If the TV programme Location, Location, Location were to feature festivals instead of houses, I imagine the following would be selected. These have a magic location ingredient, being either gorgeous, rural, coastal or just unique. A festival in a great location can inspire you in the way a good holiday does.
Blue Dot (above) 22 – 24 July
A new intergalactic festival, which takes place under the magnificent and at, night, slightly spooky looking Jodrell Bank telescope, just off the M6 in Cheshire. For an event which focuses on art, space, talks, as well as music, the Blue Dot team have put together an absolutely, er, stellar lineup. It naturally sports a cosmic vibe: DJ Shadow, Mercury Rev, Caribou, AIR (who were tremendous at Field Day), 65daysofstatic and Jean-Michel Jarre will be performing by the Lovell telescope. There are plenty of talks and science-based events going on too
Caught by the River Thames 6 – 7 August
For city dwellers sweating away in offices in August, a verdant treat lies in store in the form of Caught by the River Thames, a city meets-country event by Fulham Palace, across from Putney. Caught by the River Thames brings a plethora of literary events, talks, country-leaning events, and a good dose of music. It will, as their team say, make you feel like you’ve stumbled out of the city and into the countryside with the very minimum of effort. It’s the perfect place to host a festival.
Joining Low and the Super Furry Animals will be an array of artists such as Beth Orton (she has a new album just out), Mulatu Astatke, the Sun Ra Arkestra, and the wonderful Gwenno who I saw earlier this year in Hebden Bridge. Pictured above is Caught by the River bar at Port Eliot festival.
Port Eliot Festival 28 – 31 July
Port Eliot festival is a giant house party, where you can explore the beautiful Cornish estate, and wander round the gardens, dipping into music, literature, body and soul, cooking, discussions and more. Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth fame will be appearing. Another highlight this year is the appearance of Barbara Hulanicki, of Biba fame. And on the subject of the 1960s, there’s the opportunity to camp in a vintage 60s tent for your duration, with vintage tent company Vintents (see my interview with the Vintents team).
Sea Change 26 – 27 August
This newbie event is happening in beautiful Totnes, Devon over August Bank Holiday weekend, curated by Drift Record shop. The no-camping event now has a camping area at Dartington Estate (at £10 per pitch) due to demand and there are airbnb properties listed on the website too – locals will also be pitching in and offering rooms so it’s a really community event. British Sea Power headline Saturday night, Heavenly Recordings will be there, as well as The Drink and Wave Pictures.
Chagstock 22 – 23 July
If you prefer your festivals very small and friendly, Chagstock in Devon may be the thing for you. Not the most beautiful of names, but the location is breathtakingly unique. Chagstock festival is small and intends to remain that way, with 5,000 making their way to the Dartmoor location. Donovan is appearing on Friday night, The Stranglers on Saturday. The very local Dartmoor Brewery Ales supply… well, need we say more!
Festival No 6 1 – 4th September
Festival No 6 is onto its fifth year, taking place in the Italian village of Portmeirion in North Wales, overlooking the estuary. On the lineup are Super Furry Animals, performing before a home crowd. Also Hot Chip, Broken Social Scene, German folktronica duo Milky Chance and Eagulls. Oh and the fab dancey Crazy P and Roisin Murphy. Festival No 6 is great for those who like to wander about sampling a bit of theatre, music, a Welsh gourmet foods market, drinks at the hotel bar terrace overlooking the estuary, or dancing on the pontoon in a clearing in the woods. The little Estuary Stage in a white tent (below) is a must on clear moonlit nights.
Constructed between 1925 and 1975 by maverick architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion is a wonderfully bizarre and elaborate interpretation of an Italian village.