It’s mid-July, festival season is well under way and finally it seems we’re getting the weather to match it. For those that have wisely postponed their festival plans for the promise of sunshine, or more likely just generally don’t know what to do with themselves the next few months, check out our guide to the best upcoming festivals in the UK this summer.
Secret Garden Party (SGP)
Secret Garden Party looks like a lot of fun; born in 2004 the festival has become one the UKs most loved festivals for its wacky over the top emphasis on having as good a time as possible. Fun is indeed everywhere; whether in the shape of a mud bath, dodgems, magician acts or someone prancing about dressed as a huge Humpty Dumpty, it’s one big circus act of colour and vibrance. Amongst that SGP offers a refreshing variety of music from bands and electronic artists representing all genres. Providing you don’t have any extreme reservations towards fancy dress, SGP is well worth a visit.
A new festival started last year just south of Manchester at the research centre Jodrell Bank. The clue is in the choice of venue; BlueDot festival offers an opportunity to explore astro- physics and all cosmos related science next to the stunning backdrop of the Lovell Telescope – the world’s 3rd largest steerable radio telescope. The festival offers numerous workshops hosted by the likes of TVs favourite cosmos tutor Brian Cox – who presents his ‘Infinite Monkey Cage’ show alongside comedian Robin Ince. Other comedians such as Adam Kay are in attendance, and no doubt will provide a welcome break for your brains that may understandably be aching after hearing about the complexities of dark matter and white noise with Hondartza Frage . There’s lots to see here, and tying this all together is a great selection of electronic and non-electronic music: the line-up includes stratospheric-tinged jazzy house from Floating Points, trip-hop styled DJ Shadow, electronic royalty Jean Michel Jarre and headliners Underworld – who provided the soundtrack to Danny Boyle’s famous ‘Trainspotting’ film. Our pic is Brian Eno, who will be incorporating visuals onto the famous Lowell Telescope throughout his set.
51st State Festival
Any London dwellers would be advised to check out 51st state festival at the beginning of August. 51st state offers a vintage looking London line-up celebrating the cities rich history in UK/ Caribbean and black American music. Expect everything from house, garage, funk, soul, dub, dancehall and disco and look out for the likes of Marshall Jefferson, Todd Terry, Matt Jam Lamont and Roy Ayers who will deliver it to you in style. It’s a huge line-up which nods to the younger generation pushing similar soulful styles like Dan Shake and offers some potentially great live performances from the likes of Monique Bingham.
Another new festival starting this year on the outskirts of London near Reading, Varkala promises offerings of soulful contemporary house and techno. Going along similar lines to Selectors festival Varkala shows an onus towards offering a line-up filled with DJs renowned for their skills behind the decks. No better example is Mr. Ties; a presence in the booth and capable of moving through house, techno, funk and disco in between your dancefloor toilet break, he certainly fulfils the criteria of the ‘DJ’s DJ’. London festivals continue to pop up all the time but Varkala has promise in its intimate 500 capacity feel and location in a private farm near Reading. It’s a beautiful surrounding free from the claustrophobic feel of more central festivals in London – certainly all good signs for the festival.
There doesn’t appear to be a much better way to sign out the summer in the UK than with Field Maneuvers. Now in its 4th year the festival has built a solid reputation for its focus on representing the best of underground dance music and is continuing in much the same vein this year. Eye catchers include The Black Madonna, Elgato, Jane Fitz and Kornel Kovacs; though a special mention must be made to Meat Free girls from Manchester who will be representing their club brand down south too! The ethos is simple with Field Maneuvres, ‘we work to create the party we’d want to attend by booking our favourite underground artists and DJs’. The feeling has definitely translated well over the years. As per the venue remains secret until closer to the event, potentially an annoyance to people who have never been and want to be able to weigh up their options now, but with the success of previous events a bit of faith will more than be restored.
– Calum Carey