Muddy’s 2021 Festival Guide: Berks & beyond
Are you ready to make some noise?! From opera weekends to 80s throwbacks to thumping chart-toppers, these are the festivals you need to know about this summer.
After more than a year of nothing but home comforts, we’re more than ready for a weekend of wet wipes, dry shampoo and partying with the masses.
Still need persuading? OK. Whatever your festival vibe – be it a classy picnic with wine tasting, or a damn good boogie with your besties, we’ve got a jam-packed festival season ahead of us, and there’s something for everyone…
ON OUR DOORSTEP
Rise & Shine, Wasing Park Aldermaston, 28-31 May
Coming out of lockdown feels like the opening episode of Lost. A weekend of wellbeing to hit the reset button and recharge could just the antidote to the pandemic. If you love a bit of woo woo magic, this could be right up your street. Set in the ancient woodland of Wasing Estate, tap into the power of nature and off you go. Tickets from £99.
Chilfest, Tring, 10 July
Over the border into Herts, Chilfest is aiming to come back big after 2020’s fallow year. It’s all set to be quite a glossy affair: posh loos, sushi, and good wine to knock back as you boogie to tribute acts and 80s hits. Friday will be the tribute night: The Bootleg Beatles, Queen One Vision, Noasis and Tania Alboni’s Tribute to Amy Winehouse, among others. Then Saturday is a funky throwback to the 80s: Tony Hadley, Roland Gift of the Fine Young Cannibals, Leee John of Imagination, and Boney M’s Maizie Williams are just some of the familiar faces ready to light up the stage. Fluff those shoulder pads and get grooving. Tickets from £26.50.
English Wine and Food Festival, Wallingford, 10-11 July
Move over Bordeaux, it’s the Thames and Chilterns terroir that has tongues wagging and lips smacking in the wine world these days. Enter the English Wine and Food Festival, a two-day opportunity to taste, compare, and buy award-winning local wines, as well as tuck into perfectly-paired food from local producers. It’s safe to say we can think of worse ways to spend a weekend. Tickets from £8.
Henley Summer Fling, 8-10 July
An enticing snippet of the full Henley Festival coming in September, Henley Summer Fling will be a three-night party pop-up, and an exclusive for this year only. Expect bands and celebrity DJ sets, a vintage fun fair, sizzling street food selections, bustling bars, and a fabulously glossy Moët Champagne garden. (We’re thinking of only attending events with Champagne gardens from now on. Only the best, and all that.) Tickets from £50.
Heritage Live, Englefield House Theale, 23-24 Jul
Dig out your wide leg denims and wrestle your boobs into a hankerchief top, 90s Brit Pop band Supergrass (originally from Oxford) are back and headlining a summer outdoor gig in the grounds of Englefield House on 23 July. Part of the Heritage Live Concert series, the band will take to the stage at this impressive stately home in Theale supported by Feeder and Sports Team. The following night (24 July) Boy George and Culture Club will perform with Lulu, Kim Wilde and Gabrielle. Tickets from £50pp.
Last Night Of The Heritage Proms, Englefield House Theale, 25 Jul
Opera star and I’m a Celebrity inmate Russell Watson has confirmed he will be performing an outdoor concert at Englefield House in Theale this summer (25 Jul to be exact). The Last Night Of the Heritage Proms will feature the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra conducted by David Arnold, as well as featuring composer arranger and producer Mike Moran, coloratura soprano Christina Johnston, and very special guests The NHS Choir. There will also be a Spitfire flypast and fireworks finale. Union Jack flags at the ready for a patriotic sway to Land of Hope and Glory – £1 from every ticket sold will be donated towards NHS charities.
Summertime Live with Classic Ibiza, Royal Windsor Racecourse, 14 Aug
Picture the scene – a beautiful sunset, balmy 30 degrees, overpriced vodka & tonic and a cracking choon. Nope, not your typical night in San Antonio, it’s Windsor’s answer to the White Isle. The Urban Soul Orchestra conducted will be banging out the Ibiza anthems on 14 Aug, with live DJ and vocalists. Bare some flesh and party till dawn (*cough* I mean 10pm) Her Maj needs her beauty sleep. This is annual sell out so snag your spot now.
RunFestRun, Great Windsor Park, 27-29 Aug
RunFestRun is Chris Evans’s baby – a man who loves to run and party (just not at the same time). He started the event to bottle the end-of-race endorphins and pour it all into a weekend of celebration. We love the sound of the 3K Sunset Shuffle, but there’s also a family fun run and a 2.5K family road race, as well as more traditional 5K/10K and Half Marathons for the keen. Your reward? Join the kids rave, silent disco and live music while sinking your gnashers into a gourmet burger and drinking a G&T.
Reading Festival, Reading, 27-29 Aug
If there’s one thing that’ll clear a field full of teenagers, it’s their parents living it up like it’s 1996. Reading Festival has confirmed it will ahead on 27-29 Aug with Liam Gallagher is headlining this year’s festival alongside Stormzy, Lewis Capaldi, Post Malone and more. Expect more middle-aged, parka-wearing Brit Poppers than usual.
Fi-Fest, Maidenhead, 29 Aug
Fi Fest has announced it will go ahead on 29 Aug and tickets are available now, from £25pp. The headliners are from our musical youth with The Lightening Seeds, The South (part of The Beautiful South) and Toploader. It’s a glorious 90s throwback with a kids zone to keep the whole family entertained Channel Kate Moss festival fashion and out you go.
The House & Garage Orchestra, Reading, 24 Sep
Love your house and garage choons? New to Berkshire this summer, the House & Garage Orchestra will pitch up at Reading’s Palmer Park with a classical re-imagination of some of the UK’s biggest house and garage hits of the nineties and noughties. The orchestra will be joined by many of the original vocalists to perform, there will be posh nosh and bevvies for you to keep sophisticated. Tickets on sale soon.
Let’s Rock the Moor, Cookham, 2 Oct
Just over in Berks, Let’s Rock the Moor is a family-friendly, ‘80s-tastic one-dayer boasting the likes of UB40, Tony Hadley, ABC and Howard Jones. Fluff up your hair, slap on the eyeshadow, and get ready to rock. Adult tickets from £48.
Pennfest, Penn, 23-24 July
For a serene Bucks village, Penn really does manage to pull in an impressive line-up of rabel-rousers. Hello, Craig David, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, and Big Narstie! Other acts will include Razorlight, Ella Eyre, The Charlatans, and Ms Banks. Pitch up your tent in the scenic field next-door and get ready to party. Weekend tickets from £117.70.
Truck Festival, near Abingdon, 23-25 July
This veteran South Oxon festival in a farmer’s field, known to some as “The Godfather of the small festival scene”, hits all the right notes: family-friendly feel, good food, thumping indie tunes. Headlining this year are Bombay Bicycle Club, The Kooks, and Royal Blood among others. Tickets are sold out (sob) but you can sign up to the waiting list, or have a crack at making it big by applying as a band to play.
Wilderness Festival, Cornbury Park, 6-8 Aug
The most revered of the Oxfordshire festivals, Wilderness returns this summer for a four-day boutique experience. There will be music (line-up TBC, but names have been big in the past), long-table banquets, woodland parties, theatre, film, dance, and a pop up spa (well, we are in Oxfordshire). It’s generally a heady mix of right-on hippiness (yoga, skinny-dipping, hot hubs) and top-tier music. Tickets are now sold out, but you can still book camping arrangements if you’re lucky enough to have got your hands on one.
Henley Royal Regatta, 11-15 Aug
It’s a festival of sorts, and the best-known regatta in the world. Henley Regatta is back for five days of summer sporting frenzy and frightfully refined eating and drinking. Get yourself a fancy floppy hat, dig out the heels, and watch those boats go. Online ticket sale has now closed, but (insider tip!), if you hire out a boat, as long as you keep moving, you can watch the races from a prime spot on the river itself.
Waterperry Opera Festival, Near Wheatley, 12-21 Aug
Missed out on a bit of high culture over the past year of Netflix and tracky bums? You’ll want to get yourself tickets to an opera festival, darling. The 2021 line-up promises seven productions to enjoy over the ten days: The Elixir of Love (Donizetti), Hansel & Gretel (Humperdinck), Peter and the Wolf (Prokofiev), Ariel (Jonathan Dove), Clairières dans le ciel (Boulanger), On Wenlock Edge (Vaughan Williams), and The Quartet for the End of Time (Messiaen). There are also a series of young artist events and festival talks. Tickets for The Elixir of Love are £40 (or £25 for under-30s — think we could pass?), or from £8 for all other productions.
Café Mambo Ibiza Classics, Stonor Park Henley, 13 Aug
Who needs to endure the 2am EasyJet flight to Ibiza, when Ibiza is coming to you. For the first time ever, Café Mambo Ibiza will bring a star studded line up of world class DJs – Roger Sanchez, Todd Terry, The ShapeShifters, to name a few – to Stonor Park for an evening of dance anthems. ‘Classics In The Park’ will whisk you off to the white isle, with the bonus of waking up in your own bed. A guaranteed sell out, so book up. Tickets £35.75pp.
REW!ND Festival, Henley, 20-22 Aug
Henley’s REW!ND at Temple Island Meadows is steaming ahead for this August (20-22 Aug to be precise) and tickets are available to buy RIGHT NOW. The headliners are an 80s pop queen’s dream: Billy Ocean, Wet Wet Wet, Jimmy Somerville, Nik Kershaw, Soul II Soul … What are you waiting for? Dig out your polka dot scrunchy, pull on some day-glo bangles and get booking.
Blenheim Palace Food Festival, Woodstock, 20-22 Aug
A sizzling feast for all the senses: great food, great music, stunning location. Blenheim Palace Food Festival showcases the very best of produce from local and national stallholders, with something tempting for everyone. Festival entry is included with a Palace, Park and Gardens ticket.
The Big Feastival, near Kingham, 27-29 Aug
Another posh nosh extravaganza, and an unbeatable excuse to eat yourself silly. Hosted on the farm of cheese-obsessed Blur bassist Alex James, The Big Feastival promises top notch chefs, family fun and chart-topping artists: good food, and great music. The line-up this year includes DJ Sigala, Rag’n’Bone Man, Zara Larsson, and Tom Walker plus others. Adult day tickets from £82.
The Gin and Rum Festival, Reading, 10 Sep
Has gin had its day? (Not judging by Muddy consumption) Is rum the next big thing? Hedge your bets and head for the UK’s largest Gin and Rum Festival. With over 120 gins and rums to sample in an amazing venue, plus DJ, boozy masterclasses and a goodie bag, a taxi is essential and a hangover almost certainly guaranteed. Hic. Tickets £16pp
Henley Festival, Henley, 15-19 Sept
Don’t forget your black tie and Champagne for this genteel shebang. Henley Festival is back for five days of fabulous fun, promising knockout performances from Madness, James Blunt, Sophie Ellis Bextor, and a rock and symphonic spectacular of Queen, Abba and Bee Gee’s fever. Tickets from £55.
Pub in the Park, Marlow, 16 – 19 Sept
Tom Kerridge’s popular gourmet-scran-meets-live-music fandango Pub in the Park returns to Higginson Park. Brand new for 2021 is a whole extra day of fun: things kick off on the Thursday rather than Friday. Tuck into top-level food and boogie along to the likes of Craig David, Jack Savoretti, Heather Small, and more. Adult tickets from £45.
Are You Listening Festival, Reading, 9 Oct
The opportunity to see bands before they get mahoosive – and raise money for charity. Reading’s fab one day festival caters for all tastes but we’re sitting up like meerkats for Billie Marten, who is A listed on BBC6Music who counts Annie Mac as a fan. Add into the mix Freestylers DJ who have played at Glastonbury, the Times Square Millennium Party and Top of the Pops and BC Camplight, another Glasto vet, and you know it’s a bit spesh. Tickets £27.50pp.
HAVE WELLIES, WILL TRAVEL
Wireless Festival, London Finsbury Park, 2-4 July. (Line-up: Future, Skepta, Migos)
BST Hyde Park, London, 9-11 July. (Line-up: Pearl Jam, Pixies, Duran Duran, Nile Rodgers & Chic plus Grace Jones)
Latitude Festival, Suffolk, 22-25 July. (Line-up: Lewis Capaldi, Bastille, First Aid Kit and Snow Patrol)
Kaleidoscope Festival, London Alexandra Palace, 24 July. (Line-up: Groove Armada, The Coral, Norman Jay MBE, Greg Wilson)
Camp Bestival, Dorset, 29 July – 1 Aug. (Line-up: Fatboy Slim, Groove Armada, Becky Hill, Kelis)
All Points East, London Victoria Park, 27-30 Aug. (Line-up: Jamie XX, Kano, Tom Misch, Slowthai, Arlo Parks)
Edinburgh Summer Sessions, 6-15 Aug. (Line-up: DMA’s, Tom Jones, Michael Kiwanuka, Lionel Richie, Travis and Simple Minds)
Boardmasters, Cornwall, 11-15 Aug. (Line-up: Gorillaz, Foals, Lianne La Havas, The Kooks, Becky Hill)
Isle of Wight Festival, 16-19 Sept. (Line-up: Lionel Richie, Lewis Capaldi, Jess Glynn, Becky Hill, You Me At Six, Primal Scream, Snow Patrol)
Looking for day trip inspo instead? Check out our guide to what’s happening in the capital.