Puccini and Pimm's make for a different kind of festival

Dorset event aims for Classic FM boutique campers
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The Independent Culture

There will be scant sex, few drugs and no rock 'n' roll. The latest festival to join the ever-expanding number of musical jamborees will be all Puccini, Pimm's and cucumber sandwiches.

Organisers of the Serenata Festival – Britain's first dedicated outdoor classical music festival – claim it will be the ultimate in what they call boutique camping and the most civilised festival imaginable. Set on the Isle of Purbeck, on the Dorset coast, the festival has confirmed the likes of Blake, the classical boy group who formed on Facebook, and the teenage mezzo-soprano sensation Faryl Smith, a product of the TV series Britain's Got Talent. It will host symphony orchestras and opera singers; performances will include Beethoven's Seventh and Mahler's Resurrection Symphony in a distinct effort to reach the more energetic Radio 3 and Classic FM listeners.

Festival-goers fortunate enough to afford the tickets – which cost up to £800 for the three nights – will take their pick from locally sourced produce including a hog roast. Those who find the notion of walking across a field to get their dinner a little onerous will be able to call for the on-site butler service to deliver straight to whichever range of Moroccan decorated bell tents they are staying in. There will be a champagne and oyster bar; high tea at four and the daily "Pimm's o'clock" event.

With new festivals cropping up throughout Britain every year, organisers struggle to stand out from the multitude. The founder and managing director, Lesley Malpas, said: "People are looking for a smart festival with a high standard; they want more now. I realised there hasn't been anything of this kind yet, whereby you've actually got all the festival experience – the camping and food – revolving around a classical event.

"It is purely classical, but a broad repertoire for anyone. There will be a core classical element to every evening, but then there'll be a classical crossover, so you'll get performers such as Blake and Faryl Smith, but also the clarinettist Emma Johnson and 2004 Young Musician of the Year competition winner, Benjamin Grosvenor."

While nearby villagers won't have to worry about a Woodstock-style influx of unsavoury types – the site will hold a modest 3,000 people each day on the 30-acre site – security will remain tight to comply with regulations and keep out unwanted riff-raff. However, organisers add that security will remain inconspicuous.

Festival-goers will also be able to get in on the act via musical workshops – such as a scratch orchestra and a scratch choir, with a £10,000 prize on offer for an X Factor style competition – minus Simon Cowell, one hopes. The competition will pit contestants against each other, with one eager musician given a chance to play on the main stage.

Ten alternative festivals

1. York Early Music Festival, 9-17 July, York

2. Swanage Blues Festival, 5-7 March, Dorset

3. Blowout Bagpipe Festival, 28-31 May, Polesworth, Staffordshire

4. Hurdy-Gurdy Festival, 6-9 May, Youlgrave, Derbyshire

5. Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival, 23-26 September, Longford, Ireland

6. Clogfest, 16-18 July, Skipton, North Yorkshire

7. Bristol Cajun & Zydeco Festival, 15-17 October

8. All Tomorrow's Parties Festival (avant garde/rock), 7-9 May, Minehead

9. End of the Road Festival (alternative country), 10-12 September, Dorset

10. African Drum Village, 3-7 August, Angus, Scotland

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