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5 of our favourite alternative UK festivals

May 1, 2015

by Alice Young handmade and vintage goods

The sun is shining, bare legs are emerging, and ice cream vans are a thing again. All these signs mean it’s about time to organise our festival plan of action for the summer. Sure, the likes of Reading, Leeds and V Fest have their perks, but for those who want something a bit more chilled and authentic (with less chance of being coated in unidentifiable liquids), here are 5 of our favourite quirky UK festivals, all taking place in the UK this summer…

Innocent Unplugged


When? 23rd-24th May
Where’s the party at?
That’s right, the guys who brought you fruit-packed smoothie goodness are now organising a super chilled (LOL) festival. It’s not guaranteed to provide two of your five-a-day, but the electricity-free, sans wifi ‘weekend off the grid’ is the perfect chance for a social media detox. We promise you won’t miss those hourly baby updates or poorly lit photos of food (as Innocent so aptly express it: ‘Life’s a bit too connected’).

Surely you need electricity to power a stage, though? Nope, just sun and crowds. And who knew that festivals don’t have to be synonymous with terrible hygiene? Introducing wood-fired showers, hot tubs, and saunas! If you’ve ever fancied learning the art of guerrilla gardening, beat-boxing or laughter yoga, head on over to the yurt-tent-type-thing for an inspiring line up of speakers, thinkers and doers. The forest banquet feast and afternoon tea boast an intriguingly delectable menu.

Oh Innocent, you had me at ‘rainbow unicorn poo kisses and sparkles’.

Port Eliot

When? 30th July- 2nd August
Where’s the party at? St. Germans, Cornwall
The Port Eliot country estate is Grade 1 listed with a century of history, and you can treat the prestigious gardens as your playground for the weekend. If you wanted to pigeonhole this festival into a single category, you could call it a literary one but in actual fact it’s more like a big celebration of words, music, nature, food, fashion, and flowers.

The 6,000 acre garden is split into different whimsical-sounding spaces such as Caught by the River stage, the Hullaballoo children’s play area, and Idler’s Academy (where there are classes on everything from Latin grammar to rock ‘n’ roll). What’s more, writers and poets presenting their work are encouraged to ‘do something different with words’, so expect much more than your average reading-from-a-book vibe. Grayson Perry, Caitlin Moran, David Mitchell, Noah and the Whale, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Luella Bartley have all graced the green grass at Port Eliot in previous years.

Happy Startup Summercamp

When? 18-20th September
Where’s the party at?
This festival is the baby of the bunch, but Happy Startup Summercamp still has plenty to offer. It all began last year when an entrepreneurial bunch gathered on a remote 300 acre farm for three days of inspiration, learning and play. This year, you can expect even more speakers, woodland workshops, outdoor activities, yummy food and crazy dancing. There are only 75 spots available though, so if you’re part of a forward-thinking startup, you want to meet like-minded peeps and have a blast- sign yourself up pronto!


When? 27th-30th August
Where’s the party at?
Secret Country Estate, Northamptonshire
Shambala promises to be a cultural melting pot, bubbling with music, cabaret, workshops, comedy, debates, circus acts, interactive theatre, and a sprinkling of nationally acclaimed poetry. The organisers of Shambala want you to return to the world fuelled up on the beauty of being alive, which, as far as aims go, is pretty darn cool. And they want that world to which you return to be in tip-top shape, which is why the festival has reduced its carbon footprint by 81% in five years. They’ve banned the sales of single-use bottles on site, which has meant 10,000 less of the blighters in landfill. Environmentally friendly partying. Wahoo!


When? 15th- 19th July
Where’s the party at?
Blackdown Hills, Somerset
The theme for this year’s Buddhafield is ‘awakened awareness’, which boils down to becoming more mindful of the present moment. This is something we can struggle with in our modern lives: just recall those times you should have been focusing on a task, but started daydreaming or watching cat videos instead. Your frazzled and easily distracted brain will appreciate the wide variety of meditation, yoga, tai chi and all manner of wonderful healing practices you never knew existed.

Bhuddafield invites you to get into the spirit, but leave the spirits at home; it’s a drink and drug-free zone. Let’s face it, there’s no place for cider when you’re trying to achieve perfect mental clarity. Whether you chose to bathe in mud in ‘the swamp’ or meditate covered in leaves in the forest, you’re almost guaranteed to leave with a more positive and focused outlook on life.

Which festivals are you planning on attending in the UK this year? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @EtsyUK!

More fun stuff to do

Come to the Etsy Wedding Fair this spring!
Craft Party 2015: Save the date!
Four Corners of Craft: Etsy exhibition for London Design Festival


  • Thecozywarren

    Emma Warren from TheCozyWarren said 4 years ago

    I am going to a brand new festival this year! Its called Rock on the Humber and is on the banks of the River Humber in Hessle, East Riding of Yorkshire. Its on 12th July and has local bands, a farmers market, a craft market, kids rides and plenty of bars and hot food stalls. Can't wait!!!

  • ruthmabli

    Ruth Petersen from MabliJack said 4 years ago

    Sounds so great, I almost forgot about today's rain! I feel like packing now.

  • Agasart

    Aga from AgasJourney said 4 years ago


  • FireHorseTextiles

    Julia K Walton from JuliaKWalton said 4 years ago

    Wickerman Festival in Dumfries & Galloway always gets good reviews. The ones in the article sound interesting, too!

  • WithTin

    Maria Whetman from WithTin said 4 years ago

    Port Eliot is local to me, I definitely recommend, it's a beautiful spot too.

  • RobertaQuilling

    Vyginte Jusyte from BestQuillings said 4 years ago

    Nice! :)

  • KarenWilliamsJewelry

    Karen Williams from KarenWilliamsJewelry said 4 years ago

    We've been lucky enough to go to Shambala running ring workshops, it's a wonderful festival, small enough to get about but with loads of different venues, keeps the kids and adults equally happy too.

  • WildRoseAndSparrow

    Liana from WildRoseAndSparrow said 4 years ago

    Wow, these sound amazing!! I especially like the Innocent Unplugged, Port Eliot and Shambala festivals. :) Unfortunately they`re a little far (I'm from Montreal, Canada), but who knows? Maybe I'll venture across the pond this summer! ;)

  • LittleWeeShop

    Jennifer from LittleWeeShop said 4 years ago

    Ewww Happy Start up sounds like the perfect fit for me! Too bad I'm so far away - Enjoy for me all those who can attend ;+) Little Wee Shop

  • bamalamphotography

    Cherie from BamalamPhotography said 4 years ago

    These sound great - I love the sound of Port Eliot - but if music and arts are your thing then try Latitude festival on Henham Park in Suffolk. So much more than a music festival. In its tenth year now: art, drama, comedy, literature, poetry, dance - and the most amazing kid's arena.

  • frannygs

    Chesca from SpiritNation said 4 years ago

    Would love to go to one of these festivals :) If you're thinking about going to a festival this spring/summer why not get your outfits ready and compliment them with some bohemian jewellery and accessories. Please have a look at my new range of products in my shop.

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