Rejoice – fes­ti­val sea­son is just around the cor­ner. So what’s in store for 2017? 

There’s def­i­nite­ly a trend towards offer­ing debates, talks and work­shops. And kids are well catered for with high qual­i­ty and orig­i­nal learn­ing activ­i­ties, take Bluedot’s Plan­e­tar­i­um and Beard­ed The­o­ry’s OFSTED approved school. But hey, let’s not get too seri­ous about it all. Fes­ti­vals pri­mar­i­ly still exists for the music and the atmos­phere, a chance to chill out and share good times with friends. A chance to hang out in the dance tent till 4am and then col­lapse in your tent five min­utes away. A good fes­ti­val should be both relax­ing and inspir­ing, and be an open door to a whole heap of new music to car­ry you through autumn and beyond. 

Here’s my tips for the some of the best festies this year – and many of them have been per­son­al­ly tried and tested. 

Bearded Theory    25th to 28th May  NOW SOLD OUT

3 daft monkeys at Bearded Theory

3 Daft Mon­keys return to Beard­ed The­o­ry for 2017

It’s Hap­py 10th Birth­day for Beard­ed The­o­ry, which is noth­ing to do with the hipster’s favourite face fur­ni­ture, it’s all about cre­at­ing a fab­u­lous fake beard and you might even win a prize. Beard­ed The­o­ry’s line­up con­sists of rock, folk and trancey faves at this fes­ti­val sea­son open­er. My top pick acts are Skunk Anan­sie, Sea­sick Steve, Alaba­ma 3 and The Selecter. Mys­ti­cal Sounds tent offers an equal­ly expert­ly put togeth­er dance extrav­a­gan­za, with a psy­trance-heavy line­up primed for mid after­noon to late night rav­ing with acts such as Trans­glob­al Under­ground, Eat Sta­t­ic and Ban­co de Gaia. This small fes­ti­val at Cat­ton Hall, Der­byshire, remains one of the friend­liest events on the cal­en­dar, and costs around £100 for four days (adult price). Get your tick­et here

Fancy dress day Bearded Theory
Fan­cy dress day at Beard­ed Theory


Wychwood Festival   2nd to 4th June

A clothes stall at wychwood festival

My last for­ay to this fes­ti­val, at Chel­tenham Race­course, had Duffy on the line­up, so we’re going back a few years. This is a prime fam­i­ly fes­ti­val with plen­ty of kids run­ning about and, as expect­ed there’s lots of on offer to keep the lit­tle dar­lings busy. How­ev­er just because it’s geared to fam­i­ly enter­tain­ment it does­n’t mean there’s any stint­ing on the line­up, which is fair­ly eclec­tic – this year sees The Lev­ellers, Beans on Toast, Flamin­gods, Bil­ly Bragg and Orches­tral Maneou­vres in the Dark with much more to come. You’ll also find spo­ken word and work­shops. This is anoth­er nice­ly priced event at £140 for three days, plus day tick­ets avail­able too.

Field Day  3rd June

Expert cura­tion means this Vic­to­ria Park event, east Lon­don is stuffed full of a heady mix of cut­ting-edge sounds, with artists and DJs on the line­up. The stages are spread out through the park, and the place is dot­ted with an eclec­tic mix of food traders, many local. Field Day con­sis­tent­ly books an intrigu­ing mix of indie, elec­tron­ic and folk acts. Last year PJ Har­vey, Float­ing Points, Air and Goat all fea­tured so there was much run­ning between stages to catch them all. This year sees Aphex Twin head­line at the brand new Barn stage. Plus Flamin­gods, Nina Krav­iz, Slow­dive, Thee Oh Sees and Mid­land are on the crowd­ed line­up. Devo­tees of this fes­ti­val tend to be in their 20s and 30s, but there’s a fair smat­ter­ing of us old­er types wan­der­ing about. Tick­ets are already on the final tier so don’t delay.

PJ Har­vey at Field Day festival


Also Festival   30th June to 2nd July

If a nur­tur­ing atmos­phere with plen­ty of debates and work­shops sound tempt­ing, Also Fes­ti­val will be your cup of tea. Salon London’s own event offers a feast of art, sci­ence, phi­los­o­phy, music, swim­ming, food and more. This is pri­mar­i­ly an event about ideas, about under­stand­ing new con­cepts with philoso­phers, writ­ers and sci­en­tists at the helm, plus work­shops in per­fume mak­ing and Glamp­ing Bou­quets to ensure the best-smelling fes­ti­val goers ever. Join the choir led by Juli­et Rus­sell voice coach, dive into a wild swim­ming expe­ri­ence, join in a North­ern Soul dance class on the lawn. Food and wine is just as unique with the Vic­to­ri­an Ship­wrecked Mid­night Feast (washed down with rum). Also Fes­ti­val is at Comp­ton Ver­ney, War­wick­shire, £120 for three days.

 Also Festival 2015 at a talk


BlueDot Festival     7th to 9th July

Although Sig­ur Ros played in 2013 at Jodrell Bank, there was nev­er a fes­ti­val till last year when Blue­Dot burst onto the scene with a stu­pen­dous­ly stel­lar line­up – Under­world, Cari­bou, DJ Shad­ow. This year looks promis­ing with Orbital, Pix­ies and Alt‑J, and new on the agen­da are Mr Scruff, Gold­frapp, Hawk­wind, Andrew Weather­all and more to come. 

Underworld at BlueDot festival
The Lovell tele­scope vies for atten­tion with the main stage: Under­world at Blue Dot

There’s plen­ty of space-themed activ­i­ty at this fes­ti­val of dis­cov­ery. You’ll find talks from world-class sci­en­tists about cli­mate change, inter­ac­tive shows and some unique col­lab­o­ra­tions and Blue­dot explores the inter­sec­tions of sci­ence, cul­ture, art and tech­nol­o­gy. High­lights include the author Frank Cot­trell-Boyce and Tubu­lar Brass, a new­ly formed brass band fea­tur­ing some of the UK’s finest play­ers, per­form­ing a full brass band score of Mike Oldfield’s Tubu­lar Bells.

Ealing Blues festival    22 to 23 July 

An absolute gem on the fes­ti­val scene, this love­ly week­end event put on by Eal­ing Coun­cil hap­pens in Wal­pole Park, just down the road from Eal­ing Stu­dios. It used to be a day fes­ti­val, it’s now a week­ender (with­out camp­ing). Eal­ing Blues real­ly is like a prop­er fes­ti­val in minia­ture, with two big tents plus a bar stage, var­ied food stalls, lots of jew­ellery, plants and clothes and enough loos to ser­vice Glas­ton­bury. It’s been a plea­sure to catch acts like Dr Feel­go­od, Nev­er the Bride and Mark Har­ri­son in the past, and this year fea­tures The Block­heads, Mun­go Jer­ry, Amy Mayes Band, Lau­ra Hol­land Band plus lots more. Up to 2016, prices have been £5 for the day, £8 for the week­end. Eal­ing Blues is part of Eal­ing’s fes­ti­val sea­son, with Jazz, Com­e­dy and Beer fes­ti­vals also to look for­ward to. See their Face­book page here


Port Eliot   27th to  30th July

Corn­wal­l’s fab­u­lous coun­try house event con­tin­ues to embody all that is great about a fes­ti­val, with the own­ers of the estate wel­com­ing you as their guests. Spend the week­end saun­ter­ing and explor­ing at will, lis­ten­ing to music, wild swim­ming, tak­ing a cook­ery course, canoe­ing or tak­ing part in a pot­tery workshop. 

Port Eliot dusk at the bar
Cred­it C Faruolo

Robert Fox, pro­duc­er of Lazarus, will be com­ing to give a talk about work­ing with Bowie, and there will be Lazarus themed events plus a late-night screen­ing of The Man who fell to Earth. Line­up includes: Nick Lowe, The Lilac Time, This is the Kit, Andrew Weather­all. You’ll also find Michele Roberts, Mar­tin Parr, and Mur­ray Lach­lan Young and Jon Otway fea­tured. If you’re look­ing for bou­tique camp­ing with a slight­ly dif­fer­ent vibe, check out Vin­tents vin­tage tents from the 60s and 70s (as fea­tured in an arti­cle here). 

Muddy swim at Port Eliot
Fes­ti­val-goers have fun in the mud. Cred­it Michael Bowles

Green Man Festival  17th to 20th August

I’ve been to this fes­ti­val twice and both times it’s been an absolute sum­mer high­light. Pos­si­bly the most beau­ti­ful set­ting (although last year the main Moun­tain Stage, stun­ning­ly placed against a back­drop of the Black Moun­tains, was in severe com­pe­ti­tion with the new­ly out­fit­ted Far Out stage tent where Float­ing Points and Michael Rother played). This year: PJ Har­vey, Conor Oberst, Wolf Peo­ple, Bad­Bad­not­Good, Angel Olsen and The Orielles grace the line­up. Or you could hang out at the Chai Wal­lah tent with a cock­tail and dance to an eclec­tic choice of dancey bands and DJs – jazz, folk fusion and more.

Green Man main stage
Moun­tain Stage, Green Man festival


End of the Road  31 August to 3 September

The beau­ti­ful set­ting is Larmer Tree Woods, with wood­land areas and pea­cocks which will wan­der out onto the Woods Stage. It’s also pret­ty much flat ground, and easy to get around the site in record time. End of the Road is a real music lovers fes­ti­val favour­ing longer sets and secret pop­up gigs in the woods. You have to keep your eye out for those. There’s not too much dis­trac­tion with fun­fairs and such, but there is a fab­u­lous Heal­ing Gar­den, work­shops and some chil­dren’s activ­i­ties. Father John Misty, Band of Hors­es, Nadine Shah, Jens Lek­man, Deer­hoof, and The Jesus and Mary Chain all are on the line­up. Tier 3 tick­ets at £179.oo avail­able now.

Main image: Louise Roberts

Prices cor­rect at time of publishing

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