Romanticism and debauchery spring to mind at the mention of pleasure gardens. In their heyday they were known for showcasing the finest musicians and artists of the time, so it could be that some of this history has rubbed off on Larmer Tree Festival as it celebrates its 25th year this week with a cracking and eclectic line-up.
Bill Bailey, The Magic Numbers, Jimmy Cliff, Rodriguez y Gabriella, The Levellers, Femi Kuti and Tom Jones are just some of the acts who’ll appear among free-roaming peacocks and macaws in the pleasure grounds that form part of Cranborne Chase on the Wiltshire/Dorset border. Alongside them will be up-and-coming artists such as Bristol three-piece Meadowlark, Bournemouth’s Villanovas and comedian Rhys James. There’s an exciting mix of comedy, music, street theatre, talks, workshops and takeovers – our only concern is how to fit it all in.
The original creator of the gardens, who inherited the land in 1880, set out to entertain and enlighten the public. Larmer Tree festival appears to be continuing this vision with its fiercely independent and sponsor-free approach bringing top international acts together with local emerging talent.
Recognised in the UK Festival Awards as the ‘Best Family Festival’ with the ‘Best Toilets’ there’s a lot to like about Larmer Tree. It’s not too late to book tickets so check out the line-up and get yourself along. If you can’t make it, you can catch some of the flavour of this year’s festival in our upcoming interviews and reviews.
Words by Jessica Smith