Monday, 18 June 2012

Limetree Festival Preview

Limetree Festival
August 24th - 36th
Masham, North Yorkshire

One of the main headaches of running our own festival, Long Division, is the inevitability of clashing with other festivals. It’s an unescapable fact of festival promoting and you just have to deal with it, basically. There will always be good stuff happening – and plenty of mediocre – but if you believe in what you are doing, I believe it’ll all be just fine.

Still, I don’t know if I would have the out and out balls to square up to Leeds Festival: the mother of the corporate, “more is more” mentality experience. But that’s exactly what Limetree Festival in Masham is doing.

As per my reintroduction last year to the festival that started my grand journey of the fields and airstrips of Europe, I don’t have a problem with Leeds Festival at all. But it’s great to have an alternative, and Limetree stands in contrast in almost everyway.

Masham itself is in North Yorkshire, near Ripon and is a stunningly beautiful area. Upon my first visit, I couldn’t help but recall the village from Hot Fuzz: impossibly idyllic, with its village square, war memorials and quaint shops. Assuming it isn’t covertly run by a group of hooded and murderous Masons, it’s pretty damn perfect.

Now in its fifth year, Limetree itself is a non-profit Social Enterprise that proudly claims to be “A Return To How Festivals Used To Be”. How does it do this? The focus seems to be on comfort, passion and a friendly atmosphere. There are an array of stages covering all manner of more ‘niche’ tastes (as, ironically, seems to be the growing trend in festivals these days) such as Poetry, Spoken Word and Jazz whilst a huge effort has clearly been made to accommodate those with young children, with special areas for them too. Although I am thankful I will likely never have to deal with such horrors, it is a massive plus point not just for those with young ‘uns but for the rest of us; this level of thought and empathy is key in creating a successful festival.

And what about the bands? Well, it’s a funny old mix that works because a) it doesn’t have the same old names you see scattered across 95% of festival lineups and b) is well crafted. There is a mix of Funk and Breakbeat DJs, complimented by electronic pioneers Utah Saints, alongside fey and laidback solo artists such as Hannah Trigwell, Jon Gomm and Jilly Riley and more energetic, rock orientated stuff, albeit with a seemingly danceable, riotous vibe, perfectly exampled by the sublime Middleman.

So, a weekend in a field… but not. Tickets for the weekend are £85 for an adult of £35 for the day. I guess something like Leeds Festival is about the rush, the buzz of being part of a massive group of people singing along to The Foo Fighters or cramming as many bands / pints into the day as you can. Limetree is clearly not this, but a brilliant holiday, an escape, a battery recharge, a smile on your face, a chilled beer sat on the grass in the sun. I’m really looking forward to seeing if it matches up to my expectations.

Dean Freeman

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