as Larmer Tree opens it's 'All at Sea' theme is most apt

Larmer Tree Festival 2012 review

published: Thu 19th Jul 2012

Paloma Faith

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

As Larmer Tree 2012 approaches, it seems that the weather gods are intent on making the fancy dress theme 'All at Sea', a reality with a large amount of rain dumped on the site in the days leading up to the festival. Indeed, as I approach the site at the Larmer Tree Gardens on the Dorset and Wiltshire boarders, the heavens open once again and the drenching continues.

around the festival site (People 3)
We are guided onto campsites by cheery stewards (despite the rain), and given maps and rubbish bags and although there are some very waterlogged areas in the car parks and campervan fields, they are cordoned off. Stewards are on hand with tractors and 4-wheel drive vehicles as backup to ensure that everyone reaches their destination with a minimum of fuss and lots of reassurance.

Setting up is a damp affair and although I'm on my own, it's done quite quickly before the next set of showers hit. The family is arriving later in the festival so I ensure that all of the beds are made, and waterproofs and boots are all present and correct before heading onto the main part of the site for a wander.

The folks at Larmer Tree put a phenomenal amount of effort into transforming what is already a beautiful set of gardens, woods and fields into a magical festival world, where brightly coloured flags touch the skyline and in this instance, break up the otherwise ominous sky.

around the festival site 3
Bad luck strikes as I get to the main site entrance, and the heavens open. Happily, I am passing a bar and as I take a look inside, I spot some good friends (well met at Larmer Tree a few years before). Before long the barrage of water coming from the sky becomes just a background noise as we work our way through sampling a few of the ales. Larmer Tree bars are great and here's why; they are dotted around the main and smaller stages, and although they all offer a slightly different range, you can get a standard offering of ale, cider and lager at each of them. This year on the ale list we try Summer Lightening, 49er and Boondoggle. Cider drinkers have a choice of Orchard Pig (a flat Scrumpy-like cider) and Thatchers' Gold (strong with a fizz). Larmer Tree wine is also available by the bottle or glass and one of the bars is well equipped with a pretty incredible list of cocktails.

Paloma Faith
Thursday's highlights for me are Hobo Jones & The Junkyard Dogs, Paloma Faith, and the hilarious Tim Minchin. Faith's set seem to be pretty 'Marmite' with most people having very strong opinions. I find her quite easy to warm to on stage and although generally her style of music isn't something that I'd pay to go and see on stage, her appearances on Never Mind the Buzzcocks had won me over before I even arrived at Larmer Tree. The highlights of her set for me are 'New York' and her telling the crowd to celebrate their wobbly bits.

I take a wander around the magical Lost Wood with its beautiful lighting and innovative site art to round off the evening and then head back to the encampment for a few quiet nightcaps while the kids sleep around us. It's been a long wet day, but our spirits remain strong. As we head off to sleep, the rain comes back and plays its soothing percussion on the tent again.
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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