Destination Family Friendly UK

Larmer Tree Festival

Posted on
July 19, 2016

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.
Larmer Tree Festival
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.
Larmer Tree Festival
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.
Larmer Tree Festival
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.
Larmer Tree
We did spot a peacock with all his feathers on display too, but he stubbornly refused to turn around for a photo.
Larmer Tree Festival
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.
Larmer Tree Festival
We found carvings in trees, fairy doors, little houses and more as we explored the shady woodland.
Larmer Tree Festival
We spent ages at the kaleidoscope, where you could turn an image of yourself into a million colourful pieces.
Larmer Tree Festival
Further into the wood we found some more activities for the kids to try including a shadow puppet stage and a space hopper.
Larmer Tree Festival
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.
Larmer Tree Festival
Opposite was a gorgeous display of disco balls that surrounded a fire pit – I can imagine this would look stunning at night.
Larmer Tree Festival
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.
Larmer Tree Festival
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.
Larmer Tree Festival
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!
Larmer Tree Festival
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.
Larmer Tree Festival
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 Hillbenders
The kids however were more interested in playing with their bubble wands and lots of other children came to join in the fun.
Larmer Tree Festival
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.
Larmer Tree Gardens
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.

  1. Reply

    Zena's Suitcase

    July 19, 2016

    I think you are right about the kids entertainment. Last year there was a lot more for the kids in terms of outdoor theatre and shows. This year, they seemed to have put everything into Mr Bloom. He was good but I would rather have had more variety

  2. Reply


    July 19, 2016

    Don’t you just love festival season? I went to a few this summer too – a great way to meet like minded peeps and try something new. x

  3. Reply

    Fozia S

    July 19, 2016

    Oh hadn’t heard of this festival before. It looks interesting, does seem like a fun day out.

  4. Reply


    July 19, 2016

    What a shame it didn’t quite live up to expectations. It must have been nice though to have a festival that wasn’t busy as that’s what puts me off going.

  5. Reply


    July 19, 2016

    Looks like you had a fabulous time, I love the disco balls in particular.

  6. Reply


    July 20, 2016

    Oh it looks like a wonderful day out and that pulled pork roll looks AMAZING xx

  7. Reply

    Otilia @romanianmum

    July 20, 2016

    That looks like so much fun! I would love to visit it next year!

  8. Reply


    July 20, 2016

    The bands actually start much earlier at the other stages, and there are activities such as fire-making and esdevium games from 9 am onthe family lawns. Perhaps buying a programme to see what is on would be a good idea?

  9. Reply

    JuggleMum, Nadine Hill

    July 20, 2016

    This festival is a new one on me, but I do love a festival!! Just getting the family outdoors and the unexpectedness of glitz (like the disco balls) outside makes me excited! There’s something magical about festivals… Thanks for highlighting this one.

  10. Reply


    July 20, 2016

    Never heard of this festival, love the photos but sorry you didn’t have as good a day as you hoped xx

  11. Reply

    Jen Walshaw

    July 20, 2016

    I think this is def more a grown up festival. Reading doesnt really wake up till later in the day! It is a shame that there wasnt more for kids to do as it didnt look too busy!

  12. Reply


    July 20, 2016

    It’s a shame there wasn’t more to do for the kids but it looked fun from your pictures xx

  13. Reply

    anna nuttall

    July 21, 2016

    Oh what a fun festival. It look lovely. Especially the pulled pork hot dog! Haha I’m just saying cause I’m hungry…

  14. Reply


    July 28, 2016

    This one of the festivals on my list. I’ve always seen it as a more adult festival with a few kids oriented things so wanted to wait until mine were a bit older.

  15. Reply

    Catherine Green

    September 19, 2016

    This is a new one for me (looks like all the best festivals are down South in this country!) Sorry you didn’t enjoy it so much, but it sounds great for us because my family and I tend to get going more in the afternoon than the morning… 😉

  16. Reply


    October 28, 2016

    This looks like such a lovely day out with the children.

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Are we nearly there yet? is a new online blog run by me, Kara Guppy, and is named as such thanks to my daughter Eliza who always asks that very question when we are less than 5 minutes up the road heading off on our adventures. You may know me from my other family blog