Best of British Festivals

We may not be blessed with great weather, but Britain has definitely got some of the best festivals in the world. Who says you can’t look good in wellies anyway?

ENGLAND: Glastonbury

Following two days of excessive alcohol consumption and revelry, the Friday at Glastonbury saw many looking for bands to cure their hangovers. Kicking off the Pyramid stage, Irish rockers Two Door Cinema Club justified their media hype with a rousing performance, whilst later Biffy Clyro delivered a show worthy of a headline act. Elsewhere, The Wombats got the crowd dancing in the mud, before the rain returned in earnest in the evening. This failed to deter the masses, with U2 winning over their sceptics and Mumford & Sons uniting the crowd in a mass sing-along. On Saturday, Yuck entertained those sheltered from the weather, before the sun finally broke through the clouds for Friendly Fires’ fittingly Hawaiian themed show and a secret appearance from Pulp. By the time Coldplay’s fireworks erupted, the atmosphere was euphoric. Blue skies appeared on Sunday, which gave way for a dazzling Beyonce set, whilst others ‘moshed’ to Queens of the Stone Age or witnessed The Streets perform their final Glasto set. All brought the weekend to a close in style, with the unique Glastonbury spirit continuing long into the early hours, leaving some to wonder how on earth we will survive the two-year wait until it returns.


Strolling into the Punchestown Racecourse in the Old Country, I was instantly taken aback by the sheer mass of Irish campers all suited and booted for a weekend of intense frivolities. The Strokes delivered their effortlessly cool driving indie on Friday night, which appeased the crowds who were being harassed by the merciless wind and rain. Their classic set was followed by Swedish House Mafia, a personal highlight; they sent the crowd instantly into an orgy of euphoric madness with their pulsating light show and uplifting beats. Saturday night was all about Arctic Monkeys and Foo Fighters, who both showcased their lavish rock talents and succeeded in launching the main stage crowd into action. Heads were more than a bit sore by Sunday but upon witnessing a triumphant closing set by Coldplay, with a guest appearance from Christy Moore for ‘Ride On’, the mass exodus was enveloped by a colossal Irish sing-along, the perfect way to end an amazing festival.

SCOTLAND: Edinburgh Festival

On arrival in Edinburgh, I realised that no amount of planning could have prepared me for the chaotic charisma that the Celtic city had to offer. From blues to burlesque and classical to cabaret, I couldn’t help but wander into numerous impromptu performances whilst being continually bombarded on the street by young, budding performers eagerly promoting their shows. A personal highlight was watching remarkable acoustic guitarist, Andy McKee, perform his dazzling three hour set, followed by an entrancing late night performance from the young singer, Camille O’Sullivan. Despite its world-renowned reputation for comedy, the vast array of talented musicians was equally exceptional. From small acoustic performances by amateur university groups to dazzling musical theatre and opera, the high standard and impressive variety was enough to draw thousands to the North. The festival provided a sumptuous menu of delectable treats, and although it was impossible to try them all, the taster of each different venue, genre and style was more than enough to satisfy my appetite.

WALES: Beach Break Live

2011 proved to be Beach Break Live’s best year so far. The biggest student festival in the UK created a unique party atmosphere and with anything from snowboard freestyle competitions to pole dancing lessons, students were instantly immersed in the action from the moment of arrival. Ed Sheeran and Professor Green got the first night off to a dream start, followed by Tinie Tempah, who used his full arsenal of crowd pleasers to wow the rain-soaked crowd. Zane Lowe closed the evening with a phenomenal set in ‘Merlin’s Forest’ to a packed out dance tent. The weekend continued with standout sets from Example, Sub Focus, Shy FX, Beardyman and Newton Faulkner. The final evening was arguably the best, with dubstep giants Magnetic Man pulling out all the stops, whipping the crowd up into the biggest frenzy the ‘Dell Mainstage’ had seen. Afterwards, DJ Yoda and Mark Ronson put the fun back into the dance tent for the final few hours of BBL 2011.

Rob McClurey , Jack Gilbert, Rebecca Hutter & Will Bryan

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