A Quick Look At 5 Top British Festivals

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21st Jul 2016




There’s nothing quite like a good English festival. Even though the weather is somewhat unpredictable, the mud is endless and the toilets are despicable, there is something magical about being at a festival in the English countryside. July is smack bang in the middle of festival season so here's a guide to our top 5…

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1. Shambala  

Shambala describes itself as a ‘pioneering, intimate and truly innovative festival’ and it is exactly that! A small diverse festival tucked away in the Northampshire countryside, Shambala features a wide variety of music, independent films, workshops, talks and debates, comedy, practical demonstrations, a speakers' corner plus much more.

This small intimate festival caters to all ages and has a line-up to suit everyones needs. Fancy dress lover? Then this one is right up your street. Every year ‘Shambalans’ (ticket holders) are given the chance to vote on a theme for the festival,  then get the chance to parade in all their glory at the ultimate dress up extravaganza - the Shambala carnival. As well as being known as a “legendary party”, it is also known for being a ‘think-tank of ideas’ and an ‘award winning green event’. This year Shambala announced they’re going meat and fish free to enhance their sustaianble festival cred - a brave move but welcomed with open arms. We salute you Shambala. 

Tip - If you’re a late night reveller, make sure you take a trip to the ‘woodland’ where you’ll find late night dj sets and a magical setting you won’t want to leave. More of a day person? Maybe Power Ballad Yoga is up your street….

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2. Glastonbury

Glastonbury. The largest greenfield festival in the world with 175,000 people descending on the Somerset site every year. It’s one of those festivals you have to go to at least once, even if you aren’t the typical festival ‘goer'. The lineups are known for being world class; legends such as David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and Johnny Cash have all graced the infamous pyramid stage, making it truly iconic.

Apart from the inevitably amazing line-up, there’s 25+ areas, each with it’s own character and special attractions. Although exploring this huge site can be exhausting, as a first timer it’s important to try a bit of everything as each area is like a mini-festival in itself. It’s important to study the line-up and area guide properly beforehand to avoid disappointment - often you realise one of your favourite acts is playing in a little tucked away tent you had no idea about! But saying that, Glastonbury is all about exploring the amazing diversity it has to offer. So as Glastonbury says….’if in doubt, just wander’

Tip - make sure to go and visit ‘The Rabbit Hole’. This hidden mystery realm is a truly immersive experience not to be missed. Follow the clues…

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3. Bestival

Bestival has won numerous awards for a great lineup and boutique style atmosphere. It was founded by Rob da Bank - an English DJ legend who from years within the music industry decided to create his own festival. Now 12 years old, it remains one of the hot tickets on the festival circuit, attracting around 60,000 people each year. Bestival is set on the beautiful Isle of Wight which makes it just that little more special; catching the ferry over just enhances the excitement (although that can’t be said for the journey back).

The ‘Grassy hill’ area plays host to the infamous fancy dress extravaganza which is quite possibly the highlight of the whole festival - get those colourful costumes out and get stuck in, you’ll regret it if you don’t.  Camping phobe? Fear not! This festival has THE best selection of boutique camping around so you can still enjoy your creature comforts… because everyone needs a kingsize bed and wardrobe.

Tip - Go book yourself a 2-hour hot-tub and sauna experience courtesy of ‘Bathing under the Sky’. This seriously brushes the cobwebs away with a much needed energy boost.

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4. Secret Garden Party

Secret Garden Party is all about embracing the chaotic, hedonistic mantra of the festival. Music takes a back-burner and slots are given to lesser known acts and older style bands. Nevertheless the music is always top-notch and dj sets are world class - ‘The Drop’ is a key place to go and get your serious groove on. Sequins are a must, and again this festival is heavily in to making your look an integral part of the experience. Saturday night plays host to an absolute corker of a fireworks displays and more importantly ‘the big burn’ - an art structure on the island in the middle of the lake which gets burned to a crisp, trailing faint whiffs of Burning Man in the air.  All in all, a place to seriously lose your inhibitions, act completely childish and get lost in the amazing surroundings of the Cambridgeshire countryside.

Tip - Dance off area is an absolute must! If weather is good, park yourself on a hay bale and watch the madness unfold. And if you’re really brave get involved and show-off those moves.

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5. T in the Park

T in the Park. Scotland’s premier music festival famed for it’s killer lineups and unforgiving weather forecasts. Set north of Glasgow in Perthshire, this festival is not for the faint hearted, however, despite resistance from the elements (and mud), it’s impossible not to get swept up in the Scottish party spirit and really let loose.

The site boasts 6 stages showcasing music’s finest artists of all genres. Famous past acts include James Brown, Oasis, The Who, Kasabian, Kings of Leon, The Stone Roses, The Prodigy and Pulp; many of whom first graced the infamous King Tuts Wah Wah tent before going on to headline the Main Stage years later. If guitars aren’t your thing then fear not; The Slam Tent hosts a range of DJ’s and dance acts from all over the globe and is sure to get your feet stomping and your heart racing. Glow sticks at the ready!

Tip - if you can manage a minute away from the music, make sure you check out the comedy tent for a spot of raw upcoming talent!

Jess Southall is Operations Director, Hub Culture