Need a little inspiration for having some fun in a field this summer? Here’s our round-up of the best music festivals which you won’t have to schlep halfway across the country for…
Latitude Festival, which runs from 16 to 19 July, takes place at Henham Park in Suffolk (a couple of hours drive from Cambridge), and offers an eclectic mix of music and arts entertainment in a lush, lakeside setting. The event celebrates its tenth birthday this year with a typically strong looking line-up featuring the likes of Portishead, James Blake, Wild Beasts, Alt-J and Caribou headlining across the weekend. Elsewhere you’ll find theatre, dance, comedy and cabaret, as well as DJs nestled down in the woodland, taking the party into the early hours. Latitude is known for catering well to all age groups – as well as all the grown- up fun there’s a dedicated teen area and a busy programme of activities for kids, from pond dipping and astronomy to pizza making and a night-time disco. Tickets are £84.50 for an adult day ticket/£6.70 for a child’s day ticket and £200.50 for a weekend ticket with camping, £8 for a weekend child’s ticket and £140.50 for an accompanied teen weekend ticket (ages 13-15).
A boutique festival in the Fens, Lodestar is a great option if you like your festivals friendly and laid-back but also want to see some great bands. The site is spacious, peaceful and perfect for letting the kids run around while you relax, and there’s always lots of tasty food and drink on offer too. It takes place in 200 acres of countryside, from 4 to 6 September, making it an ideal last hurrah of the summer. This year’s headliners have yet to be announced, but some acts on the line-up include the Hearts, Sunshine Underground and French Leave. Past performers have included Catfish and the Bottlemen, Public Service Broadcasting, The Magic Numbers, Katzenjammer and Sir Bob Geldof. There’s plenty more to explore too, including crafts, theatre, comedy and power kiting. Best of all, it’s an absolute steal, with prices starting at £80 for adult weekend tickets and £60 for youth (15-17); kids 14 and under go free.
Launched in 1965, Cambridge Folk Festival is one of the largest and longest running events of its kind, loved for its varied line-up and friendly, relaxed vibe. As always, there will be a mixture of up-and-coming talent and big names performing across a range of stages this year, along with music workshops, street theatre, poetry, comedy, raucous ceilidhs and plenty of real ale bars. Taking place from 30 July until 2 August in the pretty parkland setting of Cherry Hinton Hall, you can expect performances from Passenger, Joan Armatrading, the Proclaimers, Frank Turner, Wilko Johnson, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and The Willows, as well as local lad done good Nick Mulvey. The little ones are well catered for with plenty of entertainment too, with activities like craft and music workshops, storytelling, juggling workshops, a kids’ ceilidh and the dedicated playground, paddling pool and crèche, making it a perfect family festival. Weekend tickets have already sold out, but you can purchase tickets for individual days, with discounts available for residents of Cambridge city. Day tickets start from £22.
The glorious Secret Garden Party definitely isn’t much of a secret anymore – in fact, this year’s party sold out months ahead of the event for the first time in its history. But if a weekend of glitter-doused hedonism, creative chaos and a jaw-droppingly beautiful setting sounds good – this Abbots Ripton festival should be top of your hit list. The 2015 event runs 23-26 July, promising acts like Public Service Broadcasting, Jungle, Roots Manuva, Gentleman’s Dub Club and long-standing SGP favourites Caravan Palace. As ever though, the headliners are just a small part of the festival, and there will be art installations, paint fights, swimming in the lake, silly games and general merriment around every corner. It’s without a doubt one of the prettiest festival sites you’ll ever dizzy around, and the organisers go all out to keep you spellbound with surprises (previous years have yielded a secret sunflower field and a burning pirate galleon on the lake). Relax and enjoy the lush surroundings or rave your socks off for four days – either way it’s a weekend you’ll remember forever. 2015 tickets are now sold out.
From humble beginnings as a private party at a Hertfordshire manor house in 2001, Standon Calling has evolved into a full-blown boutique festival, known for its friendly, up for it crowd, intimate vibe and knack for picking acts on the cusp of mainstream success. Well curated as ever, this year’s line-up includes good time dance duo Basement Jaxx, American rockers the Dandy Warhols, UK hip-hoppers Roots Manuva and Swedish electro outfit Little Dragon. Dive into the heated swimming pool (it’s the only UK festival which can boast that particular feature), dance the night away in the Cowshed (yep, a repurposed actual cowshed that’s been spruced up into a nightclub that stays open til the sun comes up) and explore the endless array of interactive theatre, art installations and food and drinks stalls. The organisers like to drop a few extra special surprises on the crowds over the course of the weekend too – a few years back they cut the lights at midnight and revealed a secret dance stage hidden in a circle of trees, illuminated by fireworks. There’s also a host of family activities and it’s just a short hop from Cambridge by car (under 45 minutes). Adult weekend tickets start at £127, children’s weekend tickets £20, plus booking fees.
Located amid sprawling countryside just outside the south Cambridgeshire village of Bourn, Wysing Arts Centre is a thriving hub of creativity, supporting and nurturing artistic talent and hosting a series of innovative contemporary arts events for the public each year. The largest of these is the annual music festival, which this year will explore themes of altered states and multiple identities, offering up an exciting programme of music, visual art and more on 5 September. Definitely one to check out if you like your festivals a little more left field, Space-Time: the Multiverse will showcase music that ranges from early techno to funk, post-punk, industrial, field recordings and abstract psychedelia. On the bill are purveyors of glitchy future pop the Fish Police, Swedish composer Klara Lewis, pop-punk all girl group Ravioli Me Away, dance outfit Peepholes and composer/DJ Beatrice Dillon, amongst others, who’ll be performing across three stages. The festival will also include additional performances curated by Electra, who are in residence at Wysing throughout the summer. There will be a screening programme too and a covered stalls area showcasing experimental galleries, publishers and record labels. Early Bird Tickets (on sale until 30 June) are priced at £30 per person, after which they increase to £40.