Falling ticket sales, cancellations and unpredictable weather; rumours say the British festival is on its way out. But not on our watch...
“Get a box of wine, take the wine pouch out and strap it around your body,” my flatmate explains when talk turns to the approaching British festival season. “When the security guards pat you down, they’ll just think it’s flab. That’s the way to get booze in!”
They’re a British summer-time institution, but we’re only at the start of the season and two festivals have already had to pull the plug on this year’s events due to poor sales. Last week, Rough Beats festival in Yorkshire, due to be headlined by Azealia Banks, was cancelled abruptly due to the difficult economic climate. Likewise, Sonisphere, one of biggest annual rock festivals that attracted nearly 200,000 people last year, blamed poor ticket sales for its cancellation.
So what’s changed and are festivals losing their allure? The last 10 years have seen many ticket prices nearly double (ahem, Glastonbury), and the increasing popularity of European festivals with their sunnier climates, such as Primavera, Snowbombing and Hide Out, is certainly tempting.
We’re standing strong on the home festival front here at Stylist. Because the British festival is more than just a chance to wear a feather headdress (probably your only chance, if we’re honest) and befriend complete strangers for the best night of your life. In the true spirit of British eclecticism, we’ve got everything covered – from hardcore punk through to folk, jazz, shoegaze and dance, in an outstanding myriad of full-scale and boutique events. Although the weather might be a little unsavoury at times, take my flatmate’s advice and your wine-as-insulation procedure will serve you well during the cool nights.
Team Stylist will be out and about this festival season, bringing you all the festival joy you’ll need. We’d love to know what festivals you’re hitting, so drop us a line, below or tweet @Stylistmagazine. See you at the beer tent!
When: May 26th (Leeds Uni) and 27th (Herts Uni, Hatfield campus)
Why you should go: It’s brimming with young new musical talent like Lower Than Atlantis and the brilliant Sharks, but also has the likes of Taking Back Sunday and Gallows bring the noise.
When: 2 June
Why you should go: For Sleigh Bells and Grimes, mainly. And the numerous other acts and DJ’s playing Victoria Park.
Where: Donington Park, Leicestershire
When: 8-10 June
Why you should go: It’s one of Europe’s biggest festivals this year, counting the likes of Metallica and The Prodigy amount its headliners. With its ever-friendly crowd of music lovers and true festival spirit, someone will always be willing to share their tepid Jack Daniels with you.
Where: Victoria Park, London, E9
When: 15-17 June
Why you should go: Each year sees Lovebox climb in the achingly cool stakes and with acts like Emeli Sandé, Hot Chip, Lana Del Rey plus a host of top DJs, this year is their best line-up yet.
Where: Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, Kent, TN12 6PY
When: 29 June-1 July
Why you should go: It’s always a mellow affair at Hop Farm. A true festival for all ages, it boasts acts like Billy Ocean, José González and Bob Dylan this year.
Where: Hyde Park, London
When: 6-8 July
Why you should go: Too much effort to leave London? Then Wireless should be your festival of choice with the likes of Rihanna, Labrinth, Nicki Minaj and Rita Ora performing over three days.
Where: Balado, Kinross-shire, Scotland
When: 6-8 July Why you should go: It’s one of the festivals that consistently boasts brilliant headliners (Kasabian and The Stone Roses this year), but if that isn’t enough to satisfy your cravings there’s a gigantic funfair, silent disco and comedy tent too.
Where: Penrhos/Pwllheli, Marina/Abersoch, Llyn Peninsula, North Wales
When: 6-8 July
Why you should go: For a mini holiday by the sea, head to Cardigan for live music wakeboarding, skateboarding and water skiing and you’ve got a festival with a real difference.
Where: Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk
When: 12-15 July
Why you should go: The line-up is stellar this year with Bon Iver, Lana Del Rey and Laura Marling all taking to the stage. When you’re feeling a little more mellow, head to the boating lake, right in the heart of the festival site.
Where: Hyde Park, London
When: 13-15 July
Why you should go: Three days of musical legends with Iggy Pop, Bruce Springsteen and Soundgarden all performing – proof, if it were needed, that dreams can come true.
Where: Mill Hill Field, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire
When: 19-22 July
Why you should go: This year’s theme is ‘standing on ceremony.’ Take from that what you will, because Secret Garden is the true eccentric’s festival with bands playing in trees, a festival train, treasure hunts and party parades add to the general madness.
Where: Hill Farm, Steventon, Oxfordshire
When: 20-12 July
Why you should go: Stylist’s Designer Natasha Tomalin says: “I always discover incredible new bands at Truck- and can’t wait to see The Guillemots at this year’s event and check out Future of The Left!”
Where: Standon, Hertfordshire
When: 3-5th August
Why you should go: Often referred to as a ‘secret treasure’, this festival is a haven tucked away just outside of London. Not only is the commute from Kings Cross swift but the crowds are manageable, making it a winner for us.
Where: Newquay, Cornwall
When: 8-12th August
Why you should go: Boardmasters is growing in size and reputation each year, but this summer’s line-up, including Ed Sheeran and Dizzee Rascal, totally holds its own against the mainstream events. As you’d imagine, there’s plenty of water sports action to boot.
Where: Hylands Park, Chelmsford and Weston Park, Staffordshire
When: 18-19 August
Why you should go: Kick back, take it easy and soak up the vibes – V Festival and its laid back atmosphere and spacious camping grounds always pull a decent crowd.
Where: St Germans, Cornwall
When: 19-22 July
Why you should go: It’s where the fash pack and literary types head for music, culture and culinary delights galore. Fancy!
Reading And Leeds Festivals
Where: Richfield Avenue, Reading and Bramham Park, Leeds
When: 24-26 August
Why you should go: The line-up is so epic – with Florence & The Machine and The Foo Fighters headlining – that we’re expecting a total sellout.
Where: Robin Hill Country Park, Downend, Isle Of Wight
When: 6-9 September
Why you should go: Bestival enthusiast and Stylist Features Writer Amy Grier says: “To me, Bestival is the happy festival. Whether it’s the yearly fancy dress theme, the Sunday night headliners, the gourmet food offerings, or just the general atmosphere, it must be something about being the finale to festival season that makes Bestival such a special place to spend a weekend.”
Words: Anita Bhagwandas
Picture credits: Rex Features