Greater London's best kept secret: Leefest – The Neverland
10 years ago, Lee Denny’s parents left him home alone.
No, this isn’t the beginning of a Macaulay Culkin-led festive film, but rather the spark which encouraged him to found Leefest, Kent’s hidden musical gem which celebrated it’s tenth year this weekend.
When I attended the last Leefest two years ago, it was a quarter of the current size, already developing a name for itself amongst those in the know for its ability to find emerging talent mere months before they sell out stadiums: Mercury-award winning Young Fathers, Bastille, Years & Years and Jack Garratt (the latter of which went from making awkward small talk to a handful of people on the opening day to selling out huge London venues) to name just a few.
This year’s talent included many established musicians – the three headliners: Everything Everything, Circa Waves and Lianne La Havas had plenty of fans screaming along to every word – but elsewhere there was a genre-spanning lineup of new discoveries. Garage legends DJ Luck & MC Neat had everyone piling onto haystacks to get involved with ‘Little Bit of Luck’, Midland had everyone partying til dawn and grime powerhouse Little Simz was so charismatic that she even got the people queuing for quesadillas swaying along to her set.
One thing’s for sure – there’s something about Leefest which is truly magical; whether its the hidden forests, or their unwavering dedication to the weekend’s Peter Pan theme (in Mermaid Lagoon you will find mermaids, in Neverwoods you will find Lost Boys having a water fight with a pirate and in Pirate Bay…yeah, you get the gist).
At the end of the day, the crux of its charm lies in the heart of it all; with all proceeds going straight to Great Ormond Street Hospital, it lacks that flagrant commercial aspect that seems to power a lot of the bigger festivals at the moment, and by still maintaining the character and sense of community that first drew people to music festivals, it retains a relaxed, insanely entertaining vibe with a palpable love of music behind it.
Photos courtesy of Leefest: The Neverland on Facebook.
Sounds good? Super early bird tickets for Leefest 2017 are already on sale at £70 (+booking fee)!