Festivals 2016

Lost In The Woods: Farr Festival Reviewed

Non stop dancing at Hertfordshire's best kept secret.

Seven years old and Farr Festival remains a secret that everyone - from its organisers to its attendees - seem happy to keep

Its two figure ticket price and a line-up that rivals some of the better stocked dance festivals, Farr still manages to feel like a festival your mate threw at the end of their garden.

Kicking off on Thursday night, the ‘arena’ allows its first trickle of punters to explore the ever expanding Bygrave Wood in all of its festival finery. A brand new gladed stage, niftily titled ‘Hidden Palace’, is flanked by hammocks and beautifully lit up bottle-butterflies, ready for a weekend of spaced out ravers searching for solace.

Friday starts with activities that prove that Farr is a whole holistic package; hip hop yoga and a film screen are treats not just for the ears, but for the mind and body too. The sloping field that precedes the Farr forest is filled with food, drink and fairground rides, meaning that the blanket of leaves was truly left for dancing.

Day One’s main draw is a behemoth back to back of Ben UFO, Joy Orbison and Midland. The masters wove through the last six hours of sunlight, tipping hats to their contemporaries as Joy O dropped his and Boddika’s ever stomping "Mercy" and Ben UFO serving up Four Tet’s favourite Kool FM "God Made Me Phunky" edit.

Friday night headliner Hunee showed the festival at its dancing best as what seemed like the majority of late night ravers crowded to the back of the wood. What can only be described as a perfect setting was only offset by lacklustre volume - turn it up to 11 next year, yeah?

A subdued atmosphere was definitely palpable on Saturday as the Friday’s wavey garmed teenagers were replenished with older and cleaner looking day ticket holders. With a line-up that included heavy weights like Terry Farley and Maurice Fulton, Farr was ready to bring its musical A-game.

A four hour back to back from Balearic born babe Nancy Noise and Leo Zero was a sure fire treat for the crowd who gathered at Hidden Stage. Full tracks that melded with no rhyme or reason from cosmic disco to Brazilian funk slapped smiles on those who’d expected to find themselves there and those who’d come by surprise.

Gilles Peterson was always to be a guaranteed highlight - the man could please the toughest of crowds with his eyes closed - and Saturday night was no different. Hands in the air all round as he used the set to showcase what his Worldwide brand pushes out on the airwaves. Closing with Kaytranada’s "Lite Spots" just as the last of the sun drew in, Gilles propelled us, fired up and ready to take the night.

Best suited to the cover of darkness came a surprise belter of a booking in the form of Helena Hauff, whose surling techno made the brains of the many who’d clustered to watch achieve full insomniac status. With rumours of an hour extension, everyone able bodied enough, headed to John Talabot to close down the party.

Family owned, locally nurtured and proudly independent, Farr’s charm is compounded by the fact that it seems genuinely proud to exist. There’s no blatant corporate sponsorship propping up the stages, and from entering the campsite on Thursday to leaving, bleary eyed on Sunday afternoon, everybody vibrated on a level.

Farr can appeal to the lazy Londoner as much as it can the poor student; its proximity to the capital means that you can be standing in the closest village of Baldock within forty minutes of St Pancras. Surrounded by corn fields for as far as the eye can see, the festival oozes an organic quality that other bigger festivals can only struggle to emulate.

We’ll be back next year, for sure.

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Photo Credit: Here & Now Photos

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Written by Tamara Roper

22 Jul 2016