Itching to get a festival ticket, but not sure where to choose? Read on for a selection of the best of this summer’s festivals, both local and further afield.
Meadowlands Festival: 27-29 May
Set in the grounds of a stunningly beautiful Elizabethan manor house in the middle of the South Downs, Meadowlands brings you three days of music spanning a wide range of genres. Sixty bands and DJs on three stages come together to create an “eclectic and fascinating” sound. Headliners include Turin Brakes, Penguin Café, Hot Club de Paris, Aim and Foy Vance, as well as local talent Two Spot Gobi. Tickets are £80 from meadowlandsfestival.com.
Sonisphere Festival: 8-10 July
Calling all metalheads! Sonisphere is back, with another incredible line-up. For the first time ever in the UK, all of the big four – Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax – are brought together to headline the festival in Knebworth, near London. What’s more, when buying your ticket through seetickets you’re in with a chance to win the “ultimate Sonisphere package”: VIP ticket upgrades, guest bar passes, backstage tours, Sonisphere goodies and a pair of tickets to Sonisphere Poland with flights included! Visit www2.seetickets.com/sonisphere and enter the Brighton-specific code SF83S to be entered into the no-catch draw.
Secret Garden Party: 21-24 July
Marketed more as a “temporary community” than a festival, Secret Garden Party is all about fantasy, creativity and meeting new people. As the website says, “to truly understand Secret Garden you must walk through the gates as if Monday was never destined to arrive and everyone you are about to meet will be the love of your life”. The music won’t fail to disappoint either: Leftfield, The Mystery Jets and Blondie are amongst those set to perform this year, across four days and an incredible fifteen stages. Tickets are still available from secretgardenparty.com for £155+bf.
Playgroup Festival: 5-7 August
Bringing “three days of beautiful mayhem” to Eridge Green – a small village halfway between Brighton and London – Playgroup Festival includes all the pros of a bigger festival with none of the cons! Restricted to just 2,000 guests and incorporating elements from Secret Garden Party, Shambala, Burning Man and Bestival, Playgroup creates the same magical, creative atmosphere, but without the huge toilet queues and ridiculous walk back to your tent. With possibly the most diverse music selection of any festival of its size, Playgroup offers a “tapas menu” of high-quality musicians and DJs, many of them home-grown. Expect to hear anything from folk to funk, ska to samba, gypsy swing to glitch-hop! Tickets are selling fast; available for £77+bf from playgroupfestival.com.
Boomtown Fair: 11-14 August
In a beautiful secret location near Southampton, Boomtown is like no other festival… because it’s set up to look like an actual town! Second-to-none in terms of décor, impressive wooden structures painted to look like houses fit together to form streets, behind which you can find stages, workshops and many other weird and wonderful things. The festival becomes truly spectacular at night; a wander through its winding paths throw up surreal sculptures (some of them moving!), street performers, light shows and a variety of other weird and beautiful things. Reggae, ska and roots fans will find the line-up particularly appealing, with Gogol Bordello, Barrington Levy, Capleton and Caravan Palace headlining, but a wide mix of sounds ensures that even the most obscure tastes will be catered for. To see the rest of the line-up and purchase tickets (£93) see boowntownfair.co.uk.
Bestival: 8-11 September
Well-known for its fancy dress tradition, this September Bestival will be transforming Robin Hill with a population of rock stars, pop stars and divas. The festival’s fun, easy-going atmosphere attracted a whopping 55,000 people last year, cementing its reputation as one of the UK’s most popular festivals. This year the music has taken a distinctly electronic turn, with the likes of Pendulm, Magnetic Man, Skream + Benga, DJ Shadow and Katy B on the list, but as always there is a healthy mix of pop, rock, reggae and cheese, amongst others, with The Cure, Primal Scream, The Maccabees, Fatboy Slim, Noah and the Whale, Toots and the Maytals and even the Village People performing. Tickets are priced at £160 for students (£170 otherwise) +bf, payable either up-front or by payment plan. See bestival.net for details.
Shakedown Festival: 17 September
Just a stone’s throw away from the Sussex campus in Stanmer Park, Shakedown is a one-day event with a huge line-up: Razorlight, Example, 2 Many DJs, Zane Lowe, Kissy Sell Out… the list goes on. And if ten hours of live music isn’t enough for you, some of Brighton’s biggest clubs are organising massive afterparties. Earlybird tickets are still available for £35+bf, or VIP tickets including fast-track entrance, a private bar and private toilet area for £40 extra. See shakedown.co.uk for more information.