Standon Calling is a small annual music festival held near the village of Standon, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, in the grounds of private residence Standon Lordship. It is an unsponsored, themed boutique festival which grew from a birthday barbecue into an annual public event.
The festival began as a birthday barbecue for founder Alex Trenchard in 2001. It became a live music event in 2004, with a single stage on the same site with a one-day line-up.
In 2005, a second stage was built in an adjacent field; after the final act, organiser Trenchard announced to visitors "Don't go to bed!". Performers dressed as fairies, who were hidden in the crowd, threw off their cloaks and led the festival-goers to a surprise all-night party.
The festival expanded to two days in 2006 with a full-size main stage.
2007 saw a Rio Carnival theme and the blossoming of another festival tradition, fancy dress on Saturday. Headliners were The Rumble Strips, New Young Pony Club, Noisettes and Mr Hudson & The Library. Friendly Fires also played the main stage on Saturday afternoon.
In 2008 the festival expanded to three full days, with the Super Furry Animals closing the main stage. Other acts included Florence & The Machine The Maccabees, Glasvegas, Late Of The Pier, and Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip.
The theme was Japanese culture, with outfits varying from Harajuku girls to Wasabi peas. Japanese acts included Melt Banana, Acid Mother's Temple and Cosmic Inferno, while activities included calligraphy demonstrations, tea tastings and binocular football.
There was even an underwater disco, which that won Standon Calling the Innovation Award at 2008's UK Festival Awards.
In 2009 the theme was "Space", commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landings. The festival site was duly decorated with props including a Tardis from cult BBC sci-fi serial Doctor Who and the DeLorean time machine from the Back to the Future film trilogy. There were several space-related events, including two evening presentations by space expert Jerry Stone of Spaceflight UK.
2010 saw Standon Calling grow, both in terms of space and ticket sales. Themed around "Murder On The Standon Express", a miniature town with boutique stores, food stands and a fancy dress shop was built on the site.
The festival spread from Standon Lordship onto neighbouring fields with additional car parking and camping. Coach travel provided from local train stations. The pre-festival marketing included a series of "Road to Standon Calling" gigs in London and a competition for smaller upcoming bands to play the main stage on the Sunday night.
2011's theme was 'Gods and Monsters' with Lamb and Battles headlining. 2012's theme 'Journey to the end of the earth' saw headliner's Fat Freddies Drop, Beardy Man and Death in Vegas, while 2013's theme of 'Running away from the circus' included bands Bastille, Digitalism, The Joy Formidable, De La Soul and Band of Skulls. 2014 was a "lost in latin america" theme with headliners Frank Turner, Maximo Park and Public Enemy; Clean Bandit, Charlie XCX, Ella Eyre and Young Fathers were other notable names on the 2014 lineup.
Standon Calling 2015
Celebrating its 10th birthday, Standon Calling is now bigger and better than ever before, increasing its capacity up to 10,000. The theme was "A town of two faces", encouraging cowboy/girl costumes by day and by night the festival took a futuristic turn seeing a variety of disco themed costumes.
Headlining the festival was Little Dragon, The Dandy Warhols and Basement Jaxx with other acts such as Ella Eyre, Slaves and Kwabs filling the bill.
In February 2011 Trenchard was jailed for three years for defrauding his employer Tesco of £355,000, which he used to fund the event using his company credit card. This followed losses on ticket sales during the 2007 and 2009 events.
Trenchard has apologised and his parents have repaid the money.
Spaceflight UK, website of Jerry Stone
UK Festival Award Winner