Festival no 6
Fes­ti­val No 6

Here’s an update of some of my top fes­ti­val rec­om­mends for 2014 and as of the time of post­ing, still have tick­ets avail­able. These are all small to medi­um-sized gath­er­ings (no hour-long trudges to the are­na). All these fes­ti­vals have plen­ty of well thought-out activ­i­ties for chil­dren and a fair­ly broad age range of atten­dance, so whether you are going as a fam­i­ly, a cou­ple, a group of old­er peo­ple or solo – you’ll find lots to keep you occu­pied, musi­cal­ly and otherwise.

Bearded Theory    May 22–25

The new venue at Cat­ton Hall is look­ing good, it is flat, and well drained so there’ll be no tyres get­ting stuck in the mud if it rains.  Beard­ed The­o­ry are down to the last few remain­ing tick­ets, so get your skates on. Wilko will not be per­form­ing, he’s under­go­ing treat­ment so it’ll be sad not to see him but we wish him well. Dress up theme for Sun­day is Mag­ic and Sparkles – and of course – beards. I can’t wait.

Cornbury    July  4–6


Nes­tled in the Cotswolds in the Great Tew Estate, Corn­bury Fes­ti­val com­bines beau­ti­ful scenery, a gen­tle ambiance and a friend­ly vibe. Tak­ing place in term time, it caters won­der­ful­ly for those bring­ing pre-school­ers, who can join in the Pirate Pan­tomime and Cir­cus Skills with Cir­cus Kaos. Open to every­one are Bhangra danc­ing and the Bol­ly­wood Dance work­shop. Every year, Corn­bury seems to qui­et­ly set about curat­ing a well-round­ed musi­cal line-up with a few absolute gems.This year for me its Sim­ple Minds who steal the lime­light… although Suzanne Vega comes a close sec­ond. South­side John­ny and the Asbury Jukes, The Feel­ing and Peat­bog Faeries are also mak­ing appearances.

Peatbog Faeries
Peat­bog Faeries

And Sun­day’s head­lin­er has just been announced – The Gip­sy Kings, as part of their 25th Anniver­sary Tour. Corn­bury encour­ages new tal­ent with their Camp­fire Ses­sions, so to be in with a chance as one of the six short­list­ed acts, check their website.

Ealing Blues Festival    July 19, 20

ebluesLots of fan­tas­tic blues all after­noon and evening in Wal­pole Park, Eal­ing, sad­ly no camp­ing! This is a great event with a good bar and plen­ty of food choic­es, extend­ed since last year to a week­ender – and all for £5 a day or only £8 for the weekend.

Womad    24- 27 July

WOMAD Sun 0293This world music fes­ti­val is as much of an insti­tu­tion on the fes­ti­val cal­en­dar as Gxxxxxy (you know the one). There is a very spe­cial feel­ing at this gath­er­ing, and I’ve always been thrilled by the sheer amount of music to explore. This year, Nitin Sawh­ney, Mulatu Astatke, Bassek­ou Kouy­ate and Ngo­ni ba are ready to enter­tain you. Gourmet Gigs is thrilled about the food­ie angle of Wom­ad this year: there’s a new Taste the World restau­rant curat­ed by local food­ie Dave Pen­fold. Per­form­ers will cook some of their own tra­di­tion­al dish­es, and a Bedouin tent in the Arbore­tum will serve plat­ters of dif­fer­ent eth­nic foods. Feast nights include Fri­days Spice Route and The Sug­ar Route on Sat­ur­day. The kids area will fea­ture cook­ery work­shops, run by Jamie Oliv­er’s Food Foun­da­tion Ambas­sador Dan­ny McCubbin.

Deerstock        July 25–27

This small fam­i­ly fes­ti­val near Not­ting­ham has almost sold out, with tick­ets a very rea­son­able £40. There are two stages, plus a Stage in the Glade this year for buskers. Camp­ing and real ale. The Bed­room Hour are just one of the bands playing.

Kneedeep       August 1 – 2

It may have start­ed with eleven peo­ple, but the num­bers have grown some­what. How­ev­er Kneedeep is still small but per­fect­ly formed. The Cor­nish bou­tique extrav­a­gan­za kicks off in, as usu­al, a secret loca­tion near Liskeard. The line­up includes fab­u­lous Leeds band Eag­ulls,  Islet, Peg­gy Sue, and er… plen­ty more to come, wait and see.

Beacons       August 7–10

The north York­shire fes­ti­val which is mak­ing a big name for itself. A huge vari­ety awaits at this gath­er­ing – a live­ly mix of music, art, debate, com­e­dy. There’s spe­cial atten­tion paid to the food on offer too. Bea­cons keep on adding to the already packed line-up, so keep check­ing back. Glo­ri­ous and eccen­tric British Sea Pow­er are now appear­ing, along with Jon Hop­kins, Joan as Police Woman and Daughter.

End of the Road      August 29–31

The line­up is now com­plete, head­lin­ers are Gene Clark No oth­er Band who include mem­bers of Beach House, Fleet Fox­es and Fair­port Con­ven­tion. No won­der EOTR has become such a wild­ly suc­cess­ful event, the cura­tion is well mea­sured and thought­ful, sets are longer than aver­age rather than ‘fes­ti­val crowd pleas­er’. The site, at Larmer Tree Gar­dens is beau­ti­ful with lots to explore, and pea­cocks ven­ture out after bands come off stage. Tick­ets are up to Lev­el 4. TIP: check their ‘returns’ web­site, you may pick up cheap­er tick­ets which were bought early.

Festival No 6     Sept 5–7

Festival No 6Fam­i­lies are most­ly back in the swing of school terms, uni­forms, home­work… so this last blast of sum­mer is most wel­come. Although it’s Wales. In Sep­tem­ber. Not always the most Caribbean of cli­mates, but no fear, Fes­ti­val No 6 takes your mind off impend­ing autumn with the most awe-inspir­ing venue of all, Port­meiri­on Ital­ian vil­lage. A great line­up and a mas­sive camp­ing choice – from yurts, teepees, lotus belle tents and more. The hotel is sold out. The line­up this year includes Bonobo, Jimi Good­win from Doves, Pet Shop Boys, Martha Reeves and the Van­del­las, Steve Mason and I’m delight­ed to see The Under­tones on there as well.

Which fes­ti­vals have caught your eye this year? I’d love to hear where you are going, and why? Is it the line­up, or are you faith­ful to one fes­ti­val every year?



All details of tick­ets, bands etc, were checked and cor­rect when this blog­post was pub­lished, 21st May 2014.

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