Highlights of Larmer Tree Festival, Larmer Tree Gardens, Salisbury
Another sunny weekend can only mean one thing… another fun family festival! We love festivals and would spend our summer hopping from one to the other to be honest but of course this isn’t practical. This weekend whilst we were attending birthday parties and doing boring house maintenance (boo!) we asked another travel loving family to review the fabulous music and arts event – Larmer Tree Festival on our behalf. Here’s how they got on…
So this weekend I was fortunate enough to try out a new festival for us. Larmer Tree Festival is held on the Wiltshire/Dorset border, in the beautiful Larmer Tree Gardens. My son and I are fairly seasoned festival goers however there was so much to recommend about Larmer Tree Festival. Here’s our highlights:
The Venue, Larmer Tree Gardens
Larmer Tree Gardens is absolutely beautiful, wide open fields and enclosed dark woods. The festival organisers have used the varieties of space to their absolute advantage, creating unique performance spaces in surprising places. The main stage was like a natural arena, enclosed by beautiful buildings and trees, the acoustics were amazing, and it looked even more beautiful as it got dark. They had performance spaces set up in the middle of the woods, whilst other stages were in the open fields. As the weather was beautiful it was lovely to be able to head to shadier areas amongst the trees, and every now and then you turned a corner to find a beautiful wooden sculpture, or if you were really lucky a fairy door!
The food, Larmer Tree Festival
A real positive for families is that you are able to take your own food into the festival, something that many similar festivals aren’t keen on. That being said we found the variety, quality and price of the food available within the festival was outstanding. There was everything on offer from Dorset fish and chips, to veggie Mexican tacos. We had Italian, Thai and some fabulous rotisserie chicken, and even better the majority of the stalls also offered child size portions which is great when you don’t want to have to share! A children’s portion of rotisserie chicken with potatoes and gravy was £5, for a portion big enough to fill even the hungriest child, whilst my Thai Green chicken curry was £8, for a portion I couldn’t even finish.
The other real positive was the number of healthy options, smoothies, vegan dishes and salads all featuring. There were plenty of options at breakfast time too, and an excellent campsite shop for any essentials. We were definitely spoiled for choice. There were a number of free water taps to fill up water bottles, a must when the weather is hot. Another option to stay hydrated are the Frank Water wristbands, which allow unlimited refills of cold, filtered water, whilst increasing awareness of single use plastic bottles and raising money for an amazing charity.
Traditional family fun, Larmer Tree Festival
Many festivals cater for children by featuring rides, and game type stalls, which for us parents can add up to an expensive weekend on top of your festival tickets. The lovely thing about Larmer Tree Festival was they had opted for craft based entertainment, the majority of which was included in your entry.
There were pottery workshops, Pixie Pals bead people, plant printing and quilling to name but a few. We opted for the Buzzy Bugs Noughts and Crosses, leaving with a lovely home-made noughts and crosses game, in its own little bag which doubled up as the board. We had great fun playing in the shade during the afternoon, whilst listening to some acoustic sets on the lawns. We also tried our hand at Spin-a-mation, creating a bouncing alien animation in a zoetrope. My 5 year old was delighted with both. The only down side was that the queues at times were lengthy, but definitely worth the wait once inside. From speaking to past festival goers, it does seem as if there were more spaces available for crafts at previous Larmer Tree Festivals, which kept the queues moving quicker.
The Lost Wood, Larmer Tree Festival
The Lost Wood needs a mention all to itself. A fabulous section of atmospheric woods, filled with instruments attached to trees, a wonderful playground for both adults and children alike. My 5 year old loved trying out the brass instruments and managed to produce far better sounds than I did. He was also very taken by the drum kit, and I fear that may have made its way on to his Christmas list! Within the wood was a The Peachick play area and tents, a lovely area for those with younger children featuring baby changing, travel cots, ball pits and toys, and a lovely sandpit area. The brilliant part about it was you could hear the music from the main stage perfectly, while your children played happily.
The variety of acts, Larmer Tree Festival
Whilst everyone looks for the headliners at festivals, you need more than that to keep you entertained over the course of a weekend. Larmer Tree Festival didn’t disappoint on either count. Jake Bugg was brilliant on Friday night, and really got the crowd going. First Aid Kit on Saturday evening was the perfect act to headline, blending modern music with folk/country charm. It appealed to both young and old alike, chilled for those who wanted to sit back and listen, yet versatile enough to dance along too. Another real positive was that the sound system was amazing, and the setting made a festival gig seem intimate, a really difficult thing to achieve. Contrast that with late night comedy from the likes of Sarah Pascoe, comedy game shows from The Intergalactic Circus of Truths in the depths of the Lost Wood, and storytelling and singing around the fire pit.
One of our favourites though was the Southampton Ukulele Jam whilst having lunch on Larmer Lawns in the sun. Clapping, singing and woohoo-ing along was positively encouraged whilst they entertained us with an amazing mix of everything from Disco 2000, Girls and Boys and Feel it Still by Portugal. The Man.
Summary, Larmer Tree Festival
It was our first ever visit to Wiltshire, and the beautiful surroundings going to and from the festival were another highlight for us. We even had a quick detour to Stonehenge on our way home. Thanks for a wonderful weekend Larmer Tree Festival, we’ll definitely be back.
Every year we run family festival pass giveaways. If you fancy your chances at winning a weekend pass to a music festival keep an eye out on our giveaway page. To subscribe to our newsletter enter your email address in the side bar of our website.
Recommendations for other UK family friendly festivals
Cornbury Festival, Great Tew Park, Cotswolds – Tips for attending Cornbury Festival and video featuring our highlights.
Wychwood Festival, Cheltenham Race Course, Cheltenham – Wychwood Festival – Perfect weekend to introduce your kids to festival life
Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset – Camp Bestival Review