Dear Mummy, we love trying new things so couldn’t wait to attend Larmer Tree Festival this year! It’s been on our radar for some time and has been running since the early 90s and based in the picturesque Larmer Tree Gardens in Wiltshire.
It’s a three-day music, comedy and arts festival and we’d heard great things about it, so taking the plunge we visited for the first time. After a short drive south of Salisbury, we were immediately impressed as we entered the site. It was well organised and the carpark was only a short distance from the entrance to the campsite compared to a lot of other festivals we’ve been to.
We have camped on hills, ploughed fields and in all manner of conditions so it was a welcome sight to find the general camping area relativity flat with plenty of room. With our trusty festival cart we unloaded in a couple of trips and pitched up in no time! There were plenty of toilets and clean showers with hot water on site as well as rubbish bins.
There was also an area for quieter family camping, with a large amount of festival goers opting for camper vans which had a massive area dedicated for them. We opted for the general camping and to be fair this seemed just as quiet and never detracted from having fun or getting sleep!
Larmer Tree attracts every generation, from people in their later years to young families with babies. A lot of people we spoke to attended year after year with a lot of locals joining in to help run attractions. The entrance was well organised with a medical tent, chargeable storage area, camping supply tent and the obligatory café tent serving food. We made use of both the supplies tent and the wonderful café where we enjoyed a range of breakfast food all at a reasonable price. It also served as shelter, as our first full day saw rain. But this didn’t dampen our spirits.
It’s a beautiful festival and very Instagram worthy. This might have something to do with the fact that it’s set within the stunning Larmer Tree Victorian pleasure gardens. Even before we saw all the fabulous art installations scattered across the site we were smitten. It was family friendly and very civilised, a great starter festival for those looking to dip their toes in.
There are four main areas to the festival with attractions and tents splintering off these. The first area you encounter as a camper coming through the entrance is the Village Green area which consists of a hub of stalls selling festival wear, information tents and welfare, food outlets and pop-up entertainers. Along with three giant marquees housing live music acts, talks and shows this was the heart of the festival.
Each tent had a bar inside or nearby, along with outdoor seating and fire pits for those wanting to listen to music but not fully immerse themselves in the crowds. We liked toe-tapping to the folk bands at the Village Green tent (or pub as they liked to call it). My folks occasionally bobbed their heads in to catch interesting talks on climate change and hot topics. Later on, once us little ones were meant to be tucked up in our beds, the festival came alive to the sound of drum n bass and dance music. Whilst some of the mixes almost drew mummy and daddy from their beds it did seem to go on into the early hours, longer than other festivals we’ve been to.
Many times I walked past the full tents with the sound of great bands playing but not wanting to battle the crowds we listened from our picnic blanket on the grass. On some occasions it seemed the bands performing in these tents had bigger crowds than the main stage!
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. This is great if you want to save a few pennies or need plenty of snacks on hand for us hungry kids. As with most festivals, food is a bit pricey but we always make a point to treat ourselves.
The food available within the festival was really good. We had pizza, noddles and some fabulous traditional pies to warm us up on the cold nights. The stalls also offered child size portions which is great when you don’t want to have to share! There were plenty of healthy options too like vegan dishes and salads on offer.
The other main hub of activity was the Main Lawn. It was here that the main performers took to the stage and we enjoyed seeing the likes of Gomez, KT Tunstall, Kate Tempest (though not overly family friendly and didn’t seem to draw as big a crowd as others) not to mention kid favourite Andy and the Odd Socks who was totally perfect for little ones like me.
The Main Lawn isn’t a massive area, however it never felt overly crowded allowing us the opportunity to walk straight up to the stage on numerous occasions to get a better look. The acoustics were amazing, and it looked even more beautiful as it got dark mixed with some more historical buildings. Along with the immaculately well kept Larmer Lawns and hidden areas tucked behind the trees this festival was definitely more laid back than what we had been expecting.
Looking for adventure I led an expedition into the woods on the far side of the stage, we walked through the pleasure gardens and down pathways guided by giggles of children and the sound of musical instruments where we found the Lost Woods.
This was one of my favourite areas. It was a fabulous section of atmospheric woods filled with instruments attached to trees, a wonderful playground for both adults and children alike.
The Peachick Play Area was also in the woods and a great area for those with younger children featuring a tent with baby changing, travel cots, ball pits, toys and a sandpit. You could even hear the music clearly from the main stage at a more relaxing decibel.
We could have spent the whole festival wandering the woods. From hidden stages to lights hanging from large oaks, front room furniture outside like a house without walls. I spent the majority of my time lost in the woods away from reality. Random pieces of artwork merged with the hedges and at night they really came alive with UV lights and twinkly fairy-lights. It was like something out of a dream.
The amount of activities for kids is great, from crafting to an indoor cinema which showed films throughout the day and then into the night for the grown ups. I was introduced to one of Daddy’s favourite films ‘The Princess Bride’ which had a packed out audience!
During the course of the weekend the weather improved and we found a spot on the main lawn to enjoy the music but there were lots of quieter covered places to put down a blankets under the trees. We also ducked inside the tents and joined in with lots of crafts and activities in the new area called The Wilds. The only downside was that on some occasions it seemed there were more adults in the tents then us kids which meant there wasn’t space for us.
There were many drop-in activities that appealed to all ages like giant Jenga, board games and pianos in the woods, LED hula-hoops by the Midnight Playground on the green. I also enjoyed joining in the Village Olympics!
The Village Green was also the area that hosted the Fancy Dress Photo Shoot on Saturday afternoon which we attended. The theme was Space Oddity and we loved seeing everyones costumes! There were plenty of pop-up acts around the festival and one of our favourites was the Southampton Ukulele Jam. Whilst having lunch they entertained us with an amazing mix of chart topping tunes.
Along with The Retreat and Larmer Lawns offering alternative therapies, Hot Tubs and an escapism from the daily grind there really was something for everyone. We really enjoyed our weekend at Larmer Tree and would definitely recommend this festival to people looking for a more relaxed vibe.
Next years dates have already been announced and Super Early Bird tickets can be purchased here.
Love Bella x
Disclosure: We were invited to Larmer Tree Festival in order to review, all photos, tree hugging and opinions are our own.