Some festival moments simply endure. Even when the booze has worn off and you’re hallucinating from the lack of sleep, something happens that simply takes your breath away. One of those times for us was the now legendary Secret Garden Party 10th birthday bash in 2012 when the planets aligned to create a stupendous scene of fireworks and fun, culminating in a two biplanes pumping out smoke to draw a heart in the sky. Every single soul on that site was drawn together in a feeling that transcended mere simulation. The real deal of together, forever.
Festivals always slap on a big dose of the special to make sure their celebration years are burned into your mind like that first time you dropped acid down the park. If you’re stuck for inspiration then these are events that are definitely worth a slice of your time, as they’ll take the cake when it comes to giving you a truly spectacular outing.
To help you choose something off your well-worn and lovingly beaten agenda, we’ve listed a ton of events that are celebrating something a bit more special than usual this year, together with a look at what you can expect from each. One thing is true across the board however – they all come with a full good time warranty and a guarantee to blow your little cotton socks right the way to oblivion.
Great Escape – 10
Want to have a weekend that’s full of before they were cool? Then the Great Escape is one place you’ll want to attend, even if you have to tunnel in. With a reputation for putting on line ups that are usually stuffed with a glut of new talent, it’s time for this event to take a look over its shoulder and summon up some of its past glories, showcasing top bands and artists from previous year’s line-ups. One of the high points is set to be Alabama Shakes returning to play the dome after their 2012 gig where they played to a paltry 400 guests. You might want to turn up early for that one.
When: 14th – 16th May
Where: Selected venues round Brighton
Strummercamp – 10
Go easy, step lightly and stay free at Strummercamp, the not for profit festival inspired by the South London guitar god Joe Strummer, famous for his involvement in 80s rockers The Clash. This independent party that first saw the light of day as Strummer Camp in a corner of a Glastonbury field are cementing their credentials as a serious player in the game with the debut of their outdoor cinema and the launch of Radio Clash. Expect a rough, raw and ready selection of sonics from the likes of The Men They Couldn’t Hang, Goldblade, King Kurt, The Wakes and Ruts DC.
When: 22nd – 24th May
Where: Manchester Rugby Club
Wireless – 10
Sometimes described as the festival for people who don’t necessarily like all the standard maxims of festival culture, with Vice Magazine touting this as a “depressing insight into the future of UK festivals.” Still, if you’re a fan of acts like Drake and Rita Ora, and you don’t mind a standard gig atmosphere then this could well be one event where the facilities and good management tick your box and do your thing. After all, we can’t all be crusty type who feels at home surfing a sea of mud and living the country life.
When: 3rd – 5th July
Where: Finsbury Park, London
Larmer Tree – 25
There are Welsh wizards and Welsh windbags. But the true Welsh wizard of windbaggery has to be the ultimate ladies’ man Tom Jones. This solid gold performer is obviously taking time out of his Las Vegas show-time schedule to grace the Larmer Tree with his presence, making this one of the true must see moments of the summertime. They’ve even put on an extra day in his honour. Need we say more? There’s plenty of Folk, World Music, Blues, Jazz and Reggae kicking off, but yeah – Tom Jones.
When: 15th – 19th July
Where: Larmer Tree Gardens, Wiltshire
Latitude – 10
One of our personal favourites and regular feature at the UK Festival Awards, where it bagged the best line up award back in 2013. With a truly schizophrenic blend of entertainment – the word eclectic simply doesn’t do it justice – you can take in everything from Ballet through to Bedwetter Indie. With an election inspired For Richer or Poorer theme and a selection of their favourite headliners from past years, this is one of the parties we’re truly drooling over. Not content to rest on their laurels either there’s a new chill out zone where you can rest your aching head during the sunny days and party on through the night. Noel Gallagher’s new band the High Flying Birds, Portishead, SBTRKT and The Vaccines are all set to make it another biggie.
When: 16th – 19th July
Where: Southwold, Suffolk
Beat-Herder – 10
Like the free party scene? Want to drink down a heady dose of anarchy, hedonism and that sense of electric freedom you’re only get when you pulse reaches 200 beats per minute and the whole universe starts smiling at you? Then Beat Herder’s 10th birthday party is without question one event you’ll want to attend. With custom built stages and a fancy dress theme based around the letter E, there’s a good chance you won’t stop dancing until your feet fall off. With unstoppable audio from the likes of scene stalwarts Basement Jaxx together with all the Electro Swing you can handle from Parov Stellar, as well as Mr Scruff, The Sugar Hill Gang and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, this is more than enough party to handle.
When: 17th – 19th July
Where: The Ribble Valley, Lancashire
Kendal Calling – 10
One of the North’s most popular family events, Kendal Calling has decided to skip the sounds back ten years with their fancy dress theme. They’ve expanded the capacity and put on an extra day’s worth of entertainment in a bid to leave every single guest and attendee with a week-long hangover and a ton of new anonymous numbers in their smartphone. A call has gone out for all kinds of creative party starters to help them in their quest to make this a truly innovative affair. Line up wise you can sip on your gin and juice with Snoop Dogg, predict a riot with the Kaiser Chiefs, and when it’s all too much, sit down with Factory records’ favourite James.
When: 30th July – 2nd August
Where: Lowther Estate, Cumbria
Standon Calling – 10
You have to say these boys and girls have done well. A party that started life as a naughty weekend in the back of mum and dad’s garden whilst they were off tanning themselves on the Costa del Cliché has now evolved into one of the coolest camps of the summer. Expect raves in the cowshed, cooling off at the swimming pool and a theme that’s perfect for those of you out there with a split personality. Be a Gold Rush cowboy in the daytime, before transforming into a robot freak for the night-time high-jinks with an exclusive set from The Dandy Warhols together with Roots Manuva and Hercules and the Love Affair.
When: 31st July – 2nd August
Where: Standon, Hertfordshire
Y Not – 10
This one takes place at the peak of summer in the Peak District, providing a genre hopping, eclectic mix of sound with a new audio delight around every corner. Sound a bit like an overstuffed affair in a maxed out party house? That’s exactly where Y Not began, growing into the 8,000 attendee monster that still manages to embrace the loving, carefree vibe you get from an intimate all-under-one-roof event. When you’re not listening to the sounds, you can fall away into some of the most stunning views on the scene, before returning to the main stages where you can drink down the sweet sonics of Primal Scream, Ocean Colour Scene, Less than Jake and one time Smiths’ guitar jockey Johnny Marr.
When: 31st July – 2nd August
Where: Pikehall, Derbyshire
Farmfestival – 10
At Farmfestival wearing a hat of sorts is compulsory, and we don’t know what kind of punishment they’re doling out for non-compliance. So put on your best tile and strut on down to Farmfestival where the theme is Flashback Fever, without the Vietnam War veterans. This is much more of a retrospective glance back into the days when sound was comprised of sequins, glitz and vinyl across two turntables. Expect a totally inclusive vibe from an event that’s known for its friendly ethos and main stage converted from a lorry trailer purchased for 50p on eBay back in their second full year running. With comedy, spoken word and party games that are set to include a giant present wrapping you might forget about the music, which is set to include favourites like Lamb, Nightmares on Wax, Lonelady and Portico.
When: 31st July – 1st August
Where: Bruton, Somerset
V Festival – 20
Want established fun that’s carved out a perma-place on the UK festival calendar? Then you’re looking at the twentieth birthday party of the V Festival. This year sees the welcome return of the Dance Music tent which has been on holiday – possibly in Ibiza – for the last few years. Expect Pop mainstream with a few acts thrown in to attract the cool beard-sporting types on what promises to be a true no expense spared extravaganza. Some of the biggest names in music are splashed across the line up including Kasabian, Calvin Harris, The Stereophonics, and everyone’s favourite singers Sam Smith and Olly Murs.
When: 22nd – 23rd August
Where: Hylands Park, Chelmsford and Weston Park, Staffordshire
Ghostfest – 10
If you’re a serious metal-head, you’ve probably been getting slightly disconsolate about the lack of events that cater towards your sound on the list. Thankfully not too little, nor too late, Ghostfest brings you all the head-banging you could possibly want – across two different city destinations. Those who subsist in the grim, raw North can choose to take in the party in Leeds and if you’re lucky enough to live it large in the sexy South then take in the Ghostfest Glory in beautiful Bristol.
When: 5th – 6th September
Where: Leeds University and Motion, Bristol
All you need now is a pack of party hats and a present for the big day. Remember to be on your best behaviour, although you won’t be getting any free beer as the drinks will all be on you. So if you’re looking for a bit of a change from your usual carousel of UK based events, this could be a fine time to dip your toes into something a little bit different. After all, you could end up at the party of the summer with that beautiful I was there smile on your lips, whilst your friends frantically wonder about booking tickets for an event that will never be quite the same again.