick for me! However, the thing I’m most excited about is the top quality comedy, including Dylan Moran and Alastair Mcgowan. There are so many things to see and do it could be quite overwhelming, although this is not a massive festival, only welcoming around 4000 people. Compare this to Glastonbury (which has a capacity of 177,000) where you can get stuck in one part of the festival without even seeing a band.
There are 25 food vendors at Larmer Tree, so you should be able to find great food whether you’re a carnivore or leaf eater. Of course you could always take your own supplies. Charcoal BBQs and gas stoves are ok in the campsites but no disposable BBQs. To my great delight I will not have to strap a wine bag around my body and put tinnies down my pants – bringing your own booze into the campsite is not restricted. However, you’re not allowed smashy bottles: they do not mix well with wild children and bare footed drunkards. Do not fear. The festival has many watering holes for your post-campsite drinking needs.
There are many ticket options in the ticket section of the website; so whether you want to be the first one catching the worms and the last ones (barely) standing, or just want to visit for the day, there is pretty much every ticket type you can imagine.
With all of my favorite activities in one place I aim to try everything at this festival. If it’s good weather can imagine the flat West Country cider will trickle down a treat, causing me to spin some white lies to those little impressionable people some call children. What more can you expect at a child friendly festival?
For more information and tickets click here.