Your guide to the festivals happening in Bristol and further afield this month.
Barn on the Farm
Over Farm Market, Gloucester
With two new secret headliners for Intimate Thursday and Behind Barn Doors Friday, and Tom Grennan and Tom Misch headlining the weekend, Barn on the Farm is back with a vengeance for it’s ninth consecutive year.
Comedy, art exhibitions, film, talks, gaming, theatre and dog show are all in the mix leading up to Pride Day itself (July 14), when the parade will wind its way to a massed gathering for music, cabaret, dance, family area, etc, in turn dispersing and heading to the club-based after parties.
Royal Bath & West Showground, Shepton Mallet
Price: £109 w/e
Hundreds of the world’s best BMXers and skaters convene for the street sports-centric fest, with plenty of competitions to all-comers. Musically, you’re looking at the likes of Run DMC, Dizzee Rascal, De La Soul, Damian Marley, more. See feature on page XX to get the 2018 lowdown from the organisers.
Price: various, lots is free
It’s to Frome’s great credit that, despite so many of its populace being waylaid by distressing levels of unwarranted smugness, it still manages to pull together a wide-ranging arts fest comprising music, theatre, open artist studios, tons of talks, hidden gardens opened up, and loads of kids’ stuff.
Price: £55 w/e
Example, She Makes War, the Pigeon Detectives and The King Blues are among the visitors to this wonderfully environed fest.
Priddy Folk Festival
Price: £82 w/e
A lovely event to have right on our Mendip doorstep, with the village green, church hall, etc, given over to the most traditional of folk fests. See, for instance, lots of demos of the type of trades from which so much of the folk song canon drew its narrative thread, such as wood-turning and coracle making and blacksmithery. There’s a proper-job Maypole, loads of morris sides, and a children’s festival offering Juggling, storytelling, puppetry, and so forth. And, amid the concerts and ceilidhs, you’ll find one of folk’s finest breakthought bands for a long old time – The Young’Uns – plus Sam Kelly, Tannara, Dipper Malkin, Grace Petrie, Anxo Lorenzo, Blue Rose Code, Imar, plenty more TBA.
St Pauls Carnival
The jewel in Bristol’s calendar for many people, this carnival has been sorely missed in recent times. Splendidly, it’s here to celebrate its 50th birthday, having first risen near the end of a hugely significant decade for the city’s minority ethnic community. In 1963 it faced down the refusal of the Bristol Omnibus Company to employ black or Asian bus crews with 1963’s ultimately triumphant bus boycott (a key influence in the passing of the Race Relations Act 1965, which made “racial discrimination unlawful in public places”). All of which surely made 1968 so much the sweeter – and important – as St Pauls welcomed the rest of the city to come and help celebrate African-Caribbean culture. There have been many changes to the event since then – not least a crowd size that now hits six figures – but the essential spirit remains in place.
Upcote Farm, Glos
Price: £110 w/e
Distinctly rocking music lineup for the twelfth year of this gathering among Gloucestershire branches, with a bill of more than 130 acts headlined by At the Drive-In, Enter Shikari and Hell is for Heroes.
Once Upon a Time in the West Festival
West Ashton, Nr Trowbridge, Wilts
Price: £85 w/e
Big on partying, this festival’s fifth outing lines up with Gaz Brookfield, Ferocious Dog, The John E Vistic Rock N Roll Soundsystem, and plenty more.
Nailsea & Backwell Beer & Cider Festival
Nailsea & Backwell RFC
Price: £10 adv day tickets
More than £70,000 has been raised here for local charities over the years, this year in aid of the Grand Appeal. Besides the copious range of booze you’ll also find live music on the Saturday and Sunday and all sorts of kids’ ents.
Broadcider Cider & Music Festival
Near Ilminster, Somerset
Second outing for a one day cider ‘n’ tunes affair (limited camping is available by advance booking), with the music lineup headlined by Black Water County.
Folk on the Lawn
Price: Free after opening night
Opening night features a must-pay performance from The Lost Tuesday Society, while Friday-Sunday sees lower profile acoustic/roots acts gathering in the shadow of glorious Tintern Abbey at no charge.
Price: £64 w/e
Featuring acts that include Imperial Leisure and Jeramiah Ferrari, this year’s Boondocks comes from folk who help put together FieldView and WOMAD, among others.
Bristol Harbour Festival
Expect upwards of a quarter of a million attendees to spill across the four mile-long Bristol Harbour Festival site, from Castle Park to lovely old Underfall Yard. In between you’ll find three music stages (not counting the affiliated ents in Thekla, Louisiana, Grain Barge), dance village, tons of food stalls, and Cirque Bijou’s programme of acrobatics, comedy, aerial performance, dance, street theatre and games. That’s before you take into account all that’s happening out on the water: huge flotillas of out-of-town boaters that drop by, trips out on all of the M Shed-moored heritage fleet, boat races, rescue displays, etc. One fine looking addition to the 2018 programme has been confirmed: Power8 Sprints will see the best rowers from eight English cities race head-to-head over a 350m course in a knockout format.
The Godney Gathering
Garslade Farm, Glastonbury, Somerset
Just one day, but plenty going on. Feeder and The Correspondents head a musical bill spread across four music stages, then there is a silent disco dome, comedy and cabaret stage, and circus skills-augmented children’s area. Camping available in advance.
Price: £225 for four days
If you want a weekend of proper musical exploration you won’t find a more satisfying festival than this. Some names may well be familiar – Amadou & Mariam, Django Django, Sharon Shannon, Trojan Records legend Ken ‘Everything I Own’ Boothe – but generally this is a place to wander and hear genuinely fresh melody and rhythm, as artists from near-countless countries fly in to ply their sonic wares in the lush grounds of Charlton Park. Throw in a gracious arboretum in which to relax, a steam fairground, tons for kids to do, workshops in musical styles you’ve yet to hear, the magnificent Taste the World stage (musicians interviewed while cooking up traditional recipes, before passing the fruits of their labour into the crowd), a genuinely friendly atmosphere, and you’ve got the most exhilarating, soul-firing festival on the circuit.
Other Art Fair
Fourth visit to Bristol for the art fair apparently dedicated to uncovering new talent, organised by Saatchi Art. Explore work from 100 artists, workshops, immersive theatre, live music, performance art and artworks available from 100 quid.
Thai & Multi Cultural Food Festival
Millennium Square, Bristol
Price: £4 day ticket
Not too many events on the calendar promising Thai Buddhist monks. Or a beauty pageant, come to that. Also offering dancing, Thai boxing demo, costume parade, music, food, etc.
Tenth anniversary outing for Europe’s largest street art and graffiti festival, with attendees treated to artist interpretations of The Simpsons throughout the weekend. This year, three Upfest artists have been selected by The Simpsons creator Matt Groening to bring The Simpsons to life in their own unique styles.
New Forest Folk Festival
Nr Romsey, Hants
Ward Thomas, Steeleye Span, Julie Felix and Feast of Fiddles are among the large cast assembling for a festival first mooted by twinkly-eyed veteran folker, Richard Digance. It was his suggestion to stage a folk fest on a farm overseen by the same family for six generations, no doubt prompted by the site being surrounded by trees (guided stroll through the woods is available) with a stream running through it. It remains about as home-spun as an event of this size gets, with handbuilt/self-designed stage, home-cooked food in the cafe, family members running the merch stand, etc.
Boogie Woogie Festival
Sturminster Newton, Dorset
Price: £65 approx.
In which the good people of Sturminster Newton are inundated by a wealth of folk sturdy of left hand, dextrous of right. This festival’s formula has been cast as fixedly as the music it convenes: performers from across the globe including Ben Levin and Katharina Alber, with lots of free street action complementing the paid-for behind doors stuff.
British Summer Time
Hyde Park, London
Price: from £63-£76
A series of individual events with but a single common thread to link them: heavyweight headliners. And, for a couple, a seriously strong undercard. The really big gig is the one at the end, when July 15 finds James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt warming the stage for Paul Simon’s last ever UK show. Fitting that it’s in London, too, where Simon spent his pre-Garfunkel days honing his trade amid the city’s early 60s folk boom, including producing the great lost classic that is the debut album by fellow US expat, Jackson C Frank.
Nr Newton Abbott, Devon
Price: £85 w/e
The festival theme this year is Disco Rainbows, and with headline acts like Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, it’s a weekend not to be passed up.
Rock Oyster Festival
Nr Wadebridge, Cornwall
A Badger Forest School, owl handling, storytelling, and circus workshops are part of the kids’ fun here, while the adults get down to knocking back the Cornish oysters and hear music from the likes of Caravana Sun and our own Dr Meaker.
Kew The Music
Price: From £45
Kew is home to arguably the greatest collection of botanical studies in the world, the better to plan for days to come. Not to mention a heap of seriously groundbreaking architecture. Alas, if only its annual foray into the music world shared but a fraction of such future thinking. Instead, this: Steps (10); Gipsy Kings (11); 2CELLOS (12); The Human League (13); Boyzone (14); and, with crushing inevitability, Jools Holland & His Wonderful World Of Boogie-Based Onanism (15).
Price: £197.50 w/e
Scooped Best Major Festival at the 2017 UK Festival Awards, this year’s musical highlight is probably a rare festival showing from Solange, who’ll be joined by acts including The Killers, Alt-J, James, Rag‘n’Bone Man, The Charlatans, Mogwai, Jon Hopkins and The Breeders. Comedy comes from the likes of Bridget Christie, Harry Hill, David O’Doherty, James Acaster and Tim Key, and there’s also a very decent programme of theatre, film, literature, etc.
Ribble Valley, Lancashire
Price: £137.50 w/e
A bit like a northern Boomtown, without quite the same complexity of infrastructure, this is a proudly independent, multi-stage, hard-partying affair. Among the first wave of confirmed acts we find Orbital, Ibibio Sound Machine, Soulwax, Congo Natty, Dreadzone, Django Django, David Rodigan and Erol Alkan.
Cornbury Music Festival
Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire
Price: £226 w/e
Sure, it features a UK festival exclusive appearance from Alanis Morissette, but the magisterial Mavis Staples is surely the chief highlight here; she’ll be almost exactly a year shy of 80 when she pitches up, and was still magnetically commanding when she played Bristol last summer. Veteran reggae ace, Jimmy Cliff, will be another highlight of a bill also containing UB40, Zucchero, Squeeze, Deacon Blue, Lissie and Amy Macdonald.
Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival
Price: Various, some free
For this 30th anniversary year, the first day welcomes Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra and closes with the Tenement Jazz Band, with a carnival on July 15 featuring 800 performers and extravaganzas from African drummers to Chinese dragons.
Victoria Park, London Price: £115 w/e
N.E.R.D, Diplo, Bicep, Skepta and Mike Skinner are among the confirmed appearees at this dance-centric gathering, originally co-founded by Groove Armada in 2002.
Swanage Jazz Festival
Big year for the festival circuit perennial, with the original board having bowed out in 2017 and a new bunch of organisers about to make their debut. And a vast bill they’ve assembled, too, the highlight being Echoes Of Ellington on the Saturday night, as played by an 18-piece jazz orchestra and featuring singer and Radio 3 presenter, Claire Martin.
Whiddon Down, Devon
Price: £95 w/e
“Definitely one of the most beautiful festivals I’ve ever played at,” reckons Seth Lakeman. “It’s right in the heart of Dartmoor, so the fact that the stage is set in the midst of the sweeping wilderness is genuinely unlike anything you’ll see at any other festivals.” Lining up to see whether they agree – and raising funds for the Devon Air Ambulance and Water Aid in the process – come the likes of Buzzcocks, Imelda May, The Correspondents and Show Of Hands.
Deer Shed Festival
Topcliffe, North Yorks
Price: £145 w/e
On the first weekend of the school summer holidays comes a festival so family-friendly it has a Bedtime Stories Tent. See also the best PG-rated theatre shows from Edinburgh Festival; den building, campfire kindling beneath the trees in Wilderwild; BMX workshops; old school playground games; and a science area so comprehensive it’s practically a festival in its own right, packed with things both old school – marble racing, slime making – and new: virtual reality, forensics, etc. Rather pinches above its 6000 capacity on the music front, too, welcoming the likes of Goldfrapp, Joan As Police Woman, Drenge, Nadine Shah, Jane Weaver, Field Music, Public Service Broadcasting, Gaz Coombes and two of Bristol’s finest, This Is The Kit and Rozi Plain. James Acaster and Justin Moorhouse head the comedy bookings to date, there’s a great sideline in talks and literature, and 2018 sees the introduction of wood-fired hot tubs. All told, we think this might be the best-kept secret on the festival circuit.
Price: £125 w/e
Oddly enough, Goldfrapp, The Selecter and Grandmaster Flash weren’t there for Nozstock inaugural year at the turn of the millennium, when it began as a meeting of family and friends. They’re here in 2018, mind, for a gathering of which Jurassic 5’s Akil the MC said: “The most down-to-earth, family-orientated festival I have ever performed at. I like the vibe.”
Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival
Price: £40 w/e
It’s fully 184 years since six union-leading Tolpuddle farm workers were transported to Australia for taking an oath of secrecy. Their treatment set off a huge wave of protest across the country and remains probably the single most totemic event in UK union history. This annual commemoration is organised by the TUC and entertainment includes banner processions, political discussions and music. Note, too, that the traditional Sunday Rally Day is open to all and free.
Price: £69 w/e
Now boasting a comedy stage, kids’ area and pop-up cinema, this ‘celebration of Sheffield’ is held across a plethora of venues and outdoor stages, threaded together with street theatre, dancers, workshops, etc. The music stages will host the likes of Stereophonics, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Blossoms, De La Soul, Craig David’s TS5 and Jake Bugg.
Nr Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Price: £110 w/e
Folk gatherings aside, there didn’t used to be too many smaller festivals around. This was among the first wave in establishing a new tradition, celebrating its 20th anniversary year and still proudly self-defining as “an anti-major” – food takings, for instance, are passed along to the local Rotary Club. For all that, the music lineup still has heft, this year including Gaz Coombes, Everything Everything, Peace, Friendly Fires and George Ezra.
Lulworth Castle, Dorset
Price: £187.50 w/e
Designed as a determinedly family affair by Josie and Rob Da Bank, right down to the old school British holiday camp atmosphere and a festival within a festival for young folk boasting workshops, talks, Q&As, etc. Music-wise we find the likes of Simple Minds, Rick Astley, Clean Bandit, Orbital, Basement Jaxx , Shed Seven and The Skatalites.
Price: Sold out.
Sold out for the 13th year in a row, and ticket holders will find Run DMC, Catfish & The Bottlemen, The Libertines, James and The Wailers among the musical bill.
Ocean City Sounds
Price: From £45 for both days
This new festival is part of the MTV Presents series (an evolution of the event that used to sit here in the calendar, MTV Crashes Plymouth), with Bastille headlining the Thursday.
Port Eliot Festival
A river runs through it. Well, technically, an estuary. And a viaduct. Yes, Port Eliot is gloriously sited, snug in the woodlands of the ancient estate at St Germans – claimed to be the oldest continually inhabited dwelling in the country – on the Rame Peninsula in South East Cornwall. There’s a wooded area run by children for children, wild swimming, areas dedicated to wellbeing, food, workshops, outdoor adventure, theatre, art, and plenty you wouldn’t expect to find at a festival – this year, for example, sees the introduction of a fashion area curated by fashion writer, NJ Stevenson. On the literary side of things we find names including Helen Pankhurst, Billy Bragg, Viv Albertine and Brett Anderson, and then there’s comedy from the likes of Arthur Smith, Shappi Khorsandi and Tony Law. Musically, meanwhile, you’ll find Baxter Dury, Gwenno, Andrew Weatherall & Justin Robertson, Teleman, etc.
Price: £147 w/e
Set in the grounds of a grand 16th century Hertfordshire house, where you won’t find any looking more to the manor born than the generally festival shy Bryan Ferry. The tousled old former genius will be joined by the likes of Paloma Faith, George Ezra, Goldfrapp, Django Django and The Horrors.
Price: £114.50 w/e
Beginning as an overspilling house party in the lovely Peak District, today it’s grown rather significantly to host the likes of Manic Street Preachers, The Libertines, Seasick Steve Kaiser Chiefs and, suggesting there may have been a little crossroads-based soul-selling to help the festival’s rise, the only UK festival appearance from Jamiroquai.
Price: £79 w/e
Successfully breaking into the crowded festival market – let alone thriving in it – requires no little vision. So towering props to whichever of the original Indietracks team first piped up: “You know what demographic isn’t being catered for? The one where a love of indie-pop intersects with a penchant for steam trains.” Thus, this: steam train rides and model railways alongside four stages holding the likes of British Sea Power, Honeyblood, The Lovely Eggs and proper-job national treasure, Darren Hayman.
Formerly known as Kozmik Ken’s Psychedelic Dream Festival, and an event with its heart in the largely lost world that helped forge festivals as we know them today. Thus, for example, an appearance from Alan Dearling, the editor of Travelling Daze, a book by and for veterans of the bus-dwelling 1980s travellers. Mugstar and Back to the Planet are among the music line up, Paul Giblin will be assembling a Krautrock soundscape, and there’ll be campfire acoustic jams through the night.
Price: £100 w/e
12th outing for a fest held in a Cornish farm. Mark Dolan is due to host The Funny Side, Public Service Announcement are returning to the Main Stage as the Friday night headliner, and introduces The Quiet Riot, your very own late night silent disco.
Price: PLN 659 4 days + camping
Fleet Foxes, Nick Cave, David Byrne, Bruno Mars, Gorillaz, Depeche Mode and Massive Attack, are among those playing this widely sweeping, high grade arts fest, including a fashion stage, loads of film and top line writers engaging in heavyweight discussion.
The music programme contains the likes of N.E.R.D, Dua Lipa, Clean Bandit, First Aid Kit, Rag’n’Bone Man, Tyler, the Creator, and a goodly number of Finnish troupes. Which is all well and good, but as nothing to the appeal of its location on an exquisitely beautiful Finnish island. That, and the fact that magnificently – and uniquely, in our experience – it’s free for the over 70s.
Price: 135€ (plus 10€ for four nights camping)
High on Mount Cobetas we find David Byrne, Florence & The Machine, Noel Gallagher, The Chemical Brothers Gorillaz, Jungle, Alt-J and Fat White Family among the acts playing four main stages to circa 40,000 people. The campsite is more lofty yet, located as it is on the adjacent Mount Arráiz.
Novi Sad, Serbia
Price: £89 w/e + £30 camping
You can plot much of Idles’ year with this guide. Here we find our fellow Bristolians gigging on one of 20+ stages inside an 18th century fort, looking down from on high onto the blue Danube, in the company of Migos, Ziggy Marley, Slaves, Richie Hawtin, loads more.
Price: 149€ for 3 days, camping from 19€
Couture-wise, expect to find fellow festival goers broadly dressed in plaid shirts or all in black, thanks to a lineup convening QOTSA, Pearl Jam, Jack White, NIN, Alice in Chains, The National, Arctic Monkeys and Snow Patrol.
23th year for a beach-side, water park-adjacent festival, this year welcoming the likes of The Killers, Liam Gallagher, Travis Scott, Two Door Cinema Club, Bastille, Catfish And The Bottlemen, Everything Everything, The Vaccines, Tune-yards and Wolf Alice.
Tenth and final outing for this big old boat party-stacked sunfest on the Dalmatian Coast. Seeing it on its way come the likes of Loyle Carner, Submotion Orchestra, Mr Scruff and Horse Meat Disco.