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Festival fever!

Hey music lover! Load up with beer, pear cider, gin and check out these 15 fab festivals.

Woohoo, it’s the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, so what better way to mark the occasion than lose yourself at a festival, and while Blighty isn’t quite San Francisco, there are plenty of good vibes and good tunes going down in Gloucestershire and beyond. And so far (please don’t let me jinx this),we’re getting some Californian weather too. So, let’s relive it cats – here’s where to go, close to home and further afield.

Where to get your rocks off on your doorstep.

Amplified Open Air Festival, Quarrydowns, near Northleach, Fri 21 to Sun 23 July

Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell and The Bastard Sons

Hey, festivals aren’t all about hippies and daisy chains, you know – metal heads, here’s a new festival with your name on it. In an interesting juxtaposition, the bucolic, rolling hills of the Cotswolds will be girding its loins to welcome over 100 heavy metal bands, including legendary Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell and his band The Bastard Sons, Puddle of Mudd, Bleed Again, Reign of Fury and Divine Chaos. If you live within a three-mile radius, you get a special reduced rate (keep the neighbours on side, lol!), and there’s a Harley Davidson prize draw. Rock up and get your head ready to bang.

Chalfest, France Lynch Pleasure Grounds, Chalford Hill, near Stroud, Sat 22 July, 11am-9.30pm

Some villages have a summer fête with Victoria sponge cakes, flower queens and ‘my marrow is bigger than your marrow’ competitions – while other villages have a goddam music festival with the flipping Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Toploader playing. Chalford’s one-day community festival has the admirable ethos of bringing the community together, promoting a community identity and having a bloody good time while they’re at it. As well as the headliners, there will also be Chalfest’s Got Talent Winners on the Main Stage, a Bar Stage of local bands, a kids’ entertainment area and a tea and cake tent, ‘cause a slice of Victoria sponge is actually rather nice.

Coleford Music Festival, Forest of Dean, Sat 22 to Sun 23 July

The Forest of Dean seems to have been keeping this fab, FREE festival a bit of a secret, but I’m onto them now! The outdoor event takes over the town centre with an eclectic mix of music, art, culture and community happenings. On the music front, expect jazz, ska, rockabilly, folk, blues (all tastes pretty much covered) served up by local bands and yet-to-be-announced national headliners (past performers have included The Four Tops and The Drifters!). There’ll also be kids’ entertainment on tap, workshops, street food, stalls and local produce to get your teeth into.

Soul Circus Yoga & Wellness Festival, Elmore, near Gloucester, Fri 18 to Sun 20 Aug

Dubbed the festival for wellness wierdos by The Sunday Times, 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 second year, this summer sees rapper, singer-songwriter and Faithless lead vocalist Maxi Jazz headlining the Saturday night DJ set, and also hosting a live DJ yoga class and talk on Buddhism. Yeah, I know, yin and yang. As well as thumping tunes, there’ll be loads of yoga, too, of course – hot, rocket, acro yoga dance – you name it, Soul Circus has it. And Bamford Haybarn Spa will be there with the Pop Up Hotel dishing out wellness in the form of treatments, saunas and wood-fired hot tubs where you can chill out next to the lake with a pre-prandial bottle of Moet before dining at a supper club and then throwing some moves with your newly flexible body late into the night. Pack your Lululemon leggings and limber up, it’s good for you, you know.

Stroud Fringe, various venues in Stroud, Fri 25 to Sun 27 Aug

Now in its 21st year, the August Bank Holiday weekend sees Stroud transformed into a creative hotbed of live music, parades, street theatre, comedy, literature and performance art all showcasing the valley town’s homegrown talent as well as imported acts. Stroud has a special kind of alchemy at the best of times and the Fringe is so popular, the whole town gets booked out so this year glamping pioneers ZooBells are helicoptering their luxe bell tents into Stratford Park to serve up a boutique camping experience alongside the festival fun, laying on early bird arts and crafts sessions and bedtime stories if you’ve got the kids in tow and free entry to the lido. Perfect. Click here to book.


Dust off the tent, it’s time for a festival road trip!

Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, Thu 27 to Sat 29 July

Bestival’s less wild little sister, the award-winning Camp Bestival, is the Rolls-Royce of family festivals. There’s tonnes for kids to do and the music bookings are always high calibre. This 10th anniversary year will see the dapper Mark Ronson getting the party started, with 1990s favourites Leftfield and All Saints also in attendance. If you’re tearing your hair out at the cost of taking the family to a festival (when did they become the same price as a holiday?!), it’s worth noting that Camp Bestival does a brilliant payment plan to spread the cost.

Womad, Malmesbury, Wiltshire, Thu 27 to Sun 30 July

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.

Warwick Folk Festival, Warwick School and town, Thu 27 to Sun 30 July

Alistair Anderson and Northlands

The 2017 lineup for the 38th Warwick Folk Festival includes the likes of veteran folkies Oysterband, the uniquely entertaining Australian The Spooky Men’s Chorale, award-winning Goitse from Ireland, DJ Andy Kershaw and Gaelica from Venezuela. Circus skills, storytelling, theatre, crafts and even star-gazing for kids. Plus, the first folk-comedy night. Also expect ceilidhs, workshops, a Craft & Music Fair and even a Wine and Cocktail Bar. There’s a free festival shuttle bus, a family-friendly school camping site and indoor swimming pool.

Wilderness, Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire, Thu 3 to Sun 6 August

Wilderness Festival, OxfordshireBit posh? Then you’ll love Wilderness, which is a lot more genteel than its name suggests. This year’s bash at the idyllic 400 acre country estate includes an outpost of Petersham Nurseries, a long-table banquet cooked by Ottolenghi and talks hosted by Tate Britain and School Of Life. Rock’n’roll! Music-wise, be sure to catch disco diva ne plus ultra Grace Jones – always an utter mentalist when playing live.

Fieldview, Chippenham, Wiltshire, Thu 3 to Sun 6 August

Alistair Anderson and Northlands

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… 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, 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 small people include jewellery making, treasure hunts and circus skills, with yoga and Tai Chi for adults (helps the hangover, I’m told). So load up the happy campers and head down to the shhh… secret location, but near Chippenham.

Valley Fest, Chew Magna, Somerset, Fri 4 to Sun 6 August

This is the festival where the spectacular views over the Chew Valley Lake (you’d never guess you were just nine miles outside Bristol) are given a run for their money by the delish organic food, sizzling music and atmosphere on the shore. Set on an organic farm in Chew Magna, north Somerset, Valley Fest, now in its third year, was set up by farmer Luke Hasell in memory and celebration of his parents’ zest for life and love of good food, and it takes place on a community farm growing and selling organic food. Food is big here and you could just sit and stuff your face, but there’s too much else going on for that. The live music lineup includes Argentian-Swedish indie troubadour José González, legendary London and festival clubnighters White Wedding, popsters Goan Dogs and a psychedelic orchestra. There’s no kids’ area as such, but plenty for them to do from training a sheepdog and foraging to DJ-ing and arts and crafts.

Green Man, Brecon Beacons, Wales, Thu 17 to Sun 20 August 

Green Man is set in the beautiful Brecon Beacons with the Black Mountains as a backdrop to the Mountain Stage. This year’s acts include the wonderful PJ Harvey, Ryan Adams, Future Islands and Michael Kiwanuka. 100% independent, it still draws a brilliant lineup of performers spanning indie, psychedelia, Americana, electronica and folk. There’s also comedy, cinema, art, Einstein’s Garden (a fab family-friendly science area), Nature & Nurture (a spa, yoga and therapy zone), Little Folk (for two to 12-year-olds) and Somewhere (for 13 to 17-year-olds with DJ & song-writing workshops, fire shows, film-making & football).

The Big Feastival, near Kingham, Oxfordshire, Fri 25 to Sun 27 Aug

As the name suggests food is at the centre of this festival held on Blur bassist Alex James’ farm, with turns from Rick Stein, Antonio Carluccio, Gizzi Erskine, Candice Brown and, ahem, DJ BBQ (bit of a berk but great recipes). Not forgetting the various food markets, supper clubs, street food stalls and Alex James’ Cheese Hub (does Alex James make cheese? He never mentions it…) There’s music from Madness, Olly Murs and De La Soul and free day tickets for children aged 12 and under.

End Of The Road, Tollard Royal, Wiltshire, Thu 31 August to Sun 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 Chameau (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 Jesus and Mary Chain (cue mega flashback to sixth form) are playing. Four stages, secret sets, loads of stuff for kids and plenty of peacocks strutting around, it’s got it all.

Festival No 6, Portmeirion, Wales, Thu 7 to Sun 10 September

Don’t let summer end with August – round of 50 years since the summer of love with this fab festival in its amazing setting with views over the stunning Snowdonia mountain range and peninsula in the slightly surreal Italianate village of Portmeirion (where the pottery comes from) designed by architect William Clough-Ellis. The 2017 line-up is juicy –Jarvis Cocker, Flaming Lips, Bloc Party, Mogwai, Rag ‘n’Bone Man, Laura Mvula, Goldie and Sgt Pepper’s and the Summer of Love with Liverpool Philharmonic and the Bootleg Beatles. Other highlights: a banquet overlooking the estuary, a Swedish spa and paddle-boarding sessions.

2 comments on “Festival fever!”

  • treeza July 19, 2017

    How could you miss Nibley?!! – an amazing festival, and all proceeds to charity too. But hush, don’t tell everyone…

    • sarahfrank July 21, 2017

      Thanks for the tip-off – the secret’s out now for next year!


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