Blustery beginnings for Larmer Thursday

Larmer Tree Festival 2010 review

published: Wed 28th Jul 2010

RSVP

Wednesday 14th to Sunday 18th July 2010
Larmer Tree Gardens, near Tollard Royal (about 16 miles W of Salisbury), on the Wilts./Dorset border, SP5 5PT, England MAP
£184 for 5 days, day tickets priced at £30 to £58 dependant on day
last updated: Mon 7th Jun 2010

Last year's Larmer Tree was our first, but the impact on our two children (aged 9 and 4) and the two of us was so great that the date was carved into our 2010 calendar as soon as it was unwrapped. With this being the 20th birthday, we're easily convinced that we want to be there to join in the celebrations.

Setting off under ominous looking skies and with a doomsday forecast hanging over our heads, we make the two hour journey to the Larmer Tree Gardens through driving rain and wind packing a heavy punch. Although we get on site far later than our friends, our 'planned' arrival window (to avoid the squally showers), is actually pretty good and despite it being early afternoon, we get wristbanded and parked up with no effort and plenty of friendly smiles from the fabulous volunteer stewards.

Car unpacked and loaded onto the trolley, we make the short walk from the parking field to the campsite. Twisted tents and tangled guy ropes are commonplace as we try to find our friends and the area that we will call home for the next 4 days.

A tractor slowly meanders up and down the damp track, which runs the length of the campsite. They take donations to the local scout troop in return for a ride to your chosen pitch. Rather than unpack the trolley to get on, we elect to walk this time.

Finding our friends and with a break in the clouds, we attempt to get the tent pitched straight away. I imagine we make for a great spectator sport. A large tent, heavy gusts of wind and two child helpers make this event seem closer to kite flying than tent pitching.

Tent finally erected and nerves in tatters, we join our friends in a small cup of something intoxicating before finally getting into the swing of things and getting our tent in order inside and heading down to the festival site.

Walking through the main arena, it's clear from the start that the organisers have had a bit of a re-jig from last year. Most of the main tents are in roughly the same area but with everything a little more spread out, the walk to the main stages seems a lot more spacious and the flags a welcoming sight. The covered Big Top and ARC stages seem further apart and with a separate bar in that area, congestion is eased throughout the weekend.

around the festival site (people)
The flag circle (though devoid of flags and exhibiting only stumps), has a small gathering awaiting Angie the 70's disco queen of Hula. As her routine progresses, the stunts increase in difficulty and the crowd swells.

The walkabout and performance art at Larmer Tree is one of the things that make it special for us. Wandering around we see a variety of weird wonderful and amazing acts who all make it special.

We stop by the RSPB stand and say hello. Our boy has seen them at a few other festivals, joined up, and thoroughly enjoys the activities that they put on. I enjoy their guitar request show too and the work they do really is appreciated, as they are kept busy throughout the weekend.

The overcast weather seems set to stay for the day and as we continue towards the main stage and garden stage, we stop to have a look at the food stalls on offer. Pie Minister, tortillas, wraps, real sausages, pizza, Goan fish curry and pasta all catch our eye.

A trip to the bar and a fine selection of ales and ciders are available for about £3.50 a pint. Slush cocktails, wines and spirits are also on offer but we settle for a couple of pints of Boondoggle (wondering if we'll be able to pronounce it a little later in the evening).

RSVP
RSVP, a UK based Bhangra band is on stage. Their show isn't just about sitting around and listening to accomplished musicians. Their style demands that you are on your feet and ready to have a good time. As the show progresses, we're taught more steps and bhangra moves until we reach a crescendo and we're "screwing in the lightbulbs", racing to "pick up a tenner", and "talking on the mobile". We've all forgotten that we're getting a soaking and the smiles on faces as we look around say it all. RSVP? We'd love to attend!

With no let up in the weather and waterproofs keeping out the elements, we get into position for Frank Turner. In all honesty, rain showers are just what we need here. It masks the tears from twanged heartstrings as Frank plays a stunning set of angry folky rock. His lyrics like the poetic observations of love hate and anger, friends lost and new and people who generally get on your nerves are all there. He invites someone from the crowd to play a Bob Dylanesque harmonica solo for him in celebration of her 21st birthday (she does a great job too), and far too soon it's over. Frank Turner is the kind of person who I would never tire of seeing live and I'd honestly love to sit and talk to over a few pints.

We decide to go for a wander around The Lost Woods. It's a magical place with fairy lights at night and plenty of activities to keep the kids happy during the day, and as night falls, the fire pit reflects against the disco balls as adult story time tweaks the imagination.

The kids are asking to go back to the tent and despite the smooth blues of Robert Cray Band coming from the main stage, we head back for a nightcap and to see what state the tent is in. With wind still blowing strong and rain coming down at an interesting angle we seek sanctuary in our sleeping bags, with a tremble and the hope that the tent will hold firm through the night.

around the festival site
review by: James Tayler

photos by: Andy Pitt

Wednesday 14th to Sunday 18th July 2010
Larmer Tree Gardens, near Tollard Royal (about 16 miles W of Salisbury), on the Wilts./Dorset border, SP5 5PT, England MAP
£184 for 5 days, day tickets priced at £30 to £58 dependant on day
last updated: Mon 7th Jun 2010


latest on this festival

Larmer Tree Festival
festival home page
last updated: Wed 8th Jan 2020
Larmer Tree Festival 2019
festival listing
last updated: Mon 22nd Jul 2019
Larmer Tree Festival 2019
line-ups & rumours
last updated: Mon 22nd Jul 2019

more on this festival