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Larmer Tree Festival

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Larmer Tree Festival
KRusby Larmer08.jpg
Kate Rusby at the Larmer Tree Festival 2008
GenreRock and pop, reggae, folk, acoustic, world, jazz, comedy, family, theatre, talks, workshops, arts and crafts
Dates16-19 July 2020
Location(s)Larmer Tree Gardens, near Tollard Royal, on the Wiltshire-Dorset border, England, UK
Years active1991 – present day
Founded byJames Shepard

Larmer Tree Festival is a 3-day music, comedy and arts festival held annually at the Larmer Tree Gardens near Tollard Royal on the Wiltshire-Dorset border in England.

Described as "One of the most family-friendly festivals around",[1] it takes place in the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The festival welcomes local, national and international artists in music, outdoor theatre, live performances, arts and comedy, retreats and international cuisines.

Past music line ups have included performances from Paloma Faith, Jake Bugg, First Aid Kit (band), Tom Odell, KT Tunstall, Tom Jones (singer), Kate Tempest, Jools Holland and Gomez.


The festival is held in the Larmer Tree Gardens, a Victorian pleasure ground founded by Augustus Pitt Rivers, and has remained small by choice, with a total capacity of 5000 audience members per day.

The Larmer Tree itself was an ancient landmark tree on the ancient boundary between Wiltshire and Dorset.[citation needed]

Nestled in the stunning Cranborne Chase, it is part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a nationally protected landscape which is the sixth-largest in the country.

The festival takes place in a setting of lawns and gardens, dotted with Indian pavilions and Roman temples, with free-roaming peacocks and macaws, which also feature in much of the festival's branding.[2][3]


Seth Lakeman at the Larmer Tree Festival 2008
Seth Lakeman at the Larmer Tree Festival 2008

The first festival was held in 1990, founded by James Shepard, who was joined in 1993 by Julia Safe. Rob Challice joined as director in 2015, having previously managed the festival's music programming.

Following the 2018 festival, James Shepard and Julia Safe stepped down as directors. Rob Challice continued in his role, joined by new directors Lauren Down and James Strathallan.

Nearly 500 volunteers from the local area, covering 13 different roles, help out before, during and after the event, and it has links with many local organisations.[4][5]

The festival organisers try to minimise its environmental impact, by such measures as recycling as much as possible and insisting on the use of biodegradable trays and wooden cutlery by the catering outlets at the event. They also encourage festival-goers to take green living measures such as lift-sharing by signing up to GoCarShare or Freewheelers, recycling and saving water on site.[6]

The festival organiser are devoted to creating a stress-free experience and offer a true community vibe for all ages.


Nestled in the heart of Cranborne Chase, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Larmer Tree Gardens are historically known for offering music and entertainment.

Laid out in 1880 by the distinguished archaeologist General Pitt Rivers, the gardens were to be pleasure grounds for "public enlightenment and entertainment" and were the first privately-owned park to be open to the public.

Remnants of the glorious parties can be found all around the Gardens, including the Singing Theatre (also known as the Garden Stage at the Festival), just next to the Main Stage.


See Larmer Tree Festival line-ups for line-up listings.

The music line-up crosses four stages – Main Stage, Peacock Palace, The Social and Village Inn. The festival predominately features acoustic folk, indie-rock, jazz, country-folk, world music, reggae, roots and blues, plus the Late Night Larmer programme which includes DJs and disco beats. The Village Inn is the place for swing, ska and skiffle.

The comedy covers all bases with past performers including Josie Long, Mark Watson, Dylan Moran, Sara Pascoe and Nish Kumar, new comers, Edinburgh Festival Fringe previews and live podcast recordings.

There is a carefully curated Literature & Talks Programme including renowned podcasts and radio shows, author interviews, talks and exclusive book signings.

The festival has an array of workshops where people can learn skills from dancing and hula-hooping to slack-lining and knitting or make a festival keepsake. Plus there is the big Dress-Up on Saturday, the Carnival Parade on Sunday and The Wilds to discover.The majority of workshops are free and first-come, first-served, but there is a small selection of hand-picked sessions that need to be booked and paid for in advance.

In the Lostwood and the Social there is theatre, pop-up shows and story-telling for all ages. There is also street theatre performances around the site and impromptu theatre sessions on the Village Green.

There is the retreat which is a beautiful Victorian pavilion with holistic workshops, inspiring talks, a selection of therapies and a cafe. There is also the luxurious wood-fired hot-tubs in a traditional Swedish barrel sauna with hot showers, an invigorating cold drench bucket, private changing rooms, a friendly reception and Bedouin lounge with bean bags, rugs and throws.

The festival has a number of Art Installations hidden among overgrown laurels and woodland clearings. People can make music, dress up, perform to friends, read a book or take part in an immersive performance.

There is the Arts and Crafts pavilion where people can purchase a festival keepsake, the Village Market for a vintage piece or the Merchandise Tent for an official Larmer Tree souvenir or a signed record.

Food and Drink

There are a number of stalls to choose from with something for everyone including plant based, smaller portions and comfort food. There are a number of bars around the site.

The festival always try to encourage the use of local produce where possible. All the caterers use biodegradable trays, wooden cutlery and paper plates.

The audience can't buy single-use plastic bottles on-site, but there are water taps all around the festival.


The festival offer a number of boutique camping options from traditional Gypsy-style caravans to luxuriously furnished Bell Tents. In 2020 the festival will have Vintents for the first time which are up-cycled vintage tents.

There are campsites to suit everyone including Quiet Camping, Family Camping, General Camping, Accessible Camping, Day Camping, Van Field with a panoramic views of the Cranborne Chase.

The Gardens

There is a lot to explore in the Larmer Tree Gardens. There is the Water Garden, the lawns, laurel hedges, woodlands, meandering paths and ancient trees. Plus free-flying Macaw (descendants of the original birds introduced in the 1980's) and roaming Peacocks.

The Gardens are maintained with utmost care by the dedicated team of professional gardeners.

Green Larmer Tree

The festival continue to be a part of the Drastic on Plastic campaign to eliminate single-use plastics wherever possible. They ask the audience to bring their own reusable cups, plates, cutlery, and bottles to use on site. They use starch-based material that breaks down in the environment to post the programmes out, instead of using plastic wrap. They no longer sell their merchandise in plastic wrap and all the bars use recycled cups, that will be recycled again after the festival.

In 2020 the festival partnered with Tuned in Travel who are committed to being environmentally conscious and pride themselves on offsetting 100% of passengers’ carbon emissions.

The festival work with Grist Environmental who help to recycle as much of the waste produced on site as possible. Any material that can’t be recycled is baled for waste energy production, so nothing goes to landfill.


The campsite next to the festival ground is free, with free hot showers. In 2006 the festival toilets won the UK Festival Awards 2006 Portaloo Sunset Award For Best Toilets.[7]


In 2008 the Larmer Tree Festival was nominated for five awards by UK Festival Awards: Best Small Festival (for festivals of 10,000 festival-goers or less); Best Lineup; Grass Roots Festival Award (for "the king of anti-commercialism"); Family Festival Award and Best Toilets.[8] The festival made the shortlist in three categories: Best Small Festival, Family Festival Award and Best Toilets, and won the Family Festival Award when the results were announced at the awards ceremony in London on 30 October 2008.[9][10]


  1. ^ "Larmer Tree Festival 2008". BBC Dorset. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  2. ^ "Larmer Tree magic weaves its spell". This is Wiltshire. Retrieved 11 October 2008.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Keen, Mary (24 May 2003). "A stately pleasure garden". Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  4. ^ "The Story So Far". Larmer Tree Festival. Archived from the original on 19 April 2008. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  5. ^ "Volunteers". Larmer Tree Festival. Archived from the original on 7 June 2008. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  6. ^ "Green Larmer Tree". Larmer Tree Festival. Archived from the original on 13 June 2008. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  7. ^ "Larmer Tree Festival". Contact Music. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  8. ^ "Larmer Tree Festival 2008: Nominated in the following categories". UK Festival Awards. Archived from the original on 4 October 2008. Retrieved 11 October 2008.
  9. ^ "The Winners of 2008". UK Festival Awards. Archived from the original on 4 December 2008. Retrieved 31 October 2008.
  10. ^ "UK Festival Awards – Vote for Us!". Larmer Tree Festival. Archived from the original on 16 April 2008. Retrieved 18 October 2008.

External links

This page was last edited on 18 March 2020, at 12:50
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