With a rich heritage that now spans a quarter of a century, Larmer Tree Festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Since its inception in 1990, the festival has evolved whilst still retaining the ethos that made it so well loved in the first place: totally independent, intimate and inspiring.
This anniversary year sees a mighty six days of fun-filled festivities with a promise of “more fun under the sun” and “more party time at night.” As two-time winner of the Festival Kidz Gold Award, there’s plenty of entertainment and activities to suit the littlest Larmers, as well as the teenage crowd.
The setting of the Larmer Tree Gardens couldn’t be more perfect. Created by Lieutenant-General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers in 1880, they were designed as pleasure grounds for “public enlightenment and entertainment”. And you’ll be grooving in the footsteps of many notables, including novelist Thomas Hardy, who enjoyed an evening of country dancing in the gardens with his wife Emma in 1895. There will also be art installations, sculptures and decorative touches to admire as well as street performers, puppetry and clowning.
With a capacity of just 4,000 festival-goers, this boutique event is also renowned for its excellent facilities (including the luxury of free hot showers) and community ethos with farmers and vintage markets, incredible music, comedy, film and theatre, workshops and delicious food.
How much fun is this festival? Well, let’s just say that Tom Jones loved playing last year so much that this year he’s coming back – for two nights. Time to get the kids primed for some sing-alongs to What’s New Pussycat, Delilah and – my personal favourite – The Green Green Grass of Home.
Musical Maestros Highlights include Tom Jones, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Jimmy Cliff, Levellers, Femi Kuti and the Positive Force, Bellowhead, The Magic Numbers, Orchestre National De Barbes, Ibibio Sound Machine, The Shires, Show of Hands and The Beat.
Featured Fun Comedy plays a huge part of Larmer Tree Festival with an impressive line-up with Bill Bailey, Russell Kane, Sara Pascoe, Seann Walsh, Kerry Godliman, James Acaster, David Trent, Alex Edelman, Gareth Richards, Rhys James, Carl Hutchinson, Stephen Bailey, Damian Clark, Fin Taylor, Yve Blake and Mark Simmons
The Zones The Main Stage; The Big Top circus tent; Garden Stage; Arc, for comedy acts; The Social for lounging, quizzes and impromptu open-mic sessions; The Pavilion for a range of talks, films and shows; Flag Circle for street theatre with pop-up musical ensembles, dance troupes, street shows and amazing circus skills by day, and mesmerising fire performances and special effects by night; Lost Lounge for chilling amid magical woodlands; Global Bazaar; Lostwood, for storytelling adventures; Water Garden; Artists’ Quarter, showcasing beautiful crafts; Secret Garden, for recuperation; The Village; not to mention the Children’s Area!
- Enjoy shows like Gorilla Gardening and workshops like the Larmer Drama clowning and circus skills.
- Shlomo will bring the house down with his Beatbox Adventure for Kids – be warned, his funky human beatbox sound is highly contagious.
- The Odstock Day Nursery will be at The Nest to host fun activities for under-fives. There is also a magical story of Monkey for them.
- PuppetCraft have enlisted famous children’s poet Michael Rosen to adapt a Classic Chinese story, Journey to the West. Using puppetry, poetry and live music they’ll also be performing Monkey, and a second show especially for the under 5s, SuperMonkey.
- Families are invited to partake of the Live Lunch, a masse picnic on the Larmer Lawns whilst enjoying a mini-gig! There’s also a brand new interactive show, Gorillas Gardening, based on a poem by Emma Howell, and yes, there is the chance for you to get on your inner gorilla with some gardening in a post-show workshop. How do gorillas garden? We’ll let you know!
- Kid’s Drumming, Liven up the Lawns, Bubble Boogie Disco are returning as kid’s all time favorite activities.
- There are also children’s workshops creating crafts and learning how to make pitta bread, as well as baby massage, sing-song sessions and calming baby yoga.
Chill Out Time Head to the Secret Garden where therapists offer massage and treatments.
Dining Tables The Goan Seafood Company are a returning favourite, along with Pieminister and many many more, while The Farmer’s Market offers campers tasty treats as well. Ringwood Brewery return with their selection of quality craft ales.
Happy Campers Camping options include Quiet, Family, One-Day, General and Disabled camping, all included in the price of the tickets, with easy access to the cafe and shop, Larmer Lock-Up, ample water points and award-winning loos. Many comfy camping options include Hotel Bell Tent, Wigwam Sam, Tilshead Caravans, Fairlove Yurts (from £470), Blackmore Vale Caravans (from £395) and Airstream trailers (from £1,600).
THE PRICE TAG
Full Weekend Adult (18+), from £174 | 11–17 years, £113 | 5–10 yearss, £63 | Under-5s, Free
Day Tickets Adult (18+), from £51 | 11–17 years, £34 | 5–10 years, £26
Photography Credit: Larmer Tree Festival | Roger Elliott, Dominic Old, Carolyn White
*** Want to see more family-friendly festivals for 2015. Check out our 12 We Love… Summer Festivals round-up ***