Ooh fes­ti­val sea­son! The thought of it fills me (and so many of you out there, obvi­ous­ly) with joy. The sheer diver­si­ty of the UK fes­ti­val scene means you can tru­ly immerse your­self in music, dance, talks, lit­er­a­ture, art, nature… there’s bound to be a few which will tick all your per­son­al box­es. Here’s my pick of small(ish), well curat­ed events for 2019, some per­son­al favourites and a few new ones that appeal.

1 Bearded Theory   23–26 May

Beard­ed The­o­ry remains on my list because this small and super-friend­ly event nev­er dis­ap­points. It has devel­oped over the years but nev­er cuts cor­ners or sells out com­mer­cial­ly. Based at Cat­ton Hall in Der­byshire, Beard­ed The­o­ry caters bril­liant­ly for fam­i­lies, with loads for kids (there’s also a school on site).

Audience at Bearded Theory festival
Hop­ing to be ‘best beard in show’

As for the beards, they’re not oblig­a­tory, but if you do want to look suit­ably hir­sute, a fake one will do just as well (bet­ter, in fact). Enough of beards and on to the line­up: new­ly reformed Doves make an appear­ance, Suede, Cult, Edi­tors, Sean Lake­man, Dread­zone and Slow Read­ers Club, plus Justin Sul­li­van doing a rare solo set on the Wood­land stage. Beard­ed Theory 

Beard­ed The­o­ry REVIEW here

2 Sea Change    24–26 May

Cre­at­ed by Drift record shop in Totnes, Sea Change this year moves from August Bank Hol­i­day to this ear­li­er spot. Sea Change is set in inter­est­ing and often quirky spots around the Devon town, such as a ball­room, a cin­e­ma and a church, plus a venue on the Dart­ing­ton Hall Estate (you can hop between the two aboard their per­son­al shut­tle bus).

Drift Record Shop, Totnes
Drift Record Shop, Totnes

Sea Change has some inter­est­ing pair­ings, such as with Heav­en­ly records, Bel­la Union and Mute. Now extend­ed to three days, it has a real­ly strong line­up with Metron­o­my head­ing the bill. Plus Gazelle Twin, Pip Blom, Bill Ryder Jones, Black Midi and W H Lung. Vic­to­ri­an pic­ture palace Totnes Cin­e­ma will present Space Out, an immer­sive med­i­ta­tion in sound and film on the music and vision of BBC Radio­phon­ic Work­shop com­pos­er Delia Der­byshire. And Rough Trade Books will present some events too. Sea Change Fes­ti­val .

3 Cross the Tracks  Sunday 9 June 

An entic­ing new com­mu­ni­ty event for Brock­well Park in south Lon­don, this Soul, Blues and Funk event has its fin­ger on the pulse of local hap­pen­ings and will fea­ture 40 food traders and craft brew­ers, many of them local. Musi­cal­ly you’ll find some up and com­ing artists on its four stages, plus revered favourites: Cha­ka Khan, Martha Reeves & the Van­del­las, The Comet is Com­ing, Oshun, Lunch Mon­ey, Oscar Jerome. Look out for Nor­man Jay MBE per­form­ing a rare groove vinyl set. Tick­ets cur­rent­ly on sec­ond release – Cross the Tracks

4 Anthropos  13–17 June

Set deep in the woods near Bal­dock, Hert­ford­shire, Anthro­pos is a new fes­ti­val with the accent on visu­al art and a diverse menu of main­ly trancey beats – you are encour­aged to par­tic­i­pate, but if you want to sit back and chill or med­i­tate, that’s fine too. There will be a cir­cus tent with work­shops taught by indus­try pro­fes­sion­als and – once you’ve got your health and safe­ty instruc­tion under way, you can par­take in the fireshows. Music includes Kwah, Desert­d­wellers, Bad Tan­go, Dream­Faerie, Echoes Like Dust and Selec­ta Alice. In the days lead­ing up to the fes­ti­val, you can take part in the Anthro­pos Retreat 7–12th June, with yoga, mind­ful­ness, music instruc­tion and more. For every tick­et sold, Anthro­pos plants a tree in your name. Anthropos

Anthro­pos Review here

5 Black Deer  21–23 June

The Amer­i­cana and Coun­try fes­ti­val at Eridge Park, Kent is now into its sec­ond year with a def­i­nite­ly orig­i­nal groove (it’s already gar­nered sev­er­al awards) – there are sev­en stages and apart from music you’ll find film, cul­ture and… motor­bikes. The line­up includes ris­ing star Yola, plus Bil­ly Bragg, Jessie Buck­ley, Tree­top Fly­ers, Band of Hors­es and The Staves. Look out for Under The Apple Tree ses­sions, found­ed and curat­ed by “Whis­per­ing” Bob Har­ris. Spring­ing from Bob’s Apple Tree stu­dio in an Oxford­shire orchard, the ses­sions will come to life on Black Deer’s Supa­Jam Stage.

Louise Roberts-Black Deer Festival-294A8750 [Web]
South­ern style cook­ing ©Louise Roberts
To accom­pa­ny the music, there’s lots of smoke­house spe­cials on the menu and deep-south style bar­be­cues. Grill­stock fes­ti­val founders will be bring­ing their cook­ing demos and com­pe­ti­tions. If it’s all sound­ing a bit meaty, don’t wor­ry, there’s veg­an and veg­gie options so no one needs go hun­gry. JUST ADDED: The Shires, Alaba­ma 3 acoustic, The Mag­ic Num­bers, Stephen Spender, local act The Brere­tons. Black Deer

6 Also Festival 5–7 July

Also Fes­ti­val was found­ed by Salon Lon­don, and offers a per­fect bal­ance of music, food, ideas and work­shops while encour­ag­ing you to just enjoy nature – this year’s theme is Out of the Woods. It’s set in War­wick­shire in 50 acres of land­scape, and over the three days you are encour­aged to ‘learn, explore, swim and relax’. Perfect!

Also Festival feast about to begin
Also Fes­ti­val feast about to begin

On the learn­ing side, the engag­ing tech supre­mo Jamie Bartlett will lead an explo­ration of how to get a real­is­tic rela­tion­ship with tech­nol­o­gy and WIRED edi­tor Vic­to­ria Turk debates the thorny issue of good online man­ners. Food plays a big part at Also –  Sophie Tav­ern­er, head chef at the Taller de Tapas, will host a Balearic Brunch. Or you could try a Gospel Brunch with Lon­don Inter­na­tion­al Gospel Choir. Kids have lots going on, such as a DJ mas­ter­class.  Also Fes­ti­val

7 Timber Festival  5–7 July

Tim­ber is tucked away at Feane­dock, a 70-acre wood­land site in the Nation­al For­est – the first for­est to be cre­at­ed in Eng­land for over 1000 years. The fes­ti­val made its debut last year, and won Best New Fes­ti­val at the UK Fes­ti­val Awards. Gwen­no, Han­nah Peel, Steal­ing Sheep, You Tell Me, Jesca Hoop and guest cura­tor Eliz­a­beth Alk­er from BBC Radio 3 and 6Music will all be appearing.

Con­ver­sa­tions and debates play a big part: speak­ers include keen ram­bler, writer and broad­cast­er Stu­art Maconie who will be talk­ing about his book The Long Road From Jar­row. Debates will include a pan­el dis­cus­sion on re-wild­ing – the con­tro­ver­sial con­ser­va­tion mod­el. Per­fect­ly Edi­ble, a com­mu­ni­ty organ­i­sa­tion based in Leices­ter, will be cook­ing up a storm, cre­at­ing a Bin­ner Par­ty – a tasty two course meal made from food that would have oth­er­wise have been sent to land­fill. Tim­ber festival

8 Bluedot festival    18–21 July

July 20, 1969. That’s the date man first land­ed on the Moon, as part of the Apol­lo 11 lunar mis­sion. Fifty years on, to the day, you could be cel­e­brat­ing at Blue­dot fes­ti­val, where sci­ence, space and music col­lide at the Jodrell Bank Obser­va­to­ry. Now into its fourth year, head­line artists to per­form against the back­drop of the famed Lovell tele­scope are Kraftwerk, Jon Hop­kins, New Order and Hot Chip. Also appear­ing are 808 State, Sons of Kemet, Work­ing Men’s Club, Kate Tem­pest, Anna Calvi and She Drew the Gun. For the sec­ond year, the fes­ti­val makes a Thurs­day start with Man­ches­ter’s Hal­lé Orches­tra, this year pre­sent­ing Lift Off.

Bluedot festival under Jodrell Bank
Fes­ti­val food stall area under the Lovell telescope

The space and sci­ence side is as tempt­ing as the music: first British astro­naut Helen Shar­man is set to give a talk, Asso­ciate Direc­tor Jim O’Brien will as usu­al make his enter­tain­ing and infor­ma­tive dai­ly address­es, and Liz Bon­nin will talk about ‘The prob­lem with plas­tics’. For kids, there is a wealth of fun and edu­ca­tion­al stuff to keep them busy. Blue­dot fes­ti­val. Thurs­day requires an addi­tion­al tick­et. Look out for Microdot too – Blue­dot’s ‘taster day’ in Man­ches­ter, a fam­i­ly-friend­ly free day of fes­ti­val fun, June 15.

See the Blue­dot review here

9 Ealing Blues 20–21 July

Eal­ing Coun­cil gen­er­ous­ly put on a series of fes­ti­vals every sum­mer in pic­turesque Wal­pole Park. I’m a fan of the Blues week­end, but you can also attend Jazz , Com­e­dy and Beer fes­ti­vals. This year, Bad Influ­ence, Big Mama’s Door, Cross­fire Blues Band, Cosi­mo Matas­sa Project, Eel Pie All Stars, Nick Lowe, Tom­my Allen’s Traf­fick­er will all appear.

ealing blues festival

There are two stages (one is a huge tent), plus a small one in the bar area, plus you’ll find plen­ty of food ven­dors, clothes, jew­ellery and plant stalls. Oh, and lots of super clean loos. If you buy your tick­ets online you will be able to get your wrist­band for no more than a ten­ner for the weekend.

10 Wickham Festival  1–4 August

Frank Turn­er

This gen­tle and small fam­i­ly fes­ti­val man­ages to pack a punch over its four days. It has a bril­liant role-call of artists this year, fea­tur­ing Amer­i­cana, coun­try, and some vin­tage names to please par­ents and grand­par­ents alike. A big draw, for me, is the pres­ence of Lucin­da Williams who will grace the stage on Sunday.

The line­up includes Frank Turn­er, Mar­tin Carthy, Gra­ham Nash, Alaba­ma 3, The Keifer Suther­land Band, Le Vent du Nord and Skin­ny Lis­ter – plus a late-night com­e­dy tent. Wick­ham festival

11 Houghton   8–11 August

Music, art and sculp­ture are the defin­ing themes of this cool event sit­u­at­ed in the woods of Houghton Hall, and curat­ed by Craig Richards. Just a few names from the huge line­up: Mid­land, Mag­da, Apple­blim, Psy­ch­magik, Float­ing Points, Hamid, Truth and Lies, Hele­na Hauff and Bios­phere (live).

Houghton fes­ti­val © Jake Davis for Here & Now

Houghton is a niche events that has need­ed lit­tle adver­tis­ing and quick­ly sold out both years so far, such is the cal­i­bre of its line­up and vision. The fes­ti­val also has sculp­ture and art instal­la­tions dot­ted around the for­est. Head to Houghton here

12 Moovin  23–25 August

Only 15 min­utes from Stock­port is this lit­tle fes­ti­val down on the (eco) farm at Etherow Coun­try Park. Moovin is a dance lovers feast with a great bal­ance of big names both past and present, mixed up with some fresh local tal­ent. The line­up is huge: Soul II Soul, 2 many DJs, Stan­ton War­riors, Trans­glob­al Under­ground, Lee Scratch Per­ry, Krafty Kuts, Horse­meat Dis­co, Morchee­ba, plus much more. Moovin start­ed five years ago in a cow barn and it’s still a small, inti­mate, fierce­ly inde­pen­dent event in a beau­ti­ful rur­al set­ting with a canopy of trees and a lake – we under­stand the cows won’t be there for the fes­ti­val though.

Moovin festival stage
Stage at Moovin festival

There’s a touch of extra mag­ic at Moovin with all man­ner of acro­bats, painters, sculp­tors, poets, wiz­ards, yoga instruc­tors..  there are still a few places open to inspired per­form­ers, so if that’s you, check out the web­site now. Moovin

12.1  Victorious  23–25 August

This now well-estab­lished festie is a huge fam­i­ly-friend­ly event at South Sea Seafront, Portsmouth. Fes­ti­val direc­tors have worked hard to ensure the line-up caters for all tastes: this year artists include New Order, Rudi­men­tal, Two Door Cin­e­ma Club, The Spe­cials, James Bay, The Vac­cines, The Hives, Clean Ban­dit, The Zutons, Bloc Party.

Sunset at Victorious festival by the stage
Sun­set at Vic­to­ri­ous festival

Although Vic­to­ri­ous is a city event, there is a camp­site near­by which can be includ­ed with your tick­et, oth­er­wise there are plen­ty of oth­er options of places to bed down, includ­ing Uni accom­mo­da­tion, check out the web­site. Vic­to­ri­ous.

Main pho­to: Houghton festival.

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