Dear Mummy, last weekend saw us travel to Burley in the New Forest, Hampshire for our 3rd annual pilgrimage to The New Forest Fairy Festival. It was sunny after all the miserable weather we’ve had this summer and thankfully the fairy magic had been sprinkled onto the day.
We bought tickets on the gate £10 per adult and £5 for children (under 5’s go free) and entered the site nice and early admiring festival goers attire. We’ve been previously and have reviewed our adventures at the festival but this time we wanted to enjoy the fairy festival without feeling that we needed to scrutinise every detail. As a blogger it can be hard to switch off at events like this where everything is a photo opportunity waiting to happen. There was live music, plenty of stands selling fairy wares from costumes to jewellery and food stalls. We were impressed by the number of local craftsman on site and the talent!
For the majority of the day we set up base camp near the main stage so we could enjoy the folk, rock and alternative music and watch the crowds. It was a feast for the eyes and nearly everyone had made the effort to dress up, no matter how small – even doggies had little wings on. Fairies, Steampunk Fairies, Greenman, Elves, Wizards, Witches, Fae Folk Dragons had all come out to play. Glitter sparkled in the summer sunshine while people sat in picnic blankets and enjoyed home-made picnics which were allowed to be brought into the festival. (A refreshing change to the majority of day festivals we’ve been too).
Across the way was an area cornered off for practicing circus tricks and hula hooping which we enjoyed and another area for storytelling and dancing. The festival was very colourful with beautiful flags and streamers gentle blowing in the wind. Crafted cardboard trees decorated with fairy doors, mystical horses used in set design and cast iron ornings for photo ops. It was a feast for the creative senses.
We ventured into the small village which played host to the fairy festival, Burley. It was a stones throw from the entrance and we made a beeline to the famous Coven of Witches shop. One of the first things to strike you when walking around Burley are the witchcraft shops. My mummy had visited before she was pregnant with me then afterwards carrying me in a sling, happily browsing the shelves looking for inspiration.
This time she was navigating a busy shop with pre-schoolers and lots of ‘look but don’t touch’ advice was dished out. However she made it out and with a beautiful crystal ball in one piece. Children were mesmerised by the visions of witches on broomsticks hanging from the ceilings, wooden wands and dragon ornaments inside the shop. Coupled with tales of the village from locals in the cafe across the road we were set to explode with excitement!
Burley’s association with witches is due largely to a former resident, Sybil Leek classed as ‘Britain’s most famous witch’. Sybil rose to media fame in the 1950s, after the repeal of the 1735 Witchcraft Act in 1951. She was one of the first witches to come out into the open. Sybil Leek was a “white witch” but also a colourful character. Her fame and notoriety eventually made her unpopular in the village and she lived out the rest of her days in America.
However, Sybil Leek was not the first witch to be associated with The New Forest. Gerald Gardner, who founded Gardnerian Wicca, the best known tradition of witchcraft in the UK today, claimed he had been initiated to the craft by the New Forest Coven in 1939.
Burley is one of my mummy’s favourite places to visit in the New Forest and this quaint little village is surround by miles of beautiful countryside with New Forest ponies roaming the footpaths and excellent camping sites ready for exploring. We had a mixture of fairies and witches on our trip to Burley and wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s the perfect location of such an alternative festival and we can’t wait to return for another year!
Love Bella x
View our little video of the festival here: