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Thursday, July 13, 2006

LARMER TREE: The festival for people who do not like festivals

"Look mum, I can see some mud... no, sorry, someone has spilt thier strawberries"

The Larmer Tree is unlike any other festival I have been to. Held annually in the grounds of the Larmer Tree Gardens it is probably the most civilised festival on the circuit. It is so civilised, they don’t even think it necessary to put away the peacocks that roam the gardens freely.

Peacock waits in vain for some cock rock
Everything is just so damned efficient and organised, everything is neat and tidy, the toilets are the best festival toilets I have ever come across, the location is pretty stunning (as festivals go), the stages are run like clockwork, the sound and lighting are about as good as you can get and the music line up is pretty damn fine.

'The Artist's Quarter': American Express accepted

"I'm really not sure darling, do you think i should buy the hand crafted silver dream catcher or one of those outrageous comedy foam hats?"

The audience is one of the most diverse in terms of ages I have ever known, from pregnant women, through babes in arms, toddlers, young kids, ….. right through to us folks in our prime to old wrinklies. That is pretty much where the diversity ends though, the audience are pretty much middle class and upward, and don’t the stallholders know it. Market stalls are more like stalls at Greenwich Craft Market with prices to go with them. There is even an area known as the ‘Artists Quarter’, where you can pay as much as you want for fine art and hand crafted silver jewellery. And as for ethnic diversity, the only sign of that was on the stages.

"Pass the alcohol free Pimms Papa"

As you go in through the gate there is a tent where you can buy the 'Guardian' every morning, then as you wander past the artists quarter and the market you come to real ale tents and stalls selling strawberries and cream. When you get to the main lawn you will find people lounging in the sun, many of them will have brought their own deck chairs and will be drinking chilled wine. Everybody is generally.. well.. nice!

Larmer Tree regulars get ready to 'do the Larmer tree stomp'

This civilised relaxed vibe is a pleasant exception from your average festival and lazy days chilling out to the brilliant music line up (more of that in posts to come) are a real treat. However… there comes a point when you just cannot relax anymore and the need to party kicks in. There are a lot of people about having a good time in the evenings, but it is a little too restrained for me (not that I am a hell raiser myself these days). It needs a few crusties staggering around, a few drug dealers, people off their head… and most importantly … a bit of life after all the bands finish, some campfires, a sound system and some fireworks. As it is, people politely go back to the tents/caravans and chat quietly then go to bed nice and early.

That is my criticism over, this is my 5thtime of going so there must be something about it I like! Yes, despite the sarcasm above, it really is cool to chill out and relax in the gardens, and then there is the music policy…. Watch this space for some more posts along that line.


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