This weekend everyone's been talking about Glastonbury festival, and I'm sure it was tremendous fun, but I'm looking forward to a smaller, more intimate festival - Curious Arts to be held at Pylewell Park in the New Forest on 21-23 July.
I was invited along last year as part of the Our Book Reviews team, and loved every minute. Its style is quirky and eclectic, less of a 'festival' in the Glastonbury sense, and more of a English country fete with a sophisticated twist of up-market food providers, and cocktails to refresh the weary instead of weak, sweet tea.
There were bookish events during the day, comedy shows in the evening, music acts at night, with something to entertain all ages happening all day long.
I blogged about the experience at the time, but as I started looking forward to this year's festival I wondered which impressions had stayed with me from last year ...
firstly, the friendly, family atmosphere - being a smallish event, by lunchtime on Saturday I was beginning to spot familiar faces as I wandered round;
the wide variety of things to do - I went to SO MANY book events in such a short time, while my daughter went to yoga and discussions of the day's political news;
the food (though don't try tagine in a burger bun!);
discovering that camping is actually quite fun;
and partying in the evening.
Then there were quieter moments - being woken at dawn by seagulls; heading to the bottom of the grounds in the early morning mist and catching a glimpse of the Isle of Wight ferry, seeming to glide by on land;
|ferry seemingly floating on land|
wandering back from the showers (yes, amazingly there were hot showers) late at night and star-gazing while music drifted over from the marquee; sneaking into the Skinny Lister sound check ... I could go on, probably for too long.
As the programme starts to fill up, I'm making my plans for this year. I'm asked along as a book blogger so obviously I'll start with the authors I'd like to see - novelists Rachel Joyce, Joanna Trollope, Matt Haig, and Eimear McBride, poet Lemn Sissay, and Isabel and Julian Bannerman, gardeners to HRH the Prince of Wales.
Later in the day there'll be music - Tom Odell is headlining Saturday night, but I've been checking out some of the other acts, previously unknown to me, and I'm hoping to catch Iceland's Junius Meyvant, Aine Cahill, Jordan Mackampa and MarthaGunn.
In-between all that (there'll be time, won't there?), I hope to explore the "workshops and curiosities" section of the programme - from wine masterclasses to crazy golf, a late night bat walk and an emergency poet. I might give the snail racing a miss though.