The Spark: Summer Camp and Festival Guide
Ann Sheldon, May 22, 2015
Shaftesbury Estate, Dorset • £145/£15, under 3s FREE
Colourfest is a holistic festival of yoga, theatre, art, music, dance and movement taking place in a 5,000 acre estate in Wimbourne. The festival only admits around 900 people and is family friendly, with a Treehouse Theatre kids’ area. Camping is available within the estate.
Leamington Peace Festival
Leamington Spa • FREE
Two-day, free festival, giving exposure to local performers & craftspeople.
Festival of Nature
Bristol • Millennium Square, Bristol FREE
A festival for wildlife lovers which takes centre stage at this year’s European Green Capital celebrations. This summer the Festival of Nature will create a family friendly centrepiece to Bristol’s European Green Capital celebrations. Over 100 organisations come together offering a host of interactive exhibits and activities – including the National Trust, the BBC Natural History Unit, Avon Wildlife Trust and RSPB.
The weekend will be the highlight of a summer of events from the Festival of Nature – get your bug jar ready for the BioBlitz at Oldbury Court Estate on 15-16 May. There will also be a second annual Bath Festival of Nature this year in Royal Victoria Park on 27 June. Lots of hands-on things for children to do, opportunities to volunteer and to catch up with fascinating research from our universities.
BIG Green Week
Various venues around Bristol • Mostly FREE, some ticketed events
Each year, Big Green Week and its partners bring you a wide range of artistic, cultural and inspirational events. This year the theme is ‘love the future’; a new alternative reality that’s already possible in Bristol. This includes the Fair Fashion show and Festival of Nature as well as a series of fringe events across the city. A very apt event this year with Bristol shining as European Green Capital.
Green Scythe Fair
Muchelney, Somerset • £2 (walkers/cyclists)/£10 (cars)
An authentic and enjoyable country fair in England, run entirely by volunteers on wind, sun and muscle power. Excellent live music, over 70 stalls displaying traditional skills, delicious organic local food, and great local ales and ciders.
This Earth Gathering
The Gallop Field, Clayhidon (Near Wellington) Devon £110/£20-£40
An intimate, joyful camp that brings women together to laugh, dance, share knowledge and create ceremony, returning to their lives rejuvenated and with renewed purpose.
3 Wishes Faery Festival
Torpoint, Cornwall • £99/£36, under 7s free
Mystical and magical, and embracing all things faerie: workshops, storytelling, fancy dress, veggie and vegan cuisine, and music from Professor Elemental, 3 Daft Monkeys, Damh the Bard, the Peatbog Faeries and more.
Frome • Many events free, others ticketed – see website:
Quality fringe festival pulling in international names, a top-notch comedy line-up and a huge programme of music. Events take place at venues from cafés and pubs to churches throughout the ancient market town.
2000 Trees Festival
Nr. Painswick, Glos • 10-12 July • £87, under 13s FREE
2000 Trees prides itself on showcasing the best of emerging and underground British musical talent, plus comedy, DJs, quality food and drink & much more. This year’s headliners are Deaf Havana and Idlewild. Voted Best Grass Roots Festival at the 2013 Festival Awards.
Priddy Folk Festival
Priddy, Somerset • £79/£39.50, under 11s FREE
Known for its welcoming crowd and festive atmosphere, lively pub jam sessions, ceilidhs, local ale & cider and the very best of British folk – this year including Dick Gaughan, The Duncan Chisolm Trio and Nizlopi.
Chagford, Devon • 18-19 July • £85/£55, under-11s FREE
Supporting the Devon Air Ambulance Trust and WaterAid, expect grass roots festie vibes, artists and performers (New Model Army, the Neville Staple band), plus tons of kids stuff including nature/science workshops, face painting & felt-making.
Hawkwood, Stroud • £50 weekend (excl. camping), children over 5yrs £10
Nestled in the hills above Stroud this event gathers many of the planet’s eco-leaders plus wold class music and performance. Accessible workshops on seed and soil, plus passionate debate on ecology, economics and nature. Charles Eisenstein, from the US plus Natalie Bennett, Jonathon Porritt and Satish Kumar plus amazing food.
Starry Skies Family Camp (SOLD OUT)
Barton Hill Farm, Monnow Valley, Hereford • £139/£29-£39
The perfect camping holiday for families, set on a working farm with views of the Black Mountains. Loads of nature, art and food-based activities for kids, as well as fancy dress, circus and discos, DJs, live music and cocktails for the grown-ups.
Village Pump Folk Festival
White Horse Country Park, Westbury, Wiltshire • £120/£10-£60, under 5s FREE.
Long-established, popular, family-friendly gathering that features new and emerging folk talent, plus a family themed festival tent, late night club acts, ceilidhs, dances, open mic sessions, street theatre and more.
Charlton Park, Malmesbury, Wiltshire • £165/£80, under 13s FREE
World Of Music And Dance showcases artists from across the globe, with a musical heritage spanning from Senegal to New Zealand and the US. There’s also a global cuisine stage, luxury spa area, workshops for grown-ups & kids, plus a wellbeing area and bars.
JULY 24-AUGUST 2
Rise Up Singing Voice Camp
Dartmoor • £270/£90-£170 (+ food), under 3s FREE
An uplifting and joyful singing camp where all voices are welcome. Featuring sessions led by a range of accomplished teachers plus drumming, ‘buskers favourites’, sing-along sessions, cosmic poetry and campfire sing-alongs.
JULY 29 – AUGUST 2
Westbury-on-Severn, Gloucestershire • £130/£25£30, under 5s FREE
A creative, participatory camp, which celebrates our connection to the land, and honours the ancient, native traditions of these isles. Featuring workshops, bands, bards and storytellers, wood-fired showers, sauna and vegetarian cafe.
JULY 31 – AUGUST 6
Radford Mill, Nr Bristol • £250, under 16s FREE
Small, family-friendly camp for people wanting to grow their ability to communicate with compassion and authenticity. Featuring a kids’ area, workshops, gatherings, café and lots of dancing, singing, improv theatre, music making and story-telling.
JULY 28 – AUGUST 8
Pembrokeshire, Wales • £190-£300 (adult negotiable)/£57-£110, under 3s FREE
Ten days of dance, movement, singing and drumming workshops; creative tent, meditation area, teen space, wellbeing area and fringe events. The camp is arranged in circles for communal cooking & eating.
JULY 30 – AUGUST 2
Resurgence In Action
Nr Malvern • £160/£120, under 12s FREE
An opportunity to engage with Resurgence & Ecologist readers and speakers (inc Satish Kumar) for a weekend of inspiring talks, discussions, workshops, music, craft and walks. Limited to just 140 participants. Enjoy a chuckle with laughter coach Joe Hoare, share ideas from leading environmentalist Nicola Peel, and meet activist Alex Nunn from Action for Happiness plus voice work, dance, poetry and Qi Gong. Based in a small corner of paradise near Malvern with delicious vegetarian food included in the weekend ticket price.
JULY 30 – AUGUST 2
Lulworth Castle, Dorset • £195/£20-£113, under 5s FREE
Going wilder than ever before with headline sets from Underworld, Clean Bandit and the Kaiser Chiefs, brand new family shows from The Cat In The Hat Live and Dick vs Dom Go Wild In The Ring, wild workshops, the Chrysalis Garden, a spa and well-being area, the Train Trip mini carnival and loads more!
JULY 31 – 1 AUGUST
Bruton, Somerset • £59/£49, under 12s FREE
A grass roots effort: small, friendly, with a strong independent ethos, organic food from Gilcombe Farm, drinks from local suppliers, and entertainment provided by an excellent array of local DJs, bands and party crews.
Unicorn Voice Camp
Bradford-on-Avon • £250/£25-£145, under 2s FREE
Friendly, inclusive, welcoming camp where you can sing your heart out! Perform in evening cabaret sessions, sing with your camp circle in fireside sessions, or just listen and enjoy diverse musical jams. Workshops in a huge range of singing styles are on offer and all abilities are welcomed and appreciated.
Qigong Summer Camp
Dartmoor National Park • £300 /£80 for food
Ten days to unwind in an oasis of simple living,close to nature, enjoying campfire life around a central fire. With Daverick Leggett, Brad Richecoeur and friends sharing qigong practice each day to transform stress into clarity.Limited to 120 including 30 children. One of the most revitalising camps around.
AUGUST 10-14 (YOUTH) & 15-23 (ADULT)
Unicorn Dancing Spirit Camp
Bradford-on-Avon • £190/£65
Spiritual traditions of the world celebrated through song, chanting, dance and bodywork. Dances of Universal Peace are the main focus and deeply inform every aspect of the camp experience. You don’t need to be a good dancer or singer to take part .
Boomtown Winchester, Hampshire • £155/£20-£120, under 6s FREE
Boomtown rose up from the underground in 2009 to become one of the UK’s wildest and most inspiring independent festivals, from a humble village fair it is now a sprawling creative metropolis and home to every species of artistic miscreant. An essential festival for fans of ska, reggae, dub, swing and roots and bass culture Boomtown Fair gets bigger and fans say better every year. Each area has its specific line-up, but confirmed acts across the festival include Stephen Marley, Flogging Molly, Gogol Bordello, Matisyahu, SOJA, Barrington Levy, John Butler Trio, Squarepusher, Spor, Noisia, Caravan Palace, Black Uhuru, Infected Mushroom, Less Than Jake and Streetlight Manifesto and more.
Chepstow • £95/£54, under 10s FREE
Billed as being ‘where performance meets permaculture’ – this is the original off grid festivalFour days of off-grid entertainment and exploration, with live music, DJs, poets, comedians, magicians and mystics, low impact living, craft workshops, permaculture gardens, a tipi circle, campaign stalls, a healing area, kids, teens and youth spaces, interactive art and radical cinema, a stone circle and faerie glade.
Mon 24th – Fri 28th August
Embercombe, Devon, EX6 7QQ
Embercombe is a centre for environmental and spiritual education located in the gorgeous Devon countryside. Here’s a chance to celebrate the bounty of summer harvests over 4 days and nights in their beautiful gardens while learning how to pickle, preserve, forage and ferment, make sour dough and bake bread!
This offers a uniquely laid-back education in cooking from nature and a chance to celebrate the connection between land, nature and food. A great, healthy break for families. Accommodation is in cosy yurts, delicious food is cooked fresh from the garden and there’s a lake, woodland and wild resources all around. Suitable for all ages. Cost £645 per yurt – which sleeps 4. Call 01647 252983
The Earth First! Summer Gathering
Peak District • price TBC
This summer gathering is five days of low impact camping with workshops and skill shares on direct action tactics for radical ecological struggles. There will be lots of scope for networking and planning actions and the camp is organised non-hierarchically. This gathering is run without leaders and everyone who comes along needs to be prepared to chip in!
Glanusk Estate, Wales • £165/£15-£140, under 5s FREE
Nestled in the Welsh mountains, just over an hour’s drive from Bristol, Green Man festival is large enough so you never get bored but small enough to feel warm and friendly and ensure you don’t lose your pals. The music is refreshingly eclectic, covering folk and indie as well as more accessible punk and dance – among this year’s confirmed acts are St Vincent, Hot Chip, Calexico and The Fall as well as Bristol’s own Zun Zun Egui and Trust Fund. Einstein’s Garden, a dedicated science area, provides hours of fun, then there’s the vibrant film tent, comedy tent and old skool indie discos in the walled garden. On top of all this there’s Bristol’s beloved Chai Wallahs, which keeps the party going until dawn with brandy chai and Bristol sounds. Stick around till the final headliner finishes on the final night and you can witness the spectacle that is the annual burning of the giant green man with fireworks to boot.
Beautiful Days Exeter, Devon • £135/£5-£65
In 2011 Beautiful Days, which is run by indie folksters the Levellers, won an award for ‘the best family festival’ at the UK Festival Awards, unsurprising as this festival caters brilliantly for families. The children’s area hosts activities including hands-on workshops and entertainment all weekend long for children of all ages. But don’t forget the music, in 2014 Seasick Steve, Jimmy Cliff and Dreadzone all played the main stage and Tinariwen and Bellowhead appeared in the Big Top.
Oak Dragon Camp
Somerset • £140/£60-£100, under 5s FREE
These small camps spun off from the Glastonbury festival. Usually 50-80 people, they centre on workshops, ceremonies and celebrations with dancing, feasting and games thrown in. The 2015 camp theme is The Magic of Stories, exploring how stories can (and do) create magic in our everyday lives.
Buddahdharmasanga Summer Camp
Dartmoor • £210/£100-£135, under 3s FREE
An exploration of Buddhist dharma through insight meditation, qigong and inquiry. Mornings are structured around practice and silent time; afternoons are for walks, river swimming and games, while evenings centre on campfires, song, stories and stargazing.
Northamptonshire • £149/£34-£89, under 4s FREE (booking required)
Shambala is a very family friendly festival located somewhere in Northamptonshire – the organisers do not reveal the location to non-ticket holders, artists, performers etc. The music policy is diverse, but errs on the side of rock, pop, folk and world music. Saturday night is fancy dress night and you’ll stand out more if you don’t get involved.
Kettering, Northamptonshire • £145/£50, under 5s FREE
Greenbelt was originally a Christian music festival however, since the first one in 1974, it has grown to be a more inclusive festival attended by 20,000 plus music fans of all faiths and none. It has positioned itself as a festival of arts, faith and justice. SEPTEMBER
End of the Road
Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset • £195/£45-£150, under 3s FREE
If indie and Americana is your bag this is the one for you. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, End of the Road has become one of the best-loved boutique festivals delivering a weekend of soothing sounds and good times year-in-year-out. Set in a Victorian pleasure garden on the Wiltshire/Dorset border, you’ll see peacocks as well as 10,000 beautiful people meandering about taking in the unrivalled atmosphere. The line-up – including Sufjan Stevens, Future Islands and The War on Drugs – is an indie kid’s dream. It’s also a rare outing for the famous Somerset Cider Bus and, as the autumn draws in, their hot and spicy ciders are a godsend.
Base Camp Festival
The Peak District
Britain’s first over-18s adventure festival – based in suitably rugged territory to enjoy various mini expeditions. Designed to spark the spirit of adventure Base Camp mixes music with inspiration from world explorers just returned from their travels. Workshops offered to try out new skills include river-tubing, bushcraft skills, wild swimming, hiking, tree-climbing, slacklining, abseiling, climbing, caving, pack-rafting and mountain biking. Talks by top explorers including Benedict Allen, Richard Parks, Jason Lewis, Ann Daniels, Daniel Start & Sophie Radcliffe. Dance under the stars to live music and entertainment.