The humble music festival has undergone a renaissance in the last decade. The first ever festival I went to was Reading, a whopping 10 years ago this August (ermagerd I feel so old). The general vibe of attending a festival back in those days was a tinted with an element of survival; you took things which you didn’t mind getting destroyed and hoped you’d come back vaguely in one piece at the end of it.
Contrast that, then, with the atmosphere and general attitude of the average Glastonbury-goer at the festival this year, which was more Kate Moss than Bear Grylls. I tutted in my old-lady way at young girls dancing away in downpours in little more than a pair of shorts and a glitzy crop top, and took pity on a young thing who was shivering in front of me whilst standing in the mizzle watching Grimes. Put a bloody anorak on, young people!
I digress. The point I’m trying to get at here, is that the older I have become the more I’ve come to realise that the type of festival I enjoy attending is the more laid back, smaller affair – and I’m here to tell you why the smaller the festival, the better.
Why Smaller Festivals Are Best
Less time queueing
Smaller festivals (we’re talking a few thousand tickets, tops) means less people, and less people means less time queueing to get in, less time queueing for a beer, less time queueing for the loo. I’m all for a good queue, but only when absolutely 100% necessary.
Less time walking
A smaller festival site is also beneficial if you’re a bit of a lazy bones like myself. Glastonbury is fantastic for its mammoth size, but the whole day needs to be planned in order to leave ample time to trek back and forth between the countless music stages. At a little festival, you can pop to the bar (or your tent for a tinny) and back in no time at all.
An improved toilet situation
It can’t be easy if you’re in charge of the toilets at a large festival. The ‘long drops’ at Glastonbury do a pretty decent job at managing the toilet habits of 220,000 people over the weekend, but begin to look a little worse for wear after a couple of days. At a smaller festival you’ve got a fancy flushing portaloo or two, and they’re cleaned much more often.
Exceptional local booze selection
Usually, smaller festivals in the sticks are in very close proximity to some delicious local ale and cider producers, which make an appearance at the festival taps. Plus, the less their wares have to travel, the tastier they are. Win-win.
You might bump into your favourite band
Another thing about the bars at smaller festivals is that often that’s where the bands will be hanging around, too. So you can swoon over your favourite star whilst supping a tasty pint. Win-win-win.
The Best Smaller UK Festivals
Smaller festivals have improved leaps and bounds over the last 10 years. There is a lengthy shopping list of fantastic independent festivals to choose from every summer, but here are just a few which I have my eye on.
Barn on the Farm (early July, Gloucestershire) – find out more.
This adorable little shindig was started by a school friend of mine some years ago, and has since grown into one of the best independent festivals in the UK. Winner of the Golden Welly award at the AIM awards last year, BotF has a fantastic knack of showcasing talent which is just on the cusp of breaking big. Just ask Ed Sheeran and James Bay, who have both played there in recent years. IKR?!
Larmer Tree (mid-July, Wiltshire) – find out more.
This year I will be in attendance at Larmer Tree for the very first time! I’m excited to see what this family festival has to offer, in particular lounging around in the beautiful gardens, listening to peacocks crow and the sultry sounds of Jack Savoretti drifting from the main stage, chowing down on some delicious veggie food. Heaven!
Port Eliot (late July, Cornwall) – find out more.
Oh boy. This festival looks like a food lovers’ paradise. There’s more fancy grub than you can shake a stick at, and some top-notch comedy too. Plus, did Ralph Steadman do the artwork?! Aesthetically speaking, it ticks all the right boxes. I just need to pop along to Cornwall myself to see what it’s all about.
Green Man (late August, Wales) – find out more.
Oh my gosh, the line up for Green Man this year looks bloody FANTASTIC. It’s as if someone has reached into my brain and pulled out a big long list of all my favourite bands and artists, then plopped them into a Welsh field for our collective amusement. I have been dying to try out Green Man for a couple of years now, and I feel that 2017 will finally be the year I get to do it.
End of the Road (early September, Wiltshire) – find out more.
Oh, End of the Road. You will always have a special place in my heart. This year we head back to EotR for the third year in a row, and always look forward to stepping back into beautiful Larmer Tree just as the first whisps of autumn are rustling through the trees.
First up, though, is the self-titled Larmer Tree Festival – this weekend! I’m mega excited to check out a festival which I’ve not been to before, especially as it seems like such a friendly affair.
Anyone out there been to Larmer Tree previously? Any tips?
(Photos taken by me on my Lomo Smena camera at End of the Road 2014)