Wiltshire Summer Festival Guide
The music festival season is getting closer (will we fit into our Daisy Dukes? Are we too old to be wearing them?) and we all know that you’ve got to flash the cash super early these days if you don’t want to flog a kidney in order to buy full price tickets. Glastonbury went in a flash, Reading is half gone and even the Cambridge Folk Fest is sold out on the Saturday. The good news is that there are tons of funky festivals closer to home that, phew, still have some tickets left. While we mourn the loss of the achingly hip Larmer Tree Festival (it’s taking a snooze this year), grab your Dubarrys, pimp up the VW van and join us on the trail of loads of (mostly) family friendly festivals across Wilts.
Womad, Malmesbury, Wilts, 27-30 July
Starting with a biggie, we’ve got to give a nod to Womad. In the warm blur of the festival season, this celebration of international music, arts and dance still stands out. Check out acts including Ladysmith Black Mambazo, listen to Benjamin Zephaniah’s tomes and take a World Rhythm’s workshop, then ditch the worthy stuff and join Steven Moffatt (of Sherlock fame) chatting about Dr Who, check out Matthew Bourne’s new ballet and stuff your face with the Hairy Bikers. Not literally, mind.
Charlton Park, Charlton, Malmesbury, Wilts, womad.co.uk
Fieldview, Chippenham, Wilts, 3-6 August
God, I love this one. Its non-profit ethos, the fact that it can be run solely on chip fat and solar power, the smell of burning joss sticks…takes me right back to my uni days. Sorry, back on track…if you can’t face the magnitude of size or price of Bestival, Latitude or Cornbury Park, Fieldview is a small but perfectly formed bundle of summer festival loveliness. Now in its tenth year, you won’t find Madness or Mark Ronson, celebrity chef feasts or pop-up spas here but there is plenty for the kids to get stuck into, it is small enough so you can stage dive into the mosh pits and you might even stumble across the next Ben Howard or Mouse Outfit. Workshops for littlies include jewellery making, treasure hunts and circus skills, with yoga and Tai Chi for you (helps the hangover, I’m told). So load up the happy campers and head down to Chippenham this August. It’s in a secret location, so shhh….
At a secret location near Chippenham, Wilts, fieldviewfestival.co.uk
End Of The Road, Tollard Royal, Wilts, 31 August – 3 September
Hopefully it won’t be the end of the road for us as we hurtle into festival season with a new pair of Le Chameu (I wish. How much?) but it is worth checking out this alternative music festival. It’s not a biggie – 11,000 bods tops – and if you like folk, Ameriana and alt. country (can anyone tell me what that is? Not Taylor Swift, then?) this one is for you. They get some good headliners here, we’re talking Bat for Lashes and the like, and this year they’ve got Jesus and Mary Chain (cue mega flashback to sixth form). 4 stages, secret sets, loads of stuff for kids and plenty of peacocks strutting around. It’s got it all, then.
Larmer Tree Gardens, Tollard Royal, Wilts, endoftheroadfestival.com
Once Upon A Time in the West, Trowbridge, Wilts, 13-16 July
A fab little festival with a great name, Out West doesn’t take itself too seriously, although it is run by a crew who brought you the likes of Glasto and some of the other big contenders. A light hearted fest that is light on the wallet too (£75 including camping), it insists on keeping its commitment to West Country local while enticing some friends from the bigger events to come and play. It’s all independent, eccentric even, rating smiles over sub-bass. Did I say they are determined to be laid back? Perhaps it’s all that cider…
Trowbridge and Westbury, Wilts, outwestfestival.co.uk
Heddstock, Nr Calne, Wilts, 8 July
This baby only lasts for one day, so don’t blink or you’ll miss it. It costs less than a tenner so you won’t be surprised that it is less David Bowie and more The Bowie Experience. Not so much for serious head bangers this one, but bring your kids, stick ‘em in front of Peerless Pirates and enjoy some ‘us’ time. It’s cheap, you can park here and you don’t have to bring all that camping kit. What’s not to love?
Heddington, Nr Calne, Wilts, facebook.com/Heddstock
Minety, Malmesbury, Wilts, 30 June – 2 July
Now here’s a good excuse for a party. Minety is the new kid on the block and it is still more about food and drink than the tunes (although it calls itself a music fest) but there is a super-whizz kids zone with circus skills workshops (why is there so much circus stuff everywhere? Are we breeding a generation of future Cirque du Soleil contortionists?) and it is 100% in aid of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance and Naomi House and Jacksplace Hospice. They’ve got Doctor and the Medics this year, if you fancy a bit of glam rock. Will it rival Larmer Tree? We shall see…
Hornbury Hill, Minety, Malmesbury, Wilts, minetyfestival.co.uk
Field Trip, West Ashton, Wilts, 25-28 August
An electro fest with an earthy vibe. What? I hear you cry. What I mean is, it’s house, techno, drum and bass, electrofunk and breaks (Goldie Lookin Chain and Catz ‘N Dogz announced so far) serving locally sourced organic food in biodegradable packaging. You like?
West Aston, Wilts, fieldtripparty.co.uk
Devizes Fest, Wilts, 27-28 August
Is it a music festival? Is it a carnival? Is it a foodie feast? All three and more, I reckon, plus a picnic in the park, a parade and a confetti battle. This festival is seriously cool, with the best of the best street performers, contemporary circus acts, dancers, musicians and walkabout shows from across Europe and the UK. Line up not announced yet but it’s a good excuse to listen to some tunes while not wearing wellies.
Devizes, Wilts, docadevizes.org.uk
New Forest Fairy Festival, Burley, Wilts, 12-13 August
Young and old (and seriously unbalanced) will love this little gem. For the truly wacky this little number celebrates the essence of Fairies and Elves, with a massive line up of activities, live bands, Morris dancers, story telling, belly dancing, platform mediumship (yep, that kind of medium), a healing area with healing workshops, puppet shows, OK, stop! The line up is pretty sketchy as of now but they have signed some kid wearing pixie ears.
Burley Park, Burley, Wilts, newforestfairyfestival.com
Camp Bestival, Dorset, 27-30 July
Argh! I hear you shout. Not Bestival! Go newer, go smaller, go funkier. But I’m afraid I still bow to the beast that is Bestival, or at least the little kitty cat that is Camp Bestival, Bestival’s family-friendly offspring. It’s just over the border in the luscious grounds of Lulworth Castle in Dorset, there’s loads for the kids to do and the bookings are tip top. This year it’s Mark Ronson, Madness and Brian Wilson headlining plus All Saints, Holly Johnson and Leftfield, plus its first big kids show has been announced as School of Rock – The Musical. No wonder it regularly snaps up the coveted title of Best Family Festival. Tip – don’t come without kids. This one really is for them.
Lulworth Castle, Dorset, campbestival.net
Chalk Valley History Festival, Salisbury, Wilts, 26 June – 2 July
I’m going to include this gem, the largest festival in the UK dedicated entirely to history, because, y’know, it’s not all about cider and pogo sticks and head banging until you can’t hear yourself think. Get your history spods on and celebrate the past with living history and the sound of cannon-fire and muskets. The setting is idyllic – rolling downs meets Hardy’s Wessex – as you come face to face with Romans, knights of the Middle Ages, Napoleonic riflemen and Tommies from the two world wars. There’ll be plenty of men in skirts (Mel Gibson ca. 1995, anyone?) and if you’ve got a kid with a looming history GCSE I’d drag ‘em here kicking and screaming. Best thing is, you still get to wear those box-fresh wellies.
Church Bottom, Broad Chalke, Near Salisbury, Wilts, cvhf.org.uk
Want to get out and about in Wilts in April? Here’s our guide to getting, well…Muddy