FARM Weekender Festival Organisers Chris, Sarah, Rashid & Emily

Festival season is coming to an end, but if you fancy one last rural knees up then FARM Weekender promises ‘a few hundred friends, a rave in a barn and a picture framed view to pull it all together’.

And what’s more, it’s a mere hour and a half from London.

Ahead of this month’s event – headlined by Notting Hill Carnival legends Sancho Panza – we chat to organisers Chris Condron, Sarah Dunleavy, Rashid Ariori and Emily de Groot about their intimate festival set in a secret Northamptonshire spot.

When was FARM Weekender born?

Sarah: ‘The four of us had been putting on joint parties for our birthdays for years in London, and occasionally Halloween. We’d also been going to a lot of festivals together. Then in 2011 Chris had his own thirtieth birthday party on a farm, which was found through a mutual friend. We went along, saw the venue, partied with our mates and it wasn’t long before we got carried away and FARM 2012 was on the table. It has been running ever since with our London night CityFARM, in between the festivals.’

How many people are you expecting this Weekender?

Emily: ‘We had 300 FARMers for the first one, which happened organically through friends and friends of friends. We’re hoping for the same kind of number. We’ll always have it as an intimate festival.’

How would you best describe the music at the festival?

Chris: ‘The mainstay of FARM is back-to-back sets of eclectic floor filling dance. What unites all the genres is that, whatever your taste, it will be hard to not want to be up there all night.’

Sarah: ‘It’s pretty varied, hence the headliner – you never really know what Sancho Panza will play but that they will get people dancing. There’s definitely a taste of our youth with a drum ‘n’ bass set from Simon Nash and a healthy dose of garage in TK’s set, who has had a big part in the east London garage revival with his monthly night, Special Request.’

Emily: ‘Well Norman Jay said it “was like a proper party back in the day” when he arrived. It’s a lot of passionate people, playing diverse sets and having a lot of fun, in the middle of nowhere.’

How would you best describe the punters at the festival?

Chris: ‘It is a city crowd who want to break out into the countryside for one night and celebrate the end of the summer.’

Rashid: ‘Animal loving.’

Emily: ‘A good crew, who like to party. When we’ve done City FARM events the venues always say we smash the bar!’

How would you best describe the vibe at the festival?

Chris: ‘It is an extremely relaxed set up, with act one seeing everyone pitching up, having a drink, taking a dip in the tub and drinking in the setting. Act two is a messy dance in a barn until the early hours. It’s quite a contrast.’

Sarah: ‘I think the people who were there in 2012 are best placed to do that: “A small intimate, yet totally banging festival. FARM will provide you with good tunes, good food, good people and it’s not so big you’ll lose your mates”.’

What makes the FARM Weekender stand out from the rest?

Sarah: ‘We make it easy for people to have a really good time at less cost than a night out in London. Your ticket even includes your dinner and breakfast and we won’t fleece people at the bar. Unlike London festivals, the music goes on until 4am and at a decent volume, with a late night bonfire after that. We’re lucky not to have the noise restrictions they do so we can really make the most of the FunktionOne sound system into the early hours.’

Rashid: ‘A small intimate vibe with friends, with no numpties. And being able to fly over the festival in a microlight.’

Emily: ‘We’re 100 per cent independent without sponsors. We have Mama’s Jerk Station doing their famous street food, smoothies and fresh lemonade and the guys from Streetfest running the bar for us, so expect delicious cocktails.’

How does being close to the big smoke affect the type of crowd?

Chris: ‘It means we get people who would in their younger years have smashed a handful of festivals but now settle for a curated set of events that they know they’ll enjoy. When it’s one night only, and near to home, you know you can go a little harder.’

Sarah: ‘The close proximity attracts Londoners as it’s less effort. It’s close enough for them to turn up for 24 hours if they like and still get their money’s worth.’

The festival is in a secret location – can you give us some idea of what to expect?

Chris: ‘Breathtaking beauty. It only takes about 15 minutes of walking around the site before the stresses ebb away.’

Rashid: ‘A big barn surrounded by acres of countryside.’

Emily: ‘There’s also a small lake and forests to explore.’

What do you hope headliners Sancho Panza will bring to the event?

Rashid: ‘A carnival party atmosphere!’

Chris: ‘Well, we know from Notting Hill how Sancho have the ability to get everyone up and keep them there, which sounds about right for a headliner.’

Sarah: ‘They will make people have a bloody good time. They’re the perfect headliners for us, being friends who started off by putting parties on for their mates.’

Where in London have you never been, but have always wanted to go?

Chris: ‘All the abandoned tube stations and tunnels that were the various stops of the old Northern Line. There is an entire subterranean city that the majority of us will never experience.’

Sarah: ‘Buckingham Palace. I know. Think I must have been ill on the school trip.’

Rashid: ‘Turnmills. I queued up twice but each time the bouncers wouldn’t let me in.’

Emily: ‘I always wanted to go to Wapping but have never quite made it. Is it worth it?’

What other projects do you have in the pipeline?

Chris: ‘I’m in the process of setting up an arts funding organisation. I also help run a pop-up opera company with my sister that is long overdue a performance, so I’ll probably get that going again.’

Sarah: ‘I’m currently working with a private creative member’s club, art directing photoshoots and designing brand literature.’

Rashid: ‘West Side Boogie, coming soon.’

Emily: ‘I’m hopefully going to do our next Clothes Club clothes swapping event in October with JustGiving, and TRAID would like to partner with us for it and will talk about their #secondhandfirst campaign. Tokyo bike has offered another limited edition bike for our raffle. And I’m trying to persuade the FARM crew to do a City FARM boat party early next year.’

FARMWeekender takes place on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 September 2014.

Tickets can be purchased here.

See the Facebook page.

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