End Of The Road Festival 2011 review
'Relaxed and slow paced, the charm of this festival is still intact'
Alison Kerry - 06 September 2011
Click to read our live End Of The Road reviews.
The sixth End Of The Road festival comes with big changes. The capacity has more than doubled since the inaugural festival to 10,000 and a new main stage, the Wood Stage, now inhabits a field that once held camping. While the success of this festival is a good thing, it is with trepidation that VF makes its way to the beautiful Larmer Tree Gardens to investigate. Will the charm of this small but perfectly formed festival be lost forever?
The site is now spread farther and wider to use more of the Larmer Tree space, which bodes well for the large number of families attending with small children. There’s enough space for everyone to enjoy themselves.
Moving the main stage from the stunning surrounds of the gardens to a wide open space has worked surprisingly well. The gentle slope of the field forms a perfect amphitheatre providing a clear view of the stage for everyone and the acoustics are perfect to host the headline acts Beirut, Mogwai and Joanna Newsom, as well as Lykke Li, Best Coast, Gruff Rhys and Laura Marling.
The Garden Stage, formerly the main stage, remains in the gardens and this year hosts The Fall, Okkervil River, John Grant, Phosphorescent, Caitlin Rose and Josh T Pearson among others.
This is not only a music fan’s festival but it’s now becoming an artist’s festival too. Many acts performing this year showed love to the festival organisers and were humbled by playing in such a great place with such nice people, which will certainly bode well for this festival’s longevity.
There are also improvements to the two tents on site housing the Big Top stage and the Tipi Tent stage. The comedy stage moves outside to a beautiful clearing in the Woods, decorated with canopies and lights. Even the Cinema Tent is bigger and better.
The extra activities have also increased with more workshops, games, music bingo and a music quiz ensuring there are plenty of things to get involved in besides listening to music. Another favourite extra activity area is the Healing Retreat where you can book a Swedish massage, a holistic facial, reiki or have your chakras realigned.
The art installations in the woods are once again fantastic. The millions of fairy lights illuminating the trails in the woods are in tandem with a thousand origami cranes hanging around them as part of a WMD awareness programme. Each crane symbolises the need to fight for a world without nuclear weapons.
The Woodland Library again has a large amount of books for you to check out and return to the festival next year and this year hosts readings and discussions over the weekend from authors Laura Barton, Clinton Heylin, Rob Young, James Yorkston, Richard King and Roy Wilkinson.
The relaxed and slow paced vibe of End Of The Road, we’re happy to report, remains despite the increase in numbers. In an answer to the aforementioned question, yes, the charm of this festival is still intact. If you just want to listen to cutting edge indie, folk and avant garde music, this is a great festival for you. If you’re a parent who loves music but you want your kids to have fun too, this is a great festival for you. If love camping but want something different from a camping weekend, this is a great festival for you too.