The Kelburn Garden Party is a unique, independent, magical music and arts festival. It is an annual explosion of colour, creativity, and culture in the grounds and glen around a 13th century painted castle on Scotland’s spectacular West Coast. Established in 2009, the festival is renowned for featuring a high quality and diverse range of musical styles that sits alongside a feast of creative happenings and fun attractions embedded around the site. We present an incredible selection of interactive art installations, living theatre, pop-up parties, glen walks, waterfall plunge pools, poetry, workshops, cabaret, and downright surreal happenings. Kelburn Garden Party is family-friendly and well-loved by all kids who experience it as a fairytale playground.
Under the madcap vision and leadership of Festival Director, Dave Boyle, the Garden Party is created each year by the efforts of the organisers, crew, volunteers, performers, and of course, our friendly campers and dancers. Below you can find out what you need to know about a trip to the fairytale land that is the Kelburn Garden Party.
Kelburn is without a doubt the most colourful event in Scotland’s festival calendar.
A distinctly magical atmosphere.
A jewel in Scotland’s festival crown.
The Kelburn Garden Party takes place in the lush and historic grounds surrounding Kelburn Castle, near Largs (30mins from Glasgow, 90mins from Edinburgh). The castle is known around the world as the site of the Graffiti Project, an audacious plan that turned the historic 13th century building into an international icon of street art.
The festival is unique in the way that the entertainment is spread right across the site – making use of the most unlikely nooks and crannies to present music, art, performance and other attractions. The Kelburn Garden Party is truly the antithesis to the tired “main stage plus dance tent” mentality of most festivals; a trip to Kelburn really is a non-stop multimedia adventure for the senses; impossible to describe to the uninitiated.
The Neverending Glen
As well as the main festival site and performance stages, festival-goers can enjoy at their leisure one of Kelburn’s most outstanding features: the glen. In the space of just over half a mile, the Kel Burn, which has carved out the glen over thousands of years, rises on the moors 800 feet above the castle and drops dramatically, by way of many waterfalls and deep gorges, to the sea. The glen has a wealth of wild flowers and ferns, shrubs and trees, and rugged trails criss-cross the burn, providing a little workout for those who feel the need. During the festival the glen is transformed with a carefully curated selection of contemporary art installations, pop-up parties and performance spaces in a groundbreaking art project – The Neverending Glen – providing stimulation and entertainment throughout the day and evening.
Thursday Birthday Bolt-On
In 2020 we are delighted to be continuing our newest tradition; inviting guests to come to Kelburn on Thursday to kick off the festival early. The party will kick off from 6pm and you can arrive in the daytime and set up camp before the hoards arrive on the Friday. We’ll have some great live entertainment and DJs for you, and food traders will be open to keep you fed. During the day on the Friday you’ll have exclusive access to some parts of the site so you’ll be able to explore Kelburn’s amazing natural surroundings are we gear up for Friday night’s kick-off. Tickets are limited and on sale now when you buy a weekend pass.
Food & Drink
At Kelburn Garden Party we like to look after our (and your) tummies. We have a wide and tasty selection of food including old-school fairground tuck, traditional Scottish fare and a wide “world” choice, using locally sourced ingredients. This year you can choose from wood-fired pizzas, wraps, crepes, BBQ, Caribbean, Mexican, German and haggis, neeps and tatties. We also ensure that there is a wide range of vegan and vegetarian choices across the site. Drink is equally diverse with a range of respected Scottish breweries (such as Williams Brothers, Thistly Cross and Kelburn Brewery) provide ales, lager and cider on tap. There are cocktail bars, tea tents and proper artisan coffee too.
It’s no secret that kids and parents alike love Kelburn Garden Party, and we take great pride in the the facilities and activities we provide. We have various dedicated children’s activity areas, a packed workshop program and various treats all over the site. There are also two supervised kids play areas and a weekend long programme of family-friendly performances. We’re also very proud of the famous Secret Forest Project – a living theatre installation hidden in the grounds of Kelburn which is a massive hit with children and sets Kelburn aside from other festivals.
Kids under 5 go free but you still need to register for Under-5’s tickets in advance. 5-12 year olds’ tickets are heavily subsidised.
Kelburn Garden Party is an intimate affair, with just 4,000 tickets available for the festival. The event has sold-out for the past 3 years, and capacity is not increasing in the future due to the unique nature of the site.
We operate a tiered ticketing system: the sooner you buy, the cheaper they are. Scannable e-Tickets are available on this website through TicketLine. Kids are most welcome at the festival including under 5’s. We offer heavily subsidised tickets for children aged 5-12 and youths aged 13-17 get ⅓ discount. A limited number of day tickets are usually available close to event if we have enough capacity. For more information on tickets and to purchase go to the ticket page. All weekend tickets include camping.
At Kelburn Garden Party the campsite opens at 4pm on Thursday exclusively for Thursday Bolt On ticket holders and then 2pm on Friday for weekend ticket holders. The festival entertainment starts at 7pm on Friday and runs through until 3am on the Monday morning. Music runs until 3am on Friday night, and 4am on Saturday night. The campsite closes at 2pm on Monday.
The festival site is very easy to reach. We recommend that you catch The Kelburn Bus from Edinburgh or Glasgow all the way onto site. Trains to Largs from Glasgow run regularly, and from Largs Train Station, you can catch the Kelburn Shuttle Bus for £2 or it’s a very short and inexpensive taxi ride. For those coming from further afield, cheap flights to Glasgow Prestwick are available from Ryanair. You can get to Largs by train or bus from the airport (around 1 hour journey). Cheap advance train tickets are available now for travel to Glasgow from around the UK. Check the travel page for more info.
Cars & Camping
To encourage car-sharing and use of public transport we charge a nominal fee for parking. Camping in tents at KGP is included in the weekend ticket price – the campsite is situated only a few minutes walk from the festival, and commands spectacular views to the Firth of Clyde and beyond. For all campers, we levy an “environmental deposit” which helps keep the campsite clean for all and deters tent abandonment, which is returned on departure if you present a bag of rubbish or a neatly packed tent. We have a dedicated family / quiet campsite, camper van pitches for both families and late night revelers, and hot showers are available at extra cost.
Please note that the car parks shut at 10pm, no vehicles are allowed to park on site between 10pm and 10am. Vehicles may leave site at any time with the approval of the Traffic Team but we cannot help recover any vehicle which gets stuck after dark until 9am. Full parking T&C’s here.
If you are coming to Kelburn in a live-in vehicle, camper van or caravan then you must buy a Live-In Vehicle plot ticket. The plots are 4x6m in size and you must fit completely inside your plot. If you need more space then you must buy more than one plot. If you are coming in a caravan then you must either fit car and caravan in your plot space(s) or buy a plot ticket for the caravan plus a parking ticket for the car and move your car into the car park once the caravan is positioned.
If you wish to park a car or have friends pitch tents next to you then you must buy enough plot tickets for everything (including guy ropes and space to access the live-in vehicle) to fit inside your space.
Plots are given out in the order that people arrive so if you wish to be beside friends who also have a live-in vehicle then you must arrive together or the first to arrive must have all of your plot tickets and must be available to identify the friends when they do arrive.
Dogs and Other Pets
We regret that we cannot allow dogs or any other pets on site. If you have a registered, trained Service Dog, please contact us to make arrangements. Please see the FAQ page for more info.