My rundown of three day parties in fields.
August 9, Victoria Park, London
Ohkay, ohkay so last year you did have to queue up for a minimum of 77 minutes to perform any basic human bodily function like say “drinking” or “weeing” and being booted out into E9 with your eyeballs popping out of your skull at midnight and nowhere to go can be a little much. But, that said, the lineup is brilliantly bonkers enough second time around to get the queues building again with everyone from Lindstrom and Richie Hawtin to King Creosote and Of Montreal making an appearance. Plus the organizers have promised more toilets and bars than you can shake a dick at as well as a bunch of organized afterparties. So we’ll probably see you all there just like last time. Tickets are a bargain at £26.50. Get those, lineups and blah blah at fielddayfestivals.com.
August 8, Victoria Park London
Last year Underage was the sleeper hit of the three-ring freakshow that the UK festival circuit has become. Mainly because it was the one that everyone wanted to go to but couldn’t. You think Glastonbury is a pain in the ass gaining access to? Nothing compared to realizing you are ten years too old to even be eligible for a ticket. No title sponsors, no balding, passed out middle aged guys chasing something they’ll never get back, no first time LSD casualties talking to festering piles of Chinese noodles in the food village. Just great orginistaion and a bunch of 14-18 year olds going loopy on E numbers to an insightful lineup including Gallows, Foals and XX Teens. It’s all depressingly refreshing. Particularly as you have little to no chance of getting in unless you are taking your kids. And that really is depressing. Tickets for tiny people are £23 and you can go wish you were young again at underagefestivals.com.
June 13-15, Donninton Park, Midlands
The blundering beast lumbers on. Download annually continues to become an obese parody of itself but every year they give you a whiff of something true to make you head to Castle Donnington. This time around you have Priest, Kiss, Municipal Waste and the Dillinger Escape Plan to just about make standing in a field of lank haired, 40 year old, leather clad virgins who live with their mothers in Kegworth and have a Live Action Role Play obsession so intense and vivid that they occasionally actually believe that the frozen aisle in Morrison’s is an ice shaft on Hoth all worthwhile. £150 tickets, directions and weird rabbit in gimp suit .gif’s at downloadfestival.co.uk.
June 27-29, Glastonbury, Somerset
Holy shit! Now here’s something we though we’d never see! No, not that. Hova’s got some weird deal where he is appearing at every festival ever in 2008 so that was no biggie. What was a real earth shatterer was that the tickets didn’t all go in 7.2 seconds. In fact, right now there are still tickets left! Who’d a thunk it? They finally expanded the capacity, sorted out the purchasing system and now real life human beings can actually get onto uncle Eavis’s farm as opposed to a bunch of touts who couldn’t shift their tamper proof tickets in the sludge. We have a tent again this year and it will be on high ground so come see us and expect nothing but a bunch of great acts and DJ’s hiding from the rain. Tickets and all other info at glastonburyfestivals.co.uk. The lineup is filled with a bunch of great stuff and the usual barrel load of freaks but the acts are never really the big deal at Glasto. It’s more about surviving with as many possessions and as much sanity intact as possible.
August 15-17, Glanusk Park, Brecon Beacons
If you like your music filled with strumming, fiddling, hay bales, broken hearted maidens and brave ol’ boys drinking whiskey and rye then Green Man has got you pegged. Filled with folk, Americana, beards and a worrying amount of Birkenstock’s the Green Man has established its place so firmly in the calender of all furrow-browed Uncut and Mojo readers that it has managed to pull of the unthinkable: persuade the original Pentangle lineup to reform! On top of that bombshell you get slightly more contemporary fare from Spiritualized, Howling Rain and Black Mountain. Tickets are £105 and you can get them at thegreenmanfestival.co.uk.
July 11-13, The Custard Factory, Birmingham
The Capsule gang are local Birmingham promoters of good shows who have slowly grown Supersonic from being a well picked all dayer into a raging three day contender for the best festival anywhere ever. Supersonic has the balls to book the kind of bills that the laughably complacent ATP once made their name promoting. This years lineup is no exception. It looks like the kind of bill that a Wire reader would come up with if he was being balled into submission by a burly Terrorizer reader. You get the mathy twiddles of Battles, the komische flourishes of a reformed Harmonia, the lumpen sludge of Erath and Harvey Milk’s first ever UK appearance as well as a whole raft of straight weirdoes like the Fuck Buttons kids, Scotch Egg and Justice Yeldham. All of this before you get to the exclusive screenings our forthcoming Heavy Metal in Baghdad documentary and the fact that you can while away hours in record fairs and lectures when you’re not falling over sideways into that big paddling pool thing from all the cheap Brummie larger and you should basically be getting the message here that Supersonic is not to be missed. Check out capsule.org.uk/Supersonic for tickets which are just £65 for the whole weekend.
September 5-7, Robin Hill Country Park, Isle Of Wight
The only festival where you are likely to see armies of pygmy warrior slaves and giant hot dogs with legs without having necked all of your DMT to get past security continues to wedge it’s place into the hearts of festival going people everywhere. Bestival is the kind of festival that even the people who don’t like festivals like. You can tell because it’s sold out already and Glastonbury hasn’t. Plus it’s right at the end of the season so it feels a bit like you are skiving off work while you are there which is always nice. This year Rob Da Bank has managed to convince my Bloody Valentine, Aphex Twin, Carl Craig and some drunk girl who’s always wandering around Camden all to perform plus there will be a Vice tent going on until they close us down each night so come and say hi. No tickets but all other stuff at bestival.net.
Tapestry Goes West
August 8-9, Margram Park, Wales
Tapestry really takes the whole ‘festival as freakshow’ thing to whole new levels that formerly probably only exitsted in the pre-pubescent fantasies of the singer dude from Circulus while he was sitting all alone in his room listening to Comus and reading David Eddings novels. This year’s edition is billed as ‘The Holy Grail’ and you can expect all the usual costumes, revelry, elaborate marquees and jousting knights. Well maybe not the jousting knights but all the other crap for sure. Actually I just checked website and there WILL be a bunch of gallant squires known as ‘Thee Knights of Arkley’ so there. Music from John Power out of the La’s, the Duloks, Diagonal and you guessed it….Circulus! Tickets are £60 and you can get those plus a load of other arcane Tapestry knowledge at tapestrygoeswest.com.
August 1-3, Grate Farm, Cumbria
Festivals have become a bit like the seasons. They are just there. Between May and September you no longer wonder or look forward to a certain festival on a certain weekend. You just assume they will be there and any weekend you fancy rolling around in mud and drinking warm cider you can pretty much have your fill anywhere in the United Kingdom. Even Kendall it turns out. Sister festival to the excellent Standon Calling this three year old up and comer offers a bunch of nice green hills to play on as well as The Super Fury Animal, Dizzee and the Mystery Jets. Tickets are about the same price as a London Parking fine at £55 and you can get hold of them at kendalcalling.co.uk.
Dot To Dot
May 22, Various Venues, London
May 24-25, Various Venues, Bristol and Nottingham
The brainchild of Liars Club founder and Alt Delete records owning bean pole about town Ricky Haley, Dot To Dot has eaten yet another city this year. Loosely following the format of city based jaunts like the Camden Crawl, Dot To Dot continues to offer lineups that put fully fledged festivals with huge budgets to shame. Across the lot you get thoughtful choices that make you go “oh they’re there!” like Spiritualized, Chrome Hoof, Legowelt and Dan Deacon as well as our very own disco supremo Piero Martineti spinning Italo classics. A sure ticket. All info at dottodotfestival.co.uk.
July 18-20, Somewhere in Berkshire
Once upon time the Glade was just one of those trillions of tents at Glastonbury that you would get stuck in at 7:30 am jumping up and down like some spinal bifida afflicted Fido Dido to nosebleed gabba and wandering if the girl with the trustafarian dreads in front of you was dancing suggestively or was just dizzy. These days though the Glade has become to people that like to stay awake on horse tranquiliser for three days what Golders Green is to Hassidic Jews: the ultimate spot to hang out! This almost certainly has something to do with the amount of industrial strength Ketamine that has seemingly engulfed the UK. The Orb, Vitalic, Ulrich Schnaus and not nearly as many breakcore DJ’s as you’d expect are all there to keep you out of the K holes. For £125 tickets and information concerning where exactly it is go to gladefestival.com.
August 16-17, Hylands Park, Chelmsford & Weston Park Saffordshire
Two days, two venues and so much branding that your average Crass fan would probably explode like the vampires in Lost Boys when they get in the sun upon setting toe in either Hylands or Weston Park. Regardless of the Bishopsgate Tower sized soullessness of the thing Branson’s bank balance usually entices the kind of lineup that would make your mum and anyone else who bought their CD collection in Tesco’s go “wow!”. To that end you get The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Muse, the Stereophonics and, wait for it…the Kooks. Passes to the arena of inanity will set you back £145. Get them here: vfestival.com
June 7-8, Dores, Inverness
Considering that this one continues to have pretty much the best name on the whole circuit the lineup continues to play a workmanly Pete Samprass like game to it’s titular Ronnie O’Sulivan wildness. You get guaranteed hands in the air from Fatboy ‘Norman’ Slim and Underworld as well as family sing a longs to Razorlightt and The View but you are probably better off spending the weekend looking for the monster at the bottom of the sites swimming pool installation. Tickets are £123.75 with camping and you can get them from rockness.co.uk. Or you could alternatively buy approximately 820 Chomps.
The Carling Weekend
August 22-24, Richfield Avenue Reading and Bramham Park, Leeds
Traditionally Leeds was the weekend for grown ups to act like kids, drink beer out of novelty hats, set portaloos on fire and fight policemen while Reading was the place for kids to wear heaps of non gender specific makeup and pretend that they were in the middle of some kind of crisis that required counseling 24 hours a day or else that would be it: hung by guy ropes at dawn. The last few years have seen a bit of a groundshift in the opposite direction. Maybe the man-childern and the life-hating 13 year olds set up an ad hoc exchange programme? Who knows. Metallica and Rage are there to make you party like it’s 1993 but we’ll probably just go see Fucked Up instead. Information is confusingly to be found at leedsfestival.com and readingfestival.com where you can also buy tickets for £155 safe in the knowledge that you are paying more for three days in a tent than at any other UK festival.
Isle Of White
June 13-15, Seaclose Park, Newport, IOW
This is the one that your parents went to in 1969 and did acid because they felt they had to even though they secretly didn’t get the big deal and Dylan played a pretty bad show in a weird white suit but no one cared because they were just happy to be watching music in the sun. Your parents would probably be quite into it this year because it will be sunny (it always is) and a bunch of bands they were probably into like the Sex Pistols, The Stooges and erm The Police are being wheeled out like the last 30 years never happened. The tickets are all gone but you can find out about what you’ll be missing at isleofwightfestival.com.
T In The Park
July 11-13, Balado, Kinross-Shire
Rain, super strength Tennants, rain, gutter speed, rain, vodka and Irn Bru and more rain. T is pretty much always a blast and with a belly full of beer that makes you slur all your words within seconds of consumption and a nose full of poor mans racket the locals turn into your new best friends and everyone sinks into the mud together. The lineup looks spookily like Reading with REM in there instead of the Killers but that’s probably because T and Oxegen are sort of the Carling weekend but further north. Go digging in the dance tents though and you’ll find Aphex Twin, The Black Dog and Kompakt fellow Michael Mayer. Great! Tickets and all other things you need to know at tinthepark.com.
July 11-13, Punchestown Racecourse, Co. Kildaire
T’s even more unintelligible cousin has already sold out, mainly because lots of people have realized how good the craic is and as we’ve been we can tell you that ‘they’ aren’t wholly wrong for once. Guinness you could float the Titanic in, a festival first in the shape of great food and a bill that is well, exactly the same as T. If you have already got tickets: well done! If not go look at what might have been at oxegen.ie ‘cos it’s sold oot.
July 19-20, Braziers Park, Oxford
The boutique festival’s boutique festival, Truck has unfortunately outgrown it’s homely word of mouth roots and is now populated by the entire population of the Drowned In Sound message boards playing indie bingo and winkle picker hopscotch on the site weeks before it even starts. As usual they are keeping the lineup hush hush but if you can get hold of a ticket a couple of days in Oxford are always pleasant and don’t tell anyone we told you but the Lemonheads will be there for sure. Tickets are a pocket money sized £60. Find those and rumours at thisistruck.com.
June 5-8, Various venues, Bristol
If I knew who put this one on I would find them, shake their hand and say thank you. Amidst the bland, the generic and the aboherent (which just about covers 99% of UK Festivals as of now) Venn stands shoulder to shoulder with Supersonic and Instal (you missed that one in February numbnuts) as one of the few examples of how to take the festival format and hate-rape it for all it’s worth until you get exactly what you want out of it. Want a whole evening in a planetarium with Murcof? Fine! Want an afternoon on a drydocked ship with Sunburned Hand of The Man? No bother! Want a single venue that boasts Peverelist, The Black Dog and Moritz Van Oswald? Venn’s pleasure! Seriously, go here: vennfestival.com and then go.
August 8-10, Victoria Park, Leicester
Despite being in Leicester and not in fact being a summer Sunday but more a long summer weekend this nifty Midlands number has done none too badly on lineup. Probably because the pretty OK guys at BBC6 told them what to book. Efterklang, Fuck Buttons, Henry Rollins moaning about how much the world sucks, Lightspeed Champion and an acoustic set from the Coral which will basically sound just like that Last Shadow Puppets record which sort of sounds exactly like an acoustic Coral song. Tickets are £100 from summersundae.com
End Of The Road Festival
September 12-14, Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset
A Green Man that makes no concessions to the concept of appealing to people who aren’t really really into folk and americana End Of The Road offers a pretty jaw on the floor mix of heartbroken guys with a one peddle-steel per band minimum who can’t wait to croak about whichever love left them this week. Low, The Mountain Goats, Akron Family, Calexico, the Dirty 3, Jason Molina, Kurt Wagner (aka Mr Lambchop), the saddest sad guy of them all in poor old Mark Kozelek and shockingly even a few maudlin maidens! Laura Marling and Kimya Dawson break up the guy love(loss) in. Tickets to ride the freight bound for miseryville will set you back £105 from endoftheroadfestival.com
The Secret Garden Party
July 24-27, It’s a secret d’uh (but it’s near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire)
Basically one big love in that can get a bit much but has its heart in the right place. Not a good one for excessive acid or mushroom consumption as whole families can at any given time be miming a Bunuel film or acting out some Jonson while swinging upside down from inside a weeping willow dressed as parakeets. I made neither of those last two examples up. The lineup is kind of irrelevant as it is more about just having a good time. Man. Tickets (which cost £125) and cosmic vibrations at secretgardenparty.com.
9-12 June, Polzeath Beach, Cornwall
One for the fake spring break kids who got bored of Newquay and want to go to a ‘proper’ party instead of drinking White Ace on the beach and get cold every night while the newly over zealous local police shine spotlights at you. The lineup is hardly the invention of something round and put into motion, offering The Enemy, The Wombats and The Cribs but if you are around: why not? Skream and the Trojan Soundystem are down there too so if you really want to you could probably ‘skank’ with some surfer guys outside Fat Willy’s Surf Shack or whatever it is they get up to down there. More at (can’t find URL on this one???)
Zoo Thousand And Eight
July 4-6, Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Kent
Kind of a bizarre idea really. Put thousands of drunk people who will quite possibly also be on mind altering drugs and place them in a wildlife reserve surrounding them with tigers, giraffes, monkeys and even birds that can talk to you. Chuck into that pot the fact that they also have a Segway race track (wtf?!) and you are more in for of a weekend inside a Mr Benn episode than a festival. Acts are not all that awful either with some guy called Mark Ronson, Minus The Bear, Friendly Fires and Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man all playing. Tickets to the zoo cost £99 and you can get them at zoothousand.com.
Hole In The Sky
August 27-30, Bergen, Norway
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: you’ll need to travel to the centre of the earth (also known as Bergen) to get to the Hole in the Sky festival. They keep it that way to ensure that no weaklings bother. Expect an absolutely fake metal free festival, with a sublime, vicious line-up. Ivar of Enslaved is one of the people picking it all out so you should get an idea of what to expect. This year you can choose from Colombian black metal (Inquisition), Polish black metal (Behemoth), Irish black metal (Primordial) and black metal with women in it (Gehenna and Electric Wizard). Tickets are 70 euros (for a weekend pass). Those and all other info from holeinthesky.no
May 29-31, Pac del Forum, Barcelona
Just when you thought Primavera couldn’t get any better they went and asked ATP to do a stage and all the anoraks wept tears of unadulterated festival joy at the thought of seeing Slint play ‘Spiderland’ backwards with Will Oldham on bazouki or whatever. Then they only went and asked us to do a stage so now the party really is complete. Seriously, if you only go to one European festival this year make it Primavera. You can stay in a hotel (try the Gothic quarter so you can ramble around hungover pretending to be Picasso), the beer comes ice cold vats, the escstasy comes in crystalline mini mountains and costs about 2p a wrap and the women are more beautiful than anywhere in the world. I love Barcelona and I love Primavera. Hurry up and by 150 euros tickets here: primaverasound.com. You don’t even need to know who’s playing. Just go.
July 17-20, Benicassim, near Valencia
Benicassim has become so anglicized that it even has a .co.uk web domain set up. This used to be the one that everyone talked about but over the last few years people have cottoned onto the fact that it is just a bunch of miserable, hungover, sun burned sleep deprived Brits with an excuse to be somewhere sunny. You could save yourself the trip and go watch re-runs of Ibiza Uncovered on Dave. That said the lineup is still pretty amazing so maybe get a well air conditioned apartment, stay off the beach and actually go see bands? Leonard Cohen, Morrisey, My Bloody Valentine and our favourite band in ever the Black Lips will all be there sweating for you. Tickets are £128 and you can get those and a bunch of other info at fiberfib.com.
July 3-6, Roskilde, Denmark
Last year’s Roskilde festival was a complete disaster. It was the closest thing to a third world type natural disaster Denmark has ever seen. After that we swore an oath never to go to another festival. Nothing about festivals seemed appealing anymore. Writing a Festival Guide? Whatever, let’s just Google the dates and write some stuff down while having Sunday tea and watching the news. But WAIT a minute! My Bloody Valentine in Denmark?! Oh, OK then. Tickets are about 220 euros. To see the complete line-up, visit roskilde-festival.dk.
12-16 July, Serbia
Sometimes it is nice to really change it up a bit. How many times can you go to Reading? Really, come on. Then why not try Serbia? Exit gets bigger and better each year apart from that one time a few years back when all the police stormed in with riot gear and CS gas and stuff. Even that was pretty ok though. The lineup is a great mix of stuff from Audion and Sven Vath to Sham 69 and the Gossip plus a whole load of Serbian acts with unpronounceable names. Serbia is a great place too, you can get a box of cigarettes for about 12p and everyone seems to spit everywhere which is weird but also liberating if you are into spitting. Tickets are only £72 for all 4 days. What are you waiting for? Exitfest.org