Hop Farm is a happy festival. Couples cuddle, kids play and music lovers unite for three days of listening, watching, eating, camping and dressing to impress.
We were blessed with predominantly sunny weather this year for the 5th annual festival in Kent. The line-up wasn’t perhaps as thrilling as previous years and yet the positive mood and joyful vibe were enough to ensure everyone had an awesome time.
We arrived late afternoon on Friday and after parking my friend’s dinky convertible, we started the epic walk to the campsite. Both of us were laden with pillows, tent equipment, clothes and fake eyelashes – I felt like a donkey, and must have burned several thousand calories trekking with all the baggage. Luckily I had just enough energy to flirt with a couple of security guards and they carried our bags for the final leg, helping us find a suitable spare clod of grass for our miniature tent. The final gasps of breath were used to blow up two air beds and construct our accommodation, a tall order for a pair of girly girls. A bottle of white wine later and we were on our way, following the pumping beat and the distant melodies coming from the main stage.
This year Hop Farm had a variety of vintage stalls and before I even had the chance to see a band I was in the midst of second hand silk shirts, floaty dresses, scarves and headbands… all the festival gear you could possible need. There was the usual face painting artists, a bohemian couple with their wishing tree and other hippie areas.
For me musically there were a few real highlights, most blend into a haze of beery, sunny relaxation.
For the headliners, well I’ve seen Bobby D before and I’m sad to say that this year his voice sounded wearier, his attitude sulkier and his performance less memorable. Noone can deny his obvious musical genius though and a virtuosic harmonica solo made his presence worth watching. Peter Gabriel and the New Red Blood Orchestra made quite an impression… this artist certainly pushes boundaries, his filmic set filled the field, a mysterious and exciting style of music that I felt really suited Hop Farm’s ambience.
I am always appreciative of Hop Farm’s petite scale, after gobbling our Breakfast Club burritos in the morning we wandered with glitter only partially distracting our vision. Discovering new artists is such a joy for me and here we fell in love with the talented ‘The Tallest Man on Earth’ and the veteran ‘Taj Mahal’ and sang along to great bands like Athlete and Damien Rice who both gave heartfelt melancholic renditions of their repertoire on stage. A mention must also go to Sir Bruce Forsyth, who at the age of 84 gave one of the most spirited and smiling performances of the weekend, tap dancing and singing tremendously, obviously overjoyed by the audience’s warm welcome.
To avoid the traffic queues home on Sunday, we left before Suede, the final headliner. But we went out with a bang, standing at the very front for Kool and the Gang and grooving enthusiastically to the infectiously fabulous musical show on stage. These hip guys dance with charisma and masses of sex appeal… the crowd went wild, flinging themselves energetically towards the stage, arms flailing desperately towards the attention loving performers.
On the way home to the Euro football final, we reminisced about the spectacular weekend we had enjoyed at Hop Farm. As ever this festival presents its visitors with great music, delicious food and an unbeatable atmosphere. I can’t wait to see what 2013 will bring to this special event.