The Kelburn Garden Party is an unique, independent, magical music and arts festival – an annual explosion of colour, creativity and culture in a spectacular setting on Scotland’s West Coast – the grounds and glen around a 13th century painted castle, established in 2009 and with a dedicated following. 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, from interactive art installations, living theatre, pop-up parties to glen walks, waterfall plunge pools, poetry, workshops, cabaret and downright surreal happenings. Kelburn is family-friendly and is well loved by all kids who visit as a fairytale playground. Under the madcap vision and leadership of director Dave Boyle, the festival is created each year by the dedicated efforts of the organisers, crew, volunteers, performers and of course you, our friendly campers and dancers. Below you can find out what need to know about a trip to the fairytale lands of 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), known around the world as the site of the Graffiti Project, an audacious plan that turned the historic 13th century castle into an international icon of street art.
The festival is unique in the way that entertainment is spread right across the site – making use of the most unlikey nooks and crannies to present music, art, performance and other attractions. The Kelburn Garden Party is truly the antithesis to the tired “main stage and dance tent” mentality of most festivals; A trip to Kelburn is really a non-stop multimedia adventure for the senses; impossible to describe to the uninitiated.
The Neverending Glen
Besides the main festival site and various 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 helped to form 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 will be adorned with a carefully curated selection of contemporary art installations, pop-up parties and performance spaces in a groundbreaking project – The Neverending Glen – providing stimulation and entertainment throughout the day and evening.
Thursday Birthday Bolt-On
In 2019 we will inviting you to come to Kelburn on Thursday to kick off your festival early and help celebrate our 10th Birthday with a party in the Smugglers venue. The party will kick off from 6pm and you can arrive in the day time and set up camp before the hoards arrive on the Friday. We’ll put on some great live entertainment and DJs for you, and food traders will be open. On the Friday 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 we like to look after our tummies, and we have a wide and tasty selection of food from your 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, vegan, vegetarian, BBQ, Caribbean, Mexican, German and obviously haggis, neeps and tatties. 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, and we take great pride in the the endless facilities and activities we provide, from adventure assault courses, a falconry, to secret woodland trails. We also have various dedicated children’s activity areas, a packed workshop program and various treats all over the space. There are also two supervised kids play areas and a weekend long programme of workshops and activities. The famous Secret Forest Project – a living theatre installation in the surreal Secret Forest – is a massive hit with children, and sets Kelburn aside from other festivals.
Kids under 5 go free but you 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 2500 tickets available for the festival. The event has sold out for the past 3 years, and capacity is only rising slowly as we carefully manage our expansion.
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; under 5’s are, chidren aged 5-12 get heavily subsidised tickets 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. Tickets include camping.
At Kelburn Garden Party the campsite opens at 2pm on Friday for weekend ticket holders. The festival 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.
At Psychedelic Forest events the campsite opens at 4pm on Saturday and closes at 2pm on Sunday.
The festival site is very easy to reach. Catch The Kelburn Bus from Edinburgh or Glasgow all the way onto site. Trains go to Largs from Glasgow on a regular basis, and from Largs you can catch the Kelburn Shuttle Bus for £1 or it’s a very short and inexpensive taxi ride. For those coming from further afield cheap flights to Glasgow Prestwick are available at 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 public transport we charge a nominal fee for parking. Camping in tents at KGP is free – the campsite is situated only a few minutes walk from the festival, and command spectacular views to the Firth of Clyde and beyond. Camping at Kelburn Garden Party is inclusive, although we levy an “environmental deposit” which helps keep the campsite clean for all and deters tent abandonment, which is returned on departure. We have a dedicated family / quiet campsite, camper van pitches for both families and late night revellers, and hot showers!
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 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.
The system is the same at Psychedelic Forest events is essentially the same, however please be aware that you will each need a “with camping” event ticket as well as a plot ticket for the live-in vehicle. Full live-in vehicle T&Cs here
We regret that we cannot allow dogs on site, apologies to our canine lovers. Sadly, we can’t allow ferrets either.