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A Guide to Alternative Summer Festivals
Image Credit: Port Eliot Festival

A Guide to Alternative Summer Festivals

14 June 2017 | Will Rathbone

There are a lot of festivals out there this summer. With such choice available, selecting the right one often comes down to something intangible and impossible to predict: the atmosphere, the environment, the vibe. We’ve scoured the UK to find some of the smaller, more independent festivals, where the whole event has that ‘je ne sais quoi’. A good festival is one of the finest things on earth – and something Britain does very, very well. So read on, get a tent, and set off.

Port Eliot Festival
 
Port Eliot is beautiful. It’s almost as though the world was made for this festival – the location is simply stunning. Set in the grounds of a Cornish country manor, you’re free to explore the house itself – why not try an early morning yoga sessions in the drawing room? – as well as the surrounding estate. Music features, of course, with ’90s dance pioneers St. Etienne and new-age jazzers Comet is Coming gracing this year’s line-up – but there’s also a big focus on food and drink, comedy, family activities and promoting general well-being.


 
Port Eliot takes place from July 27 30 in the village of St Germans, Cornwall.
 
The Good Life Experience
 
So called because of the four founders’ quest to retain the finer points of life: family, friends, nature, food and drink, music, books and a sense of discovery and adventure. The Good Life Experience balances musical offerings with other cultural activities. There is a whole host of talks and authors, a dedicated Campfire Cooking line-up of renowned chefs, heaps of crafts sessions and other wholesome activities like yoga, tai chi, meditation and tree climbing. It’s a treat for the soul, fun for all the family, and you’ll leave feeling totally refreshed.


Image Credit: Vic Phillips
 
The Good Life Experience takes place from September 15 17 at the Hawarden Estate in Flintshire.

Bluedot
 
Bluedot is an eco-friendly festival located near the iconic Lovell Telescope in Cheshire. The name comes from the view of our lovely little planet from space, and the festival is focused on environmental science as much as the soundtrack. Music does play a big part, though, with acts including smart indie-rockers Alt-J, lo-fi legends Pixies and electro-pop queen Goldfrapp ensuring there’s no skimping on the band front. Other activities include live scientific experiments, immersive installations and fascinating lectures.


 
Bluedot takes place from July 7 9 at Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire.
 
Love Supreme Jazz Festival

Going from strength to strength since its inception five years ago, Love Supreme – named after the John Coltrane album of the same name – is Sussex’s answer to New Orleans. The strength of the line-up is what it’s all about here, and as jazz goes you won’t find anywhere better. From the ethereal melodies of Laura Mvula to the cosmic landscapes of Kamasi Washington, as well as the old-school soul/funk of Lee Fields, R&B from NAO, classic motown from The Jacksons and Afrobeat grooves from Nubiyan Twist, there’s something for everyone here. The site is nice and contained, so it’s ideal for families as there’s nowhere to get lost, and the atmosphere is super-relaxed. It really is supremely lovely.


Image Credit: Laura Mvula
 
Love Supreme Jazz Festival takes place from June 30 – July 2 at Glynde Place in Sussex
 
Farm Fest

While the festival scene has been exploding over the last ten years, Somerset’s Farm Fest has been quietly going about its business, unbothered by its bigger, noisier neighbours, and slowly attracting a dedicated following. It’s a carefully curated event, and its one-field setting plays host to a range of off-piste artists forming a niche of their own. Highlights this year include London Afrobeat Orchestra performing Talking Heads, the gentle electronic soundscapes of Guts and a foot-tappingly funky DJ set from crate-digging maestro Nightmares on Wax.


 
Farm Fest takes place from July 28 – 29 at Gilcombe Farm in Somerset
 
Shambala
 
Shambala is the festival-goer’s festival. Often a place where the crews and workers on the circuit allow themselves a little time off to enjoy the fruits of their labours, it’s got an air of mystery about it and is full of hidden areas and surprises. The atmosphere is unrivalled on the circuit; there’s a wondrous immersive installation-filled forest to explore, and musical highlights this year include reggae legend U Roy, magical hang-playing maestro Manu Delago and African music legend Oumou Sangare. Trust us – this one is special.


 
Shambala takes place from August 24 – 27 at a secret location in Northamptonshire
 
Green Man

Location, location, location. Green Man is set in the beautiful Brecon Beacons, a natural paradise in South Wales, and as an added bonus you’re allowed to arrive on site from the Monday before – leaving plenty of time to explore the glorious surroundings before the festival itself begins. Onsite, the main stage is set in a natural amphitheatre, meaning you can recline on the grass and enjoy the acts, with the beacons themselves providing a dramatic backdrop. It’s family-friendly with a wonderful atmosphere and a strong line-up – including the incomparable PJ Harvey, spoken word artist-turned-MC Kate Tempest and soulful troubadour Michael Kiwanuka.


 
Green Man takes place from August 17 – 20 in the Brecon Beacons, South Wales.
 

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