Born to Be Free Range: Larmer Tree Festival 2014

People always ask me what it’s like to be at a festival. Will there be something for everyone to enjoy? Will there be creative things to do, vegan food, kids events, relatively clean toilets and really good bands? The answer is yes, of course, and Larmer Tree Festival is a great example. Like other family-oriented festivals, it caters for all these things, which makes it the perfect break not only for families, but also for music lovers, groups of friends, individual festival goers, camping enthusiasts and day trippers.

My favourite moments this year included: sitting with a yummy pizza in my lap in the Social listening to Kidnap Alice while it was pouring down outside, discovering a fluffy pet chick that belonged to one of the traders and had been on the road for a week with them, helping to create a fantastic outdoor sculpture made from reeds and discarded plastic bottles collected on the site, hanging out with the fun volunteer team at the HQ tent (bin bag volunteer couture comes to mind), the many creative Dress up Saturday costumes (earth helmets with bobbing, glow in the dark planets, human-sized fast food etc.), the Barr Brothers set on the main stage, dancing to the awesome DJ-ing sounds of the Granthology nanamuffins (makes me laugh just thinking about it again), making a felt badger, a portaloo pomander and other little treasures at the adult workshops and listening to The Moneyless Man, Mark Boyle, who had some truly inspiring thoughts on living the good life.

Watch some Larmer Tree Festival videos on the lifeisafestivalblog youtube channel.

Life is a Festival Reach for the Stars

Here is a little Larmer Tree quiz to find out what type of festival goer you are or could be – or maybe you are a little bit of everything? See for yourself!

Frank Turner is on at the main stage, where are you?

A) Probably in Lostwood, writing a new short story or working on my costume for Dress Up Saturday

B) At the ARC listening to Cardboard Fox, of course

C) Painting my wellies so I can show them off at the Hudson Taylor set on Sunday

D) At the main stage, my husband is minding the kids right now, so it’s my turn to par-t-e-e-e!

E) Guarding the VIP area with a fellow volunteer

You come across a crying child with no parents in sight. What do you do?

A) I offer to paint a butterfly on the child’s face and hopefully the parents will have appeared by the time I’m finished.

B) I take her or him along to the Truckstop Honeymoon gig in the Social. They have children of their own, so they will know what to do and I’m not missing their set. Genius!

C) Oh no, it’s probably my little brother. I keep telling him to stay with mum and dad but he always follows me around. So annoying!

D) I take out my babywipes, some spare snack food and a blanket and make my husband play with the child while I find a steward to report it to Lost and Found

E) I take the child to Lost and Found where it can play with some friendly volunteers until the parents come to pick her or him up.

The sun is going down over Larmer Tree Gardens and you start getting hungry. Where do you eat?

A) I have very little time for eating as I’m so busy all day trying not to miss a chance to be creative, but I do love the veggie Mexican stall

B) I found someone to keep me a seat in the front row at the ARC while I’m heading to the nearest food stall for a take-away. Must. Not. Miss. Any. Music.

C) I never really liked curry, but hey, that guy is so cute, if he cooked it, it MUST be good, right?

D) As long as the kids will eat it and I won’t have the food all over my clothes I’m a happy camper.

E) I tried to get by on the free soup and toast at the Volunteer HQ at first, but I think I’m going to splurge on a really nice handmade pizza today

You had a fantastic festival weekend, what sums it all up for you?

A) What a wonderfully creative weekend, I learned so much and can’t wait to sign up for a sewing class when I get back home.

B) Wow, I found so many new amazing bands. The first thing I need to do is figure out if any of them are playing near my hometown anytime soon.

C) I got the curry stall guy’s number. Nuff said. Sigh.

D) We had a lovely time, everybody enjoyed themselves and none of the kids broke an arm or a leg. Success!

E) I have the post-festival blues, but one of my new volunteer friends just told me to sign up for a local music festival in August not far from where I live. Hurrah, life is a festival!

Larmer Tree Collage 1

If you answered…

Mostly A) You are an artsy person and like all things creative. From 10am-5pm you can be found trying out different workshops from sewing woodland creatures to making jewellery. You brought an elaborate costume for Dress Up Saturday and after dark you listen to poetry readings and try your hand at creative writing or read a free bookcrossing book you picked up on site. Keep inspiring others to get creative or why not offer a workshop yourself next year?

Your natural habitat: Adult workshop tent, Lostwood talks and workshops (The Moneyless Man, creative writing, poetry slam), Pavilion for movie screenings and talks, Dish café for refreshments, yoga class in the morning.

Mostly B) You are most likely a folkie and live music is the main reason why you attend Larmer Tree. You are a dedicated music lover and can mainly be found in the ARC (the only tent with chairs) or the Social. You know the programme inside out and plan your food breaks accordingly. You shush people who talk too loudly (usually Bs, Cs or Ds) during a set. Your signed CD collection at the end of the weekend is heavier than your tent.

Your natural music choices include: Steve Knightley, Truckstop Honeymoon, Cardboard Fox, The Barr Brothers, O’Hooley  & Tidow, The Dodge Brothers, The Perch Creek Family Jug Band, Miranda Sykes & Rex Preston, Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra.

Mostly C)  You are a teenager and it ‘s all very exciting. You are a glow-stick princess and the first thing you purchased on site was a flower hair band. You fancy the guy from the curry stall but your male friends think he ‘s uncool (what do they know?). You tell your girlfriends twenty times a day that you are having the best time of your life and can’t wait to upload your selfie of you and your bff dancing at the Hudson Taylor set to facebook.

Your natural habitat: Tom Odell, Hudson Taylor or any other bands that you can dance to while giggling with your best mates, wellie-painting and capoeira workshops

Mostly D) You are a (probably middle-class) family and have a couple of little ones in tow. You are juggling various responsibilities and are taking turns minding the kids while one of you gets to go off for some (well-deserved!) drinks. You talk the kids out of getting one of those attach-to-your-bum animal tails everyone else seems to have, but they insist on walking pet balloons instead. You can’t win.

Your natural habitat: Depending on whether you are on or off duty, on a blanket right in front of the main stage, in the toilet queue nearest the children’s cafe, at a kids workshop or at the bar (yessss…). You don’t mind what music is on as long as you can enjoy it in the sunshine without any kids screaming in your ear.

Mostly E) Congratulations! You are a natural volunteer. You are already stewarding at the festival or are signed up for doing it next year. If you would like to put all your volunteering energy to good use until then, check online for other opportunities in your area. Most festivals are very happy to have some extra helping hands even if they don’t specifically say so on their website. Volunteer by yourself and you’ll most likely make some new friends or sign up together with your own friends or family members.

Your natural habitat: Everywhere your expertise, enthusiasm and can-do attitude is appreciated. You wear your high-vis vest proudly and help with advice at the info tent, guard a venue entrance, assist at workshops, brew coffee at the volunteer HQ or stoke the fire in Lostwood.

Larmer Tree Collage 2


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