We LOVE compiling this list each year. And it feels particularly liberating to almost be back to ‘business as usual’ on the festival front – plus some new and expanded events are going ahead, meaning those in charge of the festival purse strings are confident we’re heading back in the fields this summer. So here’s the Gourmet Gigs annual list of our favourite UK festivals for 2022. As usual, we try not to just do a press release ‘copy n paste’ job – most festivals on the list are tried and tested – we lived to tell the tale, and we bloody loved them!
Focus Wales 5, 6, 7 May
This industry festival is the real deal, with hundreds of artists, workshops, conferences and events taking place in Wrexham over the three festival days.
Over 300 international artists from Austria, The Balearics, Mongolia and more will be playing on a total of 20 stages. Public Service Broadcasting are headlining Llwyn Isaf, the new big top tent on Thursday 5th May. For anyone involved or hoping to be part of the music industry, Focus Wales attracts a very high calibre of professionals. First speakers announced include: Lauren Down (End of The Road Festival), Oskar Strajn (ESNS, Netherlands), Jude Rogers (The Guardian), Jessie Atkinson (Gigwise).
This year on the Lineup: The Besnard Lakes, Echo and the Bunnymen, Gwenno, Adwaith. Focus Wales
Sea Change 27 to 29 May
Sea Change is set in interesting and often quirky spots around the Devon town of Totnes, such as the Barrel House Ballroom, 17th Century Birdwood House, a cinema and a church, plus nearby Dartington Hall Estate. The special launch night event, on Thursday 26th May, sees the Chilly Gonzales performing an intimate solo piano concert at Dartington’s Great Hall. Sea Change’s curation is by the knowledgeable team at Drift Record Shop and the festival is a zeitgeisty mix of cinema, arts, talks, and of course, music.
This Year on the Lineup: Chilly Gonzalez launch show, Tim Burgess, Katy J Pearson, Pale Blue Eyes, Sinead O’Brien. Sea Change festival
Bearded Theory 26 to 29 May
One of our constant favourites and a great starter to the season, Bearded Theory is one of the most friendly festivals. Check out the beautiful second stage in the woods, and the illustrious Magical Sounds dance tent with a mad mix of trancey and global music, this year Ed Tangent, Eat Static, Astralasia . Sunday morning hands over to the annual fancy dress competition and make sure you are sporting a lovely beard (see photo below). Tickets, always temptingly cheap, are running out so step on it if you’re interested.
This year on the Lineup: Flaming Lips, Ferocious Dog, Fat White Family. Bearded Theory tickets.
Wide Awake 27 to 28 May
Wide Awake is an exuberant London festival taking place in Brockwell Park, south London. It started last year as a one-day event, but its success sees it take over a whole weekend for 2022 – I was very impressed with Wide Awake last year, and there was a wide-ranging mix of music from indie, post punk, electronica, techno and more. Friday will feature more electronica, while Saturday builds on the inaugural Wide Awake emphasis on guitar bands and alternative sounds, once again partnering with The Windmill. There’s also a huge range of craft beer stalls and a nicely chilled atmosphere.
On the Lineup we like: Bicep, Floating Points, Caribou, Yard Act, Boy Harsher, Sofia Courtesis, Primal Scream will be playing Screamadelica in full Wide Awake tickets
The Eden Festival 9 to 12 June
We’ve heard wonderful things about Eden Festival, set in the Dumfries and Galloway area. Set within the woodlands of Raehill Meadows, there are 10 stages covering all musical bases from World to Funk, Classical to Jungle, Indie to Acoustic, Dancehall to Folk and everything in between.
On the Lineup we like: Supergrass, Coolio, Hybrid Minds, Sherelle, David Rodigan, Hollie Cook Eden Festival tickets
El Dorado 30 June to 3 July
Party animals will love El Dorado, which is set in the mega picturesque location of Eastnor Castle, Ledbury – one-time home of Big Chill, for those who may remember. El Dorado is now four days long too, with a huge range of feelgood dance acts, comprising drum and bass, house, soca, hiphop, jungle and more.
On the Lineup we like: Groove Armada, Earth Wind and Fire Experience, Hybrid Minds, Sherelle, David Rodigan
Timber festival 1 to 3 July
Timber is a beautiful event set in the National Forest, near Fearnedock, on a 70 acre site on the Derbyshire border. Immerse yourself in a range of activities and enjoy music along with talks, literature, workshops, and at dusk, walk through The Gloaming, Timber’s inspiring light trail.
Poet Laureate Simon Armitage will be reading from his latest book and also hits the decks for a throwback set. Enjoy campfire stories, woodland skills, slowfood cookery. BBC Radio 4’s Geoff Bird will host the fourth series of Timber podcast Wilderness Tracks, where guests chat about their favourite nature-inspired pieces of music, such as Janet Ellis MBE, writer and broadcaster Natalie Haynes and hip-hop artist MC Testament. And bring an item of clothing for the clothes swap!
On the Lineup we like: The Orielles, Billie Marten, Alabaster dePlume, Smoke Fairies Timber Festival
Bluedot 21 to 24 July
The unique Bluedot takes place at Jodrell Bank in Cheshire. Daytimes offer a superb mix of talks, workshops and music. As night falls, music headliners takes over and there’s always a heavyweight evening selection of electronica/dance on the main stage with lightshows bounced off the Lovell telescope. Children are well catered for with a host of science workshops and theatre. Thursday’s classical concert – an optional extra – always provides a suitably grand opener – this year stars Hannah Peel with the Paraorchestra.
On the Lineup we like: Mogwai, Bjork, Metronomy, Kelly Lee Owens, Lanterns on the Lake; Tim Peake, The Clangers Bluedot festival
Underneath The Stars 29 to 31 July
A cosy and very family-friendly feel set on a farm in the Yorkshire village of Cawthorne. Kate Rusby and family created and still run this charming music (lots of folk) and arts weekender. “Stargazers” (as they’re known) who visit Underneath The Stars enthuse about the lovely supportive and positive atmosphere.
On the Lineup we like: Suzanne Vega, Kate Rusby (of course), Imelda May, N’Famady Kouyaté Underneath The Stars tickets
Kaleidoscope 23 July
Kaleidoscope offers a very chilled family day out in the grounds of Alexandra Palace, north London. The main stage is set half way down the grassy slope, so everyone gets a clear view of the stage – plus a backdrop of London. There’s a DJ dance venue next to the Palace, lots of great food, several bars and a special area with entertainment set aside for children.
On the Lineup we like: Orbital, Happy Mondays, Craig Charles, Crazy P Soundsystem Kaleidoscope festival
Womad 28 to 31 July
Womad (pictured, top) is back for another year with a truly amazing global lineup. Check out the amazing ‘Taste the World’ where artists cook their favourite dishes and chat a little… so you can really get a greater insight into the artist and their culture. The All Singing, All Dancing tent houses workshops covering everything from Brazilian folkloric dance to Palestinian singing from Iyengar yoga to reggaeton dance.
On the Lineup we like: The Flaming Lips, Angelique Kidjo, Kae Tempest, Fatoumata Diawara, Nitin Sawhney, The Selecter Womad festival
Just So Festival 19 to 21 August
Just So offers an imaginative outdoor adventure for families. The gentle weekender offers arts, literature, theatre, dance, music, comedy and creative pursuits. There’s even magical midnight feast. Theatre performances include The Adventures of Madame Carol Sell and Mr Popsy, and dancer Sohan Kailey leads Bollywood Dancing and Bhangra Tots workshops. It all takes place in the glades and woodlands of the Rode Hall Estate in Cheshire, a beautiful and natural wonderland for you to explore. Brand new areas for its twelfth year include The Inky Deep ,full of aquatic antics and fishy goings-on.
On the Lineup we like: Hope & Social, Kweku of Ghana with his band KOG & the Zongo Brigade, São Paulo’s Theo Mizú & Banda
Moovin’ 26 to 28 August
“Once Manchester’s best kept secret, it has now established itself as the place to party over the August Bank holiday weekend.” Yes it’s Moovin with its biggest line up to date at eco-friendly Whitebottom Farm, a beautiful, secluded spot in the heart of Etherow Country Park, just 30 minutes from central Manchester. Stages include The Barn, a large converted cow shed with a huge bar for speedy service at reasonable prices, space to dance and hay bale seating to kick back on.
On the Lineup we like: Orbital, Roy Ayers, Sister Nancy, The Magnificent DJ Jazzy Jeff, The Sugarhill Gang, Alabama 3. Moovin Festival
Manchester Psych Fest 3 September
Manchester plays host to the Psych Fest this September with a great lineup. Venues are scattered around Manchester’s centre: Albert Hall, O2 Ritz, RNCM, Gorilla, Deaf Institute and YES. Lots of food, murals and arts will be dotted around, for a truly buzzy Manchester day.
This year on the Lineup: The Lucid Dream, Tinariwen, Gwenno, Goat Girl, Hinds, Heavy Salad, Kurt Vile, Manchester Psych Fest
Anthropos 8 to 12 September
Five days of camping; three days of music. For those more keen to be involved in the music and arts taking place, Anthropos offers a nurturing, creative space. Check out our guest reviewer’s account of the first year of Anthropos here.
Environmentally aware, the Hertfordshire festival is a small, intimate and friendly atmosphere with lectures, wellbeing and over 60 hours of multi-genre electronic music and live bands across three stages. There are open mic slots available on the Yew Stage as well as a Jam Space for you to bring your own instruments and voice.