Guide to this summer's festivals
PUBLISHED: 17:39 04 June 2009 | UPDATED: 15:40 29 October 2010
This summer will see this region host more music festivals than ever. From home-grown gatherings of leftfield artists to corporate sponsored mega-festivals featuring some of the biggest acts around. SIMON PARKIN looks at what to expect.
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
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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 more than ever before.
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 50s rock'n'roll.
“There is no doubt about it, festivals are still incredibly fashionable,” says Neil Greenway, founder of efestivals.co.uk, an independent festival listing website.
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, is rapidly growing into the festival de rigour for middle class families with theatre, literary types and kids 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 has 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...
June 4, 5, 6, July 9, 10, 11, High
Lodge, Thetford Forest
Info/booking: www.forestry.gov.uk/music or call 01842 814612
Headliners: James Morrison, Paul Weller, Jools Holland, The Human League, David Gray, Sugababes
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. Paul Weller's most recent folky-jazz album will find a perfect home. The Human League's nostalgic urban electro-pop will be more incongruous in a forest clearing.
BRIGHTLINGSEA MUSIC FESTIVAL
July 30-August 2, Brightlingsea, Essex
What to expect: Seafront free festival now in its ninth year and expanded to three-days. Features performances from both nationally known and local artists.
July 3-5, Easton Farm, Woodbridge, Suffolk
Tickets: £50 (weekend/camping), £35 (Saturday/Sunday), £7 (12-15 years, weekend), under-12s free
Info/booking: 01603 660352, www.maverickfestival.co.uk
Headliners: Al Perkins, Brigitte Demeyer, Eve Selis, Rachel Harrington, Otis Gibbs, Cara Luft, Charlite Dore
What to expect: An American independence weekend alt-country hoedown deep in the heart of the Suffolk countryside. Maverick was created last year as a festival for country, Americana and American folk music. The line-up won't mean much unless you're into country, but it won plaudits last year.
July 4, Ely, Cambridgeshire
Tickets: £67.50 (VIP), £42.50 (over-18 only)
Headliners: Pendulum (DJ set), Chicane, Utah Saints, Danny Rampling, Lab 4, Altern8, Dave Pearce, Chris Lake
What to expect: Thousands of ravers. This hard dance music festival made its debut last year to mixed reviews. It is billed as the region's biggest electronic music event with organisers again expecting over 10,000 people to pack into a secret location near Ely, though its down the pecking order from Global Gathering and Glade. Five arenas, plus an outdoor stage, with house, hard dance, trance, hardcore and old skool DJs.
RHYTHMS OF THE WORLD
July 4-5, Hitchin Priory, Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Tickets: No weekend tickets, £7 (day tickets)
Headliners: Jazz Jamaica, John Otway, Etran Finatwa, Flemoyant Bella
What to expect: A volunteer-run world music gathering that began life 17-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 Niger, Louisiana and Iceland. There is also a BBC Introducing stage of bands from the region. And at just £7 it won't break the bank to expand your music horizons.
ELY FOLK FESTIVAL
July 10-12, Outdoor Centre, Ely, Cambridgeshire
Tickets: £57 (weekend adult), £40 (weekend concession), £19 (weekend child), £29 (day ticket), £23 (Saturday evening ticket), £18/£16 (Friday/Sunday evening tickets)
Info/booking: www.elyfolk.co.uk or 01353 669985
Headliners: Baka Beyond, Tanglefoot, Strangeworld, The Ceilidh Allstars, Anna Sinfield, Toy Hearts, The QP, Something Nasty in the WoodShed
What to expect: Morris-dancing displays, a real-ale bar and pastoral crooning galore. Now in it's 25rd year, 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.
July 11-12, Cornbury Park, Charlbury, Cambridgeshire
Tickets: £175-£90 (weekend/camping), £100-£55 (day tickets), £87.50-£45 (children weekend/camping).
Headliners: Scouting For Girls, Sharleen Spiteri, The Damned, Sugababes, The Pretenders, Joe Jackson
What to expect: A weekend in the countryside, on the Cotswold side of Cambridgeshire attracts the mature end of the festival-going public, people who are as interested in the farmer's market as the music, which has a family friendly feel. There is also theatre, arts and crafts.
July 17, 18, Blickling Hall, Norfolk
Info/booking: www.tinyurl.com/6p3e62 or 0844 800 4308
Headliners: Simple Minds, Marc Almond, ABC, Kid Creole & The Coconuts, Go West, Bananarama, Nik Kershaw, Cutting Crew
What to expect: The type of genteel affair that sees picnicking gig-goers where you'd normally have the mosh pit. The annual series of family-friendly concerts, now in its 12th year, has been noticeably scaled back this year to just two events. Simple Minds return as part of the 30th anniversary celebrations and with a new album, Graffiti Soul, to promote. Elsewhere there will be much party spirit for an 80s nostalgia night with a line-up like an edition of Top of the Pops circa 1985. Marc Almond has stepped in to replace initial headliner Boy George, who is, er, unavailable.
July 16-19, Henham Park, Suffolk
Tickets: £150 (weekend/camping), £60 (day ticket), under-12s free
Info/booking: www.latitudefestival.co.uk or 0870 060 3775
Headliners: Pet Shop Boys, Grace Jones, Doves, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Editors, Bat For Lashes, Jo Brand, Mark Thomas, Royal Opera House, Sadler's Wells, Andrew Motion, Simon Armitage, Mark Steel, Jeremy Hardy
What to expect: Now in its fourth year, Latitude started as a mini-Glastonbury but is rapidly gaining ground as one of the UK's best festivals. Musically the choice of Pet Shop Boys and Grace Jones as headliners seems a departure from the pervious Q and Mojo reader-friendly offerings, but fear not there is plenty of treasures to be found down the bill, including old stagers The Pretenders and Squeeze and new girls on the pop-block Little Boots and Ladyhawke. And Nick Drake will be on hand to darjken spirits at the close of the weeknd. 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 Opera House, the RSC and the Bush in a fairytale setting of forest, lakes and meadows. Other tips include 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover, Theatre 503, Camille O'Sullivan and Ben Moor. Plus there are separate kids art and theatre tents, making it one of the most family friendly festivals around.
SECRET GARDEN PARTY
July 23-26, secret location, near Huntingdon,
Tickets: £144 (weekend), under-13s free
Headliners: Jarvis Cocker, VV Brown, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Emilana Torrini, The Holloways, Toots and the Maytels, Emmy The Great, Detroit Social Club
What to expect: After winning a Best Small Festival award last year, 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. As well as many leftfield and independent bands, they'll be tree houses, a collective festival dressing-up box, mobile stone circle, floating dance-floor and reduced price tickets for those willing to “creatively participate”. This year's theme is escaping from the drudgery of the credit crunch with a touch of the surreal - and of course the music's a big part of it too.
CAMBRIDGE FOLK FESTIVAL
July 30-August 2, Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge
Tickets: £104 (weekend), £75 (14-15 years weekend), £29 (6-13 years weekend), under-5s free
Info: www.cambridgefolkfestival.co.uk or 01223 357851
Headliners: Lucinda Williams, The Zutons, Los Lobos, The Saw Doctors, Booker T, Paul Brady, The Waterson Family, Bellowhead
What to expect: Sponsored by the Co-op and Radio 2, the Cambridge Folk Festival has grown into one of Europe's biggest and most long running folk fests. The first festival was in 1964, when a then largely unknown Paul Simon was a late addition to the bill. It has enlarged to include country, gospel, blues and world music, though in the past couple of years it has been overcrowded and underwhelming. This year The Zutons are decidedly un-folky headliners, though 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.
July 31-August 2, Stanton, Ware Hertfordshire
Tickets: £89 (weekend/camping), £65 (12-17 years weekend/camping).
Headliners: Femi Kuti, Ladytron, The Whip, Tony Christie, Sun Ra Arkestra, Chrome Hoof, Ed Harcourt, The Invisible
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 acts - plus this year African superstar Femi Kuti, topping a surprising bill - in an intimate setting. The festival donates its procceds to charity and has a different theme every year - this time its space, so expect astronaut outfits, sci-fi parties, plus the 'Underwater Dance Arena' that was a huge hit last year.
August 1-2, Knebworth Park, Hertfordshire
Tickets: £157.50 (weekend/camping), £132.50 (weekend), under-12s free, free coach travel
Headliners: Metallica, Linkin Park, Nine Inch Nails, Machine Head, Avenged Sevenfold, Bullet for My Valentine, Anthrax
What to expect: The metal masses. This new rival for Download re-claims Knebworth, which in the past has hosted legendary shows by everyone from Led Zeppelin to Deep Purple, for the metal-heads, showing more contemporary acts than its Donington rival. With Metallica atop the bill the promoters could have put any nonsense on the bill and the hordes would have come, but they've pushed the boat out with everyone from thrash veterans Anthrax to the reliably good Nine Inch Nails.
GIG IN THE PARK
August 7-9, Town Park, Halesworth, Suffolk
Tickets: £28 (weekend), £9 (Friday day ticket), £16 (Saturday day ticket), £11 (Sunday day ticket)
Headliners: Glenn Tilbrook, Nine Below Zero, Chas'n'Dave, Gypsy Fire, Tom Hingley, Kingsize Five, plus many more
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 Chas'n'Dave, who are guaranteed to create a good knees-up - but the line-up also includes plenty of local talent.
August 22-23, Hylands Park, Chelmsford, Essex
Tickets: If you've not already got them you're too late, it's sold out
Headliners: The Killers, Oasis, Razorlight, The Specials, Lily Allen, Keane, Lady Gaga, Snow Patrol, Elbow, MGMT, Dizzee Rascal, Pendulum
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.
August 21-23, Twinwood Arena, Clapham, near Bedford
Tickets: £125-£115 (weekend/camping), £35-£39 (day ticket), discounted rates for children
Info/booking: www.rhythmfestival.net or 020 77348932
Headliners: The Proclaimers, Glenn Tilbrook, Alabama 3, Terry Reid, The Beat, The Blowmonkeys, James Hunter
What to expect: Now in its fourth years this festivals is definitely aimed at the more mature crowd, and this year it continues down the bluesy-rootsy path. It's a smaller festival (capacity 5,000) that aims to be family friendlier, though the diverse musical line-up seems to have been compiled by randomly sticking a pin into a copy of Mojo. But as usual there's a returning legend, this year Brit soul-legend Terry Reid.
September 4-6, Kentwell Hall, Long Melford, Suffolk
Tickets: £60 (weekend/camping), £45 (weekend), under-14s free
Headliners: James Yuill, Nancy Wallace, Mixmaster Morris, Dollboy, Mawkin
What to expect: Latin carnival spirit in thre Suffolk countryside. The website asks if we like magical woods, 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. Now re-located to this region, 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.
October 9-12, Seacroft, Hemsby, Norfolk
Tickets: From £93pp (based on three people sharing a standard chalet).
Info/booking: www.hemsbyrocknroll.co.uk or call 01522 752453
Headliners: Johnny Powers, Marvin Rainwater, The Bluecats, Nick Willet, Bill Fadden & The Rhythmbusters, The Infernos
What to expect: The annual gathering 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.