Last weekend I packed my pop-up tent and headed down to Kent for LeeFest, having never heard of it before but spying a few bands I lurrrrved on the bill, and from my first step on-site had the feeling that I’d stumbled across a total gem of a festival.
Not a new festival but still relatively small, to celebrate it’s tenth anniversary it had pulled out all the stops and created The Neverland – a wonderfully magical land where families and music fanatics were encouraged to get silly in the spirit of never growing old. With three ‘tribes’ to choose from, The Lost Boys, Pirates or Mermaids, dressing up was very much a thing, and the result was a shimmering, playful mass of people of all ages and backgrounds who’d turned up for a good time. With paint fights, comedy, cabaret, delicious food stalls, great bands, and of course, PLENTY of glitter – that’s exactly what they got.
Stepping into The Neverland was truly like crossing the border into another world, not only because of the many colourful faces and three realms relating to each tribe dotted throughout the site, but also because it had such a different vibe to any festival I’d ever been to before, proving that small can still be mighty. So if you’ve ever wanted something a little different from your usual Reading and Glasto jaunts – here’s a few reasons to bring you over to the small side…
You can get up close and personal with your fave bands
Smaller festivals mean smaller main stages, but not necessarily small line-ups. There’s no having to do your business in a beer bottle because you’re camping out at the main stage all day to be front row for your fave headliner here, you can rock up five minutes before their set and still grab an awesome view from the first couple of rows – much like I did for Liverpool pop-rockers Circa Waves (who were incredible, if you’re wondering). Plus, there aren’t as many timetable clashes because of fewer stages, so you don’t have to choose between two of your favourite bands or try and run back and forth between sets. SO much more chilled out and you’re guaranteed not to miss that you-had-to-be-there moment. Much like this one…
Camping isn’t crap
Away from the larger festival sites, setting up camp is so much less stressful. We rocked up and grabbed a space to pitch for the weekend at LeeFest in no time, and for three days we had a copious amount of space to hang out in – no having to walk MILES back to the tent when we’d had our fill of festivities, amenities practically a stone’s throw away, and no worry in the back of your mind that you were going to go back to your tent to find some crazy had set it on fire (I’m looking at YOU, Reading).
Everyone’s a little happier
Due to both of the above, plus there being less people about which means shorter queues for the bar and that awesome burger truck, a much nicer toilet situation (even though, inevitably, they still whiff), and a higher chance of catching your fave frontman’s eye, means that everyone around seems to be much happier than at a major fest. Parents (fully kitted out in pirate and mermaid gear) were happy to lounge about on the hay bales in the sunshine with a cider while their little munchkins ran wild across the site, entertainers strutted their stuff and mingled with the crowd, and music lovers lay back on the grass to catch some mellow tunes without a care in the world, generally thinking that Lee (wherever he was) was a top bloke.
I for one will certainly be checking out next year’s line-up – SUCH a lush weekend!
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