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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Larmer Tree Festival 2011

One of the UK's longest running boutique festivals is a wonderful mix of music, comedy, street theatre, film and workshops for all the family. Why not join the fun?

Wed 13th July 2011 – Sun 17th July 2011

Larmer Tree Gardens, between Salisbury and Blandford on the Wiltshire/Dorset border.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Category: Earth

larmer-tree-festival logo
Larmer Tree Festival is one of a new breed of festival - even though this particular one celebrates its 21st year in 2011. It's a small and intimate festival that encompasses so much more than the standard musical line up. Started by James Shepard in 1990 the festival focused on jazz, blues and folk, and has stayed true to its vows never taken on sponsorship. This means that Larmer Tree Festival has been free to create an extraordinary event free from outside influences and continues to support grassroots creativity and community spirit. Just my kind of thing!

Larmer Tree Festival photo by Jonny Gloster
Larmer Tree Festival, photo by Jonny Gloster.

Nowadays this family friendly festival hosts an intimate crowd of 4000 people at the glorious Larmer Tree Gardens near Salisbury. Over five days the six stages play host to a diverse selection of music artists alongside a comedy club, 150 free workshops (yes please!) and street theatre.

Larmer Tree Festival Seasick Steve
Seasick Steve

The music line up is great: Seasick Steve, Stornaway, Scoundrels, Caitlin Rose, Gabby Young and Other Animals and Polly and the Billets Doux perform alongside world music maestros such as Vieux Farka Touré, son of the late great Ali Farka Touré and folk wonders The Coal Porters, Police Dog Hogan and Bellowhead.

Larmer Tree Festival Imelda May
Imelda May

Comedy comes from the likes of Russell Kane, Phil Kay, Rob Deering and Sara Pascoe. This year there will also be a Big Top Experiment - a late night attraction featuring classic party tunes and the Headphone Disco. Lostwood takes place in the Larmer Tree woodland area, where performers will engage the crowd in story telling, poetry and spoken word. Woodland Crafts will be led by expert craftspeople. Or maybe visit the Water Garden, where drop in sessions will be held in how to weave, crochet and use natural dyes. Adult Workshops will teach the larger people how to dance everything from Cajun to Bollywood, Charleston to Rock ‘n’ Roll. Or learn Tai Chi and Yoga on the rolling Larmer Tree lawns.

Larmer Tree Festival photo by Mackay
Larmer Tree Festival, photo by Mackay.

On Saturday there's a fancy dress theme for the 1950s retro revival carnival procession: Coif your quiff, flick up your collar and master your rockabilly pose for the ‘50s Retro Revival of all things rock’n’roll, jive, vintage and swing! The day will feature a host of activities to get you in the mood, from dance workshops to music from 50s influenced bands such as Imelda May and Boppin' B.

Larmer Tree Festival

Mark Kermode hosts his second Film Club at Larmer Tree every evening from Thursday to Sunday, showcasing an intriguing selection of feature films across a variety of genres including animation, horror, cult movies, rock docs and family features. Mark will present introductions to the films, explaining why they are so important to him, and providing some fascinating nuggets of information about the films and their makers. 

Larmer Tree Festival photo by Masie Hill
Larmer Tree Festival, photo by Masie Hill.

Of course, for those people who prefer a slightly more comfortable camping experience there is now the necessary addition of a Comfy Camping section, including tipis from Wigwam Sam, Hotel Bell Tents and lovingly restored Airstream Trailers for those who fancy getting into the 1950s theme.

This year Larmer Tree have teamed up with Big Green Coach to provide a coach service from the festival site direct to Salisbury Railway Station at various times on the Monday morning. The fare is £8 per person and it is strongly advised that you book your seat in advance as there will be limited seats available on the day. Tickets are on sale with options ranging from individual day tickets, 3-day, 4-day or a full 5-day option, all with camping and car parking included. For more information on tickets please visit the Larmer Tree Festival website. For more information on how to get to the festival click here.

In recent years the festival has won awards for both Best Family Festival and Best Toilets. Not to sniffed at! Watch out for my preview, coming up soon. I can't wait to finally attend Larmer Tree Festival this July.