It was a tough decision to write this blog post. I LOVED the Sark Folk Festival, so much so I almost feel like I don’t want to share the magic. However, I am one of life’s givers and I’m pretty sure you’d all love it too so here is my ode to the festival that changed my mind about festivals.
What is this festival you talk of?
Well it’s a music festival on the scale of a large village fete, on an island only accessible by boat, with no cars and fresh lobsters as your standard festival food.
When I heard this from a friend last year I’d pretty much already booked my tickets but I’ll expand a little for those of you who enjoy some more information.
Where is Sark? How on earth do I get there?
Sark is situated off the coast of Guernsey. First you need to get to Guernsey which is easily done by ferry from Poole which takes 3 hours or flights from most UK airports (1 hr approx). On arrival by boat you can simply potter down the harbour wall from the Condor ferry terminal to the Sark Shipping Company to arrange your 45 minute passage across the sea. Arriving by air the port is simply a bus or taxi ride away.
Luggage transfer for the festival was unbelievably well organised. I dropped my backpack full of camping gear into a shipping container on the quay in St Peter Port, Guernsey and lo and behold it was delivered by tractor just as I arrived at the campsite in Sark.
I’m sold, sounds great; get me a ticket!
While not quite as elaborate as the process to get Glastonbury tickets the tickets do sell out in a pretty similar timeframe. Coordination between your group, computers on at 11.55am in preparation for the 12 noon on sale time in November, refreshing of browsers and nervous moments are par for the course. However once those tickets are in hand don’t worry about queues to get in, nasty toilets or 3 hour walks back to your tent – this is a civilised festival.
If weekend tickets sell out consider day tickets as the accommodation is separate to the ticket and there are a lot of impromptu gigs outside the main festival site.
You mentioned camping; where should I camp? Any other options?
There are lots of self catering options which get booked up quite quickly. There are two campsites on the island. We stayed at La Vallette, it was slightly further from the festival site but as you quickly find out no where is very far on Sark. Even at its busiest it never felt crowded. The shower queue was just long enough to justify a true festival wash but never so long that if a daily shower was an absolute priority you couldn’t have one. The view was one of the best I have ever had the pleasure of camping in front of.
It’s a music festival! Why haven’t you mentioned the music?
Hang on, I’m getting to that. I’ll admit it was the location that had me, the folk music was an added bonus and a great reason to visit. I loved the variety of acts on, many local to the Channel Islands. The atmosphere was so laid back but later in the evenings there was definitely a party to be had. I discovered lots of new artists and got my rave on to some folk-tronica – amazing if you’ve never had the pleasure.
What else is there to see and do?
The only thing I wish we’d done differently is pre-booked our bike hire. Bikes are the perfect way to get around and they were booked out for the Friday and Saturday but come Sunday and Monday Sark was our oyster. Hiring a bike means you really can explore the whole island from tip to toe. Cycling across the raised causeway to Little Sark was a real highlight, elevated to a monumental outing by a fabulous cream tea at La Sablonnerie Hotel. We also really enjoyed a boozy lunch and potter around the gardens at La Seigneurie and a trip to the Bec du Nez to see the rock the cider we had been drinking all weekend was named after.
What else do I need to know?
- It’s an absolute bargain – £70 for the weekend ticket, £9 pppn camping and only £3 a PINT! – not just any old pint either some lovely local ciders, ales and largers.
- It was hands down one of the best all round travel experiences I have ever had.
- It had the best festival toilets I’ve ever encountered!
- Cream teas on Sark are out of this world.
I hope these words and pictures have inspired you to plan a visit to Sark, I know you wont regret it. You might want to combine it with a trip to Guernsey which is exactly what we did. Read all about it here and here.