Find your perfect summer music festival match with our essential guide to Britain’s best small and independent festivals of the year.
Sundown over glampers. Image by Philip Volkers Photography.
By Slava T Gordon
Spring is finally in the air. The first flowers popping up all over the country means one thing of incredible importance – the festival season is nearly upon us! Festival lovers everywhere will agree, there is no place more deliciously suited to their needs than summertime in the UK. A fact that even those lucky ducklings who managed shimmy their winter away in far flung sun-kissed locales, such as Wonderfruit festival in Thailand, will confess… one of the main reasons for their flight of fancy being to ease the withdrawal pangs felt at the end of another great British summer.
Bane + Antidote editor Alex Volkers’ reaction to the end of the festival season. Image by Philip Volkers Photography.
Each new season brings an ever-expanding list of festivals to choose from. We know you have plenty to do orchestrating your summer party schedule, without suffering the existential crisis of wondering if you’ve chosen the right mix of festivals. As professional revellers we are attuned to your dilemma. Keeping time with the offerings, we have translated undecipherable chunky beats into a list of the juiciest and most tantalising small and independent festivals on offer this summer. Armed with this guide you can spend more time rallying your favourite mischief-makers, focussing on the mayhem and completing your fancy dress inventory. When placing your seasonal bulk glitter order we encourage you to do your body (and mind!) a favour and stock up on Faust Potions too. The Recovery Pack was designed to help you maintain your shine and keep you bouncing ALL season long.
A happy camper. Image by Philip Volkers Photography.
When: 23 – 25 May 2015.
Where: Near Bath.
Who: Norman Jay MBE, The Cuban Brothers, Dub Pistols – DJ, Joey Negro, A. Skillz.
What: A low-key collaboration by Bristol based Ghetto Funk and Pussyfoot. This party ‘for friends, by friends’ features a fantastic line-up chock full of big brassy beats and funky bass lines. More of a gathering than a festival there is little danger of losing your friends at this intimate event. Set in beautiful countryside near Bath there is an all-day cocktail bar, boutique camping, and a nightclub that keeps the party going until the morning sun. This year there is also a Kid’s Kingdom with daily circus shows.
Get in the Mood: The music lovers at monkeyboxing.com have compiled a ghetto funk compilation for your aural pleasure.
When: 5 -7 June 2015.
Where: Euston Hall, Suffolk.
Who: Kitty Daisy & Lewis, CW Stoneking, Ian Siegal, Son of Dave.
What: An immaculately curated weekend celebrating all that is great about the American South conveniently placed in an exquisite corner of Suffolk. Posse up and get down to the finest selection of roots, country, Americana, R&B and soul bands in this here land. When you’ve danced holes in your boots you can belly up to the table with your well-earned rock-and-roll swagger. Enjoy finger licking BBQ, mouth-watering gumbo, spicy wings and mac and cheese. Wash it down with a more than ample supply of American whiskey or craft cocktails (we are drooling already, do we have to wait until June?!). Late-night campfires, buskers and woodwork complete the atmosphere. If there is no room in your saddlebags due to a plethora of fancy dress there are glamping options available too.
Get in the Mood: Louder Than War offers a full rundown of last year’s festival complete with music videos.
Noisily Festival of Music and Arts
When: 9 -12 July 2015.
Where: Coney Woods, Nosely Hall, Leicestershire.
Who: Stephan Bodzin, Grouch, Boris Brejcha, Parasense, Victor Ruiz, Joof, Loud.
What: Noisily is a godsend to dance music fans who continue to mourn the loss of the Glade Festival each July. For those who love to dance and prefer to do it non-stop and surrounded by like-minded, shiny, happy souls, then this festival has it all. Set in stunning and secluded woodlands location? Check. Under a canopy of wild psychedelic art paired with the latest in laser-light show technology? Check! Check! Featuring a stellar electronic music line-up (including the Liquid Stage), top-notch production values and a killer Function-One sound system? Check! Check! Check!
Get in the mood: England’s longest running and most comprehensive festival guide eFestivals offers a great summation of last year’s festival.
When: 17 – 20 July 2015.
Where: Stanford Hall, Leicestershire.
What: With only 750 tickets available this event is tiny by festival standards. A gathering of kindred spirits featuring all the elements of a well-produced music festival, we like to think of it as the family reunion of our dreams. Set in some of the most beautiful English countryside on the river Avon, Give! is a place for nourishing, replenishing and sharing as well as dancing to great tunes. There are plenty of options for boutique camping and a full menu of spa services. If you look pretty in pink all the better… for this year’s group photo on Saturday all revellers are encouraged dress to impress in their pinkest pink finery.
Get in the mood: Ben the Bee has curated the delectable offering that is House of Honey Radio, available 24/7.
Secret Garden Party
When: 23 – 26 July 2015.
Where: Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire.
Who: Jungle, Cat Empire, Angus & Julia Stone, Caravan Palace, Public Service Broadcasting.
What: An eternal favourite of Bane + Antidote. Not one to rest on its well-earned laurels, Secret Garden Party finds ways to make our collective jaw drop in awe and shriek with delight year after year. Hands down it is still one of the most exquisite and magical festivals around. This year’s theme is ‘Childish Things’. The intent is to reclaim a youth that is wasted on the young. Pack your childish fantasies and your silliest mates and get ready to revel and play like it’s back in the day, when everything was new and wonder-full.
Image by Philip Volkers Photography.
Get in the Mood: Read the latest SGP line-up news by Haptic World.
When: 23 – 27 July.
Where: Castle Hill Estate, North Devon.
Who: Laura Marling, Bombay Bicycle Club, Jimmy Cliff, Passenger, Crystal Fighters, Norman Jay MBE, Angus & Julia Stone.
What: From the team behind Wilderness Festival, this is the most exciting lifestyle festival that we have encountered. Billed as the summer camp for adults, this is perfect for music lovers with a taste for the outdoors, or adventurers who crave more from their time in nature. With a full menu of daytime activities there are many reasons to make sure you get a fair amount of rest. In addition to a top musical line-up you can learn surfing, rock climbing, coasteering, kayaking, rafting and mountain biking. When you’ve worn out yourself physically you can rejuvenate in the spa from Claire Hamilton the genius behind wildwellbeing. Follow that with gourmet feasts, campfires, immersive theatre and forest parties. Rinse and repeat for 5 days and you will head home knackered yet rejuvenated.
Get in the Mood: Latest news and line-up information at the comprehensive eFestivals website.
Festival Number 6
When: 3 – 6 September 2015.
Where: Portmeirion, Wales.
Who: Grace Jones, Belle & Sebastian, DJ Harvey, Kate Tempest, Young Fathers.
What: Definitely the most unique and arguably the most sophisticated UK festival this summer. With an explosion of colour and sound, Festival Number Six stages a full takeover of Britain’s only Italianate village. Festival season is a great time of year to visit the Grade II listed village of Portmeirion, Wales. You may recognize it as the location of 1960s cult TV show, The Prisoner. Featuring a full range of arts and cultural programming, multiple award-winning Festival Number Six has much going on above and beyond its incredible line up. Plus, this is the closest you will get to an authentic coastal Mediterranean experience without using your passport. In addition to the standard glamping options, early birds can secure a room in a renovated Victorian Castle. Now that’s truly Posh camping!
Get in the mood: Gigslutz offers a comprehensive review of 2014’s festival
A summer well spent. Image by Philip Volkers Photography.