mods, rockers, rollers, hippes, druids and Elvis-lovers… all share some fundamental desire: to head out to a designated special place, especially when the sun or moon comes out, and party. Song, dance and array of rituals specific to the tastes of the group are always central to the event. The practice is international, it’s been going on for thousands of years and I can only assume it answers some primal urge to come together, to commune, to share our lives, our common beliefs and passions with a backdrop of music.
Perhaps it’s a natural exuberance that finds expression when a society is free, at peace and ‘spiritually open’ to enjoy favourite songs together. Monuments like Stonehenge stand as evidence that these gatherings were very serious business even five thousand years ago when the big blue stones were dug out of the rocks of Wales and carried to a clearing hundreds of miles away creating an arena for their festival (originating from the Latin for feast).
Talking of feasts, this year’s Elvis festival will be hosted at Blackpool in July and no doubt thousands of men dressed in white with quasi-spiritual seriousness will gather and sing in low bass notes. A multitude of animals will be consumed and alcohol will flow freely, just going to prove that although the songs have changed and even the chief priests, essentially the human need has not.
More than one-hundred and fifty thousand people (150,000!) attended the Glastonbury festival last year and all time ticket sales have exceeded £325 million – considering ticket prices were just £1 in the first year it’s easy to see how far ‘the business’ has come. The perimeter fence is now 8.5 miles long and to get in costs a minimum of £225. But perhaps there was always a charge to get into these things, even back then when it all kicked off in Stonehenge at Solstice time.
Fortunately, the choice these days of well-organised and quality events is pretty big so there is no need to fight your way into Glastonbury which has become so large the hippy ‘love’ vibe is distant and a regulated markeplace has stepped in. Micro events, resembling the humble beginnings of these feasts, have popped up nationwide and there is something for everyone’s taste.
Whatever your plans are for the summer we thought it would be nice to list some standard, some bizarre, some off-the-wall cultural gatherings that are taking place around the country.
Festivals to look forward to this year
Bestival, Newport, Isle of Wight: 8-11 Sep 2016
Headliners in 2015: The Chemical Brothers, Underworld, Tame Impala
Award-winning boutique festival with 1,000 performers. Pianos in the woods, lit-up lakesides, fancy dress, poetry, theatre and comedy.
Boardmasters, Fistral Beach & Watergate Bay, Newquay: 10-14 Aug 2016
Headliners in 2015: Faithless, Rudimental, Bastille
Surfers, skaters and BMX kings, and music from dance dons, folk stars, and pop favourites.
BoomTown Fair, Winchester: 11-14 Aug 2016
Headliners this year: Madness, Damian Marley, Fat Freddy’s Drop
Diverse and non-commercial mix with folk, drum & bass and everything in between.
Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset: 28-31 Jul 2016
Headliners this year: Fatboy Slim, Jess Glynne, Tears For Fears
Smaller version of Bestival, Camp Bestival offers similar fancy dress and late night frolics, but is family friendly. Set in a beautiful English castle, it has medieval jousting to face painting with music, comedy and poets.
Download Festival, Donington Park, Derby: 10-12 Jun 2016
Headliners this year: Rammstein, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden
Hard rock and heavy metal at Derby’s Donington Park. Three days of the biggest names in heavy rock from the 70s right up to now.
Glastonbury Festival, Pilton, Somerset: 22-26 Jun 2016
Headliners in 2015: Florence and the Machine, Kanye West, The Who
Massive artists, music, circus and theatre shows at this legendary event.
The Great Escape, Brighton, Sussex: 19-21 May 2016
Headliners this year: Oh Wonder, Shura, Mura Masa
Seaside sounds, with 400 bands in 35 venues and one wristband that gets you into every one.
Green Man Festival, Brecon Beacons, Wales: 18-21 Aug 2016
Headliners in 2015: St. Vincent, Super Furry Animals, Hot Chip
Incredible landscape of the Brecon Beacons’ Black Mountains in Wales and a folk-led line-up. 1,500 performers in comedy, theatre and literary worlds, plus local ales and ciders on offer on tap.
Isle of Wight Festival, Newport, Isle of Wight: 9-12 Jun 2016
Headliners this year: Queen + Adam Lambert, Faithless, Stereophonics
Reincarnation of one of the UK’s first-ever festivals pulls in the world’s biggest talent. This year headliners include Fleetwood Mac, The Prodigy, The Black Keys and Pharrell Williams.
Latitude Festival, Henham Park, Southwold: 14-17 Jul 2016
Headliners in 2015: alt-J, Portishead, Manic Street Preachers
Much more than just a music festival. DJs hidden in the woods, colourful sheep roaming the tufty fields, opera on the lake, film in its onsite cinema, clowns, theatre and local ales and a huge children’s area.
Lovebox, Victoria Park, East London: 15-17 Jul 2016
Headliners in 2015: Snoop Dogg, Rudimental, Hot Chip
London’s annual party created by Groove Armada. A mix of dance dons, rock gods, vintage markets, bespoke bars and fairground rides.
NASS Festival, Bath and West Showground, Somerset: 8-10 Jul 2016
Headliners in 2015: Enter Shikari, Rebel Sound, Public Enemy
Extreme sports competitions and cutting-edge music, NASS is a wild weekend of BMXing, skateboarding and inline-skating with music until dawn.
Reading & Leeds, Little John’s Farm & Bramham Park: 26-28 Aug 2016
Headliners this year: Red Hot Chili Peppers, more TBA
Reading provides a platform for rising and established indie acts, metal, dance, hip hop and pop.
The Secret Garden Party, Mill Hill Field, Cambridgeshire: 21-24 Jul 2016
Headliners this year: Primal Scream, Lissie, Maribou State
A landscaped garden by a river and lake is absolutely bursting with fun.
Shambala, Secret Country Estate, Northamptonshire: 25-28 Aug 2016
Headliners this year: Skrillex, Bonobo, Claude Vonstroke
Four days of circus acts, comedy, debates and interactive theatre.
Skamouth, Vauxhall Hoiliday Park, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk: April 22th – 25th 2016
Top ska, reggae, mod R&B and Northern Soul. Deluxe accommodation holiday homes and first class facilities of bars, restaurant/carvery, coffee shop, arcade, food and shop outlets.
South West Four, Clapham Common, South West London: 27-28 Aug 2016
Headliners in 2015: Basement Jaxx, Faithless, Fatboy Slim
Open-air London party of music. Four stages of house, techno, minimal, trance and electronica.
T in the Park, Strathallan Castle, Perthshire, Scotland: 8-10 Jul 2016
Headliners this year: Kasabian, Avicii, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Rock, pop and dance as a ‘rite of passage for young Scots and a ritual for older ones’.
Upton Blues Festival, Pubs and Streets of Upton upon Severn, Worcestershire: 15 -17 July 2016
Set in the beautiful Worcestershire riverside town of Upton upon Severn, Upton Blues Festival has grown from a small event in a couple of pubs into a festival that swamps the town with many thousands of music fans, two main stages, an acoustic stage and ten pub venues creating over 100 performances in three days.
Wilderness Festival, Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire: 4-7 Aug 2016
Headliners in 2015: Björk, Ben Howard, George Clinton
One of the more elegant gatherings Oxfordshire’s Wilderness Festival is a banquet feast, a science lecture, a soak in a hot tub, with Shakespeare to boot.
Wireless Festival, Finsbury Park, London: 8-10 Jul 2016
Headliners in 2015: Drake, Avicii, David Guetta
Rap, hip hop and R&B with fairground rides, chill out areas, bars and artists singing booths.
We Are FSTVL, Airfield Of Dreams, Essex: 28-29 May 2016
Headliners this year: Fatboy Slim, Steve Angello, Jamie Jones
16 stages, 200 DJs and VIP arena with bubbling hot tubs, spa treatments, gourmet food and champagne bars.
TURKISH delights #3: coffee
The process is what makes a coffee 'Turkish', not the source of the bean or equipment used
Award winning Champagne and interesting fine wines
A CRAFTY beer
The gift of home brewing: 'Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime'...
A CUT above
Rotisserie chickens, classic lunches and breakfasts have arrived at Ma's Kitchen on The Cut
PORTRAIT: Tower Bridge
Taking a closer look at one of London's familiar and most-loved landmarks
GALLERY damien hirst
Engine rooms of art and 'Power Stations'
The long tradition, almost ritual, of heading to festivals needs some forward planning so here is a quick heads up of some of the music pilgrimages to consider this year
An exploration of how photography or taking pictures of performance and art overlapped, revealing new dimensions in the images created
Entertainments SPRING 2016
What's On this season? Jane Horrocks in 'If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me' and more
WEEKS and weeks of fun
Passports to educational success for the children at Southwark Free School
SPACE to learn
Getting the environment right for optimal learning at the Walworth Academy in south London
Getting the best out of young people by encouraging them to 'dream big'
Year 9 at St. Saviour's and St. Olave's raise £138 for Fareshare!
The continued gentrification of London districts heads south-eastwards
A walk along an historic and diverse thoroughfare in East London
selecting an AGENT
Selling a home is probably one of the most significant transactions you’ll ever undertake.