Larmer Tree Festival

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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.

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]

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

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]


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.

Food and drink[edit]

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 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. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. 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[edit]

Coordinates: 50°57′6.82″N 2°4′59.86″W / 50.9518944°N 2.0832944°W / 50.9518944; -2.0832944