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Summer holiday ideas: Music festivals in the UK and Europe

Is there a better way to spend a few days than sitting in the sun, checking out some of the hottest new bands with friends at music festivals in the UK or Europe, while enjoying a few well-earned drinks?

Whether you are looking for a UK short-break idea or something a little further afield in Europe, the possibilities are endless.

I don’t know how much longer Glastonbury will maintain its preeminent place in the UK and European festival calendar, but there are hundreds of alternatives on offer for those looking for a music festival short-break.

With so much choice, picking the right festival can be confusing for gig-goers, so here’s a whirlwind tour of the very best festival summer holiday ideas:

UK Music Festival Calendar Highlights

By the time the hubbub from Glastonbury – the marque event of the summer festival season – dies down, fans may well be worn out. But never fear Hop Farm Festival should revive flagging spirits. This is the festival for those looking to go back to basics with modest ticket prices, no sponsorship or branding on site and no VIP area, while children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult. Camping is available on site and the fun fair and five-a-side football tournament – featuring pro-footballers and band members – provide entertaining diversions.

Camping 3 Wishes Faerie Festival Photo by Natasha von Geldern

For the culturally minded, Latitude is focused on a range of performing arts – not just music. Poetry, comedy, dance, theatre and sculpture events will all vie for attention with sets from big name music acts. For something a little smaller how about the Cambridge Folk Festival? Gamely competing with the corporate giants, this is a quintessentially English event.

2017 will be the last ever Secret Garden Party in Cambridgeshire so get in quick to experience this hedonist fans’ favourite!

For something a little more off the beaten track, Loppallu mixes traditional Scottish folk music with grandstand acts in the very north of Scotland, northwest of Inverness, with camping available nearby and fringe shows and street entertainment on offer in this remote fishing village.

While most festivals take alcohol-fuelled hedonism as their raison d’être, Buddahfield offers something for the more discerning palate – with a strict anti-alcohol policy. The emphasis here is on Buddhism, meditation and Tai Chi at this event in a beautiful Somerset location.

A little later in the season End of the Road will offer a hipster crowd some great music in Salisbury, Wiltshire. Great local food and beer will be available and the artists at this festival are encouraged to play to their hearts’ consent – no 20 minute shuttle service here. A relaxed and charming climax to the UK festival season.

British Summer Time Music Festivals in the UK

If you will be in London this summer, there is a wealth of conveniently located short festivals, such as Offset in the forests of Hainault, Wireless  in Hyde Park and Meltdown on the Southbank. Also in Hyde Park, the British Summer Time festival has some great acts this year. Victoria Park in east London hosts two brilliant festivals – Field Day and Lovebox.

Family-friendly Music Festivals in the UK

There are some wonderful family-friendly festivals in the UK. Down in beautiful Cornwall, the award-winning Fairy Festival is heaven for children, with workshops, a fairy dog show and lots of relaxed dancing in the sun.

Larmer Tree Festival features an eclectic mix of dance, dub, world-music and jazz over five days. Over on the Wiltshire/Dorset border, Larmer Tree also features 150 free workshops, a street theatre, huge carnival procession and intimate crowd of just 4,000 revellers. A sure hit with families of all ages!

Probably the UK’s most famous family festival is Camp Bestival, a little sibling of the big Bestival. The setting at Ludlow Castle in Dorset is spectacular and there are some great headline acts as well as endless fun activities and workshops for children of all ages.

Kids fun at Camp Bestival

European Music Festival Calendar Highlights

For something a little more adventurous, how about heading to one of Europe’s premier festivals this summer? Benicassim may now be swamped by Brits but there are still any number of top quality events taking place across the continent.

Festival des Vieilles Charrues in France is likely to be an early highlight in July and this festival has an eco-edge with profits paid back into the community and local volunteers helping on site.

Among the biggest festivals in Europe this summer is Roskilde, which will see hundreds of bands taking to the stage in Denmark. A little further afield, Exit in Serbia always has a legendary lineup and SummerJam and Hurricane in Germany are also hugely popular.

I’m off to Latitude for the first time in July so let’s all keep our fingers crossed for good weather!

By Natasha von Geldern

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One Comment

  1. I’ve worked at Secret Garden Party a few times- it’s absolutely nuts. I like the idea of some of the smaller ones you’ve mentioned here. 🙂

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