Playgroup creates an artistic yet crazy ambiance turning adults & kids alike into big bags of smiles

Playgroup 2011 review

published: Wed 10th Aug 2011

around the festival site (1)

Friday 5th to Sunday 7th August 2011
Eridge Park, Eridge Green, near Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 9JT, England MAP
£77 weekend with camping, teen (1317) £66, under 12s free
daily capacity: 2000
last updated: Tue 5th Jul 2011

I have a confession to make. I hate fancy dress. I even loathe face paint. Glitter and glow sticks is about as far I will go with regards to getting my costume on. Unfortunately, this revelation didn't stand me in good stead for maximum enjoyment at Playgroup festival, which took place at Eridge park, Tunbridge Wells, where all of woodlands creatures came to frolic in their home-made finery in the Garden of England. But despite my almost scrooge like attitude to the tent tomfoolery - it was near on impossible not to have a jolly good time at Playgroup.

around the festival site (costumes 2)
The Brighton based brand puts on a variety of events all year round, but this was their most ambitious project to date. It's the second year the group have successfully put on a truly local grassroots festival, that would appeal to all including seasoned partyheads, funky families, and crafty creatives. Inspired by the bigger but more commercial festivals, such as Bestival and Secret Garden Party, Playgroup creates an artistic yet crazy ambiance by asking festival goers to dress up as their favourite woodland animal. While the fox and stag populations were teeming, the theme was just as welcomely ignored and taken to the next level in the form of psychedelic clowns, hippy unicorns and mutant frogs.

Music lovers might have despaired a little at the local yet universal line-up but there was plenty of good music to go around. The main outside stage was inhabited by ska bands such as Los Albertos, Jazz from Quantic, and popular summer vibes via The Correspondents. Bass heads would have been satisfied in the dance tent tent by killer sets from Kidkanevil, and Reso, while the Bedowin Burrow tent was the home to progressive bands like Dune Deer and AK/DK, as well as swkeee legend Boss Kite. Local collectives hosted tents with their own musical stylings and special interior decoration, such as the Betabet collective.

around the festival site (1)
Tickets were limited to just 2000, the festival was perfectly small, you could happily loose and then find all your friends again, and could traipse from the campsite, through the two festival sites in less than 10 minutes, even all the way out to where your car was parked. There wasn't a sniff of commercialism of sponsorship anywhere. The bars were cheap and cheerful, selling beer at brighton prices, £3.50 for a pint and generous cocktails starting at £5, as well as Playgroup own Badger Brew. You could buy delicious stonebaked pizzas baked to order, the Caribbean Jerk chicken stall was getting some serious loving by the hungry party goers, and the reliable festival favourite Granny's caff was on hand to serve tea to all the dears.

Over the three days the festival was oozing fun loving vibes from it's participants, stall holders and security. Even the weatherman came out to play, threatening gloomy rain in the mornings, but kept its promise of glorious golden sunshine in the afternoons. The site itself was made for crafty giaties, with the trees dotted around the site containing clocks and chimes. A lot of thought was also put into making sure the festival was safe and fun for the little ones too. There was a dedicated kids tent, with a magician showing off his tricks, and the opportunities to spin plates and juggle with their own circus area. Elsewhere there were cinemas, talks and theatrical performances for all to get involved in if and when they wished, one could even book themselves in for a massage. Even the site dinosaur came to life for the party on Saturday night.

around the festival site (1)
It wasn't plain sailing the whole time. On Friday, the portaloo queues and ewwws reached disgusting proportions, and the sound kept cutting out in both smaller tents. But the problems were quickly rectified and were not repeated for the rest of the weekend, apart from a few line-up switches.

The festival's success was down not just to the organisers, but down to everyone that dressed up, rocked out and took part. Everyone had their part in making it special, from Friday's animal Olympics, a romantic airbourne proposal on Saturday, all the way down to Sunday's squat-tastic Schwarzenegger workout. Full of good vibes, great times and the best of human (and animal) kind, Playgroup festival turns adults and kids alike into big bag of smiles.

around the festival site (costumes 3)
review by: Rosie Rogers

photos by: Rosie Rogers

Friday 5th to Sunday 7th August 2011
Eridge Park, Eridge Green, near Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 9JT, England MAP
£77 weekend with camping, teen (1317) £66, under 12s free
daily capacity: 2000
last updated: Tue 5th Jul 2011


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