Festival fever! 10 fun summer flings in Wiltshire
Dancing till dawn in sunglasses and a sequinned tank top? This is festival season and with the return of Glasto we thought we'd share the best of what Wilts has to offer on the party front.
Bradford on Avon Food & Drink Festival, Victory Field, Bradford on Avon, 11-12 June
There’s a reason the 5:2 diet was invented – so we can all make the most of weekend food festivals, just like this tasty two-dayer in Bradford on Avon. Alongside a street food market are oodles of artisan food producers, live music and family fun events like a circus tent. And gin. Plenty of gin.
Party on the Pitch, Calne Town Football Club, Bremhill View, Calne, 11 June
Food, drink and a footy pitch – no, this isn’t the FA Cup Final but Calne’s newest festival, held at Calne FC. With live music from 1.40pm, a dedicated bar and donations going to Wiltshire Air Ambulance, this event will kick off your Summer in style.
Field Fest, Kington St Michael Social Club, Kingston St Michael, 18 June
Gin. Tick. Pimms. Big tick. BBQ with jacket potatoes. Very good. Bouncy Castle. Great. Live music from 5pm. Yes please. Game of Last (Wo) Man Standing? If that’s a prediction of how this festival will play out then just try and stop me going!
Ashton Keynes Festival, Bradstone Playing Field, Ashton Keynes, 20-26 June
This North Wilts village on the Gloucestershire border is just 5 miles south of Cirencester and has a population of around 1,500. But what it lacks in numbers it makes up for in its thriving local events programme like regular film nights, gigs and plays. Best of all it even has its own week-long fun festival, which this year includes a comedy night, a weekend jazz brunch, a community picnic and choir recitals.
SolsticeFest, Stonehenge Campsite, Amesbury, 18-22 June
Celebrate Summer Solstice at this four-day camping festival pitched near Britain’s ultimate stone circle. Described as a ‘musical and wellbeing event’ there’ll be plenty of alternative healing experiences like sound baths, plus the ticket price includes free travel to and from the Henge on actual Solstice (overnight 20-21st). Yes, you’ll be able can go right up to the monoliths because English Heritage grant managed open access to the public. But just in case you think that’s all sounding a bit too cosmic, rest assured there’s also plenty of live music (22 acts on two stages) and bell-tent glamping available back at the site.
Ladies Evening and Mania, The Abba Tribute, Salisbury Racecourse, Salisbury, 9 July
Salisbury Racecourse has the advantage of being intimate and easy to navigate, plus the (free) car park is super-near the track, so you can wear heels without worrying your feet will be sore before the party’s even started. Once you’re in, base yourself at a table in the restaurant (pre-booking essential) or take up a spot on the lawned Bibury Enclosure for an evening of racing followed by dancing on the actual course to an Abba Tribute band. Dressing up essential – you’ll want to win the Best Dressed Competition after all.
Swindon Cheese & Chilli Festival, Lydiard Park, Swindon, 2 & 3 July
If your idea of a great day out is watching people’s eyes water while eating very hot chillis, then mark this festival in your calendar immediately. Now in its fourth year, this 48 hour festival devoted to all things hot (chilli) and creamy (cheese) is the go-to destination for buying and trying both. Not only that but there’s also live music, kids entertainment like Punch and Judy and a bubble party, and a headline entertainer-come stuntman called Dan the Hat. The mind boggles.
Iford Manor Jazz Festival, Iford, 22-24 July
Fancy an evening drinking champagne and dancing on the lawn of a historic country home to a live band? Your wish is our command (well, Iford Manor’s to be exact) as they’ve tasked jazz legend Clare Martin OBE to curate their first three-night jazz festival in their back garden. Ok when I say garden, I mean beautifully manicured lawns, expertly planted flower beds and achingly romantic statues and summerhouses, but hey – who’s complaining?
It’s not a stay-on-site situ though, but a series of jazz-related events focussed around evening concerts. Friday and Saturday nights feature feel-good shows on The Archery Ground, while Sunday’s intimate virtuoso guitar performance by Dr Martin Taylor will close the festival with a candle-lit concert in Harold Peto’s Grade II* listed cloister. For a daytime treat, book yourself in for a delicious 3-course jazz lunch in Iford’s popular restaurant to enjoy the sounds of Bristolian Rebecca Nash and her trio.
Womad40, Charlton Park, Malmesbury, 28-31 July
Wiltshire’s World Music festival celebrates four decades this year and to celebrate they have a vibrant programme ready to entertain you. Naturally there’s music from around the globe, but in addition to that there’s a brainiac element to proceedings, with conversation at The World of Words tent and scientific and space exploration at The World of Physics tent. They haven’t forgotten you might like to play too though, albeit with a boffin bent like the giant crosswords and Ping Pong Thunderdome. At least the Naked Mirrors sound more straightforward.
Verve Festival, Hatch House, Tisbury, 17 September
If your kind of highs are natural, then Verve will give you the ultimate lift. From 9am to midnight this grand country house will be packed full of all kinds of wellness workshops including yoga, pilates, alternative medicine and meditation. It’s not all hard work though, there’s plenty of massage and music too – and of course, a tasty selection of healthy food and drink including woodfired pizza (you’ll deserve it) and wine – (you read that right) – from one of our favourites, Bluestone Vineyards.
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