With the advent of spring and the prospect of summer many of us will be anticipating a season of music festivals across Britain, in what is after all the quintessential home of the music festival. The daddy of them all, Glastonbury, is a few short weeks away and this year boasts ‘Glasto’ first timers The Rolling Stones! Whilst it may be time to sort out that yurt and pack those wellies it is not necessarily all tents and portaloos. There are lots of great music festivals where you do not need to ‘go native’ to enjoy British music at its best. With specialist and quirky events to enjoy across the country, there are festivals to suit all tastes whilst you stay in rather more salubrious surroundings on your next cottage holiday. Let’s take a look at some of this year’s great British music festivals…
The Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival, Cornwall
The haunting melodies of the sea shanty evoke the history of a time shaped by the ravages of the ocean. In recent years the sea shanty has enjoyed an increase in popularity helped by the success of groups such as Port Isaac based Fisherman’s Friends. The Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival is making sure that the tradition of maritime song continues for many years to come. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the festival and groups from all over the world with gather to perform between the 14th and 16th of June across many pubs and venues in the historic Cornish port of Falmouth. Falmouth has perhaps one of the richest maritime heritages in the country, and there can be few better venues for a sea shanty festival. Henry VIII fortified the nation’s naval defences building Pendennis Castle here following his epic voyage of discovery, Darwin returned to England landing at Falmouth on the Beagle in 1836. The festival evokes the spirit of a proud seafaring nation and the spectacle of old sea dogs and pirates alike helps create a warm atmosphere that has established it as one of the most popular music festivals in Cornwall.
The Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival, Colne Lancashire
Rhythm and blues fans will flock this year to east Lancashire over the August bank holiday weekend to see some of the biggest blues artists in the world. This year boasts a strong line up including Dr Feelgood, The Rhythm Kings, Paul Lamb and Bill Wyman. Now in its 24th year, the festival has established itself as one of the premier events in the rhythm and blues calendar. Venues are spread across this former mill town which lies close to the border with North Yorkshire. The dark mills are now long gone and have given way to a greener and more pleasant area famous for its witches and the imposing Pendle Hill. The rolling countryside is popular with cyclists and the region is home to some of the finest ales in the country. With the local beer flowing over the four day festival and some of the biggest names in rhythm and blues, this is a winning combination and a great bank holiday musical treat.
Latitude Festival, Southwold, Suffolk
The Latitude Festival at Henham Park, Southwold is rapidly becoming one of the most popular music festivals in the country. Taking place from 18th to the 21st of July, the festival offers a great line up (including Kraftwork, Bobby Womack and Bloc Party) but also has a strong arts feel to it with comedians such as Eddie Izzard in attendance. Since the first festival in 2006, Latitude has established a family friendly reputation balancing great music but also incorporating theatre, poetry and politics. The result is an eclectic but well run festival that has the feel of Glastonbury without perhaps some of the physical demands – a kind of ‘Glastonbury for the intellectually discerning’. Southwold itself is a throwback to a by-gone age; a typically English seaside town lying on Suffolk’s Heritage coast. This part of the country enjoys particularly favourable climate with rainfall below the national average perhaps promising a greater chance of a ‘wellie free’ festival.
Wychwood Music Festival, Cheltenham
Cheltenham racecourse is the venue for the Wychwood Music Festival running from the 31st of May to the 2nd of June 2013. Wychwood also enjoys a reputation as a family friendly festival, mixing rock and indie music with performing arts. With the beautiful Cotswolds as the backdrop and on the doorstep of one of England’s most distinctive Regency spa towns, Wychwood is recognised as one of the best ‘boutique festivals’ in the country. This year Soul II Soul, Toploader and electro-synth eighties legends, Human League will headline the festival which must have one of the more unusual settings being at the heart of one of the most famous racecourses in the British Isles. Alongside the live entertainment there is a lot to keep the whole family occupied with film presentations alongside craft workshops from clay to canopy making or even circus themed sessions to keep children happy. Cheltenham lies just a short distance from the racecourse and offers some of the finest shops and eateries the Cotswolds has to offer. It’s not surprising then that the Wychwood festival ranks highly amongst Britain’s great summer music festivals. See you there!