With such a gor­geous hot sum­mer it’s been a good year for music fes­ti­vals. Glas­ton­bury organ­is­er Michael Eav­is who final­ly bagged the Stones this year is call­ing it one of their best ever. But my inter­est is in small­er fes­ti­vals, part­ly because I like being able to walk from tent to are­na in under ten min­utes, part­ly because of the more inti­mate atmosphere.

It’s not all been joy for organ­is­ers though. Hop Farm fes­ti­val in Kent can­celled in the spring, after try­ing to put on a scaled-down event this year. I went to three Hop Farms, start­ing in 2008 with a one-day event, cul­mi­nat­ing in a storm­ing set by Neil Young. But as the fes­ti­val devel­oped into two and 3‑day events, tick­et organ­i­sa­tion went awry, a shame as own­er Vince Pow­er man­aged to book some high-cal­i­bre artists. In its sec­ond year, for instance, tick­ets were being giv­en away with cheap pur­chas­es from a dis­count cloth­ing web­site. This did­n’t go down well with those who had paid Hop Far­m’s usu­al slight­ly over-inflat­ed prices. Hop Farm fes­ti­val nev­er achieved that ‘loy­al­ty’ sta­tus, where­by peo­ple will buy tick­ets year after year, sup­port­ing the event regard­less of the line-up. Anoth­er Kent fes­ti­val, Lounge on the Farm, sim­i­lar­ly had to scale back this year, but the event proved pop­u­lar with locals and has done well.

Big Chill festival 2008
Big Chill 2008

Also RIP to Nova Fes­ti­val which made a promis­ing start in 2012, with one of the organ­is­ers of Big Chill amongst its founders. Sad­ly it took place on one of last year’s most sog­gy sum­mer week­ends. It was an event with true vision, a sort of giant house par­ty with art events includ­ing a life draw­ing class (see my head­er pho­to), talks and hot tubs plus a won­der­ful­ly eclec­tic lineup.

Cater­ing to the top end are Corn­bury and Wilder­ness fes­ti­vals. The lat­ter offers horserid­ing and ban­quets and has been hon­oured with a vis­it by Saman­tha Cameron, who you prob­a­bly won’t find swan­ning around at Beard­ed Theory.

And talk­ing of which, Beard­ed The­o­ry proved to be a great lit­tle fes­ti­val with a good line­up and a real­ly friend­ly crowd (and a beard com­pe­ti­tion on Sun­day after­noon). Next year, it moves to a new venue, Cat­ton Hall. The mix of psy­trance and psy­beat dance tent and most­ly folk bands worked well. Peter Hook is already on the 2014 line­up. I’ll also be return­ing to the fab­u­lous End of the Road fes­ti­val: a line­up of star­tling orig­i­nal­i­ty and a beau­ti­ful set­ting. Ear­ly Bird tick­ets are already gone and the tier sys­tem is up and run­ning, so waste no time.

Tow­ersey in Oxford­shire is anoth­er event I’ve rec­om­mend­ed. It’s a real fam­i­ly event and has a gen­tle feel. I remem­ber it being com­plete­ly silent at night. Our camp­ing area was nick­named Aca­cia Avenue by a friend’s son, so clean, tidy and qui­et it was. Next year is its 50th so promis­es to be a real­ly spe­cial event.

There are still a few fes­ti­vals before the frosts arrive. Fes­ti­val No 6 in Port­meiri­on North Wales is hap­pen­ing this week­end, maybe it’s time to head off for a last taste of summer.

What fes­ti­vals did you go to this sum­mer? Where do you rec­om­mend? What are your par­tic­u­lar loves and dislikes?

Bar at festival

2 thoughts on “Festivals round up 2013. The greats and the RIPs

  1. Last sum­mer, I went to my first fes­ti­val in three decades (my last out­ing was to a very bedrag­gled Glas­ton­bury: I can still smell the loos). Dragged along to Knee Deep(http://kneedeepfestival.com) in Liskeard, Corn­wall, as an escort for my under-age daugh­ter and friends, this cel­e­bra­tion of local music, food and friend­ship was a gen­tle rein­tro­duc­tion to fes­ti­val life. Sweet.

    1. That sounds like the per­fect way to get back into fes­ti­vals, there’s a real sense of belong­ing at small events. I like the ‘secret loca­tion’ aspect too. In the south west, there’s a fes­ti­val called Beau­ti­ful Days in Devon which sounds nice, but it books up quick­ly (it is run by The Lev­ellers). Do let me know if you go to Knee Deep this year!

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