There's an abundance of music festivals dotted all over the UK these days, some big, some small, some independent and some commercial. This August bank holiday we have a hive of activity especially in the Yorkshire area, with carnivals, a big name festival and a truly unique and independent gem Limetree Festival. Founders Sean and Karen Birdsell conceived the idea in 2007 and have been running the festival since 2008. Limetree is staged in Grewelthorpe, a stunning site in North Yorkshire that has its own stone circle, energy points and beautiful natural beauty. The ethic of Limetree is all about eco-friendly consciousness and preserving the land. With a loyal following of regulars who know what a good event this is, it's always like a happy reunion, having the best party towards the end of the summer, for those that know.
Sean and Karen are regular festival goers and with the advent of increasing prices and increasing numbers, as well as a decline in the diversity at many festivals they thought maybe they should set something up themselves, hence the creation of Limetree. It's a modest ideal size of around 2500 punters (although it can accommodate for more) keeps the vibe very community and family orientated, catering for all ages and walks of life. There's no discrimination here and the friendliness and openness ensures everyone usually comes back. There's workshops for teenagers and kids to occupy them and because it's on such a 'oneness' vibe there's no issues about security issues. That means the whole family can enjoy the weekend and meet other like minded soul mates.
Sean was very much inspired by 'The Big Chill' whose love for that festival created the vision of Limetree Festival, seeing it as a 'Big Chill' of the North. So similar to the 'The Big Chill' we see a focus on good food that is fresh and most of it organically grown. There's a real mix of flavours, from world tastes like Caribbean, Chinese, French and Tibetan, to gourmet pies, luxury burgers, hog roast and handmade pizza. There are cool stalls on site too selling authentic clothing, trinkets, jewellery, lanterns and fun happenings like henna tattoos and body art. As it is an independent festival prices have been kept down to allow people to enjoy themselves without constantly worrying about finances.
There are nine stages all together this year, with two main stages. The line up has a real mix of well known artists to upcoming acts. The Jason Rae stage, dedicated to the late Jason Rae whose accomplished horn playing was legendary in Leeds, accommodates the upcoming acts in the area. The main stages 'Green Man' has the fabulous Carleen Anderson, Transglobal Underground, Andy Smith, upcoming acts Submotion Orchestra, Jilly Rider, Hatz and Cara, The Fantastics and local legends Jon Gomm and Kava Kava, to name but a few this year. In the sorted dance tent we have a DJ set from Zero 7, Jon Kennedy and fantastic Celt Islam, plus many more. There's a real blend of folk, soul and elaborate goings on in the Betty Lynch tent with definite fun guaranteed!
A new addition to this year's event is the 'Dance Music Therapy' area that hosts a glittering display of world dance DJ talent, from the legendary Back To Basics crew, to Below in Birmingham, DJ E.A.S.E and a plethora of connections to local underground happenings around the country and worldwide artists, has created 'Dance Music Therapy'. There's even a splash of hip hop and the ethic is about promoting progressive, conscious, quality music. If you've been missing the vibe at recent festivals from the dance areas due to commercialism, I definitely feel this area will be bringing back the pulse of deep dance music to bring back that underground connection we all used to love. Very cool!
What's clear to me is that Sean and Karen's independent creation of Limetree (that they have financed themselves) is indeed a reminder of why festivals were created in the first place. The festivals of old provided an opportunity to bring like minded people together to experience unity in nature, in a safe environment, where people can celebrate life without prejudice and dance to the music. Certainly Limetree could indeed be an undiscovered gem that judging by the eco-friendly consciousness, promotion of local talent and integrity of the owners, could make for a truly unique and rewarding experience like no other. It seems there's something for everyone at Limetree and available to all walks of life and ages. The diverse line up means someone will reminisce and everyone will learn something, but most importantly, that I'm sure what Sean and Karen would truly want for you is to relax, take it easy and have a good time!