This Summer’s Best Festivals

Secret Garden Party
23rd-26th July, UK

It began in 2004 with a mere 1000 people in attendance and its organisers either naked or splashing about with the best of ‘em in the lake at daybreak. Since then the festival’s numbers have steadily increased and received the accolades by Radio 1, being named ‘Best British Festival’ in 2007. Despite its growing popularity, it manages to maintain its ‘anything-goes’ attitude and the creative creators are encouraging us all not just to buy tickets, but to participate. Make a costume! Make some art! Make something! This year the line-up includes Jarvis Cocker. EC

1st-2nd August, UK

Sonisphere, a brand new two-day metal festival, hits Knebworth near Stevenage in early August, bringing with it thousands of metalheads with gradually deteriorating hygiene, gallons of alcohol, and, most importantly, a cracking line-up. With Metallica and Linkin Park headlining, and support from acts like Bullet for My Valentine, Avenged Sevenfold, Machine Head and Lamb of God, organisers Kilimanjaro Live haven’t held back in creating a line-up that truly rivals Download. However Sonisphere comes in at just £2.50 less than Download, which boasts a larger lineup and an extra day. Nevertheless, with more bands and an extra stage to be announced, Sonisphere is already shaping up to be a fantastic weekend. ML

24th-26th July, UK

With its Genesis in the 80s, WOMAD (aka Peter Gabriel’s baby – get the joke? It’s elusive, you’ll get there…) is probably Britain’s oldest and most successful world music festival. It also takes place in Spain and Abu Dhabi boasting music from Ethiopia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Mali – and good ol’ Solomon Burke. It’s family friendly – but don’t let that put you off. It’s really relaxed and there are many interesting people, loads of art and a cook-off tent! Not for kids who want to get messy, but if you want to hear some new sounds and experience something a bit different, WOMAD is for you! EC

The Open House Festival
September, UK

The Open House Festival is a much more euphonious way to pass Freshers’ Week than either following the hordes of bloody lads to Isis or being patronised by the High Society’s “alternative” efforts. Its five days of bluegrass, old-time, folk, blues, honky-tonk and rockabilly music scattered across a myriad of venues in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. You may not know many of the acts, but Seasick Steve played here for years before he got big. This year’s headliners include Steve Earle, Beth Orton and Foy Vance.There’s also the three-day ChilliFest and masterclasses by the acts, many of whom take to playing in the street just for the hell of it, and as you buy tickets for each show individually (priced £5 to £25), you aren’t shelling out to subsidise acts you can’t see/hate. AM

12th-14th June, UK

They’ve really pulled it out of the bag this year. Legendary God-Fathers of Nu-Metal, Faith No More, will reform to headline in their first show for 11 years, whilst Slipknot are returning to English festival soil with a sharp point to prove after cancelling their apprearance at Reading last year. To top the weekend off veteran heavy metallers Def Leopard will close the celebrations with their first Donington performance in 23 years. Phwoar! For those who have been living under a boulder at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean for the past six years, Download is a world renowned prestigious metal festival situated just down the road at Donington. Joining the headliners are Marilyn Manson, Pendulum, The Prodigy, Korn, Whitesnake, Limp Bizkit, Motley Crue, Trivium, Papa Roach, Opeth and many more. See you in the pit? RN

18th-20th June, Spain

Anyone for a sophisticated mash-up? Sónar is back again for its annual dose of electronic music of the most bestest kind. The line-up is, once again, smashing – confirmed headliners include Orbital, Grace Jones and Fever Ray. It’s generally ahead of other festivals in its choice of music, so if you’re into being ‘cool’ and ‘ahead of the crowds’ then you’ll love it. Plus, you get to stay in hotels or rent apartments, so you can be clean and fresh at a festival for once (hence “sophisticated mash-up”)! Accommodation can prove a bit pricey – but it’s totally worth it and the music happens day AND night so you can pick and choose! EC

16th-19th July, Spain

If you like being on the beach and you like music, then chances are you’ll like Benicassim. Most people tend to sleep or chill out on the beach in the day as music doesn’t start till late and lasts most of the night. A ticket (£67-160) entitles you to camp on the site from the 13th to the 21st of July, so unlike most festivals it doesn’t have to begin and end with the bands. Headliners this year include Kings of Leon, Oasis, Franz Ferdinand and the Killers, so if you feel like swapping Glastonbury mud for Barcelona sunshine then this one’s for you! AB

2nd-11th July, Italy

Aiming to bring a slice of Jamaica to Europe, Sunsplash is one of the largest reggae and dub festivals in Europe, bringing together over 150 000 people for more than just music. The 9 day festival offers a packed schedule of film screenings, debates, photo exhibitions, capoeiria, African dance, creative workshops, and MUCH much more. If that doesn’t tempt you than perhaps the performances of Alborosie, Capleton, Buju Banton and the New York Ska Jazz Ensemble will. Definitely a big chillout festival, we guarantee you won’t find anywhere better to skank to de riddem. EL

Dour Festival
16th-19th July, Belgium

When Belgium’s Dour festival began in 1989 there were only 8 bands on the bill. It’s come a long way since then: last year 144,000 people turned up over its 4 days to watch 200 bands on 6 stages. Dubbing itself ‘the European alternative music event for music lovers’, it boasts acts from across the genres of rock, electro, reggae, punk and hip-hop. This year’s highlights include Pet Shop Boys, Animal Collective, Mercury Rev, Aphex Twin, Crystal Castles, Rusko and Roots Manuva. Only 3% of last year’s crowd were English, so this may be the one to go to if you want a genuine European experience. JH


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