Limetree Festival 2009: Rated!

United Kingdom United Kingdom | 28 July 2009

Overall - 9/10

What started off as one couple’s vision to return to how festivals used to be - free from commercialism and overrated hype - has turned into the Limetree Festival. Considering that it’s only in its second year, with a capacity of 2,000 this baby of a festival should be celebrated for having achieved just that.

Brining a revitalising change to the northern festival scene, the family orientated Limetree seems like the most carefree, peaceful place in the world surrounded by great music, great people and great vibes. The seeds of excitement have been planted and Limetree will continue to grow and get bigger and better every year.  

Getting there and back - 5/10

Finding out Banksy’s real identity would have been easier than trying to get to this hidden gem of a festival. First you have to get a train to Thirsk, then catch the once in a blue moon bus to Ripon, where you then have to wait for the next total eclipse in Asia until you catch another bus to Gewrethorpe and, oh yes my friends the journey is not over yet. Then you have walk for 10 minutes to the site itself. A shuttle bus would definitely be a good idea.

Thirsk is just one of the nearest train stations to the site, others include; Boroughbridge, Knaresborough, Harrogate, York, Leyburn and Leeds. From Thirsk there are direct trains to southbound to York and London. Lines also run towards northbound to Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Sunderland.

Driving on the other hand is a dream; coming from the south keep mostly to the A1 and M1 turning off at the A684 and from the north it’s the A6108 to the A1 and then exit at the A684.
The site - 8/10

Situated in picturesque Lime Tree Farm, near Grewelthorpe, North Yorkshire, the festival site stretched to six fields, a car park, two camping fields, main arena, Stone Circle and the Angel Gardens (AKA the kids zone and healing area) shared a field with the Jon Rae stage.

This year Limetree Festival welcomed a new tent to the main arena otherwise known as Queer Space. The small and snug tent was a rare oddity that gave festival goers the chance to hide from the rain, play dress up and generally have somewhere to sit and get to know your neighbours. With its very own tiny stage, it became the unofficial film and acoustic tent after hours when the 11 o’clock sound license curfew struck. When it wasn’t drawing in late night sit-ins and sing-alongs, during the day Queers Space also staged live music.

A plentiful number of shops and stalls were in the main arena to fill your entire bohemian shopping desires as well as charity stalls and food vans; the best being the originally titled Pizza Slut. The Angel Gardens had the decor of a six year old girl’s birthday party: lots of fairy lights, flowers, face paint and more flowers. Situated at the top of the hill the gardens consisted of a small collection of canvas bell tents with a community fire as the centre point. Right at the bottom of the hill was the Jon Rae stage.

Next to that was the even hillier Stone Circle field which was the most the idyllic setting to rest your bones in the hot sun of Saturday afternoon (it rained both Friday and Sunday). The pond at the bottom of the field provided much entertainment for children with a strange fascination with tad polls. When Limetree farm isn’t playing host to the friendliest festival in the UK, it is a nature reserve and spiritual sanctuary with a rich pagan past.
Atmosphere - 10/10

Limetree Festival lived up to its expectations as there  is no other festival like it, as one festival-goer put it, “It’s like a black hole of hate, when you’re here all the hate is sucked out of you.” Some went as far to say that it was, “like a small corner of Glastonbury, but better.” With two music stages, a healing field and mini stone circle, it allowed festival virgins not to feel pressured and overwhelmed by “missing out” on doing everything at once. It also gave festival veterans the chance to remember what it was like to enjoy music in a field without sponsored by Festival Republic printed on a beer cup. The small and intimate family friendly festival was relaxed and laid back, welcoming anybody with open arms to share the delights of one couple’s vision of the perfect festival.

It truly was magical place where during the last act of the Sunday night, people were hugging each other as if their entire lives counted on it and the majority of the crowd was holding hands and swaying an a Kum Ba Yah fashion. You certainly wouldn’t get that at Latitude, Camp Bestival or Glastonbury...

Music - 7/10

There was an interesting mix of goodies in this year’s bag of Limetree treats as the eclectic range of sounds spanned from metal punk bands to Bollywood drums. As well as a whole lot of lounge jazz, a dollop of soul and several spoonfuls of big brass bands, there was something for all the family.  


Gentlemen’s Dub Club - 9/10

When these nine lads from Leeds stepped on stage it was as if the entire population of the festival realised they were actually at a festival and began to dance like it was some new fangled sensation they had never felt before. Crammed into the Jon Rae tent, the funky brass reggae band, Gentlemen’s Dub Club pulled in a big crowd and kept spirits high with infectious body jerkingly good tunes such as ‘Run’ and ‘Members Only’. The band gave an enthusiastic if not extremely sweaty performance, with lead singer Jila bouncing around on an invisible pogo stick the entire show.

Chunky Butt Funky - 9/10
If ever life and soul of the party could be transformed into a single person it would be Mr Cleve Freckleton AKA Rev Chunky. His jazz, funk and deep groove beats without a doubt deserved the biggest applause of the weekend. Freckleton’s outstanding performance managed to pull heartstrings and dance strings of everyone in the main arena, leaving the crowd begging for more. He pulled out all the stops, especially during his rendition of James Brown’s ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag’ and when joined by rhythm and blues, jazz diva Corinne Bailey Rae, cranking the show to 11.

Captain Hotknives - 7/10
“Just because I look like a fat white version of Howard from the Halifax adverts, don’t laugh at me,” is just one of the many hilarious truths that music comic Captain Hotknives had to share with the world. Only he could have take racism to the animal kingdom through song: “We’re supposed to be the most intelligent dominant race on the planet and yet we’re the only ones stupid enough to invent racism, I bet you don’t get BNP rabbits supporting the Bunnies National Party,” and so he proceeded on with a Ross Noble-style ramble about penguins seeking revenge on racist polar bears. If that wasn’t enough to spark a fire, his other themes included stealing from your family, “Skanking from your Nana” and “I hate babies”.

Dreadzone - 8/10

Dreadzone really raised the roof with their delicious dub, electric and reggae beats. Now in their 16th year, they proved that they’ve still got it with classic tunes such as ‘Little Britain’ and their remix of Max Romeo’s ‘Chase The Devil’.

Sarah Dickson - 7/10
Singer/songwriter Sarah Dickson filled the Jason Rae tent with delicate melodic songs that made you stop listen and pay attention. Her wooing lullabies had a twinge of sadness about them left you with a sense of warmth. With soft vocals that could compare to Cat Power and Feist, Sarah Dickson is a refreshing take on the now fashionable rising trend in female vocalists. On stage she performed with a keyboard, acoustic guitar and her electric guitarist, who provided backing vocals to match Fleet Foxes style harmonies.


This festival is pretty much spot on, only thing that could complete it would be more toilets, at least some showers, anywhere, and more bins.

Mike Artistik - 5/10

Where this man is from and how anybody decided that he was worth putting on stage will always remain a mystery. Mike Artistik is what only can be described as an irate drunken Crystal Maze presenter Richard O'Brien attempting to do pub karaoke. His 45-minute set of musical “comedy” stylings was met with laughter and applause from the crowd of few. However, the only comedic value Mike Artistik carried was the sheer bizarreness of his gag involving him pulling out straws from his pocket, throwing them everywhere and repeatedly singing, “got a pocket full of straws!” Another hit that went down well was the aggressively performed, “why hasn’t she been sacked from the library”.   

The Head Start - 3/10

These Good Charlotte wannabes stumble on stage, suffering from post silent disco drunkenness trying to stop themselves from falling over when they break into their first song. These young northern lads sing in American accents to tired out power punk chords, completely unaware of the irony of their lyrics in their proud to be British song, ‘Hometown’: “I am a hometown boy and I’m from the UK.” They produced screaming noise more than music which left the crowd looking very unimpressed.

Random events

Friday afternoon confused festival-goers as they were dragged away from paths by various people dressed as maids to experience a 1908 Edwardian Olympic tea party, illustrating the changing views of British cultural values. Most people went for the free tea and cake and less of the politics lecture though.

Come Saturday afternoon a clan of multicoloured clothed, feather wearing, tribal dancing, women calling themselves the Urban Gypsies had taken over a small patch of land in front of the main stage. They danced to every band for several hours in what at first looked like the strangest aerobics class ever taken. Their competitors may have been a group of grown men dressed as grannies playing rugby.

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