Larmer Tree Festival delivers a relaxed start to the weekend

Larmer Tree Festival 2011 review

published: Fri 22nd Jul 2011

around the festival site (1)

Wednesday 13th to Sunday 17th July 2011
Larmer Tree Gardens, near Tollard Royal (about 16 miles W of Salisbury), on the Wilts./Dorset border, SP5 5PT, England MAP
weekend tickets sold out, day tickets left for Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday
daily capacity: 4000
last updated: Thu 30th Jun 2011

The Dorset sun greets us beating down hard as we arrive on site for Larmer Tree Festival 2011. Held in the beautifully tranquil Larmer Tree Gardens, it seems odd that a garden with 4000 punters in it can maintain any air of tranquillity, but somehow it all seems so relaxed.

around the festival site (2)
The drive onto site is simple and the walk from car park to camp site is short and made stress free by a tractor and trailer ferrying people and gear up and down to the campsite. There are even trolleys available for hire for those that require them. This year, the campsite has been segregated into three areas. Family camping, quiet camping, and normal camping. This seems to stem from constructive feedback from last year and the three sites are very well signposted and even appear on the site map distributed with bin bags to all new arrivals.

My only gripe (well there has to be one doesn't there) is the amount of stones lurking just below the surface of the ground in the campsite. It makes it tricky to get the tent pegs in (let's see the organisers sort that one out!). Seriously though, our arrival is totally pain free and the beauty of the site more than makes up for a few stones, which are no match for a peg and mallet combination.

The campsite seems to have a very high toilet-to-punter ratio and the urinals cut down on queue times for all. The wash facilities, showers and campsite taps are in good supply too. All these things add up to make an easy time of it for everyone over the weekend.

The programme at Larmer Tree is jam-packed and although we arrive after Jools Holland and co. on the Wednesday, taking time out to study the events of the weekend is as essential as the first beer after putting the tent up. Workshops, bands, theatre, street performers, readings, films, the list goes on and the surface is barely scratched. Larmer Tree has more to offer than many festivals four times its size, and yet still retains a friendly village fete undercurrent.

around the festival site (2)
Our two children (aged 5 and 10) love the festival too. For our eldest, it offers a safe environment where he can be allowed a bit more freedom to wander (though we can always see him). For our youngest, she relishes the opportunity to try workshops and experience things she has never done before. They both love the circus skills and our lad loves his diabolo. The Dapper Chaps in the circus workshops entertain them all weekend teaching them new tricks on a wide range of equipment. Their skill and patience keeps kids and adults coming back for more and we spend a great deal of time here – so much so that before the weekend is out, I've learnt a few tricks myself!

Rory McLeod
Rory McLeod is on stage when we make it through the beautifully decorated site towards the main stages. His well-travelled folk music seems to have collected subtle influences from across the globe and he tells a great story in both lyrics and words between songs. It provides a wonderful soundtrack to catching up with friends.

We saw Delta Maid earlier in the year and she didn't hit the spot for me on an overcast afternoon. As the sun sits low in the sky in these beautiful surroundings, her country blues coupled with a pint of ale from one of the bars is exactly what's required for a relaxed evening.

Imelda May
OK, so the collective noun for an antidote to relaxation needs to be changed to a Pronghorn. Their cow punk sound is infectious. I urge you to check them out (probably best done live), and attempt to stand still for just one of their tunes – I bet you can't. The highlight of their set for me was when one of their kids asked them to sing 'Digging My Potatoes'. It sounds great, as do 'Tuppeny Falls' and 'Mardi Gras'.

I make it back to the packed main lawn to hear Imelda May cover 'Tainted Love'. Her voice is magical and by all accounts the rest of her set has been equally spellbinding. While I had been bouncing up and down to banjo and fiddle, Imelda May has been bouncing her beehive to double bass fuelled rockabilly and even keeping the toddlers bouncing past their bedtime.

As we head back to the tent to put the weary kids to bed I reflect on a great day. I reckon my favourite band of today was sitting on the lawn and listening to The Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain. Their covers of Wheatus' 'Teenage Dirtbag', AC-DC's 'Back in Black' and Kiss' 'God Gave Rock n Roll to You' were particularly good.

The kids are worn out and we sit outside the tent underneath the cloud-free sky for the time it takes for a swift nightcap and take in the chilly evening air. It's been a great day and we all sleep well in preparation for the next day's adventures.

The Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain
review by: James Tayler

photos by: Andy Pitt

Wednesday 13th to Sunday 17th July 2011
Larmer Tree Gardens, near Tollard Royal (about 16 miles W of Salisbury), on the Wilts./Dorset border, SP5 5PT, England MAP
weekend tickets sold out, day tickets left for Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday
daily capacity: 4000
last updated: Thu 30th Jun 2011


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