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…
When? 23rd-24th May
Where’s the party at? Kent
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’.
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.
When? 18-20th September
Where’s the party at? Sussex
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!