Reasons to be cheerful, music lovers – September is awash with festivals. Heavyweights are End of the Road, Festival No 6 and Bestival, but you’re spoilt for choice all month long.
Why the increase in festivals? It may be partly due to gigs becoming more pricey, hence being able to see headliners plus a whole slew of upcoming artists in one go makes the figures for fests stack up. It’s also an opportunity to dance yourself stupid in a late-night dance tent safe in the knowledge that there’s no transport to negotiate home afterwards, just a stumble or two over somebody’s guy ropes.
There’s talk of saturation point in the festival market which is driving festival organisers to stand out from the crowd. The quality of everything from the food (it’s great to see food trucks name checked these days) to showers and loos has improved. I’ve written about food at Field Day festival here. And those who might not go to Glastonbury may venture out to the more cerebral offerings (Caught by the River Thames, Port Eliot, How the Light gets In).
So what’s hot for September?
End of the Road 2, 3, 4th September
The festival which takes its music seriously, with Animal Collective, Joanna Newsom, The Shins, Bat for Lashes, Thurston Moore band (superb at Field Day), Money… generally artists perform long sets rather than the shorter festival set. Tickets are still available for EOTR, now at the most expensive Tier 4 level. This is a lovely festival, with beautiful scenery and a woodland area with intimate popup sets – so if you’re heading along, keep your eyes and ears peeled.
Together the People 3rd and 4th September
You can always rely on Brighton for festivals, and this year Together the People community festival in Preston Park features Brian Wilson performing Pet Sounds, plus Peter Hook and the Light, Gaz Coombes, Turin Brakes and loads more on their 3 music stages. There’s plenty of kids entertainment, Soapbox stage for talks and debating, food and craft beer.
Moseley Folk Festival 2nd, 3rd, 4th September
Moseley Folk Festival is a no-camping folk festival with headliners: Levellers, The Coral, The Proclaimers, Billy Bragg plus many others. The venue is close to Birmingham (a ten minute bus ride from New Street).
Berkofest 10th September
Berkofest day festival – in Berkhampstead – is back for the fourth year with an intriguing lineup. There’s an acoustic set from James Walsh, the ex frontman and driving force behind Starsailor, he’ll perform numbers from his new album and from the Starsailor back catalogue. Miles Hunt and Erica Nockalls will perform acoustic tracks from their own albums in addition to The Wonder Stuff material such as The Size of the Cow. Republica are also back since 2013 with a new EP, UK tour and festival slots. Robin Ince will be back to host BerkoFest. He is one half of BBC Radio 4 Show The Infinite Monkey Cage with Professor Brian Cox and is a regular contributor on Steve Lamaq’s BBC 6Music show.
On Blackheath 10th and 11th September
If John Lewis did festivals, oh wait… they do, and it looks like this! Mum and Dad can dance to Hot Chip, Roisin Murphy, James and Belle & Sebastian while, as expected, there’s lots for kids too such as Puffin Books World of Stories. There’s a John Lewis Food Village too. Glad to see an artist I’ve been impressed by called Michael Kilbey will be getting a main-stage slot. On Blackheath, tickets are a slightly hefty £102.92 incl fees for the weekend. Look out for ticket offers.
Ramsbottom Festival 16th to 18th September
Mancunians (and those living further afield) can head for the hills to the Ramsbottom Festival, set on a beautiful site just twelve miles from Manchester. On the lineup are Public Service Broadcasting, Gaz Coombes, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Julian Cope, Manchester-based Slow Readers Club and the wonderful Selecter. Ticket prices are reasonable and you can pay for camping per night – there’s a new camping field by the festival ground, close to the Irwell Sculpture Trail.
There is a strong emphasis on family and community arts, with a programme of events such as Nutkhut (below left) combining dance, circus and film, Nutkhut creates imaginative performances and installations. Also present will be Bury Collective Popup Shop and lots more.
Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia 23rd and 24th September
Taking place cozily undercover at the hip Baltic Triangle, Liverpool Psych Fest always features an impeccably well-curated roster of artists. Check out Kikagaku Moyo, Lorelle Meets the Obsolete and the psych-folky The Hanging Stars (featuring members of The See See) are a few of the plethora of acts appearing over the weekend. If you have no Liverpool mates to borrow a bed from, book hotels asap as they sell out: my personal recommend is the Hampton by Hilton, a 5-minute walk away.