5 great festivals for grown-ups

5 great festivals for grown-ups

Fun in a field doesn’t have to be hard work! Daniella Soave seeks out the best of the fests for music, entertainment and culture outdoors this summer

My first music festival was a baptism of fire. In 1976 I tagged along with older friends who were going to Knebworth. Television news reported that 120,000 fans had gathered to watch The Rolling Stones, 10CC, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Todd Rundgren among others. It was the largest festival ever held in the UK.
A whole day of music! I thought I’d gone to heaven. Until it came to the finer elements like the food, and wanting to go to the bathroom. Trauma has wiped my memory but there was room for improvement.

The music festival rebooted

How times have changed. Call me a softie, but loos, stalls and sit-down cafes make the experience all the more enjoyable. I adore music, but festivals are no longer solely about the bands – they’re also about spending time with friends and family in the great outdoors. Perhaps that’s why they are as much part of the British summer season as Wimbledon, the Proms and Ascot.

Are you a festival first-timer?

Trust me, festivals are not simply the preserve of the young or achingly hip. It’s an opportunity to see musical favourites, discover a few new ones and, increasingly, to also take in other arts such as comedy, literature and film. Festivals are good value, too. For around £200, you can spend an entire weekend immersed in back-to-back entertainment, and that includes accommodation. Part of their appeal lies in the fact you no longer have to slum it. Yes, you can settle for a ten quid tent but better camping options now exist such as pre-erected luxury yurts. There are high class food options as well as burger vans, and for those in need of pampering, some even boast luxury spas. Nowadays it can be a family affair, a chance to introduce the grandchildren to culture and fun in the great outdoors. Many festivals keep back a number of day tickets if you just want to dip your toes into the experience, and an increasing number of urban festivals don’t involve camping – you can get the bus home at the end of a fantastic day out. What’s not to like about that?

My five festival picks

Glastonbury might have sold out in a flash, but here are five more that will knock your rock socks off:

  • Latitude 14-17 July, Southwold, Suffolk www.latitudefestival.com
    The award-winning family festival is, increasingly, a blend of music, food, comedy and family entertainment. Highlights for 2016 include New Order, The National, The Maccabees, Russell Howard, Paul Merton and Al Murray. Theatre, poetry, cabaret stages and cinema screenings complete the offering.
  • Port Eliot Festival 26-28 July, St Germans, Cornwall www.porteliotfestival.com
    With cookery lessons in the castle kitchen, yoga in the grand hall, nature lectures by the river, fashion curated by legends Barbara Hulanicki and Stephen Jones, it’s clearly not just music that draws the crowds. Guests include Noel Fielding, Andrew Weatherall, Matthew Fort, Isy Suttie.
  • Flow Festival 12-14 August, Helsinki, Finland www.flowfestival.com
    For those who fancy combining an overseas trip with their music, how about this inventively curated shindig held in an industrial power plant? This year’s bill includes Iggy Pop, New Order, Massive Attack and Sia. Make sure to leave time to explore Helsinki, while you’re there.
  • The Big Feastival 26-28 August, Kingham, Oxfordshire www.thebigfeastival.com
    When you learn this takes place on Blur’s Alex James’ farm, the penny drops. Food and music in spades: cookery lessons, banquets, demonstrations and top notch music. Chefs include Jamie Oliver, GBBO’s Nadiya Hussein and Tom Kerridge, with live acts including Mark Ronson, Tinie Tempah and the Kaiser Chiefs.
  • Festival No 6 1-4 September, Portmeirion, Wales www.festivalnumber6.com
    Surely the most surreal of them all, this faux Italianite miniature town where cult TV series The Prisoner was filmed forms the setting for a bill that features Noel Gallagher, Hot Chip and Echo & The Bunnymen alongside Irvine Welsh, Sara Pascoe and Dr John Cooper Clarke.

My festival tips

  • Don’t expect to see every band unless you can clone yourself. Make a list of must-sees, would like to-sees and take-it-or-leave-its. Expect to manage about half at most.
  • Don’t camp next to the loos. Or near walkways. Or under electricity pylons. Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised.
  • Do remember where you pitched your tent/parked your car. You might think you’ll remember but without a reminder it’s like playing Where’s Wally. Tie a memorable scarf/ribbon to your aerial or tent pole.
  • Work out the best meeting points and make sure everyone knows them. Don’t phone your sister and tell her you’re by the thingy, you know, the thingy, as my sister did to me. Nobody is that telepathic.


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