Hop Farm Festival – June 2012 – The Review

Last week were lucky enough to be invited to the Hop Farm music festival, it went a little something like this:

The Basics

Firstly, let me tell what Hop Farm is and aspires to be – Hop Farm Festival can be found on Hop Farm in the idyllic Kentish countryside. Billed as a music festival with a difference – there is no branding, no VIPs and no sponsorship.
Weekend tickets, including camping and entry to all of the entertainment, can be picked up for a mere £162. This is stonkingly good value and isn`t beaten by many other festivals out there. Camping opens on Wednesday and closes on Monday. Day tickets are also available for a very reasonable £65, for adults. To see more information on tickets click here: http://hopfarmfestival.com/tickets/online


First impressions, the campsite

At first glance, the camp-site appeared to be like your bog standard festival campsite, but when we looked a little deeper there were some really great additions. For example, at the entrance to the camping area, which by the way holds about 20,000 people, there was an exclusive stage and range of food outlets. This was a really nice touch and it made for a great place to chill out before hitting the main arena. A special mention should go to the breakfast club, who could be found in this exclusive area and seemed to attract large crowds around the clock, thanks to their great music and great food. Also, smack bang in the middle of the campsite was an independent vegetarian food outlet which offered great snacks and nibbles for breakfast, lunch and dinner. These touches really made for a fun and exciting camping experience.

Moving to the arena

As you may already be able to tell, I really have a soft spot for Hop farm; there is a really chilled and relaxed vibe about the whole setting. Unlike some other festivals, the mass of people seemed to form a single and unified tranquil body, which filled arenas, tents and fields, for this one weekend in June.
On a slightly surprising point, for a festival with `no branding`, I was little surprised to see every beer cup being emblazoned with Tuborg imagery and their QR codes – it didn`t really seem to fit the promised criteria. On the whole though, I really enjoyed trying out some of the local, independent and ethically sourced food on show. To give you a little taster you could pick from hog roasts, Caribbean Jerk, Argentinian steak and much, much more. Yes, most of this will cost you an arm and a leg, but it really is worth it. To be honest, I am currently salivating at the thought (apologies for that grotesque image.)


The Music

The festival is made up of 3 bigger sized stages and a selection of smaller stages, with a more acoustic feel. The main stage is where we began our journey and we weren`t disappointed. On the Saturday, we were lucky enough to see the legendary Bob Dylan in action – he played a set which lasted a good hour and a half, not bad for someone who is 71! His guitar playing is still marvellous to behold, but years of smoking seems to have taken a toll on his voice, therefore making it a little weaker in places, but on the plus side, giving it an even raspier feel.

Other headliners included Peter Gabriel and the New Blood Orchestra, Ray Davies, Billy Ocean, Kool and the Gang, Richard Ashcroft and Primal Scream. There is no doubt that the headline acts catered for a more mature music taste; consequently, some younger or less musically aware individuals may have found the line up a little frustrating. However, if you wander away from the main stage and towards the smaller stages, you will find an eclectic mix of indie, country, rock and acoustic music. For example, there were some truly brilliant bands in the `Big Tent`, such as Slow Club and Jonquil, who both showed that if you move away from the mainstream there is a cornucopia of musical talent to be seen. My personal highlight was Maximo Park – although not technically the best band out there, their catchy choruses and sing along anthems made for a great set, and for me, this was all topped off with a dollop of nostalgia. Loved it.

The Extras

But the fun doesn`t end at the music, o no! There is also a collection of comedians who perform late in the evening and keep those endorphins flowing. We were treated to great comedy from the energetic Russell Kane and the charming Stephen K. Amos. Russell dealt with hecklers with aplomb – it was quite a sight to behold! There were also some really interesting up and coming acts, such as Vikki Stone, Mark Little and Andy Zaltzman.


Also, there were plenty of independent stalls selling goodies and trinkets, as well as fairground rides and massage tents. There really was SO much to do – we couldn`t fit it all in!

Hop Farm Festival is fun, feel-good and jam packed full of exciting music and comedy. When you consider the price, there really isn`t a better value festival out there. Keep your eyes peeled for next year`s dates and acts. We can`t wait to buy the tickets already! For more information go to: http://hopfarmfestival.com/

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