Summer Festivals Not To Miss
Who fancies getting their rocks off at a music festival? ‘Course you do! There are some seriously brilliant ones taking place in Muddy Cambs, over the next few months, and many of them are family friendly (so maybe not so much getting off of one’s rocks in that case, ahem.) I’ve added a few stonking ones that are just over the border if you’re into big named festivals that attract the large crowds. What’s more, unlike Glastonbury which sells out in seven seconds, these local mega-gigs all still have some tickets available, at time of writing at least. So, in chronological order, here’s where you’ll find Muddy decked out in daisy chains, denim hotpants and wellies this summer…
The WillowFest, Bourn, Cambridgeshire, 1-2 July
Well when you have a garden that looks this darn good it would be rude not to have some sort of ‘fest’. Willowfest is a feel good, family friendly, music & drinks mini- festival with a vintage vibe. Set in the enchanting garden of The Willow Tree with tipi & secret meadow included – it’s an idyllic spot to hang out with friends or family. There’ll be music on the Tipi Stage and stroll down to the Secret Meadow for food and drinks – the restaurant is also open if you want something more formal. Nestled in the meadow you’ll also find the silent disco, space to kick back and a fun children’s area too. Kids under 13 go free and for the first time there is limited and basic camping on site too.
Willowfest, The Willow Tree, 29 High Street, Bourn, Cambridgeshire CB23 2SQ, thewillowtreebourn
The Big Weekend, Parker’s Piece, 7-9 July
Summer just wouldn’t be summer in Cambridge without the highlight of the city’s free events – The Big Weekend. Headliners ABC kick off the weekend on Parker’s Piece on the Friday with an 80’s bonanza. The three-day event will host a French Market, Sports Zone, Gaming Hub, community choirs as well as the opportunity to hear some great music – Latin, folk, funk and 60s/70s soul music. Sunday evening sees the two big headliners – reggae stars, Aswad followed by glam rockers T.Rex close out the festival in style.
The Big Weekend, 36 Parkside, Cambridge CB1 1JE, cambridgelivetrust.co.uk
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
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
Peterborough Sausage & Cider Music Festival, Elton Hall, 28 – 30 July
Forget pie and mash this is a great grub and music festival set in the beautiful grounds of Elton Hall, which also plays host to the Green Meadows Festival also (listed below). If you love a great tribute band then 14 of them should keep you happy from Bieber to Beyoncé and Kings of Leon to a spot of Madness with a different support band playing each day. There’s a family vibe, great food and drink and various camping options are available if you want to bed down for a big weekend.
Elton Hall, Peterborough, PE8 6SH, eventbrite.co.uk
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
Lodestar, Cambridgeshire, August 2-17 (exact 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
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