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UK Festivals: More than just the music

Written by 2 July 2014 4 Comments

The iconic Glastonbury festival kicked off on the weekend and all who couldn’t (or forgot!) to get a ticket wept in their bed and cursed all the happy festival-goers. I for one gave the finger to all the happy instagram shots and tweets about the festivities… #IdontCareButAmLying… But don’t despair as Glastonbury is merely kicking off the UK’s awesome festival scene and is acting as a reminder for everyone to go buy their tickets for the summer’s musical extravaganzas!

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Europe has some of the best music festivals in the world, but anyone who is planning on popping over to England in the coming months will be spoilt for choice. Not only are there some great headliners doing the rounds, but many of England’s music festivals are stocked full of fun that go beyond just the music. We do festivals in style and party hard over here, come rain or shine! Here’s a round-up of this summer’s UK festivals that will give you more than just a musical and camping experience – they’ll leave your head spinning, your eyes full of glitter and a big, fat smile on your face.

Lovebox:

When: July 18th-19th

Where: Victoria Park, London

You’ll like if… you dig electro music & have some serious street style that you want to bust out.

Imagine that all the most beautiful and stylish peeps from the city were rounded up into a field and then amazing DJ’s and bands unleashed their beats on them. That is Lovebox! And it is  the epitome of cool London.

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For two days, east London’s Victoria Park is taken over by niche-music lovers and the coolest kids around. Lovebox was set up by DJ’s Groove Armada in 2002 off the back of their resident club night in London town, and  it’s quite small so there isn’t the endless traipsing around that you have to do for larger festivals.  It’s urban-based with no camping, so perfect for those you don’t want to do the whole camping thing and want to be able to recover in an actual bed. Lovebox’s got a great reputation though, especially since its won the award for Best UK Medium-sized Festival (for those who didn’t know that that award existed!).

The kind of music you’ll hear isn’t very mainstream with a lot of electro and drum n bass, but there is the odd pop act thrown in for good measure. Snoop Dogg and Florence and the Machine have played in the past, and this year you’ll get to bop to the likes of Bonobo, M.I.A & Subfocus.

DISTRIKT DJ’s will be featured as the epicentre of dance at Lovebox. They orginated this awesome party at the infamous Burning Man festival and they have flown over especially for Lovebox. DISTRICKT can’t wait to unleashed their slice of the Nevada Desert festival upon the Londoners. There are extra features to Lovebox, such as, the ‘Cirque Du Chic’, a spell-binding spectacle of a parade that will be coated in glitter and skimpy, outrageous costumes. Also, try get a VIP ticket for access to free hair-styling by the cool BlueTit Salon in the stunning Pavillion Gardens (Prince George’s seaside residence)!

And of course, be prepared for some serious style and fashion inspiration as everyone looks like a model or like they belong in a band. Everyone’s dressed to the nines and lookin’ fiiiine.

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Secret Garden Party:

When:July 24th-27th

Where: Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon

You’ll like if… you’re into mystical garden glamping and ethereal experiences!

This independent arts and music festival, set deep in the English countryside, is the place where you’ll serenely wander among the trees and discover awesome entertainment at every turn.

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Launched in 2004, Secret Garden Party has stuck to their age-old motto of “This is a serious party”. They party and they do it well. There are about 15 stages and all are decked out in top notch decoration! ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ is an awesome stage intertwined with branches and tree trunks and the ‘Lake Stage’ is (you’ll never guess…) on the lake. It’s the centre piece of the festival and acts as both an art installation and a party venue! It’s easy to embrace the garden party mentality as the festival is set in the beautiful grounds of a Georgian farm house besides lakes, rivers and landscaped gardens. Go boating, punting and swimming in the lake to cool off in the mornings, then run around catching the great acts. The likes of Faithless, 2 many DJ’s & Django Django have graced their stages, and this year fat Freddy’s Drop, Jagwar Ma, Little Dragon and Submotion Orchestra will be filling your ears!

There’s a massive powdered paint fight on the Sunday which is guaranteed to turn you all sorts of tie-dye colours, but fear not, as you can ‘Bathe under the stars” in the available hot tubs and saunas. ‘The Sanctuary’ by the lake is for you to unwind and recharge before launching into another round of partying. Massages, facials, Acro yoga and a Vitality cafe can be found here – you don’t have to leave this festival as a hungover shell-of-a-human!

Don’t forget, Secret Garden Party offers an obscene amount of glamping options to turn your experience into quite the holiday. They have some unique accommodations, such as, luxury yurts, Lotus Belle tents and vintage gypsy caravans available for you to rest your noggin (they do cost a bit of dollar though!).

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Wilderness:

When: August 7th-10th

Where: Cornbury park, Oxfordshire

You’ll like if… You’re an enthusiastic foodie who appreciates amazing cuisine and are interested in picking up some new arts and craft skills.

Ok, Wilderness is one heck of a festival that has so much going on that it is literally insane – its program is as thick as my finger! You’ll never get bored here and if you do, there’s something wrong with you.

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The line-up isn’t stuffed full with big names, but there are some great acts this year, like Metronomy, Jessie Ware and Chet Faker. Enjoy all the tunes, but don’t forget to get out and explore all that’s on offer!

Firstly, Wilderness is known for its foodie reputation. It holds banquets and feasts hosted by Michelin-starred chefs, such as Simon Rogan. There’s a Wilderness cookery school, talks by top chefs and you’ll be eating supreme quality produce – you won’t find your average burger van here! They run a ‘Hunter Gatherer’ course that shows how to forage and cook out in nature. You’ll butcher, gather and cook the finest wild, local and fresh ingredients; all found in the surrounding woods and meadows!

Other courses include jewelry workshops, rustic carpentry, wild swimming, learn to knit (‘clothing optional’ apparently!), horse riding and various forms of yoga. Catch some theatre with the Shakespeare Globe Company or attend an intriguing talk and debate. This year, The Huffington Post will  be hosting eclectic talks, including “What feminism means today”, plus their UK blog editor, Jody Thompson, will be holding a Blogger Workshop – a travelettes dream, eh?

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 UK Festivals: More than just the music

Shambala:

When: August 21st-24th

Where: Secret Country Estate, Northamptonshire

You’ll like if… you prefer intimate smaller festivals which are environmentally minded.

Shambala is a proper country shindig that embraces family fun with pumping parties and fireworks! The music is eclectic, ranging from rock to folk, & everyone embraces the festival spirit with extravagant dressing up and exuberant dancing.

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This festival has a huge focus on sustainability and leaving the smallest carbon footprint that they can – they even won the 2013 award for being such a green festival! Surrounded by lush countryside and woodland, the creators of Shambala have kept the event entirely independent with close connections with independent Bristol retailers.

Enjoy some guilt-free eating at the ‘Surplus Supper Club’ which provides meals from food that would’ve been chucked or view some of the great art installations that litter the fields. There are about 400 workshops, talks and seminars to check out, including, yoga, meditative arts, bee keeping, nipple tassel making, ska-robics (aerobics to ska music!), lantern making and sculpture! Get rock n rolling at the roller disco and get involved in The Great Swing! Free swing dance lessons are being held nationwide to ensure that you know how to jive and lindybop by the time Shambala arrives. And with this years theme being ‘carnival’,  you’re guaranteed to be shimmying and dancing the whole weekend!

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Bestival:

When: September 4th-7th

Where: Robin Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight

You’ll like if… you love to go all out with costumes and face paint, and you’ll love it if you are ready to party hard and end your summer with a BANG!

Bestival is a glitter-soaked affair that is stuffed full with exciting musical acts, crazy raving and surreal surroundings! Each year is always dubbed with a strong theme that requires compulsory dressing up, and with this years theme being “Desert Island Disco”, it’s a must for all travelettes!

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Hosted on the little island off England’s south coast, the Isle of Wight, Bestival has over 20 live stages and a plethora of hedonistic experiences to be had. Large headliners such as Outkast, Foals, Major Lazer and SBTRKT will be featured this year, plus a variety of world renowned DJ’s who’ll keep the party going till 5am each night!

Set up by DJ, Rob da Bank, the festival has remained independent and a huge unconventional melting pot of styles. It’s weird and boho, and with the desert island theme, you can be sure that the decor will be immense! There’ll be a landlocked harbour with HMS Bestival being the centerpiece for fun. The Bollywood tent will serve up cocktails in the sun from their cocktail bus, and then when night descends, the lavish sequined tent will come alive with all sorts of performances. The Temple Island will be the disco hall to go throw shapes in and the fairground-decorated Grand Palace of Entertainment will  put on shows by east London transvestites group, ‘Sink the Pink’, and hold raucous glitterarti parties.

Again, this festival also has a variety of talks taking place in the Bestiversity tent and pampering with their ‘Bathing under the sky’ hot tubs (definitely a reoccurring theme with all of these festivals! But I’m not complaining…).

As Bestival takes it dressing up quite seriously, they provide a dressing up box for all those who were foolish enough to turn up without gear. There’s an eyelash bar, make-up booth, fantasy hairstyling, face painting and a range of vintage and whacky costumes to try on. The costume competition is held on the Saturday with a catwalk.

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So I’m expecting to begin planning my Desert Island Disco outfits now (2 months should just about be enough time) and I plan to have glitter ingrained on my skin until October! Spoilt for choice? Get buying those tickets ASAP as it isn’t a secret how fab these festivals are! They’ll sell out fast…

So which festivals are you going this summer?

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4 Comments »

  • Adriana said:

    There are so many amazing festivals this year. Not only in Western Europe, but on the East as well. Here are some great music festivals in Bulgaria, if you are planning to visit the Balkan countries this summer :) )) http://www.adventureflair.com/music-festivals-bulgaria-2014/ I wish you tones of smiles and good music :) ))

  • Bekka said:

    I absolutely love some of the festivals that we have to offer here in the UK. I really want to do Secret Garden Party and Bestival at some point, but sadly I’m not attending any this year. Great list though, thanks for sharing!

  • Sophie Saint (author) said:

    No worries, Bekka! If only one ticket gave you access to all of them! All my friends are Wilderness bound – so jealous! :(

  • Elizabeth said:

    I’m a big fan of the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh!

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