1) Festival No.6
Portmeirion, North Wales
Price: £180 w/e
One of the UK’s most smartly programmed arts shindigs, Festival No 6 does the near-impossible by bringing even more colour and drama to Portmeirion. Check, for example, No.6 composer-in-residence Joe Duddell teaming up with the Manchester Camerata Chamber Orchestra for a piece called ‘David Bowie Reimagined’. Also on the music bill you’ll find Hot Chip, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, C Duncan, Django Django, Echo and the Bunnymen, Frances, Gwenno and Roots Manuva.
Another fest located on the beauteous Croatian coastline, with all of the beach-based delights and boat party opportunities you’d expect. “When we talk about bass music we don’t mean the bastardised commercial version currently being sold to children,” say the organisers. “We mean underground dancefloor music.” Naturally, then, the line-up has sold a good few million records between them, including Goldie, Kode9, Stormzy and Joey Bada$$.
3) Big Fake Festival
Thoresby Park, Notts
The Fillers, Musest, New2, the Jam’d, Kings of Lyon, Really Hot Chili Peppers, Stereotonics, Coldplace – you get the general idea.
4) Didmarton Bluegrass Festival
Kemble Airfield, Glos
Evergreen local favourite, and a past master at mixing the suitably downhome (instrument workshops, Appalachian dance displays, etc) with some properly top-line performers across bluegrass, blues, Americana, rockabilly, folk and on. Line-up still TBA at press time.
5) Electric Picnic
Comprehensively programmed music and arts fest, with a musical line-up set to feature the likes of the Chemical Brothers, LCD Soundsystem, Lana Del Rey, New Order, HAIM, Super Furry Animals, Wolf Alice, Animal Collective, Wild Beasts, Savages and Jack Garratt.
6) Valley Fest
Price: £80 w/e
All-organic fest, founded in collaboration between the folk at Yeo Valley and farmer, Luke Hassel. 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.” As you’d imagine, the event runs on a ‘love the land’ ethos, “celebrating everything homegrown and natural, with no commercial nonsense on the stage or on your plate.” Expect live music, top notch locally sourced food, festival feasts, street art, cookery demonstrations, farm tours, kids workshops and welly-wearing dancing.
7) End of the Road
Larmer Tree gardens, Dorset
Price: £195 w/e
Always a good sign, of course, but few festivals generate greater attendee loyalty than EOTR. A genuinely relaxed affair in glorious surrounds, with an unassuming-yet-splendid leftfield bill to match. This year, that means the likes of Joanna Newsom, Animal Collective, Bat For Lashes, Cat Power, Devendra Banhart, Goat, Thee Oh Sees, Phosphorescent, M. Ward, Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts, and Steve Mason.
Isle of Wight
Such is the spirit of sartorial sparkle among attendees, the announcement of Bestival’s fancy dress theme is as big a deal as the headliner. After last year’s retro-centric Summer of Love, this year the pendulum has swung to embrace: The Future. To which end, the long-loved HMS Bestival is gone. “Vanished,” says festival head, Rob da Bank, “in mysterious circumstances. As the future unfolds, and human horizons expand beyond the planet, The Port, devoid of its antiquated maritime attraction, will evolve into a new kind of universal berth. A colossal cosmodrome. The Spaceport.” In fairness, there will be those who cast their eye over the music line-up and think ‘The future? Really? Huh’. To wit: The Cure, Major Lazer, Hot Chip, Diplo, Carl Cox, Fatboy Slim, Animal Collective, Aurora, Bastille, Craig David’s TS5, Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley, Ghostpoet, the Human League, Jagwar Ma, Katy B, Richie Hawtin and Ride.
9) The Social Festival
Price: from £68 w/e
A boutique music festival showcasing big names from the world of dance music in the idyllic setting of The Kent County Showground in Maidstone, Kent. The Social originally launched in September 2013 and closed the summer in style, bringing a taste of Ibiza to the south-east of England with a lineup including some big names in electronic music.
10) Lollapalooza Berlin
Second German outing for the rockular US franchise, held in Treptower Park, near the arty loveliness of Kreuzberg. Bill-wise, you’re looking at the high-profile likes of Radiohead, Kings Of Leon, Major Lazer, New Order, Jess Glynne (obviously – Chelsea Flower Show apart, she’s everywhere), Catfish and The Bottlemen, James Blake and The 1975.
11) On Blackheath Festival
As self-explanatory a fest as one could hope to see, convening a line-up including Primal Scream, Belle & Sebastian, James, Roisin Murphy, Hot Chip, Squeeze, Lonelady, and Soak.
12) St Ives September Festival
St Ives, Cornwall
Price: various, some free
It wouldn’t be St Ives without plenty of art to go see, but you’ll also find street theatre, films, walks, etc, and music from the likes of Fairport Convention, the Blockheads, Rick Wakeman, Phil Beer and Baka Beyond.
13) Priston Festival
Priston, North Somerset
You’ll find lots of free ents and music on the village green during the Saturday and Sunday – only the church and village hall hold ticketed events. And if that sounds like a recipe for a thoroughly low-key line-up, think again – 2016’s bookings already include Jim Moray (whose new False Lights project’s debut album was nominated for a Radio 2 Folk Award), while Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin were nominated for Best Duo at the same ceremony.
14) Cheltenham Comedy Festival
Always a strong line-up here, as 2016’s early confirmations bear out: Sarah Millican, Mark Watson, and the seriously funny, utterly unique Tape Face.
15) Encounters Film Festival
Originally conceived as a one-off event as part of 1995’s Centenary of Cinema celebrations, Encounters has just kept running and running, long since established as an event of global renown and the UK’s longest-running competitive short film and animation festival. Beyond screenings of over 200 entries, expect Q&As, interviews and workshops with the experts, plus live music and performance, exhibitions, outdoor events, pop-up cinemas and much more. Details for this year’s event are necessarily thin – final submission deadlines are in June – so we’ll take a moment to reflect on 2015. Besides being an official gateway to the BAFTAs, Encounters is a qualifying festival for the Oscars, as last year’s event attested. Richard Williams scooped an Oscar as director of animation on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and was nominated again this time around for a film premiered at Encounters: Prologue. The tale he told your correspondent ahead of last autumn’s explains precisely why Bristol is uniquely well placed to host Encounters: “With Prologue I’ve gone back to 1900, drawing everything in the most primitive fashion. Nothing cartoon about it, it’s realism, with well over 6,000 complex drawings. I worked on it for years between other projects. We screened it at Aardmanand when the lights came up, [Aardman co-founder] Peter Lord said ‘We’ve just witnessed animation history. Nobody else alive could have created hand- drawn animation of this intensity and quality’. Which was nice of him.”
16) Raindance Film Festival
Sept 21-Oct 2
Biggest indie film fest in the country, screening not only features but also shorts, web series and music videos to regular punters and would-be industry buyers alike. Expect a welter of seminars, workshops and parties to boot.
17) Stroud Folk Weekend
Nee Stroud Folk Festival. Details remain scarce at this end of the year, though in contrast to high-profile bookings in years past, we’re told that “the events will consist primarily of sessions, singarounds and morris dancing, rather than on concerts.”
18) Looe Music Festival
Price: £89 w/e
Spreading across the town and onto the beach, it’s perhaps no surprise to find a late September festival announcing: “You won’t find lazy, Sunday summer grooves here – expect an eclectic mix of high energy ‘keep you on the move’ music.” And, in fairness, no performer moves more kinetically than Wilko Johnson, one of only two confirmed acts at press time, Fun Lovin’ Criminals being the other.
19) Porthcawl Elvis Festival
Price: largely free
This Elvis tribbing gathering is way more fun than you might expect. A choice: you can pay pretty big bucks to watch the very finest Elvis tribbers on the planet in sterile seated surrounds, or head to the bars and watch – and rousedly, beerily singing along with – the next layer of finest for free. For maximum immersiveness, stay in the nearby caravan park and be surrounded by Elvises (Elvi?) all weekend long. Expect a Sun years:Vegas years ratio of approximately 1:20.
20) Ross-on-Wye Walking Festival
Price: various (most walks £5)
Budget guided walks nary an hour from Bristol, through some of the most beauteously sweeping landscapes in the country? Yes, we’ll have some of that, thank you.
21) Tokyo World
Eastville Park, Bristol
Price: £20 early bird
The names haven’t been announced yet, but most of the early bird tickets have already been snapped up as we head to press. Such is the reputation of this six stage, bass booming day, whose spin merchants last year included Roots Manuva, Derrick May, Mike Skinner, David Rodigan and Jeff Mills
22) Bath Childrenís Literature Festival
Sept 30-Oct 9
The 26th running of the biggest event of its kind in the UK, with muchos author readings, book signings, craft activities and quizzes. No word on line-up at press time, but previous years have included such kid-lit royalty as Jacqueline Wilson, Michael Morpurgo, Anthony Horowitz, Lauren Child, Shirley Hughes and Julia Donaldson.