One of our friends visited this festival last year and said that she would never go back to a large festival again. And I have to say, I agree with her. This little festival has a capacity of 10,000 and apparently this double the number it was in previous years. It is based at Larmer Tree Gardens, which is a beautiful set of gardens and woodlands on the Dorset/ Somerset border. It took us about 4 hours to drive there in our campervan and the last half an hour's drive is just amazing. There was a huge full moon and the clouds were absolutely enormous. It literally felt that we were driving to the end of the world!
When we arrived, we pitched up the van and five minutes later, we were greeted by our neighbours- the lovely family from Happy Days Retro Vacations, whose Airstream caravan we had stayed in earlier on in the Summer holidays! While the kids made friends and ran around, Kevin kindly helped us to put up our awning and event shelter. I then popped down the "road" to meet my friends who were eating birthday cake and drinking fizzy wine. Our other friends had had a bit of a campervan nightmare and eventually arrived about midnight.
The next day, we got up, ate breakfast and walked for FIVE MINUTES!! to get our wristbands. And then another FIVE MINUTES!! to get into the main area. What a treat compared to the 20 minute slog up steep hills at Camp Bestival.
One you get inside, it is no more than a 10 minute walk to get to any of the music stages. There was the Woods Stage, which is a pretty normal looking stage at the bottom the hill, the Tipi Stage (which apparently used to be one tipi but they have had to expand it a bit), The Big Top, and then there is the Garden Stage. It is like sitting in a very beautiful back garden! There is a beautiful painted archway, a little old house and that;s it. Even the (very clean) festival toilets are screened from the stage by a pretty walkway.
Musical highlights for me included Cashier No 9, John Grant, First Aid Kit and Cold Specks. All absolutely beautiful voices which worked so well in a more intimate environment.
There is a small children's area, but it is quite low key, including circus skills, animation, crafts made out of recycled materials. And that was absolutely fine. It took a lot of pressure out of the day as we weren't running around, trying to see everything and do everything.
Then at night, we took the children into the woods with their glowsticks for a journey of adventure...the woods had been transformed, with hundreds of fairy lights, cherubs hanging from the trees, tiny toys wired onto the branches, a library in the wood, peacocks, totem poles and a disco shower! It honestly took my breath away and I must have gone into the woods about 8 times because the children loved it so much. There was also a games area in the woods, with table tennis, jenga, connect 4, Operation and wobbly mirrors, which was full of children and adults having an old fashioned, good time. There were tree trunks covered in crochet, knitted scarves adorning the branches and tiny labels saying who had created each part.
Oh another highlight was the bonfire and the mulled cider bus, which quickly became my new favourite festival tipple!
At night, we walked into another wooded area, where there was a disco, complete with 70s flashing dancefloor. it was such a surreal experience but very good natured and lots of people having a good old boogie.
On a practical level, it worked very well as we could take the children into the festival for a few hours, take them home for a nap, cook tea at the van and then wrap them up warm before heading out for the evening.
I bought myself a lovely, cosy campervan jumper from a vintage stall and a screenprint to remind us of our wonderful weekend. The colours match my front room perfectly, as I have an orange sofa and teal Orla wallpaper!
There is a sister festival called No Direction Home, which is in Nottingham and I am seriously debating going back next year. It was heavenly.
On a very happy note, can I take the opportunity to say a warm hello to
who is my latest follower! Welcome and thankyou :). My blog has been a bit slow to get started, so every new follower means such a lot to me. I now have a grand total of 8 x