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Best of the region's music fests

PUBLISHED: 11:52 08 June 2010 | UPDATED: 15:41 29 October 2010

Simon Parkin

This summer will see this region host music festivals galore. From home-grown gatherings of obscure leftfield artists to corporate sponsored mega-festivals featuring big name acts. SIMON PARKIN picks the best.

Simon Parkin

This summer will see this region host more music festivals than ever. From home-grown gatherings of obscure leftfield artists to corporate sponsored mega-festivals featuring some of the biggest acts in the world. SIMON PARKIN highlights the pick of outdoor shindigs.

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From corporate one-day festivals with as many sponsors' logos as band T-shirts to home-grown, leftfield gatherings with mud, camping and loos you'd rather not think about. There has been an explosion of music festivals over the last few years.

Glastonbury, the most famous of the lot, has spawned a huge array of imitators, with new dates cropping up on the musical calendar all the time.

There'll be as many as 450 festivals and dozens more outdoor music events this year - with this region hosting a more diverse range than ever before.

However there have been some high profile casualties this year too. The planned appearance of Tom Jones at Carrow Road has been postponed while Blickling Hall's popular summer concerts will not take place this year after promoters failed to find enough acts to perform.

The annual weekend gigs - which are worth tens of thousands of pounds to the National Trust site near Aylsham - have been running for 13 years and have previously seen acts like Van Morrison, Simply Red and Boyzone appear on stage. The National Trust and promoters The Rival Organisation said they would not go ahead this summer but should be back next year.

Patricia Murfin, for Blickling Hall, said: “We understand how this will be a disappointment to the many thousands of people that come every year to enjoy music with the wonderful backdrop of Blickling. We certainly share that disappointment.”

Elsewhere however festival remain as popular, despite the economic downturn. Tickets for the V Festival in Chelmsford and the well respected Cambridge Folk Festival are already rarer than hen's teeth.

Other events are less well known but no less popular. Most smaller festivals avoid the something-for-all-tastes philosophy of the big boys in favour of catering on more specialist musical tastes - whether it be folk, dance music or 1950s rock'n'roll.

The demand has seen a massive diversification in what's on offer. Many of the best outdoor shindigs - from stately home

concerts to huge corporate sponsored festivals of big star names - now take place in areas of outstanding natural beauty, with

good toilets and more than passable food.

Latitude, set in beautiful Henham Park on the outskirts of Southwold, has rapidly growing into the festival de rigeur for middle class families with theatre, literary types and children's entertainment given as much prominence as the music.

It began in 2006, the brainchild of Melvin Benn, head of Festival Republic, which also runs Reading and Leeds, and owns a 40pc stake in Glastonbury. He is perhaps the most influential figure in British festivals, having previously also been involved in festivals from Homelands to Creamfields to the Fleadh.

“I like to think I've shaped what festivals look like today,” he said, “but what I wanted to do is start again on a clean sheet, and that's what Latitude is.”

He was inspired, he explains, by a feeling that something was missing from the festival calendar. “I'm by no means a wishy-washy character who spends his time reading poetry, and so people were saying, 'Melvin, you have lost your marbles!'

“But this festival needed to represent aspects of my life that other festivals did not. Music is my overriding passion, but I didn't want everything else to be sideshows. I wanted Latitude to be a live version of a quality Sunday broadsheet.”

Notably this year the region also has a number of smaller capacity, lower cost festivals aimed at raising money for good causes as much as having a good time.

Perhaps a by-product of the credit crunch. However if its just music you're after there are still, hardy home-grown down and dirty fests where the only things that matter are the music and getting so wasted you can't remember any of it...

FOREST GIGS

June 10, 11, 12, July 8, 9, 10, High Lodge, Thetford Forest

Tickets: £38-£26.50

Info/booking: 01842 814612, www.forestry.gov.uk/music

Headliners: Keane, Simply Red, Doves, Scouting For Girls, The Saturdays, Katie Melua

What to expect: The chance to see big names in front of a smallish crowd in a tree-lined setting. Now an annual money-spinner for the Forestry Commission, this series of concerts are held in a clearing in Thetford Forest. As ever the line-up includes vintage big names, and largely middle-of-the-road chart-toppers. Dates by Keane and Simply Red are already sold-out. Scouting For Girls are an unusual choice to fill the more teen-friendly headline slot this year.

DANCE ISLAND

July 3, Ely, Cambridgeshire

Tickets: £67.50 (VIP), £42.50 (over-18 only)

Info/booking: www.dance-island.co.uk

Headliners: TBC

What to expect: Thousands of ravers. This hard dance music festival made its debut two years to mixed reviews, though last summer's was noticeably more organised. It is billed as the region's biggest electronic music event and organisers are expecting more than 10,000 to pack into a secret location near Ely. Though it's down the pecking order from dance super-festivals Global Gathering and Glade it attracts some genuinely big names - no names announced just yet though. There will be five arenas, plus an outdoor stage, with house, hard dance, trance, hardcore and old skool DJs.

NOZSTOCK

July 9-11, Rowden, Paddocks Bromyard, Hertfordshire

Tickets: £75 (weekend), £55 (ages 13-17, weekend).

Info/booking: www.nozstockfestival.co.uk

Headliners: The Blockheads, Pete and the Pirates, Gaggle, Stanton Warriors, Apples, Sub Focus.

What to expect: An oddity. Nozstock celebrates English eccentricity with a pear tree lined orchard, converted barns and a coppice hiding the Little Wonderland kids area, a circus and much more. Musically it's a nostalgia-lovers dream.

ELY FOLK FESTIVAL

July 9-11, Outdoor Centre, Ely, Cambridgeshire

Tickets: £58 (weekend adult), £42 (weekend cons), £19 (weekend child), £29 (day ticket), £23 (Sat evening ticket), £18/£16 (Fri/Sun evening tickets)

Info/booking: 01353 669985, www.elyfolk.co.uk

Headliners: Oysterband, Lau, The Demon Barber Roadshow, Vin Garbutt and John Tams & Barry Coope.

What to expect: Morris-dancing displays, a real-ale bar and pastoral crooning galore. This year celebrating its 25th anniversary, Ely Folk has an easy laid back charm and, being smaller than many, is on a delightfully informal scale, mixing the vibe of a village fete with a diverse mix of music.

MAVERICK FESTIVAL

July 2-4, Easton Farm, Woodbridge, Suffolk

Tickets: £55 (weekend/camping), £55 (no camping), £7 (12-15 years, weekend), under-12s free

Info/booking: 01603 660352, www.maverickfestival.co.uk

Headliners: Chris Scruggs, Danny and the Champions of the World, Hank Wangford, Stephanie Lambring, Stompin' Dave Allen.

What to expect: An American independence weekend alt-country hoedown on four stages scattered across a picturesque Suffolk farm. Maverick was created two years ago as a festival for country, Americana and American folk music. The line-up won't mean much unless you're into country, but it has won plaudits and increasing numbers of Stetson-wearing fans. Yee-ha!

LATITUDE

July 15-18, Henham Park, Suffolk

Tickets: If you've not already got them you're too

late, it's sold out.

Info/booking: 0870 0603775, www.latitudefestival.co.uk

Headliners: Florence & The Machine, Belle And Sebastian, Vampire Weekend, The National, Grizzly Bear, Richard Hawley, Laura Marling, Ardal O'Hanlon, Royal Shakespeare Company, Sadler's Wells, Jon Ronson, Hanif Kureish, Bret Easton Ellis, Duckie, The Razzle.

What to expect: Now in its sixth year, Latitude started as a mini-Glastonbury but is rapidly gaining ground as one of the UK's best festivals, it sold out in record quick time this year. Musically this year's line-up is perhaps a step back on to safer ground after last year's more unusual choice of Pet Shop Boys and Grace Jones as headliners. But even if Florence & The Machine, Belle And Sebastian and Vampire Weekend are not to your taste there is plenty of treasures to be found down the bill, including Midlake and Mumford & Sons, while the second stage is looking particularly strong including Grizzly Bear, The National and The Coral. But that's only part of the story. There's a huge array of big names from comedy, cabaret, theatre, poetry, film and literature. Where else can you see high-brow offerings from the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Lyric Theatre in a fairytale setting of forest, lakes and meadows. Other tips include Mark Lamarr's God's Jukebox, Adam Buxton's Bug, the fantastic Balletboyz and the masked ball in the Faraway Forest. Plus there are separate kids art and theatre tents, making it one of the most family friendly festivals around.

NORFOLK COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL

July 22-25, Norfolk Showground

Tickets: £65 (weekend), £20 Sun (day ticket), £18 Fri-Sat (day ticket)

Info/booking: 01362 820947, www.ncmf.co.u

Headliners: John C King, Texas Tornados, The Western Line, Henry Smith's Country Dreams, Overdrive, Mary B & Paul Gallagher, John C King Family Band, Hayley Oliver Band, Spaghetti Western.

What to expect: Cowboys from the wild east. This long-standing weekend country music gathering is an unheralded success story of the music festival calendar, drawing lovers of American country sounds from far and wide. A large indoor venue it hosts three dance floors to suit line, partner and freestyle dancing and non-stop music, including late night sessions with Jonny Rondo. There is also a saloon bar - probably no swinging doors though.

SECRET GARDEN PARTY

July 23-26, near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire

Tickets: £144 (weekend), under-13s free

Info/booking: www.secretgardenparty.com

Headliners: Mercury Rev, Marina & The Diamonds, Skatalites, Goldheart Assembly, The Whip, Gorillaz Sound System

What to expect: After winning a Best Small Festival Award, The Secret Garden Party is back for another year, with more unusual and inspirational delights. It's a staunchly independent four-day offering so don't expect the usual main stage and burger vans. Set in 10 acre landscaped garden, bordering a river and lake, it's a garden-party-gone-crazy. As well as music there's loads of activities for kids and adults alike, and it is more of a party experience offering mud wrestling, skinny dipping, twilight maypole dancing, silent disco dancing, raft-building, body painting, counselling from the bad advice bears and reduced price tickets for those willing to “creatively participate”.

RHYTHMS OF THE WORLD

July 24-25, Hitchin Priory, Hitchin, Hertfordshire

Tickets: No weekend tickets, £7 (advance day tickets), £3 under-17s

Info/booking: www.rotw.org.uk

Headliners: Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, Steven Sago, Bayou Seco, Hugh Cornwell, Glen Matlock, The Dodge Brothers.

What to expect: A volunteer-run world music gathering that began life 18 years ago as an Oxfam fundraiser. The 16,000 capacity site is in lush, naturally sloping grounds, perfect to watch a bill that hails from as far afield as Burundi, Palestine and Poland, plus a couple of old punks.There is also an BBC Introducing stage of bands from the region. And at just £7 it won't break the bank to expand your music horizons.

CAMBRIDGE FOLK FESTIVAL

July 29-August 1, Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge

Tickets: £108 (weekend), £49-£34 (camping ticket), £48-£37 ( years day ticket), under-5s free

Info: 01223 357851, www.cambridgefolkfestival.co.uk

Headliners: Kris Kistofferson, Natalie Merchant, Seth Lakeman, Rokia Traore, The Unthanks, Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

What to expect: Sponsored by the Co-op and Radio 2, the Cambridge Folk Festival has grown into one of Europe's biggest and longest running folk fests. The first was in 1964 when a then largely unknown Paul Simon was a late addition to the bill. It has enlarged to include high profile American country artists, gospel, blues and world music, though in the past couple of years it has been underwhelming. This year's bill toppers, including country legend Kris Kistofferson and Malian superstar Rokia Traore, are more in keeping though and there are treasures lower down the bill. Having to get the coach to your tent on a separate sports field doesn't help create festival magic.

BRIGHTLINGSEA MUSIC FESTIVAL

July 30-August 1, Brightlingsea, Essex

Tickets: Free

Info/booking: www.brightlingseamusicfest.co.uk

Headliners: TBA

What to expect: Seafront free festival this year celebrating its 10th anniversary and expanded to three-days. Features performances from both nationally known and local roots, blues and world artists across a variety of venues.

SONISPHERE

July 30-August 1, Knebworth Park, Hertfordshire

Tickets: £157.50 (weekend/camping), £132.50 (weekend), under-12s free, free coach travel

Info/booking: www.sonispherefestivals.com

Headliners: Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper, Rammstein, Pendulum, Placebo, Motley Crue, Slayer, Alice In Chains, Iggy And The Stooges.

What to expect: The metal masses. After a well received debut last year, this new rival for Download returns to Knebworth, which in the past has hosted legendary shows by everyone from Led Zeppelin to Deep Purple, Oasis to Robbie Williams. With Iron Maiden atop the bill the promoters could have put any nonsense on the bill and the metal hordes would have come, but they've pushed the boat out with everyone from veterans Slayer and Motley Crue to more current acts like Pendulum. There is also a comedy tent featuring, amongst others, rock-stand-up extraordinaire Tim Minchin.

FORDHAM FEST

August 6-8, Fordham, near Newmarket, Suffolk.

Tickets: £65 (weekend), £170 (family weekend), £30 teenager tickets.

Info/booking: www.fordhammusicfest.org

Headliners: Dreadzone, Ex Simple Minds, Secret Affair, King Hammond, Blue Haze.

What to expect: The Fordham Music Festival is a small music festival, run mainly to raise awareness about Cam-Mind and the Teenage Cancer Trust. Now in its seventh year, it's still going strong, raising as much money as possible, and providing an excellent festival with live music and a brilliant atmosphere.

STANTON CALLING

August 6-8, Stanton, Ware Hertfordshire

Tickets: £95 (weekend/camping), £75 (12-17 years weekend/camping), under-12s free.

Info/booking: www.standon-calling.com

Headliners: Liars, Buena Vista Social Club, The Magic Numbers, These New Puritans, Gilles Peterson, Efterklang, Etienne De Crechy.

What to expect: Essentially a big 3,000 capacity party in back garden of organiser Alex Trnchard. This is more charming than you might think when that garden is the grounds of a 16th century manor house. It's the chance to see some of the most hotly tipped underground bands and some cracking DJs - plus the only UK festival appearance of the Buena Vista Social Club - in an intimate setting. The festival donates its proceeds to charity and has a different theme every year - this time its Murder of the Standon Express, so expect plenty of Poirot lookalikes.

GIG IN THE PARK

August 6-8, Town Park, Halesworth, Suffolk

Tickets: TBC

Info/booking: www.giginthepark.co.uk

Headliners: The Undertones, Showwaddywaddy, Baskery, Joe Allen

What to expect: A real community gathering, made possible by local people who give their time for free. This three-day event has built up a good reputation. It doesn't attract the big names - though everyone's heard of The Understones, who are guaranteed a good reception for John Peel favourite Teenage Kicks - but the line-up also includes plenty of local talent.

REEPHAM FESTIVAL

August 14, Rookery Meadow, Reepham

Tickets: £12, under-7s free

Info/booking: 01603 508050, www.reephamfestival.co.uk

Headliners: Boomtown Rats, Buster James Band, Red Leaf, TinPig, The Proposition, Minx, Hoodlums.

What to expect: An initimate laidback musical experience in the beautiful Norfolk countryside. Now in its third year, this community festival stages a mix of established names plus exciting up-and-coming young performers. The diverse music programme on two stages ranges wildly and wonderfully from acoustic to alternative, blues, classical, Celtic, folk, jazz, pop and punk.

RHYTHM FESTIVAL

August 20-22, Twinwood Arena, Clapham, near

Bedford

Tickets: £125 (weekend/camping), £45-39 (day ticket), discounted rates for children.

Info/booking: 020 77348932, www.rhythmfestival.net

Headliners: Billy Bragg, The Damned, The Wailers, 10cc, Wilko Johnson, Arlo Guthrie.

What to expect: Now in its fifth year this festivals is definitely aimed

at the more mature crowd. It's a smaller festival (capacity 5,000) that has no corporate branding, no sponsorship and a rather random bill of rootsy bands, old punks and 70s and 80s radio-pop outfits. Difficult to see how they all appeal to one crowd, though the excellent on-site real ale festival probably helps.

V FESTIVAL

August 21-22, Hylands Park, Chelmsford, Essex

Tickets: If you've not already got them you're too

late, it's sold out.

Info/booking: www.vfestival.com

Headliners: Kings of Leon, Paul Weller, Editors, Groove Armada, Pet Shop Boys, Ellie Goulding, Kasabian, Faithless, Mika, Doves, Editors.

What to expect: The best organised of the major festivals - too much so for some, who feel it's a soulless exercise in over commercialisation. However, if you're looking for a relatively stress-free weekend with the minimum of mud, fuss and crusty types, this is the place for you. This year's line-up continues a policy of varied music styles, rather than straight rock that categorised earlier years. The addition of Chipmunk and Tinie Tempah is a bid to attract a young crowd as well as Q readers.

FESTINHO

August 27-29, Hinwick House, Bedfordshire

Tickets: £70 (weekend/camping), £50 (weekend), under-14s £20 (weekend)

Info/booking: www.festinho.com

Headliners: AGT Rave Cru, Alucidnation, Belleruche, Chris Wood, Daft Pink, Digitonal, Dr Em & Funky Jim, Dr Rubberfunk, Eliza Carthy, Flevans, Heather McClell, Jackie Oates, Lucky Elephant, Mixmaster Morris, Sam Carter, Sombrero Soundsystem.

What to expect: After a single year at Long Melford, Suffolk, this nomadic festival that offers Latin carnival spirit has shifted over to Bedfordshire this summer. The website asks if we like great music, Brazilian vibes, lazing in hammocks and proper caipirinhas - what's not to like? Festinho as a charity fundraiser started in Oxfordshire in 2005. The 1,500 capacity event is a Brazilian themed fiesta - with leftfield electronica, nu-folk and lo-fi pop - that raises cash for Brazilian street kids.

ROCK'N'ROLL WEEKENDER

October 8-11, Seacroft, Hemsby, Norfolk

Tickets: From £101pp (based on two people sharing a standard chalet).

Info/booking: 01522 752453, www.hemsbyrocknroll.co.uk or

Headliners: The Johnny Cash Band, The Tennessee Three, Bobby Hendricks, Mack Stevens, The Rimshots, Little Neal & The Blueflames.

What to expect: The annual gathering - now in its 45th incarnation - of rockabilly types who model themselves on Elvis and James Dean and women dressed as 50s pin-ups. Now held in the suitably authentic 50s surroundings of the Seacroft holiday camp, it attracts rock'n'rollers from across the country. As well as the music, there will also be jive dancing, classic cars and record and clothing markets. Grease up that quiff, and pull on those classic turned-up Levis.

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