If you’re planning ahead for your summer you might already be looking at the festival scene. Of course there are the big festivals with the headline acts that we all want to bag tickets for but there are some smaller festivals that still have great acts and create a really special often more intimate atmosphere up and down the country.
Well we’ve grabbed our wellies, rucksack and a few homemade treats and headed off in search of the best festivals around.
Here’s our top tips for a great festival season…
Sound City – Liverpool 1 – 3 May
Billed as officially the first festival of the summer season SoundCity features style as heavily as it does music so it’s really a double whammy for great music as well as fashion.
It’s the UK’s largest urban festival and will see 45,000 music fans descend on the city centre for a massive urban party. No mud, no wellies, it’s certainly one of the best tickets to be had for the fashion conscious, swamp-phobic, festival fan.
Dumbfest – Borden, Hampshire – 3rd of May
The organisers of Dumbfest put on a huge line-up of music and comedy all to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Previous years have seen the like of festival favourites Dodgy join in the madness.
This year Phil Kay will be headlining the comedy musings on the comedy stage of what is sure to be another great event.
HogSozzle – Frogmore Hill, Hertford – 23 – 25 May
With a line-up featuring dance, indie, reggae, electro swing, funk blues and magic this has to be one your list… But we haven’t got to the best bit yet… Paint fight!!!
Yep, colour me purple and call me Imelda if HogSozzle doesn’t host a huge paint fight. So not only do you get great tunes and a fantastic glamping festival you then get to trash your friends in fine style. Where do we sign up???
Lechlade Festival – Lechlade, Gloucestershire – 23 – 25 May
3 stages will feature over 80 bands with everything from punk, ska, swing, jazz even poetry. As well as great live acts there’ll be top food and a few cheeky ciders.
If you like things tent related not only will you find a cool dance tent but there’s camping and glamping alongside the Thames.
Glastonbudget – Wymeswold, Leicestershire – 23 – 25 May
If you like your music retro but weren’t around back in the day to go see the original festival line-ups at the likes of Woodstock and the Glastonbury then this is the next best thing. Proudly wearing a big badge declaring itself the world’s biggest tribute festival you’ll get to see some of the best tribute acts in the world, Bootleg Beatles, Abba Revival, Mercury, Oasish and many more.
Now into it’s tenth year this festival is getting massive and features tribute bands and artists from the 60’s through to the present day. Rumours of a Jedward tribute act are as yet unconfirmed.
Acts to look out for; Oasish, The Fillers, Blurb, Four Fighters
Heart of Rock & Blues Festival – Builith, Wales – 6 – 8 June
One for real music fans, you won’t find any “banging tunes” or dance tents but you will find plenty of real musicians and great music. 30+ bands will line-up on 2 stages, free camping & car park make this a great option for a quick festival fix for die hard music fans.
You might not get the massive headline acts you’ll find at V-fest but you will get to be up close and personal with all the acts on what is a great weekend in the blues calendar.
Symmetry Festival – Sennowe Park, Norwich – 6 – 8 June
Symmetry is one for fans of hardcore beats. Held in a stunning location hidden away in rural Norfolk it’s set on a gentle slope over looking a lake so you won’t be stuck for a view but will have plenty of room to make some shapes.
As well as the dance acts there will be plenty of live bands with 80’s legends Bad Manners leading the line-up. Camping is a must in such a great location.
Acts to look out for; The Piratones, The Faintest Idea
Isle of Wight Festival – 12 – 15 June
This festival needs little introduction, one of the original music festivals on the circuit that attracts huge names year after year.
This year will see Biffy Clyro, Calvin Harris, Kings of Leon and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers of what could potentially be the hot ticket of the summer.
If you like your festivals to be full scale and full on then this is the one we’d recommend.
Other acts to look out for; Alison Moyet
Flashback Festival – Nostell Priory, Wakefield – 14th June
Yep, hands up we are suckers for 80’s music, if it’s got big hair, synths and questionable dress sense then we’re there. So Wakefield’s Flashback Festival really is high on our must see list for 2014.
One night only will see some of the biggest UK stars of the 80’s including Go West, UB40, Heaven 17, T’Pau, Dr & the Medics, and none other than Mr Jason Donovan. And swoon!
Beacon Festival – South Oxfordshire – 20 – 22 June
Music, market, camping, wroskshops, food, camping, even a “Feel Good” area. Beacon Festival packs loads into one weekend. And on stage it’s like a great musical buffet where you can pick from all your favourite flavours, dub, reggae, indie, rock, bluegrass… You’ll even spot a few tribute acts squeezed into a great line-up of over 80’s acts so you’ll even get your fix of awesome 80’s cheese. Permission to rock granted!
The Hop Farm Music Festival – Paddock Wood, Kent – 4 – 6 July
The Hop Farm has created what is rapidly becoming one of the biggest festivals on the summer calendar. This year’s line-up features James Blunt, Caro Emerald, Eliza Doolittle, Bellowhead plus The Feeling and Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson.
Set in a stunning location in Kent, the garden of England, you’ll be in for a massive array of acts with one of the biggest set lists this summer.
If your tastes cover all musical genres you really won’t be disappointed as huge 80’s stars rub shoulders with indie, rock, reggae, jazz and all stops in between.
Acts to look out for; Tom Stade, Rob Beckett
Funny As Folk – Cabourne Parva, Lincolnshire – 11 – 13 July
You’ll still find great music but Funny As Folk is much more of an arts festival with a eclectic mix of comedy, music, arts, crafts and street performance. You can wash down all the stunning entertainment with fine food and drink plus there’s plenty of new skills to try your hand it.
Certainly never a dull moment and you’ll be guaranteed a belly full of laughs to boot.
Reminisce 70’s Festival – Midlesborough – 12th July
A totally glam festival for disco queens everywhere. Dig out your hotpants and sequined tank tops, put on your boogie shoes and get down to some seriously good music.
It’s kitsch and high camp in equal measure and yes, we love it! Big heels, big make-up and music even your mum will approve of, this festival is one for all retro and music fans alike with more Abba than you can shave your groove thang at.
Alive@Delapre – Northampton – 19th July
Sticking with a retro theme is “Here and Now – The very best of the 80s” in Northampton. An open air extravaganza featuring a stellar line-up including Paul Young, Bananarama, T’Pau, Boney M and wait for it…. Rick Astley!!! He said he’d never give us up and now he’s back!
As if all that wasn’t enough they are also sneaking Simple Minds and Boyzone onto the stage as well. We’ve already ironed our legwarmers ready to party.
Secret Garden Party – Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire – 24 – 27 July
It’s probably easier to list what you can’t do at the secret party than what you can do; dance offs, music, mud wrestling, music, food, camping, guerrilla science, street performance, art and all topped off with a huge paint fight.
The massive line up of acts will take to the stage set beside a lake and facing a natural grass bank auditorium, they pride themselves on finding the hottest up and coming steps. For sheer excitement and variety the Secret Garden Party really is hard to beat.
Nozstock – Bromyard, Heredfordshire – 1 – 3 August
This award winning festival has more than its fair share of admirers including comedians Russell Howard and Phil Jupitus. Tucked away in the “HiddenValley” you’ll find a huge mix of banging dance tunes and live bands with everything else thrown in for good measure, comedy, street performance, workshops and much more.
This isn’t one for the retro crowd but the place to be to see some of the hottest new acts around. It also takes great pride in it’s green credentials and rightly so.
Acts to look out for; Gaps, More Like Trees, Pip & the Polar Bears, Caolin Clay
Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival – Inverness-shire – 8 – 9 August
Tom Jones, Razorlight, Billy Bragg, Ade Edmonson & the Bad Shepherds and Frightened Rabbit the is an electric ceilidh on a massive scale. As well as music, cabaret, cinema, therapies, food and drink, tipis, yurts, squrt are all available to hire or you can rock up with your own back pack and tent pegs.
A tartan festival of the highest order with a real mix of international acts and real home grown talent.
Glass Butter Beach – Llanbedrog, Abersoch, Wales – 15 – 16 August
Surfs up! Beach, BMX, Skateboarding all combine along with other “have-a-go” activities for adrenaline junkies but the focus is definitely on the music.
Top tunes from top DJ’s at a beach party on a huge scale. As well as a paint fight you’ll get to see legendary guest artists Soul II Soul leading the charge with , Roger Sanchez, Wilkinson, Stylo G with HedKandi. So you’ll get a mix of great music, great sport and a party on the beach. We’re in!
Reading Festival – Reading – 22 – 24 August
As one of the UK’s biggest festivals this one needs little introduction, the line-up for 2014 is as spectacular as you’d image; Blink 182, Arctic Monkeys, Imagine Dragons, Queens of the Stone Age, Paramore, the list is endless.
Reading Festival has been running since 1989 and they have learnt a trick or two about putting on one of the biggest parties in the UK year on year. Tickets might be hard to come by but the lucky few will relish every second, those that don’t will hopefully find local festivals so even “fest-virgins” still get a taste of the festival scene.
Campsoul Festival – Harwell, Oxfordshire – 23 – 24 August
Featuring the best of soul, funk and jazz Campsoul is a festival for real music lovers, while still in it’s infancy this is a growing event with a real intimate feel where you are truly in touch with the music. This year will herald the arrival of some top notch live acts including R&B’s Roy Ayers.
Set in a stunning location you really will be made to feel a part of the event.
Acts to look out for; B-Funkt
Reload Festival – Norfolk Showground, Norwich – 5 – 7 September
Reload is like putting on your favourite 80’s compilation album as everyone who was anyone in the 80s will be there with a HUGE line of stars; The Human League, Billy Ocean, Rick Astley, Jason Donovan, Soul I Soul, ABCV, Go West, Hot Chocolate, Heaven 17, Five Star, Imagination and so many more but our top pick would be Kool & the Gang who are still all these years on one of the best live acts around.
Glamping, food, drink, circus, comedy, they are packing a vast amount into what will be a big weekend.
Undercoverfest – Nr Woking, Surrey – 19 – 20 September
Our final festival tip is another one for music purists, punk, ska, northern, dub, retro, indie, acoustic, there is something for every serious music fan or even those that just want good tunes and room to dance.
A long line-up of acts is already drawn up and you can camp onsite at what will be one of the last gigs of the festival season.