Festival Fever in Wilts, Glos and beyond – book now!
‘Tis the season for drinking too much cider and getting sunburnt in a field under the guise of being a live music fan. Here’s our pick of the best summer fests, both local and further afield. See you down the front!
Lechlade Music Festival, Riverside Park, Lechlade, 24-26 May
For 8 successful years, Lechlade has been growing bigger and better, after a record six thousand guests in 2018. This year the festival promises to be jam-packed with over 100 performers, including Ivor Novello award-winning Brit Award-nominated band The Feeling headlining. Sticking to its roots, the festival is a family friendly event, with comedy, camping (and glamping for those not suited to the outdoor lifestyle), free family workshops, burlesque and more. Saturday night sees the return of ‘That 80s Rock Show’, performing 80s stadium rock anthems and power ballads with larger than life characters. Children 16 and under go free, whether camping or visiting for the day. This is brilliant way to make the most out of your bank holiday weekend, plus special Christmas Saver tickets are available until 31st January. www.lechladefestival.co.uk
Party at the Castle, Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe, Thurs 6 June to Sat 8 June
Get ready for a serious celebration at Sudeley Castle this summer, with amongst others, tenor Alfie Boe, Will Young, All Saints and Sara Cox’s full on party show – Just Can’t Get Enough 80s. www.partyatthecastle.co.uk
Nocturne, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon; 21-23 June
A festival for people who are too posh for festivals! This is more a series of chichi al fresco concerts in ridiculously elegant surroundings, with Lauryn Hill, Tears For Fears and Kylie (sadly sold out) on consecutive summer nights. Having once waited many, many hours for a Ms Hill gig back in the day, I wish all attendees good luck on that front.
Chalke Valley History Festival, nr Salisbury, 24-30 June
See history, hear history, even feel history at this extraordinary festival dedicated entirely to – you guessed it – history. Talks, workshops and debates bring alive an incredible living past on these rolling plains in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside – check out the through-the-ages encampment, interactive events, plus sign up now for a mega-impressive list of speakers from Victoria Hislop to Mariella Frostrup, with a jaunt through Niall Ferguson and Antonia Fraser in between. The Festival also boasts a range of interactive tents and activities such as SOE Commando training and Secret Agent Training; as well as archaeology walks, vintage vehicles, a book store, shopping emporium, a bar, fine dining and street food. Early ticket sales are available from 30 April. cvhf.org.uk
Cornbury Music Festival, The Great Tew Park, Oxon; 5 – 7 July
The Beach Boys and The Specials head the bill at this civilised festival that prides itself on being quintessentially English. Think country fair with a rock’n’roll twist. Jovial Geordies The Hairy Bikers provide the food.
Minety Music Festival, Minety, near Malmesbury, Wilts, 5 – 7 July
Love a good ABBA tribute? Well, get yourself tickets for this not-for-profit, community festival then – and be transported back to the ’70s. minetyfestival.co.uk
Larmer Tree Festival, Larmer Tree Gardens, Salisbury, Wed 18 July to Sat 21 July
Larmer Tree is back once again after another smashing year. This family festival has a bigger line up than ever with The Cat Empire, KT Tunstall, Kate Tempest and Jack Savoretti. Each day will be packed with activities, family fun and live events. Plus, following a long history of supporting new artists, the Larmer Tree Festival Breakthrough Music Awards return for 2019, with unsigned artists invited to win a slot at the Festival. Applications are now open on for unsigned bands and singer-songwriters to compete for the prestigious prize, and winners will perform on the bill alongside the acts. Larmertreefestival.co.uk
Chalfest, Chalford, near Stroud, Glos, 20 July
Tickets are nearly gone for the hippest village festival EVER. It went off like a well-oiled festival fun machine in 2018 and is on a roll to be even bigger and better this year with more acts, more free stuff to do, more food, more cool stuff to buy – just more of everything! chalfest.co.uk
Womad, Charlton Park, Malmesbury, Wilts, 25-28 July
In the warm blur of the festival season, this celebration of international music, arts and dance founded by Peter Gabriel in 1980 still stands out. Acts include Ziggy Marley, Orbital and Anna Calvi – there’s always a feel-good offering of global culture with large side dish of happy vibes. womad.co.uk
Wilderness, Cornbury Park, Oxford; 1 – 4 Aug
Possibly the coolest local festival of them all, here there’s a heady mix of right-on hippiness (think yoga, skinny-dipping and hot tubs) combined with impressive big-name music bookings. The line up has just been released with Groove Armada returning to the Wilderness Main Stage along with Robyn, Bombay Bicycle Club and Tom Odell.
Soul Circus, Yoga & Wellness Festival, Elmore near Gloucester, Glos, 16-19 Aug
The ultimate wellness festival, Soul Circus promises to blow your mind, body and soul, show you a good time and leave you feeling balanced and Zen-like at the end of it. Now in its fourth year, expect sunrise sessions with masters of yoga and sunset kickback parties, with a menu of healthy food and drink (yes there’s booze!). Tickets are going quick, so book now – it’s good for you! soulcircus.yoga
The Big Feastival, Kingham, Oxon; 23-25 Aug
This posh nosh extravaganza on the farm of cheese-obsessed Blur bassist Alex James hosts top chefs alongside music acts. Line-up details are tba but this is definitely one to bookmark if you’re a foodie. The only downside is you might bump into Cotswolds locals David Cameron and Jeremy Clarkson.
End of the Road, Larmer Tree Gardens, near Blandford, Dorset, 29 August to 1 September
Small but perfectly formed, this alternative music festival is perfect for anyone who balks at massive crowds and loves a bit of folk, Ameriana and alt country. They get some good headliners here – last year Jesus and Mary Chain for one. Early Birds and Tier 1, 2 and 3 tickets have already sold out, so don’t dilly dally. endoftheroadfestival.com
Verve Festival, Ebbesborne Wake, Wilts, 7-8 Sep
Get your tix now for this fab new wellness festival celebrating health, fitness and the great outdoors. All ages are welcome for a weekend of yoga and meditation, Pilates, exercise classes and guided farm runs in the most picturesque location imaginable in South Wiltshire, plus there will be a full education programme, covering health & wellness, nutrition, sleep, mindfulness, life coaching, children’s health and much more. Enjoy mindful activities such as foraging, bushcraft in the woods, silent walks or landscape drawing with a local artist. Reconnect with yourself and your surroundings in workshops that celebrate the beauty of The Chalke Valley and promote mindfulness and wellbeing. Oh, and there is a Zest Spa! What’s not to like? www.feeltheverve.com
HAVE TENT, WILL TRAVEL? HERE’S A FEW FURTHER AFIELD THAT MUDDY LOVES…
Latitude, Suffolk; 18 – 21 July
This is the Radio 4 of festivals – refined, civilised and cultured, with its line-up of literary readings, theatre, comedy and Sadlers Wells ballet performances. They don’t skimp on the live music easier – this year Lana Del Rey, Underworld and Primal Scream are on the bill.
Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset; 25 -28 July
The kiddy-friendly alternative to Bestival, this one has loads to keep little people happy while you tuck into that box of wine. Human League, Chic, Jess Glynne are playing, with Sara Cox, Annie Mac and Spice Girl Mel C on DJ duties.
Shambala, Northants; 22 – 25 Aug
Muddy’s Nancy is a big fan of this lo-fi indie festival on a country estate in Northants. It’s not big on household name music bookings for its 12 (yep, twelve!) stages but there’s more cabaret, inspiring talks, yoga, circus acts and comedy than you can shake a stick at. Plus it’s very family friendly.
Truck Festival, Steventon, Oxon; 26-28 July
Full marks for nabbing indie favourites and local lads Foals for their first Oxon show in five years. They’ll be joined by Wolf Alice and Kate Nash (side note: have you seen her acting chops brilliant in Netflix series Glow?). This veteran South Oxon festival in a farmer’s field hits all the right notes too with its family-friendly feel and decent food.