If you’re travelling to the UK during the summer, you’ve got to try one of the countless festivals. You may spend some time in the country’s capital, London, or venture out into the countryside – but there’s no other experience quite like attending one of these great outdoor events.
There’s a festival to suit everyone, from the large headline acts that draw in the crowds at V Festival to much smaller events like Caught by the River, which mash together a love of music, literature and great food. Here are five of our favorites.
We begin with the festival that is in a class of its own. Glastonbury has been delighting attendees since 1970, when you could bag a ticket for just £1 (including free milk from the farm where it’s held). It has now grown into arguably the most iconic festival around the world, and about 200,000 dedicated people go each year.
Given the notoriously wet English weather, you should be ready for rain — and there will always be mud. You’ve been warned, so go prepared. Take layers and wear your wellies. You’ll see plenty of people limping around with blisters — along with much else that defies description. Check out these photos for a glimpse of the music fest madness.
Source: UK Survival Guide
You can’t just turn up on the day and buy a ticket, though. Every year the much-sought-after passes sell out within an hour of their release. You’ll have to register in advance and hope luck is on your side when they go on sale.
Not everyone can hack non-stop partying and living in a tent for almost a week. Thankfully, one weekend event takes place right in London, with no camping out — and no tickets — required. The annual Notting Hill Carnival is held over two days – the August bank holiday Monday and preceding Sunday.
Most people visit Europe’s biggest street party for just one day. That’s enough to enjoy the mayhem that descends on the streets of Notting Hill, located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Parades of floats and performers set off on both days to celebrate Caribbean culture. Expect dancing, music and masquerade. This video gives you a taste of what it’s like.
If you’re coming with children, Sunday — featuring the youth parade — is probably the best day for you to sample the diverse attractions of food, music and stage performances.
The Reading and Leeds Festivals are a pair, taking place simultaneously on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the August bank holiday weekend. They also share the same music bill, with rock, alternative, indie, punk and metal dominating the festival line-up. For instance, Biffy Clyro and Fall Out Boy headlined in 2016.
Festival-goers tend to be loyal to one or the other. Lovers of Leeds Festival say the Northern crowd improves the general atmosphere, whereas the convenience of Reading Festival is hard to beat. You can pop into the town for last-minute emergencies (or extra beer). If you want to know the cases for and against both sites, read this NME blog post.
You may have heard of Camp Bestival’s naughty older sibling, Bestival. Well, the Camp is completely family-friendly, but with loads of the same great traits. You’re supposed to dress up, for example, and there are creative activities for everyone to get involved, in addition to the music headliners. Jess Glynne, KT Tunstall and Django Django all performed in 2016.
It takes place in the grounds of a beautiful English castle, and large areas of the site are dedicated to kids. In the Upper Kids’ Garden, for example, little ones can learn a circus skill or just tire themselves out in a bouncy castle. There’s also a chill-out area for mothers and babies to refresh before enjoying the rest of the entertainment.
If there’s a festival that captures the stereotypical idea of British “poshness,” it’s Wilderness Festival. This boutique bash in Oxfordshire embraces the notion that spending four days in a nature reserve, encountering new people, new ideas and new experiences, will correct the imbalance that busy people have in their lives.
You’re free to roam around and take a dip in the spring-fed lakes. As Festicket say, it’s the “type of place where you can watch a bona fide legend on the stage, enjoy a banquet feast, a science lecture, soak in a hot tub, and watch a one-man performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.”
For the low-down on more UK festivals, check out Festicket’s top 20 – and start planning your adventure today.
Which UK festivals have you attended? Would you recommend them? Feel free to share your experiences below.