Ah, the British summertime! When wobbly bits and sunburnt noses adorn every grassy knoll and poorly-laid beach towel, and it’s finally acceptable once again to eat ice cream for breakfast. Although if we’re thinking of a super traditional British summer, it’s probably raining. But no less, festival season is upon us. But I don’t mean Glasto, or Edinburgh Fringe, or even that controversial cheese rolling thing that you may or may not have seen extremely violent pictures of. No, this summer I wanted to scope out some of the UK’s less commercial, quirkier offerings… think lawn parties, mohawks-on-sea, scenic villages, vintage tea parties with mod fashions and plenty of good old fashioned British fun!

 

  1. Cocktails in the City

A garden party with a difference! If you’re in London this July make sure to check out this fun, girly weekender hosted at Bedford Square Gardens – a beautiful little gated park that has total “Notting Hill” vibes. It’s actually a roaming festival that’s had several events around the UK each year including Edinburgh, Liverpool and Leeds, but still with dates left in July and October for 2019.

The London summer party in July will be held over two days and features no less than 25 cocktail companies including personal faves such as The Nightjar and Little Bat. Bars and booze-brands will be hosting stalls bringing you everything from super-chic expresso martinis to die-hard classic flavours, alongside champagne cocktails and even a sensory cocktail experience for guests to enjoy. Plus every brand must create 3 totally unique cocktails exclusively for the event. With extortionate prices in many London cocktail bars, Cocktails in the City will give guests a chance to explore a range of yummy drinks at a set price of £7.50 (note: this is considered cheap for London) plus a free cocktail included with every ticket.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a summer weekend in London without the presence of some of the city’s finest food trucks alongside to help soak up all that sugary goodness. Described by Elle magazine as “A two-day alfresco cocktail extravaganza!” All that’s left to do is choose your day and tipple.

Date: 12th & 13th July

Location: London

For details and ticket see their site

 

  1. Rebellion Festival, Blackpool

This extremely unique 4-day affair is at the heart of the UK punk scene. Quirky as they come, this high-energy weekender takes place in the kitsch English holiday-town of Blackpool, which is kind of perfect as Blackpool is an iconic place and the jarring juxtaposition of hair-spiked punks amongst sunburnt holiday-makers and trolley-toting grandmas paints quite the picture.

Held at The Winter Gardens – located smack bang in the middle of Blackpool seafront – a heritage building with no less than 10 regal rooms ranging from “regency opera house” to “medieval ballroom” – it might just be the perfect stage. Guests can enjoy 200+ punk bands over the course of 4 days, this year including popular acts such as The Exploited, The Descendants, Cock Sparrer and The Damned.

As the event is hosted in the town centre you can forget tent-dwelling and instead enjoy the creature comforts of a quaint (read: unashamedly tacky) Blackpool hotel, as well as making the most of the town’s quintessential offerings: walks on the pier, fish n chips, candy floss, video arcades and the general charm of the English seaside. Perhaps the least muddy fest of the summer, but still undoubtedly messy in its own right.

The festival has had quite the evolution since forming in 1996, when it was first called Holidays in the Sun fest and held at Morcombe Bay, then morphing into Wasted festival which toured around the world and now Rebellion; it’s safe to say these guys know what they are doing. Now, finding it’s forever home at The Winter Gardens since 2007, the Rebellion team have been able to add all kinds of fun additions such as onsite tattooists, punk art shows, loads of cool merch and vintage finds. Team that with emotive acoustic sets, healing workshops and the absolute score of a weatherproof indoor venue; you’ve got yourself one mighty fine weekender.

Date: Thurs 1st August – Sunday 4th August

Location: Blackpool

For details and tickets see their site

 

 

  1. Vintage-by-the-Sea Festival, Morcombe Bay

If you just can’t get enough of retro fashions, whether it be mod, punk or divine glamour-puss, there’s something at Vintage by the Sea to suit all tastes. Activities include free vintage bus tours, affordable craft workshops, DJ’spinning from the top of a classic Routemaster double-decker bus and a 37-seater portable cinema! For just a two day festival, there’s a lot on the bill! Running since 2013, this super-quirky fest has drawn in thousands of visitors to the area and yet is still very much up-and-coming.

“Vintage By The Sea, is a free family festival celebrating the brilliance of timeless design, fashion, art, vehicles, entertainment and culture in  Morecambe. Inspired by the wealth of creativity from the 20th century, Vintage By The Sea is Hemingway Design’s tribute to the cultural movements of the 1920s to 1990s.”

Oh, and its totally free! So you can save all your pennies for vintage brooches and silk scarves from the festivals endless vintage stalls. Plus a Lancaster Bomber flyover, dance lessons and a vintage fairground; this has to be just about as quirky as it comes. Held at Morcombe Bay in Lancashire, it’s a great position to explore the rest of the Lake District, one of the UK’s prettiest areas of natural beauty.

Date: 31st August & 1st September

Location: Morcombe Bay

For more details see their site and Facebook event

 

  1. Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival, Yorkshire Dales

This has to be about as twee as British festivals come. Behold! The modest scarecrow, protector of all things vegetable. And while modern media may have unfairly cast the humble scarecrow as a horror film monster, there is one town in Yorkshire that still reveres this silent guardian for what it always classically was. So, if you like scarecrows specifically, or perhaps just enjoy seeing bits of hay dressed up like Kim Kardashian, Kettlewell Scarecrow Fest is a total must!

Believe it or not this fest has been running for no less than 25 years! And the cutesy village of Kettlewell, set in the scenic Yorkshire Dales must be part of the appeal. Visitors can partake in two trails to discover the scarecrows which range from the classic humanoid offerings to animals, celebs and even political figures. The trail is set as a kind of clue game, so very fun for kids. Plus, as this is England, expect lots of handmade cakes, cups of tea and Wensleydale cheese, which is local to the area. As Mary Berry would say “absolutely scrumptious!”

Date: 10th – 18th August

Where: Kettlewell, Yorkshire Dales

Find more info on their site

 

  1. Boardmasters, Cornwall

Although Boardmasters has progressively gotten more commercial as the years have passed (since 1981, in fact) it still holds true to its alternative nature brining together surfers, skaters and music lovers for a weekender set on the blissful Cornish coastline. Fistral Beach, Newquay sets up a sandy stage and surf comps with major surfers throughout the week, as well as the possibility for amateurs to get involved in lessons. Plus BMX and skate comps; Boardmasters is definitely the top choice for anyone keen on alternative sports. Now drawing in some big headline acts such as Florence and the Machine and Foals, it’s not quite the coy beach party it once was, but that’s okay. For traditionalists camping is available, but it’s also possible to take advantage of some of the areas cute B&Bs staying offsite to fancy glamping options.

With an emphasis on eco-conscious community, Boardmasters works with companies such as Surfers Against Sewage to promote responsible consumption and sustainability – no longer offer single-use plastics such as plastic straws or cups. They also organise a number of beach cleans before, during and after the festival – as well as throughout the year.

If you don’t feel like dancing in the dunes or embarrassing yourself in the waves there’s plenty of other quirky activities to keep you occupied such as aerial yoga, log-fired hot tubs and something known as “champagne sessions” which I don’t really know entirely what that is, but I want to go. Along with sustainability, wellness is at the heart of Boardmasters and there are opportunities aplenty to hose down those dirty chakras.

It might seem strange to attend a surf festival in England, known for its poor weather, cold seas and pebble beaches. However, Newquay is the unofficial home of British surfing and the town has a cute, artsy vibe not totally unlike other surf towns, even if it is a bit grey. But yes, you do have to wear a wetsuit. Many Cornish beaches are set at the foot of dramatic cliffs, so even if you don’t want to step foot on the sand, you can enjoy scenic walks and plenty of traditional Cornish pasties (note: meaty-vegetable pie thing, eaten in the West Country.) And as this is England, if you really want to you can simply prop yourself up at the onsite Keg and Pasty, a 17th-century pub overlooking the bay, and slowly drink yourself stupid on locally-brewed (and somewhat lethal) scrumpy cider.

Date: 7th – 11th August 2019

Location: Newquay, Cornwall

For more info and tickets see their site