There are plenty of places to explore in the gardens. Head to the tranquillity of the Water Garden – towering over the pond is an exceptionally fine and majestic Eucryphia. Chill out with cake and tea, or maybe a gin, in the Secret Garden. Watch out for free-flying macaws and roaming peacocks, all adding to the delight of this enchanted space.
Nestled in the heart of the Cranborne Chase, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Larmer Tree Gardens are historically known for offering music and entertainment in a stunning location, and since 1990 we’ve played a part in continuing that tradition.
Laid out in 1880 by the distinguished archaeologist General Pitt Rivers, the gardens were to be pleasure grounds for “public enlightenment and entertainment”, offering opportunities to acquaint people with aspects of unfamiliar culture. The Gardens were actually the first privately-owned park to be open to the public.
The unique name ‘Larmer Tree’ is rumoured to have come from a wych-elm which existed in the tenth century and later constituted a landmark indicating Parish and County boundaries. For our 25th anniversary we ‘regrew’ the Larmer Tree (with a little help from some artists and local community groups) and it will now proudly grow during every festival.
Remnants of the glorious parties of the past can be found all around the Gardens, including Indian structures said to have been acquired from a London Colonial Exhibition, Nepalese buildings with carved wood elevations, a Roman temple, sculptures and the Singing Theatre (our Garden Stage).
You’ll also still encounter residents of the Gardens, the breath-taking peacocks, ornamental pheasants and two very special free-flying macaws, who are descendants of the original birds introduced in the 1880s.
Today the Gardens are as beautiful as ever, maintained meticulously and with the utmost care by a dedicated team of professional gardeners, and they retain a unique air of enchantment about them. No wonder Festival Founder James Shepard was so keen to host a party in this extraordinary setting after running through the magnificent grounds all those years ago in 1990. It really is a setting like no other, which, combined with an equally carefully crafted festival, sets the stage for the creation of magical memories and moments which will last a lifetime.