After six fun-filled and sun-drenched days, Larmer Tree Festival concluded its 25th anniversary on Sunday with an unbeatable combination of award-winning comedian Bill Bailey and the legendary Jimmy Cliff performing on the festival’s Main Stage in front of a packed out crowd.
‘This year was definitely the best one yet. I don’t think we could have made it any better! The weather was fantastic, and the headliners, well they were better than I could have ever imagined. Larmer Tree wouldn’t be what it is without such a fantastic audience so I’d like to thank everyone for joining us. Here’s to another 25 years!’ – James Shepard, Festival Founder and Director
2015 saw an extra date added for the first time, with the festival hosting a six-day party to celebrate their 25th annual festival in the beautiful Victorian pleasure gardens. Over 100 artists and bands performed across six stages, with dozens of late-night DJ sets and secret acoustic gig sessions supplementing the music line-up.
Larmer Tree is one of the few independent festivals to reach such a milestone, and the team planned a party to remember. The audience were treated to a number of new and one-off happenings to mark the occasion, including the specially commissioned Larmer Tree, a major site art installation designed and created by award-winning Circus Kinetica and featuring colourful peacocks decorated by local schools and community groups. There were pop-up gigs by the Tree Top Troubadour, who performed from a Chesterfield perched high in the trees above the main lawn, flashmob appearances and Big Top takeovers by ping pong champs the Kings of Ping and The Dan Swank Foundation dance off!
The line-up this year saw two sets from Sir Tom Jones supported by The Shires, who together launched the festival in style on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. With a bittersweet set from the soon-to-split Bellowhead, and a storming series of performances from Levellers, Ed Byrne, The Magic Numbers and Rodrigo y Gabriela on the Thursday and Friday nights respectively, the atmosphere on site was electrifying as the festival rolled into the weekend.
The audience on Saturday and Sunday were spoilt for choice. With a packed schedule on every stage, the festival site reverberated with music and laughter over two amazing summer days. Highlights included the haunting vocals of Bristol-based Laura Doggett, funk and disco inspired Ibibio Sound Machine and the glorious Femi Kuti on the Main Stage, followed by Seann Walsh performing to a crowd of over 1,000 in the ARC on Saturday night.
Following a toe-tapping carnival procession around the festival site on Sunday, led by the 20 piece Samba band Magic Drum Orchestra, the main lawn kept dancing all afternoon as first Molotov Jukebox, then returning favourites Coco and the Butterfields warmed up the crowds. In the stunning evening light, the festival reached its ultimate high point, as Bill Bailey and the legendary Jimmy Cliff performed to the packed gardens. Following in the footsteps of Tim Minchin, Bill Bailey is one of only two comedians ever to headline Larmer Tree Main Stage, delivering an hour of non- stop humour with lashings of music thrown in. His electronic, German rendition of Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball and his take on Happy Birthday in honour of Larmer Tree’s anniversary had the crowd in stitches.
‘I said before the festival that Bill Bailey had always been top of my wish list. He certainly didn’t disappoint, and had the huge main lawn crowd roaring with laughter. I’m so pleased he was able to join us for our 25th and that the audience enjoyed it as much as I did.’ – Julia Safe, Festival Director
Closing the event and performing music from across his 50-year career, reggae legend Jimmy Cliff sent everyone home with a swing in their step and a huge smile on their face.
‘It was a vintage year for Larmer. The audience brought something special to the 25th party and there was such a great atmosphere over the six days. Personal highlights included seeing Jimmy Cliff close the festival on the main lawn, the success of our new late night venue The Hide, and watching some of the new talent we had playing The Social.’ – Rob Challice, Festival Director
Save the date for next year’s Larmer Tree Festival, 13th – 17th July 2016.
A limited number of super early-bird tickets for the 26th annual festival will be on sale later this year. Audience are invited to pre-register for these via the Larmer Tree website www.larmertreefestival.com.