♦ Edinburgh festivals mark 70th anniversaries with summer of celebration.
Edinburgh’s famous International Festival and Festival Fringe are celebrating their 70th anniversaries this year, with Scotland’s capital city transformed through music, dance, drama, comedy, and more. Both of the festivals will run between 4 and 28 August 2017.
The Edinburgh International Festival will celebrate its 70th with a packed programme, including a special collaboration with the British Council called Spirit Of 47. This will celebrate the depth and quality of international cultural collaboration, and will feature artists from countries including Syria, Iran, Pakistan, America, Chile, and many more.
Among its programme highlights:
• Macbeth was the very first opera to be performed at the International Festival in 1947, and returns this year in a major new production performed by the festival’s resident company Teatro Regio of Turin.
• British musician PJ Harvey will be giving two concerts. Backed by a nine-piece band, the multi-award winner will be performing tracks from critically-acclaimed album The Hope Six Demolition Project, and her back catalogue.
• Acclaimed playwright Alan Ayckbourn’s new two-part play The Divide will have its world premiere. Set 100 years in the future, it tells of a world where contact between men and women is fatal, so they are forcibly separated by a divide.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, meanwhile, will mark 70 years of defying the norm, inviting spectators from the around the world to join its ‘alliance of defiance’ and celebrate freedom of expression.
Among its programme highlights:
• Scottish comedian Craig Ferguson, who last performed at the fringe 24 years ago before finding fame in the US fronting The Late Late Show on CBS for ten years, will host his radio show in front of a live audience.
• British comedian and TV presenter Sue Perkins (of Great British Bake Off fame) brings her sparkling wit and favourite stories to the festival stage.
• Irvine Welsh, the creator of Trainspotting, is behind two shows which feature in the programme, one of which, Creatives, is described as a darkly comic "pop-opera" examining the contemporary music industry.
♦ Some of the major music festivals in the United Kingdom.
Britain hosts hundreds of music festivals all year round, with several to choose from every weekend of the summer. Some of the best known are listed below, with the 2017 dates given where available.
International Blues on the Bay, Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland (usually) in May.
This five-day international blues and jazz music festival in Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland, is one of Europe’s leading blues festivals with jam sessions and workshops. Van Morrison headlined in 2015 and played two special gigs in 2016; 2017 will be the event’s 19th anniversary. www.bluesonthebay.co.uk
Getting there: Warrenpoint, a lovely seaside town close to the border with the rest of Ireland, is best reached by car from Belfast; it takes about an hour.
Glastonbury, Somerset, south-west England: 21 – 25 June 2017
High up on many a bucket list, Glastonbury is the largest festival of its kind in the world and tickets tend to sell out in minutes. In order to get one, you need to register, and then there’s an element of luck around whether you’ll grab tickets when sales begins. 2016 saw Adele headline the festival, but it’s as much about the tiny tents housing upcoming acts and the festival characters sporting eye-popping outfits as it is about big names. www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk
Getting there: The nearest railway station is Castle Cary (train times vary, it can take between 90 minutes and two hours 30 minutes from London); there’s a free shuttle bus to the festival from the station.
Isle of Wight Festival, south-east England usually in June.
The Isle of Wight has great musical heritage stretching back to Bob Dylan (1969) and Jimi Hendrix (1970). 2016 saw The Who, Queen + Adam Lambert, Stereophonics and Faithless hit the stage. www.isleofwightfestival.com
Getting there: a train from London Waterloo to Portsmouth or Southampton takes around 90 minutes. From either port there are re gular ferries to the Isle of Wight.
T in the Park, Perthshire, Scotland (usually) in July.
Scotland’s biggest music festival consists of over three days of fun, music and dancing. This year Kasabian, Avicii and Stereophonics took on the main stages in Scotland. In 2016, Scotland’s biggest music festival had Calvin Harris, The Stone Roses and Red Hot Chilli Peppers as headline acts, plus many more barnstorming bands over the three dance-filled days. www.tinthepark.com
Getting there: There are official coach providers that take you to the festival, which is approximately one hour 15 minutes by road from Edinburgh.
Latitude, Suffolk, east England: 13 – 16 July 2017.
A family friendly festival in the east of England that has established itself as one of the classic festivals of the summer, with music, comedy and an excellent children’s arena. It’s also a very green festival, based in idyllic Suffolk surroundings, famously containing sheep specially dyed all the colors of the rainbow. In 2015, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds rock the stage. 2016’s line-up saw The Maccabees and New Order hit the Obelisk Arena, as well as plenty of other musical magic across the super-scenic festival site. www.latitudefestival.co.uk
Getting there: Halesworth is the nearest train station. Trains take around two hours from London and there are festival buses to take you to the site.
The Hebridean Celtic Festival, Isle of Lewis, Scotland: 19 - 22 July 2017.
The Hebridean Celtic Festival is a multi-venue event on the island of Lewis: the two main locations are the An Lanntair arts center and the grounds of Lews Castle. There’s live Celtic music ‘tinged with contemporary traditional, rock, indie-folk and world influences’ to enjoy alongside spectacular scenery and architecture. www.hebceltfest.com
Getting there: You can fly to Stornoway from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness; there are also ferries from Ullapool.
Secret Garden Party, east England: 20 – 23 July 2017.
No longer a secret, Secret Garden Party in Cambridgeshire sells out fast, so if a wild long weekend of partying to amazing live acts, dressing up in crazy costumes, fireworks and illuminations, wild swimming and the odd paint fight appeals, snap your tickets up now. www.secretgardenparty.com
Getting there: Abbots Ripton is approximately one hour 40 minutes’ drive from London, or take a train to Huntingdon – one hour from London – and a shuttle bus to the festival.
Womad, Wiltshire, south-west England, 27 – 30 July 2017
The world comes to Wiltshire, south-west England, for three glorious days of music, parades, amazing food and much more (2016’s programme featured a Physics Pavilion, for the more cerebral festival-goer). In 2016 the global festival put on 200 performances by 90 artists from 49 countries, spanning Russian throat singers to New Orleans brass bands, the ‘screaming eagle of soul’ Charles Bradley to the all-girl Malian supergroup Les Amazones d’Afrique. www.womad.co.uk
Getting there: Charlton Park is close to Chippenham station, which is just over an hour from London by rail.
Rebellion, Blackpool, north-west England: 3 – 6 August 2017.
Punk lives on at this festival, held in the Lancashire seaside resort of Blackpool. West Coast US punk legends Fear performed in 2016. English punk band Angelic Upstarts, Scottish art-punk rockers The Skids and Sham 69 have been confirmed to perform in 2017. Safety pins and ready-ripped trousers are on sale in the market for those who want to look the part. www.rebellionfestivals.com
Getting there: trains from London take just under three hours, changing at Preston, while it takes one hour by direct train from Manchester.
Wilderness, Oxfordshire, England: 3 – 6 August 2017.
A fantastical festival with a difference set in ancient parkland in the Oxfordshire countryside (sister festival to the Secret Garden Party in Cambridgeshire, east England). It’s for those who want more than music: you can catch theatre, debates, horse riding, a spa and gourmet food. Nils Frahm, Bombino and Ben Howard were 2015 highlights. In 2016 Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters and The Flaming Lips graced the musical stages, while Raymond Blanc and Skye Gyngell were two of the chefs providing long-table banquets. www.wildernessfestival.com
Getting there: 70 miles from London. There’s a direct train to the village of Charlbury from Oxford; it takes around 16 minutes.
Green Man, Brecon Beacons, south Wales usually in August.
Taking place in the gorgeous Brecon Beacons National Park, Green Man has become a highlight of the summer since its inception in 2003. The event presents a live soundtrack to four days and nights of festival magic located among the otherworldly Black Mountains. The 2016 line-up included Belle & Sebastian, James Blake and Laura Marling. There’s also Green Man Rising for budding musicians, so bring along your guitar! www.greenman.net
Getting there: Green Man recommends travelling by coach to the festival, where you are dropped off directly at the site; alternatively, the closest train station is Abergavenny and there are shuttle buses from there. Abergavenny is approximately two hours 15 minutes from London.
V Festival, Essex and Staffordshire, England: 19 and 20 August 2017.
One of the year’s most popular events and always attracting big commercial names to two different sites over one weekend, Hylands Park in Chelmsford, Essex, southeast England and Weston Park in south Staffordshire, in England’s Midlands region. 2017’s line-up has yet to be announced but should attract big names like previous years, including Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Kings of Leon, Stereophonics, Calvin Harris and more. www.vfestival.com
Getting there: Chelmsford is a half-hour train ride from London. Weston Park is close to Stafford and Wolverhampton train stations, which are both just under two hours from London.
Belsonic, Belfast, Northern Ireland, in August.
This outdoor music festival has taken place in August at the Custom House Square in Belfast, Northern Ireland, since 2008. Recently it moved to the impressive Titanic Belfast. Stereophonics, Rudimental, Bastille and Duke Dumont all headlined in 2015. There were two editions of the festival in 2016, with Chemical Brothers, Tiësto, Faithless and more in June, and The Corrs, Madness and Fatboy Slim in August. www.belsonic.com
Getting there: There are regular flights to Belfast from London and other British cities.
Reading & Leeds Festival, England: 25 – 27 August 2017.
Britain’s premier rock music festival, featuring global acts uniquely performing at both locations over three days. The event allows 100,000 revelers at Reading and more than 80,000 at Leeds to experience global rock superstars. Mumford & Sons and Bastille were on their line-ups in 2015; Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Biffy Clyro in 2016. www.leedsfestival.com, www.readingfestival.com
Getting there: Reading is 25 minutes from London by train and it takes just over two hours to reach Leeds by train.
Victorious Festival, Portsmouth, south England: 25 – 27 August 2017
Tinie Tempah, Basement Jaxx, Ella Eyre and Ray Davies all headlined the Victorious Festival in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on the south coast of England in 2015, Manic Street Preachers, Annie Mac and Emmy The Great in 2016. This urban festival is relaxed, with deckchairs, Astroturf, street entertainers, and a fun Friday night opening party in the pipeline. www.victoriousfestival.co.uk
Getting there: it takes just over 90 minutes to reach Portsmouth by train from London.
End of the Road Festival, Dorset, south-west England: 31 August – 3 September 2017.
Beautiful surroundings for mainly a folk, Americana and psych/alternative rock line-up; 2016’s event welcomed acts including Joanna Newsom, Bat for Lashes, Devendra Banhart and Cat Power. The festival takes place at Larmer Tree Gardens in north Dorset. www.endoftheroadfestival.com.
Getting there: The nearest train station is the cathedral city of Salisbury; trains from London take around 90 minutes and then there is a shuttle bus.
Festival Number 6, Portmeirion, north Wales: 2017 dates TBC (usually September).
Stunningly located, Festival No. 6 takes place in Portmeirion Village (the festival’s name is an insider reference for those who’ve seen cult 60s TV show The Prisoner, which was filmed there). As well as big name music acts there’s entertainment of all kinds, from carnivals to comedians, as well as delicious street food to fuel the party. Not a camping fan? There’s a plush hotel in the village, so you don’t have to assemble your festival outfit in a tent! www.festivalnumber6.com
Getting there: Past festivals have featured a dedicated No. 6 Express train to Bangor from Crewe (approximately one hour 30 minutes from London), on which there are surprises and freebies given to guests to get the party started. Portmeirion is approximately two hours by road from Liverpool
Bestival, Isle of Wight, south-east England: 7 – 10 September 2017.
Four days of live music and premier league DJs, Bestival is one of Britain’s most colorful festivals, with dressing up encouraged. From the most original boutique campsite experience to the Bollywood Cocktail Bar, fancy dress en masse and even a Roller Disco, it’s this kind of uniqueness that makes Bestival a world of discovery on the Isle of Wight. 2015 saw Duran Duran, The Chemical Brothers and The Jacksons take the stage. 2016 The Cure, Major Lazer, Sean Paul, Hot Chip and Diplo. www.bestival.net
Getting there: a train from London Waterloo to Portsmouth or Southampton takes around 90 minutes. From either port there are regular ferries to the Isle of Wight.
© Adapted from Visit Britain. Last updated: November 2016.