Festivals in Cambs and beyond
The music festival season feels a long, long way off right now (although we wouldn’t say no to a pear cider if you’re offering) but these days you’ve got to book mega early if you want to be happy campers come summer. Many dates for 2017 have already been released and the biggies sell out fast – we haven’t managed to score Glastonbury tickets for years – but the good news is lots of the local events still have availability and most of them are family friendly. So here’s where you’ll find Muddy decked out in daisy chains, denim hotpants and wellies of a hazy, lazy, possibly crazy summer evening.
Secret Garden Party, Cambridgeshire 20-23 July
There isn’t much that’s a secret about this event anymore – it sells out months in advance. If you want to party seriously like a grown-up (yeh, I use that word very loosely) then this gargantuan garden party is a true escape from reality – utterly hedonistic with surprises, new experiences lurking around every corner and fairy dust sprinkled everywhere. This is where you can forget life’s niggles and go bonkers (and we won’t tell a soul) – there’s no sloping off to bed early at this party. 2017 acts released so far include Metronomy, Toots & The Maytails, Honne, Jagwar Ma and Jeremy Loops.
Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, secretgardenparty.com
Green Meadows Festival, Elton Hall Estate, Peterborough 11-13 Aug
Now in its sixth year, Green Meadows Festival is a family festival first and foremost. There’s tonnes for kids to do –everything from graffiti workshops to space hopper arenas and a Jedi Training & Lightsaber Show. The first two acts were released a few days ago – Stereo MCs and Krafty Kuts to kick the line up off and watch this space for more to follow. Glamping options are available for the first time this year so if you don’t fancy slumming it with the DIY option this might be preferable.
Elton Hall, Elton, Peterborough, greenmeadowfestival.org
Cambridge Folk Festival, Cherry Hinton Hall, 27-30 July
Launched waaaay back in 1965, Cambridge Folk Festival is one of the largest and longest running events of its kind, renowned for its relaxed vibe and loved for its eclectic line-up with traditional folk artists rubbing shoulders with more contemporary acts. As always, there’ll be a mixture of up-and-coming talent and big names performing across a range of stages in the pretty parkland setting of Cherry Hinton Hall. First artists have been released and include returning Jake Bugg, Oysterband, Lau and Hayseed Dixie – guest Curator Jon Boden will perform with The Remnant Kings also. The little’uns are well catered for too, making it an ideal family festival.
Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge, cambridgelivetrust.co.uk/folk-festival
Lodestar, Cambridgeshire dates tbc
A small independent festival in the Fens, the dates for this are tbc but I’ll keep an eye out for you as they’ll be released soon– it tends to be end Aug/early Sept. Better still I’ll do the work and keep you posted! Lodestar is a great option if you like your festivals friendly and laid-back and not overly commercialised. It might not offer big headline acts but the line up includes some great bands – past performers have included Catfish and the Bottlemen, The Magic Numbers, Katzenjammer and Bob Geldof. The site is spacious and peaceful so is perfect for letting the kids run amok and as festivals go it’s a steal (since when did taking the family to a festival become the same price as a holiday?!).
Lode Fen, Lode, Cambs, lodestarfestival.com
And if you’re keen to pogo around in a field further, um, afield, here are our top picks over the borders.
Chilfest, Tring, Herts, 8 July
Child of the Seventies or Eighties? This one’s for you. OMD, Alexander O’Neal, Hot Chocolate, Soul II Soul, Heaven 17 and, er, Midge Ure are among the retro luminaries who’ll be pounding out the hits, against a scenic backdrop of the Chiltern Hills. This year Chilfest is a one-day festival rather than a full weekend, so no need to pack the tent and all that faff, and the site has expanded to take in an extra 4000 sq. m. Which means more room to swing a cat (please don’t bring your cat, it won’t like it).
Cow Lane, Tiring, Herts, chilfest.co.uk
Cornbury Festival, Oxfordshire, 7-9 July
Sadly, this is Cornbury’s last ever outing, as it bows out of an increasingly crowded festival market after 14 years. Boo! So if you want to send it off with a bang, get yourself down to Great Taw Park in North Oxfordshire. Cornbury tends to attract big names and after last year’s set from Bryan Ferry, they’ve announced this year’s Bryan: veteran Canadian rocker, Adams, who is headlining on the Saturday night. An opportunity to howl along to Summer of ’69? We’re in.
The Great Tew Park, Oxon, cornburyfestival.com
Common People, Oxford, 27-28 May
Hurray for a city centre festival that it’s easy to get home from – a Muddy pal watched Primal Scream and Duran Duran headline last year before jumping on the last bus home. Based in the pretty South Park, this is Bestival founder Rob da Bank’s latest venture which is now in its second year. It’s brilliantly organized, the bands are good (this year’s headliners are tbc), ditto the kids’ area. And tent refuseniks will be pleased to hear there’s no camping on site. Early Bird adult tickets are stonking value at just £24 – be quick!
South Park, Oxford oxford.commonpeople.net
Wilderness, Oxfordshire, 3-6 August
Bit posh? Then you’ll love Wilderness, which is a lot more genteel than its name suggests. Details are sketchy for this year but 2016’s event in the idyllic 400 acre country estate included a pop-up spa, a Raymond Blanc-cooked gourmet lunch and a croquet tournament. Rock’n’roll! The music bookings are still tbc but tend to be strong – last year the line-up included the weird and wonderful Flaming Lips and Led Zeppelin legend Robert Plant so watch this space.
Cornbury Park, Oxon, wildernessfestival.com
Latitude, Suffolk, 13-16 July
One for culture vultures, Latitude is about so much more than bopping around to bands. With its extensive programme of literary readings, theatre, dance, and all things artsy, it’s probably the most civilized of all the festivals, although there’s nothing to stop you caning 8 pints of cider and falling into the pond, should you wish (we’re not here to judge). It’s also a winner for children – and not just little’uns. The In-Betweeners’ Area keeps moody teenagers out of trouble with its survival and assault courses.
Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk, latitudefestival.com