Hatfield House threw open one of their beautiful tree-lined lawns for the one-day Folk By The Oak festival 8 years ago, and they've created a really special sanctum of folk music, fun and fabulous festival food!
Suitable for everyone and anyone who loves sitting outdoors, having a whole-day picnic, listening to some great music and leaving the crazy chaotic world outside and having a happy-hippy day. Gates open at 12.30pm and both stages come alive with so many genres of folk music and keep going until 10.30pm, the day ends with fireworks. There's tons of space for parking and it's really close to the main entrance, so it's easy to take as much gear as you need for the day and a few extra luxury items. Gazebos are allowed in and are set up in a separate Gazebo Zone, further away from the Main Stage but still in the centre of everything; you can take your whole dining table and chairs then. Closer to the Main Stage the space is filled with camping chairs, picnic blankets, small sun tents and even dining tables complete with tablecloths, the family china and champagne flutes. You can make the day anything you want, a soggy sausage roll and a pint of ale lying in the grass, or full-on fine dining; whatever you're willing to carry.
There's so much space you can easily set up your spot for the day, you can see what's going on on the Main Stage from pretty much everywhere in the whole site and they have a large screen showing everything aswell, and announcements of everything going on elsewhere, so you won't miss a thing. Then you go and check out everything else on offer; clothes stalls, a giant marquee of vintage clothes and bric-a-brac, a camping shop, a local craft tent, the Children's area with workshops, a storytelling tent, craft stalls and the Lavender Mandala to keep the little ones busy.
Then there's the food on offer and you're very spoilt at Folk By The Oak. Pizza, curry, Persian Food, African Food, burgers, fish and chips, Branston Pickle, Bradbury Cheese and Soreen giving away loads of sweet treats. For liquid refreshment there's a huge bar, Tring Brewery for some local ales, a Pimms bar, a cocktail bus, and for the drivers, Yorkshire Tea and 2 or 3 coffee places. I thought it was a really brilliant, diverse range of food stalls, catering for everybody and so much just for one field of people; and it went down a storm as by 8pm the stalls were closing down as everything had gone.
I only watched the music on the Main Stage, despite a full list of more music going on on the Acorn Stage too; I just got too comfy lying on the grass in the sunshine. Emily Portman & the Coracle Band, Martin Simpson & Dom Flemons, who captivated me with their deep South blues and uplifting English Folk; they were brilliant to watch. Sweet Liberties, Lau, False Lights and then Cara Dillon who I was really waiting for; I've seen her perform quite a few times but not for a few years so I was really looking forward to seeing her again. This time she was joined by a few special guests complementing her always sensational Gaelic folk set and I was truly humbled by Jamie Lawson, performing 'I Wasn't Expecting That.' It was really beautiful as the light was starting to fade; then Cara ended her set with 2 of her older songs, 'There Were Roses,' and 'Bright Morning Star.' It was great to have a good sing-along with her.
Afro Celt Sound System finished off the music for the day; another big favourite of mine and we'd only seen them the week before, they did another stupendous show. A proper big, explosive set of thumping African beats, Celtic pipes and amazing vocals; you can't help having a jump around to burn off a few champagne calories. Sadly I didn't get to see the end of their set, my children had crashed out on the floor and we had to get them home; gutted I didn't get to see the fireworks and if Afro Celt did 'Mojave,' which would have made my year; but I will definitely be back next year and will take the Monday off so we don't need to rush home. It's a perfect day out, to get some sunshine and fresh air, let the children run around, have some great food and drink and watch some amazing music, and is excellent value for money. I can't recommend it enough!
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