Fes­ti­vals are going through big changes and the new­er breed of events are more often tak­ing place in the very cities we’re usu­al­ly so keen to escape from.The for­mu­la we’ve tra­di­tion­al­ly enjoyed, three days or so camped out in the fields of an oblig­ing farmer with enough bands and DJs to keep you hap­py, has shift­ed to encom­pass a new upbeat trend of urban revi­tal­i­sa­tion that pro­motes music, food, craft beer, cul­ture, art, new venues, star­tups and pop­ups. These events don’t just push their brand either, they leave a lega­cy which ben­e­fits the city in a mul­ti­tude of ways.

Field Day Festival 2012
Field Day fes­ti­val, Vic­to­ria Park, London

So why are city-wide events mak­ing such head­way? There are a num­ber of rea­sons. One is due to the sheer cost of fes­ti­vals, which can rival that of a long-week­end city break in Rome. Urban fes­ti­vals work out con­sid­er­ably cheap­er, either offer­ing day tick­ets or a wrist­band sys­tem where­by you can choose a cer­tain num­ber of events. The oth­er rea­son is the make-or-break weath­er aspect. We can put a brave face on it, but three days stand­ing in squelchy wellies and sleep­ing in a damp tent, does – well – damp­en the atmos­phere. A pro­por­tion of old­er fes­ti­val goers have bobbed along the fes­ti­val tread­mill for many years but are start­ing to fall away, how­ev­er they are still keen to attend per­for­mances and often have more funds and time on their hands. So it’s no won­der that pro­mot­ers are opt­ing for a more urban expe­ri­ence, to rub along­side the tra­di­tion­al fes­ti­vals. Bea­cons Fes­ti­val, which which had estab­lished itself as a three-day sum­mer event in pic­turesque north York­shire is mak­ing the leap to become a tri-city mul­ti-even­ter, and is cur­rent­ly organ­is­ing music, art and cul­ture events in Liv­er­pool, Man­ches­ter and Leeds for Octo­ber. What’s going on now in a city near you? Here’s a few events to tempt you:

Leeds Indie Food Festival to 24th May

Gin tasting
Gin Tast­ing at The Lazy Lounge. Ifty Patel

At one time, Leeds seemed to be lag­ging behind on the food scene, but it has caught up in a big way and has now real­ly made its mark. And to cel­e­brate this is the inau­gur­al Leeds Indie Food Fes­ti­val, offer­ing a ton of excit­ing food ven­tures, work­shops, spe­cial tast­ing menus and lots, lots more all around the city. The fes­ti­val is cre­at­ing a real buzz, and It’s already get­ting great reviews.

The Reliance
Five-course food and wine pair­ing at The Reliance

It fin­ish­es on the 24th so if you want to join in, check out their website

Dot to Dot  22nd May

There’s a line-up that’s almost as long as War and Peace at this Man­ches­ter event cel­e­brat­ing its10th birth­day. A host of bands are appear­ing pri­mar­i­ly in the North­ern Quar­ter. Buy your­self a wrist­band and help your­self to 14 hours of music from the likes of Saint Ray­mond, Swim Deep, Fat White Fam­i­ly, Lau­ra Dogged and Hinds. Not­ting­ham and Bris­tol to fol­low. Buy tick­ets to Dot to Dot

Sound City  22nd to 24th May

Stu­art Mur­doch, Belle and Sebastian

Liv­er­pool’s well-estab­lished city fes­ti­val this year is on its own bespoke site at Bram­ley-Moore Dock, com­plete­ly sur­round­ed by water. Arts and music with Belle & Sebas­t­ian, the Flam­ing Lips, Blos­soms, The Bohi­cas and more. Sound City tick­ets here

Grillstock BarBQ and Music Festival   30 – 31st May

Grillstock, LockJaw BurgerVeg­gies beware. In Albert Square Man­ches­ter, this is the fes­ti­val of “meat, music and may­hem”. Appear­ing are Grand­mas­ter Flash, Levi Roots, The Heavy, Rev Pey­ton and more.  Lat­er in the year there are Grill­stocks tak­ing place in Lon­don and Bristol.

Grillstock 2011

Ealing Festivals. Blues Festival 25–26th July

Wal­pole Park is the set­ting for the annu­al Blues jam­boree. It costs £5 per day, £8 per week­end (with wrist­band ), has a choice of stages, lots of food out­lets, the oblig­a­tory clothes and jew­ellery stalls plus a clair­voy­ant or two, a decent-ish bar, spot­less por­taloos with no queues. Eal­ing Blues Fes­ti­val tick­ets. Also see Eal­ing Jazz Fes­ti­val, Eal­ing Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val, Eal­ing Beer Fes­ti­val and more.

VISIONS  August 8th

Now in its third year, Visions takes place across dif­fer­ent ware­house venues and out­door areas in Lon­don Fields. It is also using the beau­ti­ful St John’s At Hack­ney Church and Space Stu­dios out­door court­yard. The line up for Visions is as eclec­tic as ever, includ­ing Fat White Fam­i­ly, Shamir, Mer­chan­dise, Peak­ing Lights, Toy, Hinds and more. There will also be an ale and food fes­ti­val host­ed by local pub the Adam And Eve, screen print­ing class­es, record and art mar­kets plus AV instal­la­tions. Tick­ets to Visions fes­ti­val are avail­able for just £30.

Liverpool International Music Festival  27th – 31st August

is to return for a third year with a total­ly free packed pro­gramme of events all around the city, cul­mi­nat­ing in a free show by Echo and the Bun­ny­men and the Phil­har­mon­ic Orches­tra in Sefton Park. Base­ment Jaxx, Labrinth, Katy B, Naughty Boy, Lau­ra Mvu­la, and Becky Hill star. The itsliv­er­pool stage will cel­e­brate local tal­ent with 1970’s soul group The Real Thing and acts from LIMF’s  music academy.There will also be four spe­cial­ly pro­duced com­mis­sions includ­ing: Routes Juke­box led by Gram­my win­ning pro­duc­er Steve Levine and BBC Radio 2’s Jan­ice Long with film­mak­er and pho­tog­ra­ph­er Mark McNul­ty, explor­ing the cul­tur­al impact of music from the Amer­i­c­as­The Rev­o­lu­tion will be Live: A Trib­ute to Gil Scott Heron curat­ed by Malik Al Nasir and Rich McGin­nis. Read about Liv­er­pool Inter­na­tion­al Music Fes­ti­val here

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