In a corner of Kent, stereotypically surrounded by lashings of green and claustrophobic country lanes that are more like giant pot holes than roads, sits family park and so-called ‘tourist attraction’, The Hop Farm. Which, funnily enough is a farm…that used to be full of hops. M i n d b l o w i n g. The Hop Farm also has the largest collection of oast houses in the world and well, if that’s not enough for you, nothing ever will be. For a weekend in June, the shire horses, the giant jumping pillows and the pirate’s cove will have to be packed up and shipped out when the annual presence of Vince Power’s, Hop Farm Festival rolls in.
Still in its infancy, Hop Farm festival has only been running since 2008, making it a fragile five year old newbie in the bully packed playground that is the UK festival circuit. However, the festival has gone from strength to strength, growing from what was initially a one day event, to a two day event and, since last year, a full weekend. Although Hop Farm has booked some colossal names in music including Neil Young, Primal Scream and Paul Weller, last year its creator Vince Power (also behind Spain’s, Benicàssim) raised the bar by bringing one of pop music’s greatest legends, Prince, to the small corner of Kent to play his first ever UK festival appearance and his only UK show of 2011 along with fellow headliners, The Eagles and Morrissey.
You could say that The Hop Farm festival is a more sophisticated type of festival. Let’s just say you won’t find as many beer-chugging, ketamine snorting, set-fire-to-your-tent-in-the-middle-of-the-night festival virgins here…they’ll all be getting prepared for Reading. Hop Farm caters to a more mature and nostalgic audience with musical legends like Iggy Pop and Bob Dylan gracing the stage, instead of your Jessi J’s and your Ed Sheeran’s.
This year’s headliners include: ex Genesis vocalist, Peter Gabriel accompanied by The New Blood Orchestra, folk legend Bob Dylan and 80s alternative rockers, Suede, each performing UK exclusive sets for The Hop Farm crowd. Renowned names in music such as The Kinks’ Ray Davies, Damien Rice (also performing a UK festival exclusive set), the legendary Patti Smith and Jose Gonzalez are set to warm up the main stage for the headliners. Hell, even Sir Bruce Forsyth is on the bill. He’s never stepped foot in a festival, let alone played the main stage of one. I’m not sure whether he’ll be singing, dancing, or just saying catch phrases.
Down the line up we go and there are talented female newcomers in the form of Lianne La Havas and Lucy Rose amongst long term legends such as Kool and The Gang, The Stranglers and Richard Ashcroft. Catering for a minefield of music heads, there’s also no absence of indie with The Futureheads and Maximo Park who have both released new material in 2012.
Whether you’re looking for nostalgia, great Kent ale or an affordable festival this summer, Hop Farm Festival ticks all the boxes.
By Joanie Eaton.