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LeeFest 2016 with Lianne La Havas, Everything Everything and VANT

Lee Denny started LeeFest in his back garden when his parents were away. Ten years on the 26-year-old’s festival has grown to three main stages with six immersive arenas and additional entertainment such as glitter wrestling, paint fights, a casino and spas.

Lee was 16 when he staged the festival in his garden in Beckenham with two friends while his parents were away.

But the story didn’t stop there. LeeFest gained mainstream acclaim when it won Best Grassroots Festival at the UK Festival Awards in 2009 and Best Festival at the Association of Independent Music Awards, 2012.

The 10th anniversary LeeFest presents The Neverland will be staged at John Darlings Farm, near Edenbridge.

Lianne La Havas
Lianne La Havas
Get Inuit
Get Inuit

Local acts appearing include Beaty Heart, Sittingbourne and Folkestone band Get Inuit and Corey Fox Fardell with a range of big names from the music industry.

It will have three areas: The Neverwoods, Mermaids Lagoon and Skull Ridge.

The line-up includes Saturday night headliner Lianne La Havas, indie pop band Circa Waves, garage rockers VANT, We Are Scientists, Ghostpoet, art-rock pioneers Everything Everything, The 2 Bears, Spring King and drum and bass hero DJ Marky & MC GQ.

VANT said in a statement: “It’s a festival like no other… created and maintained by one dude and his ever-expanding garden. Hopefully we will get to meet the mystery man himself.”

What's On caught up with Lee just before the festival kicked off...

Lee Denny, founder of LeeFest
Lee Denny, founder of LeeFest

It’s still a very small team and I’m still very involved...

Of course it’s a bigger team than 10 years ago. The team has grown over the years because people have come with ideas and wanted to get involved. And by the time the festival is up and running there’s about 300 people involved. But it starts with us just talking about what we want to do and our ideas.

I picked the venue for this year in Edenbridge after looking at about 20 possible sites...

I looked on Google Earth first and was looking for space and nice countryside. Then we started chatting to people finding out about the area and then went and looked at about 20 possible sites. I wanted to visit them all because I needed to see how they looked and the access. Then it came down to five sites. It went to John Darlings Farm as it was the most beautiful and the best for the concept that we have.

The festival has evolved a lot...

It has changed a lot in terms of the size and what happens there. Now we have a load of stages – but it hasn’t changed in terms of the ethos and the atmosphere. It happened organically. Each time it gets a little bit bigger. It is also really important to us that the festival has a really strong environmental quality.


It takes 365 days to organise a few days...

I really enjoy the process of organising the festival. I’m quite organised although my desk is covered with papers. I work very, very long hours in the last few weeks before it.

My parents weren’t very happy that first year...

I did get grounded for a couple of weeks. After the initial anger had subsided though, they saw the funny side of it. They could see the constructive side that three 16-year-olds had organised all that. They still want to know when I’m going to get a real job though!

Every year I think I’m going to be more organised and get to see some bands...

But it never happens. I always have too much to do. I do get to see some of the bands afterwards at other gigs a bit later if they ask me, which is great.


LeeFest presents The Neverland will be held from Thursday, July 28 to Saturday, July 30, at John Darlings Farm, Edenbridge, TN8 5NP.

For tickets and more information go to leefest.org

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