Early bird Muddy summer festival guide. Book now!
The music festival season feels a long, long way off right now (although we wouldn’t say no to a pear cider if you’re offering) but these days you’ve got to book mega early if you want to be happy campers come summer. Many of the biggies sell out in a flash – we haven’t managed to score Glastonbury tickets for years – but the good news is lots of the local events still have availability and most of them are family friendly. What’s more, our neck of the woods punches above its weight when it comes to giving good festival. So here’s where you’ll find Muddy decked out in daisy chains, denim hotpants and wellies of a hazy, lazy, possibly crazy summer evening.
Elderflower Festival, East Sussex, 26-29 May
This May bank holiday hoedown is very under-the-radar and bijou but it’s worth a gander – a friend of Muddy’s went last year and absolutely loved it. Now in its sixth year, Elderflower is a family festival first and foremost so there are more kids’ activities than you can shake a stick at – everything from parkour to pizza making to family raves, while the bands are of the up and coming rather than Radiohead variety. Half an hour north of Brighton, it’s in the bucolic Pippingford Park in the Ashdown Forest.
Pippingford Park, East Sussex elderflowerfields.co.uk/
Common People, Oxford, 27-28 May
Hurray for a city centre festival that it’s easy to get home from – a Muddy pal watched Primal Scream and Duran Duran headline last year before jumping on the last bus home. Based in the pretty South Park, this is Bestival founder Rob da Bank’s latest venture which is now in its second year. It’s brilliantly organized, the bands are good (this year’s headliners are tbc), ditto the kids’ area. And tent refuseniks will be pleased to hear there’s no camping on site. Early Bird adult tickets are stonking value at just £24 – be quick!
South Park, Oxford oxford.commonpeople.net/
Cornbury Festival, Oxfordshire, 7-9 July
Sadly, this is Cornbury’s last ever outing, as it bows out of an increasingly crowded festival market after 14 years. Boo! So if you want to send it off with a bang, get yourself down to Great Tew Park in North Oxfordshire. Cornbury tends to attract big names and after last year’s set from Bryan Ferry, they’ve announced this year’s Bryan: veteran Canadian rocker, Adams, who is headlining on the Saturday night. An opportunity to howl along to Summer of ’69? We’re in.
The Great Tew Park, Oxon, cornburyfestival.com
Chilfest, Tring, Herts, 8 July
Child of the Seventies or Eighties? This one’s for you. OMD, Alexander O’Neal, Hot Chocolate, Soul II Soul, Heaven 17 and, er, Midge Ure are among the retro luminaries who’ll be pounding out the hits, against a scenic backdrop of the Chiltern Hills. This year Chilfest is a one-day festival rather than a full weekend, so no need to pack the tent and all that faff, and the site has expanded to take in an extra 4000 sq m. Which means more room to swing a cat (please don’t bring your cat, it won’t like it).
Cow Lane, Tring, Herts, chilfest.co.uk
Latitude, Suffolk, 13-16 July
One for culture vultures, Latitude is about so much more than bopping around to bands. With its extensive programme of literary readings, theatre, dance, and all things artsy, it’s probably the most civilized of all the festivals, although there’s nothing to stop you caning 8 pints of cider and falling into the pond, should you wish (we’re not here to judge). It’s also a winner for children – and not just little’uns. The In-Betweeners’ Area keeps moody teenagers out of trouble with its survival and assault courses.
Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk, latitudefestival.com
Camp Bestival, Dorset, 27-30 July
Bestival’s less wild little sister, the award-winning Camp Bestival, is the Rolls Royce of family festivals. There’s tonnes for kids to do and the music bookings are always high calibre. This 10th anniversary year will see the dapper Mark Ronson getting the party started, with ’90s favourites Leftfield and All Saints also in attendance. If you’re tearing your hair out at the cost of taking the family to a festival (when did they become the same price as a holiday?!), it’s worth noting that Camp Bestival do a brilliant payment plan to spread the cost.
Lulworth Castle, Dorset, campbestival.net
Wilderness, Oxfordshire, 3-6 August
Bit posh? Then you’ll love Wilderness, which is a lot more genteel than its name suggests. Details are sketchy for this year but 2016’s event in the idyllic 400 acre country estate included a pop-up spa, a Raymond Blanc-cooked gourmet lunch and a croquet tournament. Rock’n’roll! The music bookings are still tbc but tend to be strong – last year the line-up included the weird and wonderful Flaming Lips and Led Zeppelin legend Robert Plant so watch this space.
Cornbury Park, Oxon, wildernessfestival.com
Reading Festival, Berkshire, 25-27 August
For serious music fans, we’re lucky to have one the UK’s most famous music festivals right on our doorstep. Giants from the worlds of rock, indie, electronic, hip-hop and more descend on Little John’s Farm for three days of musical madness. Reading is one of the country’s oldest festivals with a hall of fame including Nirvana, Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead and Red Hot Chili Peppers. This year Muse, Bastille, Architects and Major Lazer are all on the bill with more to be announced. Expect to see a line up of top comedians too, in case you need a bit of time out. Book now and you can get tickets at last year’s prices.
Little John’s Farm, Reading, Berkshire, readingfestival.com