I don’t think I ever really enjoy the first few hours of a festival; the worry about the weather, how to get everything onto site on my own, whether we’ll get a decent camping pitch.
It’s all a bit stressful until we get settled, and this years Larmer Tree was no exception. We arrived much later than planned, in torrential rain and with two tired and grumpy kids!
But as always we pulled our socks up, put our wellies on and got stuck in.
We had booked a pre pitched tent with Campeazy and found all the tents pitched on a lovely flat area close to the main gate but far enough away to feel secluded and quiet. The camping package included posh loos, hot showers and a huge tent with settees, dressing tables, mirrors and hair dryers!
The facilities were shared with the rest of boutique camping which was mostly made up of beautiful bell tents adorned with bunting and fairy lights. General camping was also very close to the site and there were further fields for one night camping and campervans.
After setting up we headed into the site and despite the mud underfoot we went straight to Lostwood.
Within minutes we were submerged into wonderful muddy magic and all the stress of arrival disappeared. Throughout Lostwood there were guitars and pianos hidden among the trees and undergrowth. Above our heads rows of spectacular hats hung from ribbons. And of course the magical fairy doors hidden at the bases of tree trunks.
Although the paths were muddy I could still navigate the buggy and we spent our first few hours switching off from real life and enjoying all the wonderful sights and sounds. It really is a very special part of the festival. Many other festivals try to emulate this wild, magical area but for Larmer Tree it seems to come effortlessly; not least due to the fact the festival is set in such beautiful surroundings.
After a few hours we headed back to the tent with bellies full of Mac N Cheese and settled down listening to the rain! Thankfully the rest of the weekend was dry. Despite the downpours the site dried up enough for us to ditch the wellies for sandals and get the sun cream out.
New to the festival this year was The Wilds area. A kind of extension to Lostwood that hosted various craft and play areas. The Peachick Play Area had a wonderful bell tent with toys and dress up just for toddlers.
And the tent next door was fully equipped for baby changing and feeding. It was close enough to the main stage that you could hear the music and had lots of actual real chairs for grown ups to sit on while little ones played. A welcome addition for all the new parents to escape the hustle and bustle for a short while.
There were lots of crafts and activities going on in The Wilds all weekend. From pom pom making to mask making and although busy you never had to queue. Even without the activities it was just a great area to wander about, play hide and seek, climb trees and there was even a rum bar for the grown ups!
The only activity that we paid for over the weekend was the Pottery. We had to book and missed out on the Friday as it was so busy. We got a slot Saturday and it was so much fun. My 9 year old got to make her own bowl and my 2 year old had fun playing with the clay at the table while we waited. At £6 it was great value.
The Village Green
Another new addition this year was the Village Green which hosted various events and activities over the weekend. It really did become a central meeting point, with families sat about relaxing, eating and enjoying the music and the kids loved the Village Olympics held on the Green, lots of silliness and laughs.
Over the weekend there were activities on offer such as slack-lining and circus skills, lots to keep the young ones entertained and all within close reach of The Village Inn with its live music and bar.
The Village Green was also the area that hosted the Fancy Dress Photo Shoot on Saturday afternoon. Having a theme is such a great way to bring everyone together, people go all out with costumes in festivals and this was no exception. The theme was Space Oddity and there were astronauts, aliens, space creatures and more.
While we tend to search out the smaller acts and activities, suitable for younger children, there was a fantastic line up across the weekend. Main acts and performers were located on the Main Stage, The Social, Peacock Palace and The Village Inn.
Andy and the Odd Socks on the main stage Sunday morning were great fun. Another great hit was the Family Magic Show in The Social. Unfortunately Jack Savoreti had to pull out of his headline slot at last minute but the replacement Tom Odell went down a storm; hats off to the Larmer Tree team for managing to secure such a great replacement at such short notice.
The Peacock Parade
On Sunday afternoon the wonderful Peacock Parade met at The Wilds and marched through the site to the Village Green. Throughout the weekend there had been workshops in The Wilds making costumes, masks and flags all in preparation for the Parade.
The Parade was accompanied by a samba band and the amazing Southampton Ukulele Jam. The SUJ perform a number of times over the weekend at various spots across the site. They are by far one of the highlights of the Larmer Tree. The interaction with the crowd is amazing and everyone I spoke to said they looked forward to their performances every year.
Food and Drink
There were food and drink options a plenty, mostly located around the Village Green and The Social. A huge choice including Fish and Chips, Curry, Scotch Eggs, Pizza, Mac N Cheese and lots of vegan and veggie options too. Prices seemed comparable to other festivals, £7 – £9 a portion and nothing ridiculously overpriced.
My kids particularly loved The Tea Stop. A double decker bus with seating upstairs which served huge bacon sandwiches and was a great way to start the day.
For treats there were plenty of ice cream options, pancakes and churros and delicious smoothies as a healthier option. Coffee for me is an absolute necessity at a festival and there were plenty of options available across the site. Especially great was the coffee stall near the Campsite Cafe. It opened at the break of dawn for all us parents who were up with little ones!
For the grown ups there were a couple of main bars and also a gin bar, cocktail bar and a rum bar. The main bars sometimes had large queues as they were close to the main stage and tents. However if you walked a short distance the other smaller bars rarely seemed busy.
There was a ban on plastic bottles this year and FRANK water were on site with chilled refills. You could also fill your own bottles from the many water points across the site.
Larmer Tree is a wonderful small festival. It has been running for 29 years and has remained true to its small beginnings; it feels very personal and local and not as commercial as other large festivals. The setting was truly beautiful. Having peacocks stride past while sat on the lawn eating pizza was something the kids will never forget. The site was small but never overcrowded and the vibe all weekend was pure festival happiness. This was our second visit and we will definitely be back again!
Next years dates have already been announced and Super Early Bird tickets can be purchased here.