Summer might be over, but the festival season is still in full swing. Whether you’re looking for family-friendly festivals or extra-special small independent music festivals, we’ve rounded up the best of the year. From black-tie dining to woodland spas, escape the welly-clad crowds at the best luxury festivals in the UK for 2017.
Best Small & Boutique Festivals 2017
Festival No 6, 7- 10 September
In beautiful Portmeirion, Wales, this luxury, bespoke celebration of music, arts and culture gets more and more popular each year. This year’s headliners are Flaming Lips, Mogwai and Bloc Party with other highlights from Rag’n’Bone Man, The Cinematic Orchestra, Wild Beasts and Laura Mvula. Weekend passes are £190. festivalnumber6.com
The Grange Festival, 16 – 17 September
As part of the Jane Austen 200 celebrations, The Grange Festival presents the world-premiere staging of a new orchestral version of the critically-acclaimed chamber opera by composer Jonathan Dove and librettist Alasdair Middleton. Mansfield Park is the only Austen work to be adapted for opera, and it will show in the heart of Austen country for this festival of music. This special show will be the first production to be staged at The Grange outside of the main summer season. This new version of Mansfield Park will be fully-staged with 13 musicians from The Grange Festival’s Resident Orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Book now at thegrangefestival.co.uk.
Fierce Festival 16 – 22 October
Coming back for its 17th edition Fierce Festival is set to be as thought provoking and creative as ever. With creative direction falling to Aaron Wright this year he brings along with him six world premieres and twelve UK premieres such as, Michele Rizzo’s ‘Higher’ which explores the agony and ecstasy of clubbing through the medium of dance and a trio of Canadian works curated in collaboration with Studio 303, Montreal. With the concept to push boundaries and create a dialogue, Fierce will also host Steve Lambert’s installation ‘Capitalism Works For Me! (True/False), as well as having a ‘A Very Fierce Grand Opening’ on 18 October with the likes of Francois Chaignaud and Marie-Caroline Hominal, Quarto and Splash Addict preforming. To take the festivities even further there will also be a ‘Club Fierce’ night on the 21 October with the likes of Kiddy Smile and Imma Asher to keep everyone entertained. wearefierce.org.
Falmouth Oyster Festival 12 – 15 October
Kick off oyster season in style with a visit to Falmouth Oyster Festival, where visitors can enjoy a packed programme of cookery demonstrations, live music and, of course, freshly shucked oysters. Expect cookery demonstrations by leading local chefs, oysters, seafood, wine and local ale to sample, plus children’s shell painting and entertainment. There’s also sea shanties, a town parade, live music, an oyster shucking competition, a Falmouth Working Boat race and marquees brimming with Cornish produce. If you’re in town earlier in the year you can also enjoy the Falmouth Spring festival (30 Mar-17 Apr), Cider & Folk festival over Easter and the Gyllyngdune Tea Festival in September.
READ MORE: The Diary
What you missed this year…
Cheltenham Jazz Festival 26 April – 1 May
‘Cheltenham continues to lead the way in celebrating the amazing variety of music that Jazz has to offer. It’s an absolute pleasure to bring you the best in music over these special 6 days. In a year when some say jazz is 100 years old, the music is as vibrant as ever. For its 22nd edition, Cheltenham Jazz Festival celebrates the past, present and future of jazz.’ – Jamie Cullum: artistic curator at Cheltenham. Buy tickets to individual events: www.cheltenhamfestivals.com
Pub in the Park 19 – 21 May 2017
Tom Kerridge presents Pub in the Park; a special three-day event celebrating the very best food, drink and music the country has to offer. With Monica Galetti, Great British Bake Off winner Candice Brown and renowned restaurateur Raymond Blanc on the culinary line-up alongside Tom Kitchin, Angela Hartnett, Atul Kochhar, and Paul Ainsworth, guests will not leave disappointed. Guests will enjoy music from the likes of Tom Odell, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, James Morrison, Toploader and Fun Lovin’ Criminals. This is now sold out – but watch this space for next year’s event. pubintheparkuk.com
Elderflower Fields, 26 – 29 May
This Sussex-based festival is fun for all the family, and is designed especially with children in mind. With music, sports, nature and art, this lush festival features hot showers and a woodland spa, set in beautiful Sussex countryside. www.elderflowerfields.co.uk
Byline Festival 2-4 June
Held in East Sussex over the first weekend in June, Byline Festival is the first festival in the UK for free speech and independent journalism. Guests and speakers include John Cleese, Hugh Grant and Lenny Henry, plus guests can visit on-site newsrooms, journalism workshops, and enjoy a recreation of London’s Frontline Club bar. There will also be immersive theatre plus rap and arts battles, along with live music across the weekend. www.bylinefestival.com
Hampton Court Palace Festival, 8 – 24 June
Corinne Bailey Rae and Amy Macdonald amongst the stellar line-up at the 25th-anniversary line-up at Hampton Court Palace. Artists perform to a beautiful backdrop in Henry VIII’s open air Base Court for an intimate audience of 3,000 at what is sure to be one of the summer’s biggest celebrations. Other artists confirmed to perform include Will Young, Bryan Ferry, Van Morrison, Michael Ball & Alfie Boe, James Morrison, Jools Holland, Rick Astley, Björn Again and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. Register at www.hamptoncourtpalacefestival.com
Henley Festival 5 – 9 July
Pet Shop Boys and Chaka Khan amongst this year’s heavy hitters at Henley Music Festival. Jess Glyne, Goldie and All Saints will also grace the famous floating stage for the countries only black-tie music festival this summer. But if it’s festival food that gets you excited, you won’t find a better culinary line-up than this one on the banks of the river Thames. Food highlights include The Spice Merchant, The Dog & Badger, the Riverside Restaurant (Europe’s largest field dining experience) and Snob Lobster & Champagne.
The Henley festival also boasts a stellar comedy line-up, with the likes of Sara Pascoe, Russell Kane, Andy Parson and more. Henley Festival’s ongoing support of independent artists and galleries continues for 2017, too. The Festival’s sculpture gardens will feature works including Philip Jackson’s imposing and operatic bronze figures; David Ogle’s illuminated forest of light; Simon Gudgeon’s minimalist, semi-abstract forms; Dawn Conn’s whimsical sculptures inspired by fairy tales; and Stephen Newby’s ‘Infinity Pools’ of light. henley-festival.co.uk
Samphire Festival 7 – 9 July
Completely sold-out last year, Samphire Festival makes its much-anticipated return to Exmoor National Park this summer. The independent music and arts festivals plays host to a range of music, as well as food stalls, yoga, talks, and even giant human snakes and ladders. This year a new Club House will open, offering games and theatre events throughout the weekend – what more could you want from a festival? The brainchild of Flora Blathwayt and Josh Beauchamp, the festival has grown quickly and established itself as a platform for new and up-and-coming talent. With a mixture of music from psychedelic group Flamingods to classic soul music of Jack Tyson Charles, there is something for everyone. With a capacity of 1000 people, you don’t want to miss out so make sure you buy your tickets now before they all go. www.samphirefestival.com
Summer Series at Somerset House, 6 – 16 July
This brilliant series of outdoor gigs in the beautiful setting of Somerset House courtyard is the perfect alternative to muddy fields and cold showers. This year’s highlights include Norah Jones, Goldfrapp, Foster the People and The Cinematic Orchestra. For the full line-up and to book tickets, visit www.somersethouse.org.uk
Cornbury 7 – 9 July
In the Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire, this luxe family-friendly affair features music from Bryan Adams, The Pretenders and Jools Holland. The kids zone features children’s yoga and a toddler disco. www.cornburyfestival.com
Bluedot Festival, 7 – 9 July
This spacey celebration at Jordell Bank, Cheshire is a science-lovers dream. This fun fusion of music, science and the exploration of space takes place at the iconic observatory. Headliners this year include Orbital, the Pixies and Alt-J. www.discoverthebluedot.com
Truck Festival, 21 – 23 July
This small, independent, family-friendly music festival boasts headlining performances from The Libertines, The Vaccines and Franz Ferdinand and takes place on Hill Farm in Oxfordshire. www.truckfestival.com
Curious Arts Festival, 21 – 23 July 2017
This stylish and beautiful arts and music festival is held in the grounds of privately owned Pylewell Park in the New Forest. Music comes from the likes of Tom Odell, Izzy Bizu and Martha Gunn, with comedy performances from Ed Byrne, Simon Evans and Paul Tonkinson to name but a few. Keggie Carew and Eimear McBride are amongst the stellar line-up of authors attending this year’s event. There’s plenty on offer for kids, too – find out more in our round-up of the most family-friendly festivals.
Power of Summer Festival, 22nd July – 2nd September
A six-week festival commencing 22nd July, providing free fun for all the family this summer. Packed full of activities guaranteed to let your little ones blow off some steam and keep them occupied. From pop up beaches, roller disco’s, Edinburgh Fringe previews and much more all kicking off at the new riverside walk at Circus West Village. With each week adopting a different theme and different events, you never know what to expect. It’s an event not to be missed and perfect for that all important family bonding.
Wilderness, 3 – 6 August
With music from the likes of Two Door Cinema Club and Grace Jones, and seriously good food served banquet-style to accommodate chats with like-minded festival-goers, this Oxfordshire (relative)stalwart is always a favourite. With wellbeing workshops and boutique camping, there’s no need to feel wild as you reacquaint yourself with nature at Wilderness. wildernessfestival.com
Houghton, 11 – 13 August
This Norfolk fest has a licence that permits music from dusk to dawn, with ‘spontaneous’ back-to-back sets, award-winning DJs and a roster including Ricardo Villalobos, Nicholas Jaar and Floating Points. Set amongst dense woodland, an abandoned woodland, a picturesque lake… Houghton, curated by DJ Craig Richards is shaping up to be one of the most exciting prospects on the festival calendar. houghtonfestival.co.uk
Smoked & Uncut at THE PIG, 19 – 20 August
Set against a backdrop of the rolling Mendip Hills and quintessential English views of this undiscovered part of Somerset, Smoked & Uncut at THE PIG-near Bath is not your average English festival. Taking place from 19–20 August, Smoked & Uncut is more glamour than grunge, and you can expect a line-up of handpicked classic and contemporary artists, including the Noisettes and Dr. Feelgood, home-made street food, local ales and the odd cocktail.
Big Feastival, 25 – 27 August
Held on founder and Blur star Alex James’ farm in Kingham, the Big Feastival features music from the likes of Olly Murs, Madness, Hacienda Classical and Louisa Johnson and food from superstar chefs Nathan Outlaw, Antonio Carluccio and Cyrus Todiwala. With festival fun for all the family, little ones can enjoy the Little Dudes’ Den, pop along to the Farm Park, laugh with cheeky duo Dick & Dom, enjoy entertainment from children’s TV megastar Justin Fletcher and more. uk.thebigfeastival.com