I first caught the festival bug a few years ago after attending the Hackney Weekend event which was rolled out during the summer of 2012 when London hosted the Olympics. Since then, every summer I attempt to attend a festival or two and this year is no exception. Coincidentally there has been a steady demand for festivals, and with promoters keen to capitalise on this interest, I read recently that this year a reported 700 festivals will take place throughout the country this summer. Here are some of the ones I feel are worth checking out.
LOVEBOX 18th and 19th July, Victoria Park, East London
I attended Wireless last summer and didn’t really enjoy the experience as it was too rowdy for my liking (I witnessed about 5 fights in the space of an hour). One of my festival veteran friends suggested Lovebox as a more chilled and mature alternative. The event takes place over two days in East London and this year’s line up includes Nas, A$AP Rocky, MIA, Chase & Status and Katy B . In addition to the artists, there will also be a selection of DJs serving up music from some of the UK’s most celebrated genres such as dubstep, techno, electro and a reggae set from David Rodgian.
PENN FESTIVAL – 19th, 20th July – Buckinghamshire
The Penn Festival is a fairly new event and aimed at the more mature, family orientated clientele. Set in 30 acres of idyllic countryside in Buckinghamshire, this year the intimate festival boasts an artist line up of ’80s and ’90s hit-makers such as Hot Chocolate, Ce Ce Penniston, Robin S and Betty Boo. There will also be activities such as craft making workshops to keep the kiddies occupied. With tickets priced from £37.80 for a day ticket, this is one of the more purse-friendly festivals.
LEICESTER MUSIC FESTIVAL – 25th, 25th July – Leicester
The inaugural Leicester Music Festival is the brainchild of two local businessmen who shared a vision of putting Leicester on the music map. The two-day event offers a cool, eclectic line up that bridges the gap between the young and mature. Confirmed artists include Soul II Soul, Billy Ocean, Labrinth, Kool & The Gang, Diversity, The Saturdays and Heatwave. Tickets are priced at £45
REWIND FESTIVAL – 15-17th August, Temple Island Meadows, Henley-on-Thames.
As a ’80s music buff I’ve always wanted to check out the Rewind Festival but have yet to make the journey up to Henley-on-Thames. One of the first festivals to champion and provide a platform for the stars of yesteryear, this summer is no exception, with a line up that includes some of my faves: Billy Ocean, Rick ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ Astley, The Real Thing, UB40 and Sister Sledge. Tickets are priced at £50 for the show only, and there are camping and glamping options available too.
ONE LOVE FESTIVAL – 15th-17th August – Leighton Buzzard
If you love reggae then there’s one festival you definitely need to attend this summer – the One Love Festival in Leighton Buzzard. The event is a two-day celebration of reggae in all its variation – dancehall, ska, roots or rock steady. The event was designed to bring the message of Bob Marley’s ‘One love, one heart’ to the masses, and there’s also real emphasis on holistic health as well, so not only can you dance, sway and soak in all the positive vibes, but you can visit the chill out zone and indulge in a bit of Thai massage, reiki or reflexology. Artists scheduled to perform include John Holt, Cocoa Tea and The Wailing Stones. There will also be sound clashes, dub plate specials and a selection of top DJs. Tickets are priced from £50
V FESTIVAL – 16th, 17th August, Weston and Hylands Park, Essex
The V Festival is really one for the cool kids, but don’t write it off all together if you’re not in the 80-30 age bracket. Set in a field in Chelmsford, Essex, the line up looks pretty tasty and includes Chic featuring Nile Rodgers, Janelle Monae, Cee Lo Green and will be headlined by Justin Timberlake. Day tickets are priced from £89, while weekend tickets with camping is priced from £189.
BESTIVAL – 4th-7th September, Isle of Wight
Bestival is shaping up to be one of the most popular festivals on the circuit and it’s not hard to see why. Based in the quiet, quaint seaside town of Robin Hill, Isle of Wight, the festival’s appeal is it appeals to the eclectic music lover by celebrating genres of all types. This year the musical highlights will include Outcast, who continue their comeback this summer with a headlining show on the Friday. On the Saturday night get ready to put on your dancing shoes for Chic ft Nile Rodgers, as they bring their feel-good disco extravaganza to the masses. Also, expect sets from Busta Rhymes, Disclosure, Laura Mvula, Sam Smith and Major Lazer. Tickets start from £195.
RELOAD FESTIVAL – 5th-7th September, Norfolk.
Another ’80s revival festival a’la Rewind, Reload Festival also promises an incredible old school line up including Kool And The Gang , Soul II Soul, Five Star, Sister Sledge, Human League and many, many more. Based at the Norfolk Showground, there’s also a campsite for those who want to stay and take in both days and the event is open to anyone five years old an upwards. Prices start from a bargain £39 for show only (£16 for children) and £99 for camping, plus festival.
ON BLACKHEATH – 13th & 14th September, Blackheath, London
On Blackheath is a new festival taking place in my manor. I was really excited when I heard about the event initially, but must admit, I’m not overly enthralled by the line up and would’ve loved a bit more musical diversity, specifically a few reggae, soul or R&B acts on the bill (I know it’s Blackheath, but this is south east London after all). So far confirmed artists include Massive Attack, Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, Aloe Blacc and Imelda May. As well as live music there will be a food stage where festival attendees can explore the hottest street food and pick up some produce from the farmer’s market. Despite my disappointment at the line up I think this will provide a brilliant PR boost to Blackheath by putting it on the festival map, and will hopefully be the start of many more to come.