Larmer Tree attracts a great crowd who despite the mud are up for a party

Larmer Tree Festival 2012 review

published: Thu 19th Jul 2012

around the festival site 2

Wednesday 11th to Sunday 15th July 2012
Larmer Tree Gardens, near Tollard Royal (about 16 miles W of Salisbury), on the Wilts./Dorset border, SP5 5PT, England MAP
£190 for all 5 days (Thursday sold out)
daily capacity: 4000
last updated: Mon 9th Jul 2012

Sunday morning and the sun comes out to play, hurrah! Unfortunately this means a claggy turn for the mud and in places the rapidly drying gloop tries to tease wellies from feet. The slightly more optimistic outlook is reflected in a more cheery feel to Larmer Tree Sunday. As we cook breakfast, we notice that the number of tents and vans has seriously thinned out, with many having given up and left early.

around the festival site (People 3)
The kids in our camp are eager to get up and going so we pack waterproofs (it feels lovely not to be wearing them), and head through the gates and on through the more testing conditions. First stop again is a wander through The Wild Wood and we tick of a few more of the musical sculptures on the trail. Our daughter gets a lesson on how to make a woollen bracelet in the knitting tent while our son enjoys making a wand and joining in the charcoal workshop in the woodland craft area.

Larmer Tree is small enough to let our kids off the leash a bit more. They stick together in a group with our friends children and look after each other and are never far away or away for very long, but time enough to get an ice cream or go and choose their lunch.

This year the selection of food is better than ever. Noodles, Mexican food, Curry, freshly baked Pizza, Pieministers fabulous selection of pies with mash, Moroccan food, a welsh food stall, a really decent coffee stall and loads more. There's a Routemaster bus serving tea and cakes but our favourite eatery is Dinahs Dish Café. Today they have a spicy butternut squash soup with goats cheese crouton or fresh bread with olives and hummus. Their selection of home made cakes is a delight and the kids love their hot chocolate.

around the festival site
Shopaholics need not fear, the artists quarter houses some very talented crafts people. We opt to take it in turns to wait with the kids outside as there are a fair few breakables but we enjoy walking around the outside markets together. There's a didgeridoo stall who also offer lessons and workshops, there are games, retro clothing, bags, flags and kites for sale. It's not the normal array of festival tat. There's even a farmers market selling massive pork pies!

Musical highlights of the day are Vid Warren who beatboxes and juggles. Port Isaacs The Fisherman's Friends are joined on stage by Steve Knightly to sing 'Cousin Jack'. I guess you can tell a lot about an act by the jokes they tell on stage so here is one of theirs. Q. 'What do pirates have for lunch?' A. 'Half an hour – the same as Fishermen' One of my favourites on the festival line-up is Raghu Dixit. You don't need to be able to understand what he is singing about to appreciate his delicate soulful Indian folk music.

The Imagined Village
If you want a party started the Pogues way and they aren't available (or coherent), step in Crowns. The evening sunshine bathes them on the Garden Stage as they get the party jumping. Sadly for me, I walk my family back to the car for their departure and despite the weather, they get out of the car park with no problems. I'm staying another night so I grab a beer and head in to listen to The Imagined Village. I've seen them a few times but this is the first time I recognise Ali Friend from one of my favourite bands Red Snapper playing double bass. It puts a smile on my face and Johnny Kalsi beating the dohl makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. This is music to stir the emotions! 'Hard Times of Old England' is that track that does it for me with Martin Carthy's vocals. For many this is the end and the crowd thins before Roots Manuva take to the stage. Those that remain are treated to a great set and my drying boots bounce a little higher for the burbling bass of 'Witness the Fitness'. A great way to close the main stage.

around the festival site 2
We head out to The Social and my only complaint of the whole festival is seeing some rather overbearing security removing peoples cans from them and pouring them on the floor while standing very close and looking them in the eye. It seemed totally inappropriate behaviour. Our final night in the social is spent socialising instead of listening to the cheesy disco. We meet some utterly lovely people, many of whom have been involved in organising or setting up the festival and are letting their hair down and celebrating their incredible accomplishment. Well done to the organisers who put together and build a festival, but this year it's the people who have made it for me. A great crowd who despite the mud are all well up for a party! Everyone I spoke to on Sunday night agreed that they would be back. The Larmer Tree vibe is infectious and we're not looking to get cured.
review by: James Tayler

photos by: Andy Pitt

Wednesday 11th to Sunday 15th July 2012
Larmer Tree Gardens, near Tollard Royal (about 16 miles W of Salisbury), on the Wilts./Dorset border, SP5 5PT, England MAP
£190 for all 5 days (Thursday sold out)
daily capacity: 4000
last updated: Mon 9th Jul 2012

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