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.
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
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.
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
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
Veggies 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.
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