Discover a different kind of festival
Culture, music and sleeping under the star-lit skies. I might be a bit of a dreamer at heart, but these three things are what I love most about the British summer. And with festival season almost upon us, there are plenty of opportunities coming up to grab a tent and go.
Lesser-known festivals you’ll love…
If, like me, you’d rather soak up the atmosphere somewhere off the beaten path – or you want to take the family – there are lots of great places that might not instantly spring to mind. Read on to discover the lesser-known festivals I think you might just love.
ELDERFLOWER FIELDS, SUSSEX, 22ND-25TH MAY.
You certainly won’t be short of things to do at this small, independent festival. Activities span across subjects from sports and music to the arts, environment and food so there’s something for everyone.
Elderflower Fields is very family focused and if budding young musicians bring their instruments, they can enter a competition that would win them the chance to perform on the festival’s main stage.
In terms of performers, Elderflower Fields showcases artists from across the genres – from Folk, Cajun and Swing to Rock, World, Dance and Classical. And if all the activities and dancing leave you a little weary, there’s a woodland spa where you enjoy a hot stone massage or relax in the open-air hot tub – on a bus!
The Line Up: The Three Belles, Patch & The Giant, Kumi, The King’s Parade and more.
Tickets: Weekend tickets from £50, day ticket from £30.
Alternative entertainment: Bedtime stories, theatre workshops and magic shows.
Good to know: Unlike a lot of other festivals, parking is free and if you bring your own tent, so is camping.
THE LARMER TREE, NEAR SALISBURY, 15TH-19TH JULY.
This four-day festival is nestled within idyllic Victorian gardens on the borders of Wiltshire and Dorset. It’s family friendly and along with the usual main stages, you’ll find lots of areas to explore, including an Artists’ Quarter, a Secret Garden where you can seek some tranquillity, and The Lost Lounge; a ‘wonderful woodland hang out’ under open skies and a forest canopy.
The line up: Tom Jones, The Levellers, Jimmy Cliff, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Bill Bailey and lots more.
Tickets: Day tickets from £26-£67, 4-day tickets from £63. Under 5s are free.
Alternative entertainment: Creative workshops, yoga classes, comedy shows.
Good to know: Parking is extra. Expect to pay £6 for a one-day car pass.
NOZSTOCK, HEREFORDSHIRE, 24TH-26TH JULY.
Named after its ex dairy farmer founder, Noz, who’s renowned for his eclectic taste in music, it’s not surprising that you’ll find a really wide mix of sounds at Nozstock. This independent festival was started in 1998 almost by accident and while it’s grown (by word of mouth), it’s held on to a small garden party feel.
Nozstock is big on green initiatives too, with lots of fun, green activities and a free eco friendly shuttle bus. There are luxury yurts available to rent, but we recommend supporting CampLight, a less waste initiative that recycles tents left at past festivals. Starting at £40 you can hire a tent with an air mattress and sleeping bag and Camplight will have it already set up in a good spot before you get on-site.
The Line Up: Martha Reeves and The Vandellas, Electric Swing Circus, Smokey Joe & The Kid and many more.
Tickets: Weekend tickets from £85, free for under 12s.
Alternative Entertainment: Eco-themed workshops, cabaret, interactive theatre, poetry tent and lots more.
Good to know: Weekend tickets only.
WILDERNESS, OXFORDSHIRE, 6TH-9TH AUGUST.
If you’re looking to broaden your mind, you could choose any of the festivals we’ve recommended. Wilderness, however, has something up its sleeve that we couldn’t recommend it highly enough – The Wilderness School of Thought. Take a break from seeing the headliners, and register for one of the small workshops. You’ll get the chance to discuss and explore wide-ranging topics that are all connected by the single theme of making the world a better place.
The Line Up: Björk, Ben Howard, Roisin Murphy, Nick Mulvey, Avi Avital and many more.
Tickets: Weekend tickets are £83-£175, £5 for under 10s.
Alternative Entertainment: Talks and debates, fine dining, screen-printing and perfume making workshops, collage keepsake making with Oh Comely magazine.
Good to know: For a peaceful sleep after a long day exploring, book your tent’s spot in the Quiet Camping grounds.
JUST SO FESTIVAL, CHESHIRE, 21ST-23RD AUGUST.
Supported by England’s Arts Council this creative weekend festival puts the emphasis on families playing, dancing and creating together. Music, workshops, literature and theatre performances take place within a beautiful woodland setting.
Although you won’t find headline names you’ll recognise here, you might leave with new craft or circus-inspired skills under your belt, and will definitely hear musicians you many never have discovered otherwise.
The Line Up: Yet to be confirmed.
Tickets: Day tickets from £20, weekend tickets from £50. Free for under 3s.
Alternative entertainment: Drop in knitting, pillow fights, circus workshops, samba drumming and lots more.
Good to know: The festival relies heavily on volunteers to make it happen – a great idea if you’re a budding crafter, actor and want to share your talent, or if you’d simple like to help.
Are there any lesser-known festivals you’ve been to and loved? Or maybe you’ve got tickets for one of the events I’ve mentioned? Let me know in the comments box below.