Festivals don’t have to be all about muddy tents and raves that go on until the early hours. We’ve selected five of the best taking place this summer, all set in beautiful surroundings and offering a host of “grown-up” activities from lectures to life drawing…
Where: The picturesque Italianate village of Portmeirion in Wales.
What to expect: Dubbed one of the most stunning festival settings in the world, the idyllic village of Portmeirion is the home of Festival No.6, an intimate four-day event celebrating music, art and culture. The different areas of the festival are hosted across the village, with the Grade II listed Town Hall offering free workshops and lectures on everything from psychology to beat-boxing, while The Stone Boat - an old trading ketch originally used as a houseboat - is the place to catch live music and watch the sun set. Film screenings, live re-scores and Q&As can be found at the historic Gatehouse, located near the entrance to the village, or visit The Central Piazza, the bustling hub of the festival, where pop-up street theatre, alternative musicians and ground-breaking poets can all be found.
Don’t miss: The Lost at the Sea Bandstand, an acoustic music viewpoint overlooking the Estuary.
Curious Arts Festival
Where: Pylewell Park, the stunning grounds of a 17th-century manor house in the New Forest, Hampshire.
What to expect: Billed the UK’s most eclectic boutique festival, Curious Arts is back with another incredible line-up of events. Renowned for attracting the cream of UK and international talent, the festival offers a glittering array of the cultural, creative and curious including comedy, music and culinary excellence. Expect midnight bat walks, life drawing, cocktail masterclasses, snail racing, opera and much, much more. For the bookish, there’s a packed literary programme featuring talks by authors such as Pulitzer Prize finalist Dave Eggers, Joanna Trollope OBE and award-winning British journalist, Lynn Barber. If comedy is your thing, there’s stand up from the likes of Ed Byrne and Paul Tonkinson, while music lovers can enjoy a range of jazz, soul, rock and acoustic.
Don’t miss: The ‘up close’ opera experience in the open air.
Port Eliot Festival
Where: The rolling parklands of ancient St Germans, on South East Cornwall’s Rame Peninsula.
What to expect: The ultimate summer event for festival foodies, Port Eliot places just as much emphasis on serving high-quality cuisine as it does an outstanding line-up. You’ll find everything from humble cheese toasties and English muffins to street foods from all over the world as Michelin-trained chefs rub shoulders with local producers to bring you a fantastic array of demonstrations, workshops and gastronomical delights. When you’ve gorged to your heart’s content, there’s plenty to see and do in the beautiful grounds. Sit in on a life-changing lecture or lively debate at the Round Room, Port Eliot’s very own science hub, or browse through old records at the chilled-out spot Caught by the River. The festival also brings an eclectic musical mix in the form of familiar and acclaimed artists alongside new discoveries. Wandering through the grounds you’re just as likely to stumble upon a legendary DJ as you are a traditional ceilidh. You’ll also find a host of literary speakers, comedians and artists discussing their passions and pursuits across the festival’s multiple venues.
What not to miss: The Wardrobe Department. Located in the ancient walled garden, a gifted group of Britain’s foremost designers create clothes, accessories and make-up for festival goers.
Where: The 5000 acres of farmland and woods which make up Cornbury Park Estate in The Cotswolds.
What to expect: One of the most diverse and all-encompassing boutique festivals, Wilderness is now in its eighth year and shows no signs of slowing. With music to suit all tastes, from folk, pop and reggae to Latin beats and afro-funk, along with one of the most comprehensive food offerings on the festival scene, there’s something for everyone at Wilderness. Catch a samba band at The Carousel Stage, dine like a king at a long table banquet or make the most of the stunning surroundings with a spot of archery, foraging or fly fishing. If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the festival, visit The Sanctuary where you can take a wellbeing workshop, attend a yoga class or soothe your dancing muscles with a massage.
Don’t miss: The Wilderness Cricket Match, a time-honoured tradition in which hilarity, genius and theatrics appear in equal measure.
Where: The sprawling grounds of Charlton Park Estate in Wiltshire.
What to expect: WOMAD is a feast of music, food, art and culture from around the world, originally pioneered by Peter Gabriel, who led the first event in Shepton Mallet in 1982.
The festival is split into two areas, the first housing the Open Air Stage, which delivers the archetypal festival experience, and the All Singing All Dancing Tent where you can learn dance moves from all over the world. Set against the main area of WOMAD is the Arboretum, a spiritual area celebrating food, literature and the arts. Visit the World of Words to expand your mind with poetry readings and masterclasses, or journey to the World of Wellbeing, where a range of alternative treatments from acupressure and shiatsu to the more unusual ‘sound baths’ are on offer. Continue your cultural journey at the Global Market Place where you can enjoy street food from every continent or watch your favourite artist prepare and cook a traditional dish from their country of origin.
What not to miss: The World of Art installations.
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All imagery is credited to the indivdual festivals we are promoting