We're going to let you in on a secret: 45 minutes' drive from London, tucked in amongst the rolling hills that surround a tiny town called Standon, lies a magical place that you can only visit for one weekend a year. From 26-29 July, the normally grassy fields will become a different world, one filled with music, laughter and fantastical creatures.
OK, so we're talking about a festival rather than an undiscovered alternate universe here, but boutique weekender Standon Calling occasionally feels like one, with a theme that stretches all the way from the stages to the fancy dress competition on the Saturday night. This year that theme is The Future, so get ready to buckle up and jet into the weirdest, most wonderful adventure yet...
At Standon, it all starts with the food – and this year, the festival's food headliner is Supernova, a dining experience from Nova music, The Hungry Piglets and Mayfly Wine Co. that'll take place in a secret area hidden amongst the trees. Book yourself in for a sitting (for £50 a head), and you'll get a three-course meal cooked over an open fire and paired with bio-dynamic Austrian wines. That means you could be chowing down on wood-smoked pig al asador while sipping an Aeolis Zwigelt 'St Laurent' – and because the experience is about more than the food, you'll be serenaded by live acts and DJs while you eat. You know what to do.
Book your tickets here
The Foodism team talk festival food
Ever wanted to find out what the team behind your favourite food and drink mag are like? Ever wanted to pick their brains about what's hot and what's not, and what you should be eating right this very second? The rise of gourmet street food has turned eating at music festivals from a chore to a treat, and deputy editor Mike Gibson will be hosting a talk with some of Standon's best street-food traders about the past, present and future of festival food – where it came from, how they got involved and how far the street-food scene could yet grow.
1-1:45pm on Friday at the Lawn Stage
Patty & Bun's Lost Island
Burger heavyweights Patty & Bun are bringing both a sound system and a bar with them to create the The Lost Island, which we imagine will be a bit like a festival within a festival. House and disco beats will come from DJ collective Sloth Boogie, while rum cocktails will come from The Duppy Share. Then, of course, you'll be able to get your chops around P&B's juicy burgers, fries and more. Oh, and you might be able to do some life drawing while you're there, too.
Street food galore
Standon's roster of food traders is bigger and better than ever, with loads of great names old and new. Ready for this? Here we go: Wingmans, Happy Maki, Boren & Raised pizza, fish and chips from Kerbisher & Malt, the Mac Factory, pies from Barnaby Sykes, Le Bao, Filipino cooking from Bbq Dreamz and much, much more.
The Dog Show, Morcheeba, Timberline FFS!! and more
Standon Calling has a dog show. Yes, really. So Sunday afternoon, when the hangover blues kick in, you can plonk yourself down on the grass and watch a happy, friendly parade of doggos go by. Still hungover and grumpy? No, we didn't think so. Then if you still need cheering up, the festival has lined up loads of comedy – our eyes are on Timberline FFS!!, an alt-drag rock'n'roll eco show (you have to see it to understand) – and brilliant music from the likes of electronic band Morcheeba, George Ezra and more.
Standon Calling tickets are on sale now at standon-calling.com/tickets