Our fes­ti­val piece looks a lit­tle dif­fer­ent this year. It’s been a dif­fi­cult and rather har­row­ing task putting it togeth­er as many have decid­ed – and are still decid­ing – to can­cel, main­ly due to the lack of Gov­ern­ment-backed covid insur­ance. Oper­at­ing on a knife edge is every­day stuff for fes­ti­val organ­is­ers, but this is on anoth­er scale entire­ly. Huge loss­es were incurred last year and fes­ti­vals can­not sur­vive a sec­ond sim­i­lar experience.

Recent­ly Blue­dot fes­ti­val, Beard­ed The­o­ry, Nev­er­world and Wych­wood post­poned. Sea Change fes­ti­val in Devon was an ear­ly adopter of the dig­i­tal fes­ti­val in 2020, and very good it was too. They are also tak­ing a break how­ev­er they are putting togeth­er some online gigs instead, check their site. And, only debut­ing in 2019, Anthro­pos fes­ti­val (reviewed here) has also leapfrogged over 2021.

How­ev­er we will put on our half-full glass­es and cel­e­brate those that feel able to go ahead. Some old favourites are set to hap­pen and it’s a good sign to see a sprin­kling of new fes­ti­vals pop­ping up – there are many more day events this year includ­ing All Points East. Tick­et sales are healthy (many car­ry­ing over from last year), prov­ing there are a good many folk des­per­ate to get back to the fields to dance, dis­cov­er new music and raise an eco cup of warm cider to the return of good times. 

Kaleidoscope festival 24 July

Flam­ing Lips – Alexan­dra Palace 2018

The park­land sur­round­ing Alexan­dra Palace is per­fect for an out­door fes­ti­val with plen­ty of room to roam and, with slop­ing grounds, you’re bound to get a great view of the stage. Kalei­d­scope, which debuted in 2018, first took place in 2018. Groove Arma­da are set to head­line, with The Coral and Nor­man Jay also appear­ing. Mr Wilson’s Sec­ond Lin­ers (seen above at Fes­ti­val No 6) will get the par­ty atmos going. There will prob­a­bly be more artists added to the bill.
Kalei­do­scope festival

Womad festival 22–25 July


Their book­ers have not had an easy time of it this year but Wom­ad, the World Music and Dance fes­ti­val, is back for 2021 with an amaz­ing line­up. Over­seas trav­el being restrict­ed, the line­up con­tains more UK artists reflect­ing musi­cal and artis­tic tra­di­tions from all over the world. Anoush­ka Shankar, The Comet is Com­ing, Nitin Sawh­ney, Stornoway, Elec­tric Jal­a­ba and Nubiyan Twist all fea­ture. Wom­ad are also big on Food of the World too, so expect the fes­ti­val’s leg­endary cook­ing demon­stra­tions and talks.
Wom­ad festival

South Facing Festival 5 – 29 August 

This series of con­certs is an excit­ing devel­op­ment for any­one spend­ing sum­mer in the cap­i­tal. A brand new, month-long, out­door series will be hap­pen­ing at the icon­ic Crys­tal Palace Bowl and after ten fal­low years, the amphithe­atre is back in action. Set to star over the month are a range of artists: Dizzee Ras­cal & The Out­look Orches­tra, Super­grass, The Streets, Max Richter, ENO and more. Gourmet Gigs are look­ing for­ward to 7th August with Jane Weaver, The Orielles, Kay J Pear­son and more, plus the 15th with The Comet is Com­ing and Gilles Peter­son. Although we like the look of all of them, real­ly.
South Fac­ing festival

Watchet festival 27 – 29 August

Watchet Festival 2014 ©Pgphotography 2

A recent recip­i­ent of the Goven­men­t’s Cul­ture Recov­ery Fund, this small fes­ti­val in West Som­er­set is expect­ing to hap­pen but tick­et sales have just been frozen until end of May. The vast major­i­ty of acts who were booked for last year are still set to play this time round too. A small num­ber of over­seas acts, notably Sis­ter Sledge, are depen­dent on ease­ment of trav­el restric­tions but con­tin­gency plans are in place if they are unable to ful­fil their book­ing. Three live stages host more than 60 live acts, includ­ing Gabrielle, Sis­ter Sledge, Shed Sev­en, Toy­ah, The Block­heads, Sound of the Sirens, Dr Meak­er and The Ley­lines. Cider and Real Ale bar prices are super low!
Watch­et festival

Moovin’ 27–29 August

The cow­sheds at White­bot­tom Farm, Stock­port is the loca­tion for this bril­liant dance-focused fest, only half an hour from Man­ches­ter and set in love­ly coun­try­side. It’s a small fes­ti­val, kept delib­er­ate­ly inti­mate. The line­up is held back for now until things are more set­tled but past line­ups have includ­ed Mr Scruff, Trans­glob­al Under­ground, Krafty Kuts, Afro Clus­ter, Roni Size and 808 State.
Moovin festival

Towersey festival 27–30 August

If you’re think­ing of head­ing off to a folk fes­ti­val this year, here’s one of our favourites. Tak­ing place in the vil­lage of Tow­ersey on the Oxford­shire bor­der for 50 years, Tow­ersey is like a big, friend­ly vil­lage fes­ti­val. Steel­eye Span, This is the Kit, Talisk, Whap­weasel, Celtic Heart­beat are just a sam­ple amongst a huge ros­ter over its four festie days. There’s plen­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ty for Ceilidh lovers to tire them­selves out in the ded­i­cat­ed Ceilidh tent, plus you’ll find lots for chil­dren.
Tow­ersey Festival

Victorious festival 27–30 August

This coastal fes­ti­val attracts big crowds every year – Mad­ness, The Streets, Fontaines DC, Seth Lake­man and Morchee­ba are on this year’s line­up. A recent sec­ond wave adds lots more to the bill: Nile Rodgers & Chic, Frank Turn­er, Clean Ban­dit, Jade Bird Lot­tery Win­ners, The Mys­ter­ines and Por­ridge Radio. Plus Portsmouth goes Ibiza with a DJ set by Annie Mac. This is a non-camp­ing fes­ti­val with very rea­son­ably priced tick­ets sold dai­ly. Out-of-town­ers can stay in an off­site camp­site or bed down in uni­ver­si­ty accom­mo­da­tion. Tick­ets are £35 per day.
Vic­to­ri­ous festival

Wide Awake 3rd September

This new day fes­ti­val for Lon­don gets the Gourmet Gigs vote: it offers a thought­ful and well curat­ed and mix of artists, from left-field indie, post punk, elec­tron­i­ca, tech­no, jazz. Black Midi, Dream Wife, Scalp­ing, Song­hoy Blues, Tinari­wen and David Avery will be appear­ing. More women on the line­up than on some line­ups this year too. Wide Awake takes place at Brock­well Park, which has seen an uptick in day fes­ti­vals over the past few years.
Wide Awake festival. 

Manchester Psych Fest 4th September

Man­ches­ter plays host to the Psych Fest this Sep­tem­ber with a tru­ly amaz­ing line­up. The fan­tas­tic Tinari­wen and Stere­o­lab both head­line with Dry Clean­ing, Whyte Hors­es, Julia Bar­do, The Lounge Soci­ety and plen­ty more. Venues are scat­tered around Man­ches­ter’s cen­tre: the O2 Ritz, Goril­la, Dance­house, Deaf Insti­tute and YES. Lots of food and arts will be dot­ted around, for a tru­ly buzzy Man­ches­ter day.
Man­ches­ter Psych Fest

Sensoria Festival 1–9 October

Ben­e­fit­ting from its posi­tion lat­er in the year (and an award from the Cul­ture Recov­ery Fund), Sen­so­ria Fes­ti­val, based in Sheffield has been cel­e­brat­ing music, film and dig­i­tal since 2008. Events, per­for­mances, screen­ings and talks will be hap­pen­ing at spots around the city, cre­at­ing a real par­ty atmosphere. 

Direc­tor Jo Wingate has announced the launch of the Sen­so­ria Social pro­gramme, which will bring musi­cians and film­mak­ers togeth­er to share ideas and col­lab­o­rate. More details to be revealed soon… and line­up details too. If you’re inter­est­ed in tak­ing part, and are inspired by the themes Super­Na­ture and Bet­ter Togeth­er, get in touch with the fes­ti­val organ­is­ers, they would love to hear from you.
Sen­so­ria festival

Focus Wales 7–9 October

Now in its tenth year, Focus Wales is an indus­try show­case event burst­ing with live music over 20 stages, con­fer­ences, talks, work­shops and more, all tak­ing place around the town of Wrex­ham. The fes­ti­val fea­tures a mix of inter­na­tion­al artists with a spot­light on emerg­ing Welsh tal­ent. This year sees Gruff Rhys, The Twi­light Sad, Tim Burgess, Cara Ham­mond and Bandi­coot set to appear. Focus Wales also hosts arts and film this year. Tick­ets are very rea­son­ably priced, with Day Pass­es on Thurs­day £25; Fri and Sat £35 per day.

*Gwyl fes­ti­val in March 2021 saw four Welsh fes­ti­vals com­bine forces and put eight days of enter­tain­ment online. Focus Wales took part, show­cas­ing sev­er­al Welsh artists such as Adwaith, Catrin Finch, Cara Ham­mond and Islet. The per­for­mances can still be seen here. See Gourmet­gigs Gwyl review here.
Focus Wales

Details are cor­rect at the time of publishing. 

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