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Location: Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset/Wilts borders
Wow! 2015 was Larmer Tree’s 25th year!
A wonderful festival in one of the most beautiful gardens in the UK. Everyone is welcome here whether you are 1 or 101. For older kids and teens, Larmer Tree’s Youth Zone is particularly good, and provision for younger kids is nothing short of excellent.
Highlights for Kids and Families:
The Children’s Area has everything you would expect from an area set up with families in mind, with baby changing, toilets, face painting, crafts and activities for all children. Under 5s can also take part in special music, drama and play-based sessions for babies and toddlers.
For those at the age where it’s all about escaping the parents for a while, Youthzone will be right up their street. In previous years there’s also been cracking comedic entertainment for children at the Comedy Club 4 Kids in The Social each lunchtime: comedians performing brilliant comedy without the rude bits!
What makes Larmer Tree so special?
The food is great, the surroundings are stunning, the atmosphere is relaxed, the crowds are friendly, it feels remarkably safe and welcoming. There are peacocks roaming free and macaws in the trees.
Plenty of street theatre with fire shows, dancers, impromptu interactive theatrical performances – often popping up right in front of you as you wander the site. We love the story-telling and poetry sessions, bedtime stories, the song-writing workshops and the musician’s talks. The kids learn so much from these talks and love hearing the journeys that artists have been on, and discovering the stories behind their music.
If you get a night off from baby-sitting duties, the comedy tent hosts both big names and rising stars and The Social is a great place to groove away into the wee hours.
There are plenty of lovely spots to set up a picnic, or just chill. There are open-mic sessions, board games and quizzes in The Social (a lovely acoustic sessions tent with bar).
TOP TIP: You can search for the teeny fairy doors hidden in tree trunks (Larmer Luminaries), which were permanently installed in 2011 in celebration and commemoration of people past and present who have inspired the festival.
Site and Facilities:
The camping is not overcrowded and there are hot showers if you want them. The walk from your car to your tent is relatively short. And the walk from your tent into the festival is also short (although there is a shuttle if you need it or are on the very far side of the camping or campervan areas). The small distances involved in a small festival like this are a real bonus if you don’t want to lug everything you are going to need for the entire day around with you – and nipping back to your tent for something you’ve forgotten is not a big deal.
Larmer Tree limits daily capacity to just 4,000 per day, making it one of the safest festivals around and free from the huge queues one might find at other family events. The ‘Missing and Found Children’ team will set minds at ease, and there’s even a family camping area to ensure you’re near people with similar sleep requirements!
There are separate camping areas for live-in vehicles, general camping and family camping. There are also some great ’boutique camping’ options, including Hotel Bell Tent and ready parked caravans.
The toilets are good and plentiful (they won Best Toilets and Best Family Festival a couple of years back) and the site is relatively flat and buggy friendly. There is a baby change tent and specific activities aimed at under-5’s such as Playsongs, Baby Yoga and Storytime.
We have seen a couple of very muddy years, which does make buggies and wagons very hard work indeed. The mud however is usually confined to the main village area by the entrance gate. Once you are beyond this first field there are some concrete paths and protective coverings over the grass which prevent the ground being churned up. My kids have had their most fun festivals in the mud at Larmer Tree! Read a festival-virgin’s experience of her first ever Larmer Tree here – she went in 2012 and boy was it a muddy initiation to festivalling!!
This is not a cheap festival for a family, but there is a lot on offer in terms of music, additional entertainment and workshops.
NB: This festival almost always sells out so be sure to buy your tickets in advance. Snap up early-birds because they offer the best value.
More of our Larmer Tree photos can be found on our Facebook page – see Photo Albums.
Larmer Tree Festival 2013 in 60 seconds: