Farr Festival has become one of the most popular boutique festivals in the UK since the first small scale party back in 2010. Ahead of the upcoming woodland adventure on July 14, we caught up with co-founder Oscar Thornton to find out more about what makes the festival so special.
The rise of Farr Festival over the last 6 or 7 years has been pretty spectacular. Did you envisage it becoming this popular all those years ago?
I think secretly in the back of my mind I knew I always wanted to make it one of the best festivals that the UK has to offer, however I did not think we would have jumped from 500 to 5000 people in such a short space of time. It has been an interesting journey so far...
When you went to throw your first party, how did you decide on/stumble across the location? Because it really is beautiful place to hold a festival.
My mate and co-founder Dom (Farr) and I had been toying with the idea of throwing a little party for a while. Him and his brothers used to camp in this forest on their family's land when they were younger. He showed me the space and the rest is history. It’s a magical setting for a festival.
Despite the growth in terms of fan-base and attention, you’ve always stressed the importance of keeping the festival relatively small in terms of size and numbers. Why is that so important to you?
The bigger festival model is pretty much done now, people want to feel part of something and be able to share that with their friends. Personally I prefer to feel part of a community. We want everybody to be part of this festival and part of this exciting journey. We also need to be remember where we came from, and big part of Farr’s success is its humble beginning.
That said, there has always been a willingness to expand in terms of style and genre – with more and more live music and this year’s drum and bass stage courtesy of dBridge & Skeptical. Is there anything that is off limits when it comes to bookings for Farr?
I think we just try and improve the quality year on year. We have always tried to stay away from big headline acts and spread the programming across the board. There are no limits when it comes to bookings… well, maybe apart from my accountant.
Have there been any moments in the booking process in the last few years when you’ve thought, "how did we manage to land them!?"
Sometimes yes and it is that moment as a promoter that makes you realise why you do this, it’s a nice feeling. There is a lot of bullshit in the music industry and programming comes with its difficulties. We have always made a conscious decision to try to book acts right from the start of their careers, rather than just when they’re HOT. That’s something I will always try and do and I think that’s more important now than ever.
The six-hour headline set from Joy Orbison, Ben UFO and Midland is sure to be a pretty special moment. What else would you highlight as being unmissable at this year’s edition?
That’s going to be super special and it's something you don’t see every day! Giles Peterson’s sunset set on the 30 Years of Boy's Own Stage will be great. There are also some people that you may not have heard of but you definitely can’t miss, such as Evan Baggs, Helena Hauff and Tasha.
With any festival these days it’s important for the non-musical side of things to be well looked-after as well; are there any favourite attractions or stalls that we should look out for this year?
Yes 100%, make sure you get down to The Shala for some post-rave deep breathing with the likes of Madeleine Shaw and Marcus Veda. If that doesn't float your boat, then there are industry talks and arts & crafts workshops to get involved in.
And finally, could you sum up Farr Festival for us in five words or fewer?
A magical woodland adventure…
Farr Festival takes place in Bygrave Wood, Hertfordshire from 14-17 July. For more information, and for tickets and packages, head to our guide here.
More like this: