A little visual recollection of the Hop Farm Music Festival in Kent, not so well known yet but showing some serious promise. The Hop Farm Music Festival takes place in a 90-acre field just outside of Paddock Wood Kent in the South East of England. It came about because the general feeling was that people were a bit sick of over branding and they really wanted a smaller scale gig that was about music and not sponsorship and brands. There is no special treatment there and children are welcome - and those under 12 years of age get in for FREE!
The atmosphere was very chill and camping is available. The usual is to be said of the “festy loos” but there were lots of them, unlike I am afraid to say, the beer tent. Well not a tent exactly, but a counter! I think they seriously underestimated and I mean seriously, the crowd, so I’m hoping this year they’ll have at least four or five – not just ONE! Getting heat stroke while waiting for beer is not good.
There was the main stage and then another stage in the Big Tent in another field and then the smaller tent for lesser-known acts in yet another part of the field, these were mixed in with all the activities and the water stand pipes. Plenty of food was supplied to cater different tastes around the perimeter and for those who needed a break from the music, there were also other activities like football and a funfair!
The music was varied and fantastic, though of course much more of the current trend for ‘folky’ stuff. The crowd was very good humoured and crossed all age ranges, there really was something for everyone. Saturday’s lineup was quite a summer blowout, starting with Foy Vance. He really warmed up the crowd and got us ready for the Magic Numbers, they worked their magic and captivated the crowd with all their recent hits – a great sing-a-long! Then Johnny Flynn came on and again gave his best; the crowd was eagerly waiting for Laura Marling and the whole lineup so far was becoming incestuous but the crossover was fun as different band members would join in with each other.
We didn’t have to wait long before LM came on and OMG was she a performer! Absolutely brilliant! The day was progressing and as no beers were allowed to be brought in, it was time for a break and a bit of some light refreshment under the scorching sun, so off to the beer tent for a quick few and hopefully back in time for Pete Doherty. Unfortunately there was only ONE counter and four or five serving! So we waited and waited and I took photos of the slowly moving queue. The thirst was becoming overpowering and we started wondering if the water queues were shorter?! It turned out they weren’t (as we discovered later), so we waited a bit longer but while doing this we missed out on Pete, who sounded good so it was a bit frustrating.
We snaked our way back as close to the front as we could get, going around groups of “picknickers” and those that set themselves up for what looked like the entire week. Anyway, we weren’t as close to the stage as we would’ve liked but it wasn’t bad either. We stood and waited for the mad antics of the wonderful and quirky Seasick Steve, it seems he could play anything if he put his mind to it. My feet were sore from the tapping and standing around when out came Mumford and Sons to a roaring welcome from the crowd and again there were some familiar faces in the wings as LM and JF came back. The Mumfords were incredible and captured the attention of everyone in the crowd, what a buzz! Two screens at both sides of the stage gave those at the back a chance to get a closer look of what was going on up there…excellent!
With stomachs calling and a beer top up was on the cards but we thought better than miss out on anything further so we headed off to the water. Haha…more queues but not as long, a little chillout moment on the grass while waiting for food and then jumped back into the throng of people for some vintage Ray Davies! Not what I was expecting – his voice was really very good considering all things! But sadly, I could not say the same for Bob Dylan. The atmosphere was amazing, the expectation was equally off the scale but I felt that he really could not do the songs justice anymore and the band members were really the ones singing or come to think of it, the crowd sang the songs and for the most part, drowned out the embarrassment. His presence was enigmatic, don’t get me wrong, even to have been amongst the reduced audience was still special.
A lot of disgruntled people already moved to other stages or left, but we hung around and decided to avoid the rush to the exit as we figured there would be no one really leaving for hours anyway, so we headed off to the Big Tent to listen to Devendra Banhart – crushed and squished, we popped out the back of the tent but could still hear some very cool music from him.
The festival is actually two full days but I could only spend one day there which was a great shame as the lineup was excellent. I shall check it out again and have my fingers crossed for easier access on the beer tent side, other than that, I have no complaints. I drove down with a friend – not very eco, but it was easy. Leaving though was not and we were still waiting to leave the carparks at least three or four hours later but that was a great laugh. Coaches are provided and the train station is not that far away, about half an hour walk. Paddock Wood is not far from London, about one hour or so by train.
Travel by train is easy through Southeastern. Visit the Southeastern website to plan your journey. Paddock Wood (PDW) is the closest station with Beltring Station being the second closest to The Hop Farm Festival.
Taxis were also available but watch out for the price! Keep your eyes open for the early bird deals! If you are from Western Europe it is also accessible from Ashford International – Paddock Wood. Hope to see more Lomographers there next time around!
The Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, Kent TN12 6PY
t: +44 (0) 207 644 1445