AN organic farm near Ashbourne will come alive this summer, taking centre stage for a fun-filled, four-day family festival.
The Northern Green Gathering will be held just outside Hulland, from Thursday, July 24 until Sunday, July 27.
The festival is now in its 16th year, and is billed as "a celebration of hope and belief in working together to make a positive change in our own lives and the lives of future generations".
Organiser Blake Sanders said: "Our festival is always run on greenfield sites and powered only by renewable energy. There is a policy of organic food from our cafes, and this year we have a number of caterers offering both vegan and vegetarian options. We will also have a selection of real ale on offer in the bar.
"We always have lots of artwork around the site and gardens, plus a camp ball where people can let go and plunder the dressing-up box."
It is family-oriented festival and although there are bands, its message is about self-education, environment issues and social justice.
Blake said: "There will be a healing garden, including a women-only tent area, singing and dancing with solar- and pedal-powered bands and DJs and a special area for kids to go wild and explore the surrounding countryside. They will also enjoy competing in the crazy but great fun Wonky Olympics, or even at the circus skills and performance arts workshop.
"We have always covered our costs without any grant aid and provide a successful place to meet, learn and enjoy. We have also always been completely powered from renewable sources.
The Northern Green Gathering started in 1997 with a small meeting. At the time, said Blake, there were very few festivals in the north of the UK.
"We wanted to help build up a northern network of festival providers and have always had an open-door policy so as many people as possible could feel empowered to take part.
"Over the first five years we ran events annually and built up to a limit of about 2,500 people. Since then we have taken a few breaks and allowed things to scale down in size. During that time we contributed a 'green festival' space to other events. We ran events in 2008 at Lime Tree Farm, in North Yorkshire, and 2011 and 2012 on an organic farm, near Skipton.
"All our festivals are small enough to keep a friendly atmosphere and to allow organisers and helpers to cope as unpaid volunteers. This helps to keep the ticket prices and stall fees low. We try to be as inclusive as possible.
In the 16 years since the festival started, Blake said the number of events now taking place in the north of England had grown enormously.
He said: "Northern Green Gathering has played an important role in stimulating this development. To be honest, we now find it impossible to set a date that does not clash with other events."
Adult tickets cost £50 for early birds, and £70 cash only on the day, with children under 18 costing £30. Under-fives go free. Camper vans are welcome and parking is available at £20. Further information is available online at www.nggonline.org.uk.