Bristol Festival of Puppetry
Properly magical and not just for the kids, the biennial puppet fest returns for a fifth instalment in and around a Tobacco Factory base. Expect a procession, pop-up theatre and an awful lot of animated brilliance on stage and screen that may be, by turns, funny, moving, unsettling and life-affirming.
Didmarton Bluegrass Festival
Kemble Airfield, Glos
An evergreen local fest with a tried and tested formula: lots of bluegrass, blues, Americana, rockabilly, folk, plus instrument workshops, Appalachian dance displays.
The Other Art Fair
Price: £8 per day
Organised by Saatchi Art, it’s the third Bristol outing for an art fair apparently dedicated to uncovering new talent. Expect work from 80 artists, workshops, immersive theatre, live music, performance art and artworks available from 50 quid.
The Downs Festival
Remember last year’s Massive Attack gig on the Downs? Two stages holding the likes of Primal Scream, Skepta, Savages, Khruangbin and Smith & Mighty, plus an Information Stage for a little progressive thinking? Well, something is happening again – details are sketchy at press time, but we are assured that “Massive Attack will once again be involved in the curation of the event’s musical, artistic and intellectual content”.
Critchill Manor, Frome, BA11 4LJ
Price: from £49
From the team that kicked off the summer in May with Shindig Weekend, comes this novel weekend feast. All the best bits of a festival – music, drinking, dancing, fancy dress and camping – plus an incredible sit-down dinner. A great way to segue into Autumn.
Bristol Doors Open Day
A once-a-year chance to look behind closed doors and discover the city’s hidden treasures. Buildings of all sorts open their doors for the weekend, offering guided tours, activities for the whole family, and access to some lesser-known parts of Bristol. Book your space early to avoid disappointment.
Bristol Rum Festival
Sept 9 – 10
Paintworks Event Space
Price: From £15
Love rum and cocktails? This is the event for you. This celebration of rum, rhum and ron features fifty varieties of the delicious sugar-based beverage along with tasting sessions, food and cocktails.
Bristol Craft Beer Festival
Strong debut year in 2016 and returning to charge your glasses with the finest fare local indie breweries have to offer. “We’re also bringing the best of the rest too, so expect beers never before poured in Bristol,” say the organisers.
Priston, North Somerset
Price: various, mainly free
Bit of an understated gem, this, lining up more than 30 bands on two free stages and utilising the village green altogether winningly. The Big Sing Workshop is always a draw, then there’s an art project, kids’ stuff, basically all you’d want from a properly well organised village affair. Line-up wise you’re looking at discerningly selected local acts such as Three Cane Whale and Jesse D Vernon’s Greatness of The Magnificence Fantasy Orchestra.
Cheltenham Comedy Festival
Expect a strong lineup when the time comes, following in the2016 mic drops of Sarah Millican, Mark Watson and Tape Face.
Encounters Film Festival
Price: various, some free
23rd outing for what has become one of the shiniest gems in Bristol’s increasingly bejewelled festival crown, and also one of the most internationally recognised. Not only is it the UK’s longest running competitive short film and animation festival, with screenings of more than 200 entries, it’s also an official gateway to the BAFTAs and a qualifying festival for the Oscars. Hence the quality. Deeply supportive of newcomers as well as the field’s established names, the film programme is augmented by any number of Q&As, interviews and workshops with the experts, live music and performance, exhibitions, outdoor events, pop-up cinemas and much more.
Stroud Folk Weekend
If you take folk in its purest, purist form, this is the one for you. “We do not hire performers,” say organisers. “SFW is more about people getting together.” Thus, a weekend “consisting mainly of pub sessions, singarounds of mainly traditional music and morris dancing in the streets”.
Ross-on-Wye Walking Festival
Price: various (most walks £5)
Guided walks from ‘The Lanes and Alleyways of Ross’ to ‘Woodlands of Three Herefordshire Hills’ and plenty more besides, this fest is barely an hour’s drive from Bristol and boasts some of the most beauteously sweeping landscapes in the country as its stage.
September 23 & 24
Eastville Park, Bristol
A multi-stage bassy affair across the whole weekend, featuring the likes of Basement Jaxx, Faithless, Ghostface Killah & Killah Priest, Lady Leshurr and many more.
Bath Children’s Literature Festival
Sept 29-Oct 8
27th running for the largest fest of its kind in the UK. No word on line up at press time, but previous years have included such kid-lit luminaries as David Walliams, Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Morpurgo, Anthony Horowitz and Julia Donaldson. Expect lots of author readings, book signings, craft activities and quizzes.
The Big Fake Fest
Thoresby Park, Notts
21 tribbers including The Jam’d, Four Fighters, The Fillers, The Really Hot Chili Peppers, Blondied and – ew – Coldplace.
Lulworth Estate, Dorset
For once, the big news isn’t the fancy dress theme, but the location. With reluctance, Rob da Bank and co have left their home on the Isle of Wight because of the “boring economics of getting people on to the island”. Thus, pitching up on the entirely not exactly unfamiliar Lulworth Estate, home to sister fest Camp Bestival earlier in the summer. The xx will be the first headliners in the new site, Pet Shop Boys probably the most anticipated and A Tribe Called Quest’s slot the most important – more than years 30 since their founding, the hugely influential New Yorkers are playing their last ever UK show.
Price: £205 w/e
Food and drink
With crazy old Portmeirion as its stage, Festival No.6 takes no prisoners when it comes to assembling one of the best arts fests of the year, comprising woodland trails and art installations, pop up woodland raves, comedy, spoken word, string ensembles and a promenade along the estuary. Music-wise you’re looking at the likes of Cinematic Orchestra, Mogwai, Kate Tempest, Public Service Broadcasting, The Flaming Lips, Arab Strap and Bloc Party.
St Ives September Festival
St Ives, Cornwall
Price: various, some free
Always a fine part of the world in which to plan a late-summer break, all the better for coinciding with this smartly programmed festival of art, guided walks, street theatre, films, etc. Music is chiefly of the folk variety, with early confirmations including the John McCusker Band, Show of Hands, Flats and Sharps, The Changing Room and Cara Dillon.
Raindance Film Festival
Sept 20 – Oct 1
Screening roughly 100 feature films and over 150 shorts, the biggest indie film fest in the country also lays on a welter of seminars, workshops and parties to boot.
Porthcawl Elvis Festival
Price: largely free
Like the darts, but for Elvies (the festival’s official collective noun for Elvis impersonator), this is a singing along at the top of your voice, arms round the shoulders of strangers, pints waving in the air affair. Or at least it is if you do it properly. You could pay a not insubstantial sum to watch the very finest Elvis tribbers on the planet in relative sterile theatre surrounds, or you could join us out here – the Elvies we’re watching are still globally sourced and, as the afternoon session turns to evening, disbelief is suspended increasingly easily.
Looe Music Festival
Sept 29-Oct 1
Price: £99 w/e
Two musical confirmations at press time and, in fairness, the Venn diagram of people keen to see to both isn’t likely to be populous: The Jesus and Mary Chain, and Lulu. A splendid site finds the event spreading across the town and out over the beach.
Comprehensively programmed music and arts fest – comedy, spoken world, loads of stages, tons of site art. Last year saw visits from the likes of the Chemical Brothers, LCD Soundsystem, Lana Del Rey,New Order and Super Furry Animals.
Another beauteous site in Croatia for a festival heavy on bass and beats. The main event line-up includes Giggs, Wiley, Pharoahe Monch, Goldie and Friction, while a separately ticketed gig on Sept 6 features Dizzee Rascal, DJ Shadow and The Outlook Orchestra.
Rennbahn Hoppegarten welcomes a third running of the American franchise. Foo Fighters, Mumford & Sons, The xx, Metronomy, Michael Kiwanuka and Django Django are among the performers.