This weekend we attended Larmer Tree Festival for the first time and had no idea what to expect.
The festival is set in Larmer Tree Gardens in Cranborne Chase, Dorset which is s simply stunning location with gardens brimming with colour and roaming peacocks showcasing their feathers as they wander around the site.
I was expecting heavy traffic around the site, but I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived with no traffic problems at all. It was a lovely, picturesque drive through rural Dorset about 45 minutes from home and I was impressed that the parking was free.
We collected our tickets and took the ten minute walk (with slow small people in tow) to the festival site and were greeted almost immediately by the huge Larmer Tree.
We collected our tickets and took the ten minute walk (with slow small people in tow) to the festival site. There were a few people milling around but I was surprised by how quiet it was at 11am in the morning.
We took advantage of the peace and decided to explore the site and see what it had to offer. Unlike many festivals we have been to there were a lot of stalls selling clothing, vintage and new, toys, accessories and of course food and drink. The kids were drawn to the musical instruments to try just outside the Arc stage.
Eliza was keen to find the fairies so we headed off in search of the Lost Wood. As you got further into the festival the decorations got more elaborate and the kids loved spotting ornamental bugs in the trees and fake flowers on the hedges.
We did spot a peacock with all his feathers on display too, but he stubbornly refused to turn around for a photo.
We turned the corner and found a tree covered in ribbons all containing messages, which was the start of our journey into the Lost Wood.
We found carvings in trees, fairy doors, little houses and more as we explored the shady woodland.
We spent ages at the kaleidoscope, where you could turn an image of yourself into a million colourful pieces.
Further into the wood we found some more activities for the kids to try including a shadow puppet stage and a space hopper.
There was also a lovely shaded area complete with lights in the tree, a sofa and a bookcase filled with books so you could enjoy a sit down and read in comfort.
Opposite was a gorgeous display of disco balls that surrounded a fire pit – I can imagine this would look stunning at night.
Disappointly the fairy garden was filled with lights which you could operate with various machines as you walked through, but they were only set to work at night. It was quite a dull, overcast day and personally I would have like to see them working in daylight too.
By now the kids were getting hungry so we headed back into the main site in search of food. There was pretty much every type of food available to choose from, from curry to fish, pastries to pizza etc. The kids opted for a good old-fashioned hot dog, whilst Abbey and I had a delicious pulled pork roll with crackling and apple sauce.
Bellies full, we then headed to the Family Gardens to take part in some activities and found ourselves making wings for the carnival procession that was to take part later that afternoon. We must have spent a good hour perfecting our wings!
Eliza had spotted a face painting booth earlier on and we had promised her that she could have hers done. The face painters did a fabulous job and matched her butterfly to her dress.
You may have noticed that I have yet to mention any entertainment – that is because there was none. Larmer Tree Festival literally does not wake up until 2pm, which is when it started getting busier. We headed over to the main stage to see the first act of the day, The Hillbenders, who are an american group that exists somewhere in the boundaries between rock, bluegrass, and country music. Their rendition of Pinball Wizard was amazing!
The kids however were more interested in playing with their bubble wands and lots of other children came to join in the fun.
In hindsight I probably should have done the festival on Saturday so the kids could see Mr Bloom, but we had the school fete and two birthday parties to attend. Although billed as a family friendly festival, it didn’t have entertainment and activities to keep mine engaged for any length of time and Isaac was more excited to spot Dragonflies by the pond.
I really wanted to see Tom Odell who was performing on Sunday, however, looking at the timetable he was not performing until 9pm that night and with all the kids activities exhausted we decided to cut our losses and return home, which was a real shame.