With summer on its way, we round up the best music festivals in and around Cambridge
Cambridge Folk Festival
2-5 August Cherry Hinton Hall
A huge celebration of folk music of all kinds, this festival has been pitching up at Cherry Hinton Hall in Cambridge for over 50 years. The event has come a long way since its debut event, when a few hundred gathered around one small stage (even if they were entertained by Paul Simon), and it’s earned a reputation for serving up a fabulously eclectic mix of folky talent.
This year’s offering will be no exception, with headliners including the legendary Patti Smith, plus indie folk sisters First Aid Kit, Nashville’s finest Beth Nielsen Chapman and country folk singer-songwriter John Prine. As ever, in addition to the big name stars of the scene, the festival will showcase the hottest rising stars, plus offer workshops on everything from ceilidh dancing to guitar playing. Full weekend tickets are £175, or £145 for Cambridge residents.
15 September Cambridge Corn Exchange
From the makers of the Cambridge Folk Festival, Subterranean returns for its second outing in September, bringing another fun-packed, 12-hour marathon music event to the Corn Exchange. The event will present a great line-up of indie and rock across four stages – The Inferno Stage, The Labyrinth Stage, The Underworld Stage and the exclusively acoustic Lair.
National bands meet local talent on the line-up, which features appearances from Andy Cairns, lead singer of Therapy?, Belfast two-piece band REWS, blues and rock outfit Austin Gold, and Cambridge-based classic rock band The Brink. Advance tickets are available for £15.
26-29 July Standon Lordship, Herts
This colourful festival started life as a small garden party but – as great parties tend to do – it escalated spectacularly. Nowadays, Standon Calling is one of the UK’s top boutique festivals, serving up three packed days of incredible acts, just an hour away from central Cambridge. Described by Time Out magazine as having “more charm than you can imagine”, the event combines a glorious rural setting – complete with heated open-air swimming pool – with top music, tasty food, family activities and loads of fancy-dressed silliness.
Heading up the impressive line-up this year are Paloma Faith, George Ezra and Bryan Ferry, as well as Django Django, Goldfrapp, Morcheeba and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. For a late night party, catch heavyweights like 2MANYDJs, Yoda and Hot Chip spinning tracks, drum and bass in the Hospitality takeover at the Groove Garden or take a trip down memory lane with a set from garage duo DJ Luck & MC Neat. You can also laugh along with top drawer comedy on the Lawn, sing your heart out at rockaoke, dance like a starman at the Bowie Disco and zen out with a whole host of wellbeing workshops.
If you’ve got little ones with you, they’ll be well catered for too for with entertainment including a live Horrible Histories show, and the whole family can get involved with the futuristic theme. Adult Weekend Tickets from £159.
5-8 July Bygrave Woods, Herts
An ultra-boutique festival held in fairy light festooned woodland deep in the Hertfordshire countryside, Farr has been doing its thing for nine years now. If electronic beats are your bag, this one’s for you: the festival has a reputation for bringing in some of the biggest names on the house and techno scene and this year’s offering will be no exception.
By night, dance to the likes of Maribou State, Shy FX, Mount Kimbie and Tom Misch, and by day, limber up with a yoga session, soak in hot tubs and taste your way around some great food and drink trucks. For the first time, this year’s event will feature a Sunday line-up, when they’ll be rounding off the weekend in style with dub, reggae and disco vibes. Weekend tickets are £125.
The Wild Wood DIsco
30 June Horseheath Racecourse, Linton
If there was one local festival which got everyone talking last summer, it was Wild Wood Disco. Blessed with gorgeous sunshine for its debut event, everyone lucky enough to be there last year raved about it – and the organisers are gearing up for something even bigger and better this year.
Taking place at Horseheath Racecourse, Linton, it’s organised by local party-makers My Little Festival, who’ll be bringing their characteristic sparkle and eccentricity to this day-long mini festi. Hidden woodland dancefloors, art installations, lasers, firepits and a secret absinthe hut will make a magical backdrop, while up on the stage acts like the legendary Groove Armada, festival faves Stanton Warriors and house music titan Seb Fontaine will be keeping the crowd dancing.
There’ll also be cocktails to sip, tasty food to try and plenty more surprises – get glittered up and join the fun! Tickets are currently on sale at £45 and camping options are available.
Wysing Arts Music Festival
1 September Wysing Arts Centre, Bourn
Taking place in the sleepy village of Bourn, there’s every chance you’ve not heard of this festival; but to those in the know, it’s one of the hottest tickets in town. Now entering its ninth year, the event was selected as one of Vogue magazine’s top independent festivals, and brings together boundary-pushing musicians for a genre-spanning frolic into the outer edges of the musical spectrum.
Expect captivating innovation in a lush rural setting. Keep an eye on the Wysing website for ticket announcements.
31 May-2 June Euston Hall, Suffolk
A whisky sippin’, guitar strummin’, Deep South-vibed get-down in the Suffolk countryside, Red Rooster returns 31 May to 2 June. As always, the music line-up has a heavy Americana, country and roots bent, with acts including Pokey LaFarge, Alabama 3 and Daddy Long Legs hitting the stage.
It takes place in the grounds of Euston Hall, a gorgeous, grassy patch of countryside with a lake and woodland, overlooked by a grand old country house. Expect a laid-back weekend spent hearing great music and eating good food (think southern fried chicken and gourmet mac and cheese), with singalongs around the campfire and a family-friendly feel. Day tickets are available from £40 and weekend tickets (including camping), are available from £59.50.
13-15 July Parker’s Piece, Cambridge
A local event which barely needs an introduction, the Big Weekend is one of the most popular events in Cambridge’s summer calendar. It returns from 13 to 15 July for a three-day extravaganza of music, entertainment, food, fireworks, family activities and community celebration in the heart of the city on Parker’s Piece. With previous headliners including Boney M, Slade, and ABC, we can’t wait to hear who’ll be entertaining us this time around – stay tuned to Cambridge Edition for details.
2 June Midsummer Common, Cambridge
One that always pulls in the punters, Strawberry Fair pitches up on Midsummer Common on the first Saturday of June each year. Entirely volunteer-run, it’s free to attend (though donations are welcome), and attracts some 40,000 visitors annually, who swarm to the spot to see bands and DJs, browse stalls, eat, drink and dance. The event runs all day – take a picnic blanket and some pals and soak up Cambridge’s lesser-seen bohemian side.
Strawberries and Creem
16 June Haggis Farm, Cambridge
Rising up unexpectedly out of the local countryside, Strawberries and Creem becomes more of a festival force to be reckoned with every year. Delivering a stonking bill of urban and grime artists, S&C transforms its corner of Cambridgeshire from sleepy farm to bassline-pulsing party each summer, attracting a younger crowd and an always-impressive calibre of names.
Up this year is A-list US rapper T-Pain, who’ll be making his one and only UK festival appearance at Strawberries and Creem. Known for tracks like I’m Sprung and Buy U a Drank, the double Grammy award-winning artist will be joined by drum and bass producer Shy FX, reggae selector David Rodigan and house and techno DJ Secondcity. Tickets are currently available for £40.