LeeFest was first born back in 2006 when founder Lee Denny decided to throw a party in his parent’s garden after they’d gone away on holiday. It went so well, a second party was thrown, with the not-so-legal bar raising £150 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
His parents naturally found out, but tolerated another two years of their back garden being churned up until the festival – now attracting 600 people – moved to his school’s playing fields.
In 2009, the festival bagged the Best Grassroots Festival Award, and by 2012 had moved to a new site in the countryside and was pulling in crowds of excess of 2,000, with all profits going to charity.
This sounds like the kind of festival I like, so I popped along on the Saturday to take a few snaps.
LeeFest is about as small as a proper festival can be, serving up one main stage and a smaller marquee stage, a DJ tent, a small performance tent and a ‘beach’ surrounded by hay-bales.
The crowd is much younger than at most festivals – and I imagine for many it’s their first ever festival, with the fun boosted by the seeming lack of parents on hand.
Its location close to London and Croydon – backed by the regular festival buses from the site to Bromley South and East Croydon – meant that quite a few folks headed home every night rather than trying to sleep under canvas in the searing evening heat.
My extremely smoky camp-site neighbours.
On the main stage, which boasted a very impressive PA system and light show.
The beach area.
In the smaller marquee stage.
All We Are on the main stage.
Basking in the heat.
Back in the marquee tent.
On the hay bales by the beach.
Some bloke doing something with a clock face in the performance area.
To Kill A King pulled in an enthusiastic crowd on the main stage.
Temple Of Boom dance tent.
Camp site troubadour.
The Noisettes were fabulous: lively, loud, brash and fun.
LeeFest took place at Highams Hill Farm, Sheepbarn Lane, Warlingham, Surrey, CR6 9PQ.
I enjoyed my stay at LeeFest – it’s a very friendly, non-corporate affair with a big heart and a lot of enthusiasm, put on by people who clearly love what they do.
It’s not a festival for all night, party-loving ravers though (the site closes down early) but it’s certainly one of the nicest festivals I’ve been to, with a spot on ethos too.