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From flying trapeze artists to world-class music: V&E slapped on the face paint and joined the circus that was Standon Calling
Photos: PG Brunelli, Dean Jode and Tom O'Meara
Having ‘dog-faced boy’ chanted at you by a clown, while you muster the courage to drink a concoction of Jägermeister and tequila isn’t the norm on a recuperative Sunday afternoon. In The Forest of Freaks at Standon Calling, however, it would have been rude not to.
Having started out as a handful of friends and a pool in 2001, the Hertfordshire three-dayer now draws in around 5,000 revellers. This year, it sold out for the first time in its 12-year history.
We arrived to a crowd excited, loud and hungry for fun. People wore not much around the pool, others, dressed all circusy, gathered for the dog show and those in need of a sit down tried their hand at life drawing in the forest.
The line-up this year was typically eclectic. On The Lordship stage – the place to check out emerging talent – we loved Indi Forde, who sounded just like Michael Jackson. On the main stage, all-female Lips Choir belted out everything from Fleetwood Mac to Destiny’s Child. Hip hop legends De La Soul brought the weekend to a close in typical party-starting style. Taps on backs all round.
Despite still being a relatively small festival, Standon Calling’s VIP offering is impressive. In the boutique camping area – metres from the main stage – you’ll find tipis and yurts, available for groups of up to 20. They come complete with beds, linen and cushions, as well as separate loos and showers. A chill-out lounge offers some sanctuary from the madness outside.
Best bit: the ‘Running Away from the Circus’ theme, although not ideal for the coulrophobic among us – there were clowns everywhere. Oh, and trapeze school Gorilla Circus had festival-goers flying through the air, slap-bang in the middle of the site.
Room for improvement: the food. With other festivals upping their game in the catering department, the standard festival fare wasn’t really cutting it.