1) Starry Skies
Monnow Valley, Welsh Borders
Price: Sold out
“We’re a little shell shocked (in a very, very nice way!) as we’ve never sold out so early before,” said the organisers back in February. Such is the popularity of a fest delivering on a promise to look after your kids while you relax elsewhere. Not much more to say, given the lack of ticket availability, save to advise bookmarking to make sure you get in early for 2018.
2) Fieldview Festival
Price: £75 w/e
Eleventh outing for this charity-giving, keenly green fest. No real detail available as the guide heads to the printer, but past experiences suggests you should expect a lengthy, predominantly local music line up, shisha bar chill-out areas, busking, crafts and workshops.
3) Green Gathering
Price: £95 w/e
Musical acts confirmed for 2017 are legion, if largely unrecognisable: Neck, Stick in the Wheel, Kangaroo Moon, Hoopy Frood, Dohnut, Firepit Collective, an awful lot more besides. Still, they’re really not the point. This is the event formerly known as the Big Green Gathering, proudly “powered by wind, sun and people”, altogether more concerned with laying on opportunities to set the world to rights with experts active in environmental, peace and social justice movements; learn skills in foraging, bushcraft, solar panel wiring, etc; how to set up your own co-operative housing; live music; permaculture; healing area; etc.
4) Outcider Festival
Compton Martin, Somerset
Price: £59 w/e
Another of the cider-centric local fests, with two stages of music set to host 40 acts including The Dreadnoughts, Gaz Brookfield, Maid Of Ace and Hymn For Her.
5) Valley Fest
* Aug 4-6
Price: £110 w/e
After popping along last year, this was our lasting impression:“Being there felt like you were part of the best-kept secret party, the kind that usually happens spontaneously when you least expect.”
Such are the charms of an all-organic fest, founded in collaboration between the folk at Yeo Valley and farmer, Luke Hassel, and back for its fourth year. Uncommonly for a man of his trade, he says “Valley Fest is all about getting people onto my land, dancing in tipis and appreciating the amazing surroundings. We love a good festival and wanted to create one of our own that focuses on spending quality time with your family and friends.” No word on the music line up at the mo, but, as you’ll appreciate, that really isn’t too much of the point anyway.
Church Road, Bristol
Founded in 2008 as a small, week-long affair showcasing local talent, swift evolution meant that last year its St George Park (the festival’s home since 2012) saw 20,000 drawn by multiple stages of music, performance, etc. This year it’s going back to its roots, taking a break from the park in favour of a weekend long, multi-venue festival on and around Church Road.
7) Islamic Cultural Fayre
One of the local calendar’s largest free festivals, pulling in 12,000+ visitors each year, and an altogether splendid event. Expect to find more than 100 stalls in the bazaar, large funfair, 5-a-side football tournament, glorious food, live stage, etc.
8) Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
* Aug 10-13
Ashton Court Estate, Bristol
Lighter-than-air heavyweight festival, second only to the deserts of Albuquerque in the global ballooning calendar. Over half a million people attend each year, all gathering in the hope that the wind doesn’t freshen to a stiff breeze and jeopardise the 6am/6pm jewels in the festival’s crown: the truly spectacular site of well over a 100 balloons engaged in a mass ascent. The tethered night glows – aka pilots turning their burners on and off in time to music – is also an oddly popular draw, with other ents including properly breathtaking air shows, fairground, live music, displays, etc.
* Aug 17-19
Compton Martin, North Somerset
Price: £100 3 days
Spiritual home for all music lovers who at some point have endured variants of the conversation that goes “What is that noise? I know you don’t really like it, do you? It’s just a pose”. Welcome to a Somerset farm where the leftfield stuff doesn’t get carted off to a tent in the corner, but is the sole and entire point. A world of 5,000 headed by a benevolent team dedicated to sourcing acts from across the globe with a love of angularity, abrasiveness, complicated time signatures, etc. 2017 sees exclusive UK shows from Converge and Explosions In The Sky, as well as the likes of Sikth, Tricot, Bossk, Employed to Serve, Gug, etc.
10) Castell Roc
Series of standalone shows wherein the awesomeness of the entertainment is generally in inverse proportion to that of the Chepstow Castle environs. Predominantly tribbing shows this time around – Kenny and Dolly, Elvis, Arctic Monkeys, AC/DC – plus original acts such as The Quireboys and, not a little improbably, New Model Army.
Price: £50 w/e
2016 saw them rework a festival formula as old as the hills: volleyball and netball tournaments to enjoy by day and a Madchester revival by night, courtesy of headliners The Charlatans and The Happy Mondays. No word yet on the evening guests this year, but expect all the usual balls in daylight hours.
12) Stroud Fringe Festival
21st birthday for a small-but-perfectly-formed festival boasting four stages, parades, street ents, kids’ workshops, theatre, etc.
13) Alnwick International Music Festival
July 29-Aug 5
It’s more than 40 years since the folk song and dance fest began bringing in performers from across the world – Mexico, the US, Italy, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Belarus, Estonia, Bulgaria, South Korea, more – for a splendid blur of sound and movement. No word on the 2017 programme as we head for press.
Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire
An early success in the nascent boutique festival world, on account of knowing exactly how to appeal to the never knowingly under-glamped. 2017 promises “a brand new realm, stages and venues”, but that’s about as far as revelations go at the mo. Safe to expect variants on a theme that last year meant long-table banquets, guerrilla archaeology workshops, literary talks (Anthony Beevor, Zoe Williams, etc), panel debates, circus stuff, and music including Robert Plant, The Flaming Lips, Crystal Fighters, and Goldie & The Heritage Orchestra.
15) Brighton Pride
The UK’s largest Pride gathering offers up a Summer of Love theme, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales.
16) Edinburgh International Festival
The programme is still under wraps for the 70th anniversary of a festival pulling together an awful lot of theatre, dance, music, comedy, etc.
17) Sidmouth Folk Week
* Aug 4-11
Price: £125 w/e, £286 week
About as big as it gets in the traditional folk festival circuit, returning for its 63rd year. Main acts all play in a ticketed arena, but come and hang around the town and you’ll find gratis ents aplenty, from
morris sides doing their thing up and down the promenade to some proper-job finger-in-the-ear singarounds in local hostelries. Aforesaid high profile names include Seth Lakeman; Show Of Handsm Ralph Mctell & Wizz Jones, Oysterband, The Spooky Men’s Chorale, Dervish, Lau, Martin Carthy & Sam Sweeney, and Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita. You’ll also find ceilidh dances, processions, social dance bands and callers, and a children’s fest. If you are bringing young folk, be sure to check out an event on the opening Friday afternoon: Michael and Clare Morpurgo perform the lovely tale ‘Where My Wellies Take Me’, interwoven with poetry and traditional English song from a capella aces Voices At The Door.
(Credit Andy Morgan)
18) Edinburgh Festival Fringe
70th birthday for the original fringe fest. It was back in 1947 that eight theatre groups turned up uninvited for the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival and, with no access to the main programme, went ahead and did their thing on the fringes. Since then it’s grown into the biggest arts festival the planet has ever seen. These, if your mind is ready for the boggling, are the numbers for 2016: 50,266 performances of 3,269 shows in 294 venues.
Price: £154 w/e
Mixing Cornish seaside fun – surf, skate, BMX, etc – with your more trad fest fare – holistic tent, yoga, etc – this distinctive event also has a properly lengthy musical line-up. Weekend headliners are Two Door Cinema Club, Jamiroquai and Alt-J, with the undercard including Flaming Lips, Stormzy, Frank Turner, Andy C, The Vaccines and Ziggy Marley.
20) Bloodstock Open Air
Walton on Trent, Derbyshire
Megadeth are by a distance the biggest name out this year’s speaker-pounding gathering. Also bringing the loud are Testament, Hatebreed, Municipal Waste, Skindred, Amon Amarth, lots more.
21) Boomtown Fair
* Aug 10-13
Price: £170 w/e
Ninth edition – sorry, ‘chapter’ – of one of the season’s most reliably debauched affairs, this time taking ‘Behind the Mask’ as its theme. Amid a sprawling creative metropolis of nine distinct city districts – Oldtown, Whistlers Green, Wild West, Kidz Town, etc – you’ll find a musical line-up including The Specials, M.I.A., Cypress Hill, Ziggy Marley (following brother Damian’s appearance here last year) Frank Turner and Toots & the Maytals. Beyond that you’ll find a fine programme of cabaret, comedy, spoken word, anarchist theatre, loads of site art, lots more.
22) Bulldog Bash
Stratford on Avon, Warwickshire
Price: £30 w/e
The music remains TBC as we head to press, but safe to expect plenty of old school rocking acts and anything else likely to appeal to a gathering of bikers where the main attraction is anything careening at literal breakneck speed down the ¼ mile drag strip.
23) Cropedy Convention
The Divine Comedy, Marillion, Petula Clark, the Trevor Horn Band – this might be Fairport Convention’s own festival, but it’s more than simply a folkie affair. That said, rootsiness remains the chief order of the day(s), including appearances from the hosts, of course, plus their genius co-founding bandmate Richard Thompson, Show of Hands, Pierce Brothers, Feast of Fiddles, lots more.
Price: £99.50 w/e
Sixth outing on the old Big Chill site for a festival lining up with the varied-but-largely-underwhelming likes of Feeder, Imelda May, Alabama 3, Seth Lakeman, Turin Brakes and honourable exception, Wilko Johnson.
Hougton estate, Norfolk
Price: £150 w/e
“It is my intention that the festival represents the very best in electronic music and those performing are closest to my heart and record box,” says curator, Craig Richards, of a festival also big on art and sculpture. Highlights include Ricardo Villalobos, Nicolas, Hercules & Love Affair, Tony Allen’s Art Blakey tribute, Andrew Weatherall, Ben UFO and Midland.
26) Brecon Jazz Fest
This venerable name on the jazz fest circuit has been more up and down than a Coltrane solo in recent times. No word on the 2017 bill at press time, but last year’s highest profile players were Jacqui Dankworth and Dennis Rollins.
27) Green Man
Glanusk Estate, Wales
Price: £180 w/e
A rare UK festival outing from PJ Harvey is the clear highlight of Green Man’s 15th gathering. Elsewhere on the bill we find Michael Kiwanuka, Lambchop, Ryan Adams, Future Islands , This Is The Kit, Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst, Richard Dawson, Melt Yourself Down, Angel Olsen and Fionn Regan. It really isn’t all about the line-up, though. The 20,000+ rolling acres of Glanusk Park is one of the most beauteous settings on the festival calendar, framed as it is by Sugar Loaf Mountain, the River Usk and the Monmouthshire Canal. It also boasts a properly friendly atmosphere and such welcome touches as a dedicated teen area, Talking Shop stage, a science-focused area called Einstein’s Garden, late night communal bonfires and campfire songs, very much more besides.
Sledmere, East Yorkshire
Price: £85 w/e
Founded in 2007, and one of the biggest ‘let’s pretend’ ventures on the circuit, boasting more than
150 acts, unsigned tent, comedy tent, acoustic stage, silent disco, kids’ area, etc. Among this year’s aural doppelgangers are Kazabian, Guns Not Roses, The Killerz and Too Rex.
29) Beautiful Days
Price: £135 w/e
Established by the Levellers (fan club members get a tenner off) in 2003, this is a determinedly family-centric affair boasting six stages. The hosts will figure among the musical headliners, the remainder to be confirmed after we’ve gone to press.
30) V Festival
Staffs and Essex
One of the few redeeming features of V Fest is that it doesn’t insist on tweely draping everything in some kind of ‘theme’. Not officially at least – the de facto leitmotif for 2017 is clearly curate’s egg: Jay-Z, Pink, Craig David, Rudimental, Ellie Goulding, George Ezra, Jess Glynne, Stormzy, etc.
Price: £220 4 days
Biggest dance fest in the country, boasting such an enormous and diverse line-up that you could spend the whole time enjoying a programme of relative discernment or be permanently waving your hands in the air like you just don’t have any cognitive function whatsoever. Thus, a bill including
Armin Van Buuren, The Black Madonna, Stormzy, Deadmau5, Eric Prydz, Andy C, Fatboy Slim and Pete Tong.
Leicester Square, London
18th edition of the fest promising a plethora of unsettling horror/sci-fi/thriller films. Festival and day passes go on sale on July 1, single tickets later in the same month.
33) Purbeck Valley Folk Fest
Price: £110 w/e
Plenty of traditional folk, but also a goodly amount of neatly selected acts from acousticland at large. Those heading to the friendly, farm-staged weekend this year include This is the Kit, Lady Maisery, Curtis Eller’s American Circus, Martha Tilston, Badly Drawn Boy and Ben Ottewell.
Price: £169 w/e
‘Secret Location’, Northamptonshire
Publications more cynical than this might sardonically note that this year’s theme has been done before. Annually. We, on the other hand, shall dutifully pass along the fact that it’s ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’ and the longstanding eco-espousing fest is chock full of venues with names like the Shamanic Tipi, Harmony Yurt, Imaginarium, Healing Meadows, etc.
35) The Big Feastival
Alex James’ Farm, the Cotswolds
With only the scantest of apologies, last year’s overview of this event is no less pertinent in 2017 and so we’re going to run it again. It begins with an extract from the memoir of Blur bassist/artisanal cheesemaker, Alex James, talking about his move into the heart of the Chipping Norton set: “I was surprised how much I liked most of the people who lived nearby. Not just the nobs and the billionaires. We took on two gypsies from the trailer park as cleaners and they fascinated me. The younger one was very pretty …” The Big Feastival is an event he founded with Jamie Oliver. If any part of you thinks ‘Mmm, that sounds fun, tell me more’, I’m afraid we’re going to have to leave you to research it for yourself. Chances are you’ve got a woman from the village who comes in to do that kind of thing, anyway.
36) Camping Be Cider Seaside V
Burton Bradstock, Dorset
Another from the scrumpy stable, where a campfire is soundtracked by two stages hosting the likes of Pronghorn, Ten Zero One and September Son and the Bad Cowboys.
37) Greenbelt Festival
Boughton House, Northamptonshire
Kate Rusby and Newton Faulkner are among the musical names for what is ostensibly a Christian music festival, but in essence a haven for young, inquisitive minds, looking for intelligent debate and speakers to match. Thus, other guests including human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, brilliant young Nigerian author Chibundu Onuzo, former Green party liability leader Natalie Bennett, part-time contrarian Peter Oborne, and climate and gender violence activist Dr Winston Halapua, who has seen rising sea levels wipe out some of the smaller island of his native Tonga.
38) Manchester Pride
A long-established Pride, based around the lovely canal-side gay village, and including a big old parade (26th) and candlelit vigil (28th).
39) Reading & Leeds Festivals
Berks and Yorks
Price: £205 w/e
All about the music, pure and simple. So: Eminem, Muse, Kasabian, Major Lazer, Two Door Cinema Club, Korn, Jimmy Eat World, At The Drive-In, Architects, an awful lot more.
40) Sea Change
Presented by the award-winning Drift Record Shop and numbering the reliably discerning Heavenly Recordings, The Quietus and Bella Union among its guest hosts. Not a lot announced at press time –
Julie Byrne, Nadia Reid, Masayoshi Fujita, Hey Colossus and Michael Chapman among them – but plenty more to come.
41) Towersey Festival
Now well into its 50s and making good on its punsome motto, “Where music has roots”. If certain folk fests can feel a little strictured, this isn’t one of them. Thus, the incorporation of a youth festival for attendees aged 12-25 (dance workshops, Roller Disco, themed dance nights, late night specials, comedy, etc), a nicely relaxed festival green, creative quarter offering such drop-in activities as clay modelling, sack races, paper planes, dressing up, giant games, etc. Music comes from the like of Eliza Carthy, KT Tunstall, Show of Hands, Jon Boden, the Blockheads and Flook.
42) End of the Road
Aug 31-Sept 3
Larmer Tree gardens, Dorset
Price: £179 w/e
The Jesus & Mary Chain? Crikey. A bit loudy and more, we dunno, feedbacky than is the norm at EOTR. Generally things are a little more countryish/folkish/generally leftfieldish, as evidenced by a bill also featuring Father John Misty, Lucinda Williams, Amadou & Mariam, Real Estate, Nadine Shah and the mighty Deerhoof. Bloody splendid site, too, if you’re unfamiliar.
43) Locarno Film Festival
Grand old dame of the film festival world with a history stretching all the way back to 1946.
44) Wacken Open Air
Nr Hamburg, Germany
Price: 220€ w/e
One of the continent’s foremost rock fests, with an admirably diverse set of routes to throbbing eardrums, among them Alice Cooper, Turbonegro, Megadeth, Europe, Marilyn Manson, Napalm Death, Trivium, Dillinger Escape Plan, Orange Goblin and, um, Boomtown Rats.
45) Off Festival
Price: £54 w/e
Book a flight from Bedminster International to Katowice and you’re still looking at a seriously good value weekend. A properly rounded arts fest, with lots of accompanying film, art, performance and poetry, the smartly programmed music line-up pulls together the likes of our own BEAK>, Daniel Johnston, The Black Madonna, Swans, Circuit Des Yeux, Shellac and Silver Apples.
46) Brutal Assault
Prague, Czech Republic
Serving all styles of metal, with 2017 attendees including Opeth, Rotting Christ, Trivium, Sikth and Swans.
Price: 249€ 7 days
25th running of this seriously large festival, newly crowned as Artists’ Favourite European Festival at the European Festival Awards. Daily attracting 60-70,000 to an island in the middle of the Danube for a programme spreading 1,000+ artists over 60 stages, this year’s musical line-up includes showings from Kasabian, Interpol, Metronomy, Jagwar Ma Billy Talent, Jamie Cullum, The Kills, Clean Bandit, Shadow, Tom Odell and Two Door Cinema Club.
48) Way Out West
Price: 2195 kronor
If you’re willing to risk venturing into so wild and lawless a country as Sweden, the rewards are really pretty good. Slottsskogen park is the hub, but events fan out across many of the city’s clubs, churches, theatres, cultural centres, etc. This year’s main draws include Pixies, Lana Del Rey, Frank Ocean, Chance the Rapper, Ryan Adams, Angel Olsen, The xx, Major Lazer, Perfume Genius, Young Thug and Mac DeMarco.
49) The Lost Disco
Price: from £99
Debut outing overseas for the team behind the lovely community affair that is hammock-swinging, never-too-serious Eden fest. Indeed, the idea began as a plan to treat volunteers to an overseas holiday and just carried on growing into a full-on fest headlined by the likes of The Skints, Jazzanova and JFB. See feature on page XX for the full lowdown.
Price: 185€ w/e
Boasting its own currency, radio station and newspaper, this is a full-on arts gathering featuring street theatre, film, cabaret, comedy, ballet, literature, science and music. On which note, you should plenty to enjoy/shrink away from in a bill including Iggy Pop, Mumford & Sons, The xx, Editors, alt-J and Elbow.
51) Rock en Seine
PrIce: 119€ w/e
One of the country’s largest festivals is held in a park just outside the capital and, as we put our guide together, is keeping its line-up close to its chest. Expect plenty of heavyweight acts of similar size and calibre to 2016: The Last Shadow Puppets, Foals, Iggy Pop, Massive Attack, Sigur Ros, Sum 41, Bring Me The Horizon, Two Door Cinema Club, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros.