THE UK SECTION: Britain's 20 Best Summer Music Festivals

Hard rockers

June 13-15, Donington Park, Leics The mother of British hard-rock fests shows no sign of creaking bones. The headliners, Kiss, Offspring and Lostprophets, are joined by a raft of new and classic UK acts, including Judas Priest, Mot?ad, Him, Big Linda and Coheed and Cambria, plus US stars Chris Cornell and Jimmy Eat World.
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June 27-29, Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset Traffic chaos, tedious security checks, miles to trek, grotty toilets and rain practically guaranteed - but only if you are the fortunate owner of a photo pass for the UK’s most famous music festival. The breadth of the lineup is always impressive: the Verve, Kings of Leon and Jay-Z headline (the latter the first rapper ever to do so), but the tents are often better, and the fields still encourage all sorts of strange behaviour.
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July 11-13, Balado, Kinross-shire In its 14th year, Scotland’s premier festival has at last expanded to three days. Headliners the Verve and REM are joined by Kaiser Chiefs and Amy Winehouse, who insulted an entire country by failing to show for her slot last summer. As usual, there’s a high Scottish-artist count - the Fratellis, Primal Scream, KT Tunstall - while dance fans are unlikely to leave the 12,000-capacity Slam Tent.
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August 22-24, Little John’s Farm, Reading/Bramham Park, Leeds If the headliners at this year’s Glasto seem a tad underwhelming, it’s probably because this double-header has bagged the best for exclusive performances. Headliners include the Killers and Metallica (both in their only UK festival appearances this summer), as well as the still mighty Rage Against the Machine. You can also catch the revitalised Manic Street Preachers, Queens of the Stone Age, Vampire Weekend and MGMT.
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Indie kids

June 9-12, Polzeath, north Cornwall This students-only festival was launched by two twentysomethings who appeared on Dragon’s Den to get funding. The lineup includes the Wombats, the Cribs, Johnny Flynn, Does It Offend You, Yeah? and DJs Mr Scruff and Scratch Perverts. There’ll also be Farmyard Olympics and a spoof surfing championship.
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July 4-6, Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, Kent The inaugural Zoo Thousand bags this year’s prize for most original location. An hour out of London, near Hythe, the park is expected to see up to 60,000 people enjoying sets by the Cribs, Athlete, British Sea Power and Roni Size & Reprazent. Just hope that the lions like drum’n’bass.
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July 4-6, Matterley Bowl, Winchester Voted Britain’s best small festival in 2007, Blissfields has a new home in Winchester and a lineup including Roni Size, the Whip and the reformed Wonderstuff. Best for the acoustic tent and intimate atmosphere.
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July 11-13, Merton Farm, Canterbury The rustic Kent location - on a working farm, where the Cow Shed stage really is a cowshed. The bands are hardly laid-back, though: Black Kids, rock’n’rollers Art Brut, Lightspeed Champion and Dub Pistols Sound System. A new cider has been brewed for the event, too.
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July 24-27, Abbots Ripon, East Anglia This four-day festival has a random music policy - folk and funk to rock and rave, with Grace Jones headlining - and invites “creative participation” (previously, performing Shakespeare and staging custard-pie battles). This year’s theme is Revolutions of the Past, Present and Future.
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May 24 and 25, Turweston Aerodrome, Northampton Gatecrasher has always stood out for its quirky dress code: bikinis and furry legwarmers, anyone? This year, Chemical Brothers, Prodigy and CSS play live, Bloc Party try their hand at a DJ set, Guilty Pleasures preside over the cheesiest arena and there is a celebration of 20 years of acid house, featuring Kevin Saunderson, 808 State and X-Press 2. Other attractions include hip-hop and rock karaoke, a ladies’ beauty parlour and Ibiza angels on massage duty.
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June 7 and 8, Loch Ness Now in its third year, and staged four miles southwest of Inverness, on the banks of picturesque Loch Ness, Rockness boasts a lineup that includes Fatboy Slim, CSS, Razorlight and Roisin Murphy, as well as Scottish acts Calvin Harris, Mylo and the View.
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July 25 and 26, Long Marston Airfield, Warwickshire This 50,000-capacity weekender takes place largely in the dark, on a characterless airfield filled with 16 tents and arenas, so trying not to get lost is a constant challenge. Almost every type of dance music is catered for, with Moby, Mark Ronson, Roisin Murphy and Robyn playing live, as well as DJ sets from Armin Van Buuren, Ti?o, Erick Morillo and David Guetta.
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August 23 and 24, Daresbury, Halton, Cheshire The mighty dance festival celebrates its 10th anniversary with golden-oldie DJs Paul Oakenfold, Pete Tong and Sasha, as well as younger upstarts Simian Mobile Disco and the Chic veteran Nile Rodgers. Kasabian make their only UK festival appearance of the year here, Underworld show they are still going strong and Gossip strike a rare blow for the girls.
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June 20-22, Beverley Leisure Complex, Flemingate, East Yorkshire This informal festival has scooped two of the stars of the recent Radio 2 folk awards, Martin Simpson and Rachel Unthank & the Winterset. Dave Swarbrick’s Whippersnapper reform specially for Beverley’s 25th anniversary, on a bill that also includes the Buzzcocks, Chumbawamba and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Adult workshops teach singing and dancing, and there are children’s activities.
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July 6, Hop Farm Country Park, Tonbridge, Kent The man who changed the face of British festivals in the 1990s, Vince Power, returns to the scene with an independent, unbranded one-day event that all but admits he knows he spawned a monster. Neil Young is the big draw for a crowd too old to consider camping.
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July 31-August 3, Cherry Hinton Hall Grounds Renowned for its lineups and friendly atmosphere, this 44-year-old festival has never been in ruder health. This year, kd lang makes her only UK festival appearance here, the Levellers celebrate their 20th anniversary and multicultural supergroup the Imagined Village, with Martin and Eliza Carthy, Billy Bragg and Sheila Chandra, put their own spin on traditional English compositions. For younger fans, there’ll be the Mercury nominee Seth Lakeman and the wonderful Martha Wainwright.
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August 15-17, Glanusk Park, Powys, Wales This 10,000-capacity festival stages its sixth event against the backdrop of Sugar Loaf Mountain, with Super Furry Animals, Beirut, the Cave Singers, King Creosote and Iron & Wine. For the stressed, there is a healing arena; for the curious, a science centre. Children can learn how to draw or, if they’re boffins in the making, animate cartoons.
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May 30-June 1, Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire The first three years of this laid-back long-weekender were nominated for a “best family festival” award. This year’s big draw is likely to be Duffy, who joins the Proclaimers, Robyn Hitchcock and the Divine Comedy on the main stage. There will also be healing gardens, a lending library for the under7s, a Whose Line Is It Anyway?
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July 17-20, Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk Now in its third year, Latitude mixes music, literature, poetry, comedy, cabaret and theatre. Bands include FranzFerdinand, MIA and the Breeders,while the woodland-surrounded Sunrise Arena hosts New Young Pony Club. Also appearing are the comedians Bill Bailey and Rich Hall and the writers Iain Banks, Hanif Kureishi and Irvine Welsh. Children get their own art and theatre tents.
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August 1-3, Eastnor Castle Deer Park, Herefordshire One of those fortunate festivals that is almost always bathed in sunshine, Big Chill is the choice for former clubbers who now spend their spare cash on cute outfits for their kids. Leonard Cohen, Bomb the Bass and Nina Nastasia are among the music acts, Bill Bailey and the Mighty Boosh the stars of the comedy line-up,and there’ll be a film tent and DJ-helmed bars after dark.
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September 5-7, Robin Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight The hippest family-friendly festival, the lineup includes Foals, the Breeders, Aphex Twin and My Bloody Valentine. It’s fun and quirky – an annual dressing-up theme is always widely embraced, and unusual attractions include the Come Dancing Spiegeltent and the Bollywood Bar. Velvet-lined bivouacs, yurts and “podpads” are tent alternatives, and there’ll be a crèche and acrobatics for kids.
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In the city

May 27-30, various venues Part of Liverpool’s Capital of Culture programme, this four-day music festival takes place in 30 locations, from established venues such as the Carling Academy and the Cavern to car parks and churches. Indie labels Domino, Deltasonic, Moshi Moshi and Wall of Sound host parties featuring their own rosters of artists, and there will be panels with industry experts.
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June 28 and 29, Hyde Park, London Last year’s launch event was almost washed away by rain, but the bands and pricey rock memorabilia return to Hyde Park for a weekend of music for the more mature fan. Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow and John Mayer are among Saturday’s acts, while on Sunday, KT Tunstall and the Stranglers join the Police on the final date of their money-printing comeback tour.
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July 3-6, Hyde Park, London London’s largest, longest summer festival, Wireless takes place over four days and nights, with headliners Counting Crows, Fatboy Slim and Morrissey, who promises to “take Hyde Park like a flea inhabits a dog” at his only festival appearance in the UK this year. Other acts include Beck, Bootsy Collins and Ben Harper.
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August 8-10, De Montfort Hall & Gardens, Leicester This small festival, which began in 2001 as a one-day event and is broadcast live on BBC 6 Music, has Supergrass, Roisin Murphy, Simian Mobile Disco and, intriguingly, an acoustic set from the Coral. There’s also plenty to keep children entertained.
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Foreign fields

ROCKET May 16-18, Alhama de Granada, Andalusia, Spain Describing itself as Europe’s answer to Burning Man, the freaky US festival, Rocket is for those prepared to swap the cosy comforts of commercial festivals for a mountainside adventure. Drum’n’bass stars Pendulum headline a bill of ska, electro and hip-hop acts that includes Bad Manners and the Nextmen. There will also be circus, cabaret acts – and, for those brave enough, extreme sports.
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June 13-15, Athens, Greece Billed as “an innovative music, moving image and new media festival”, Synch takes place in Athens. The music is mostly electronic, with Roisin Murphy and Yo La Tengo among this year’s acts. Integral to the event are digital movies and audiovisual and art installations; pencilled in is the work of Tony Light and Graffiti Research Lab.
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3-6 July, Roskilde, Denmark Going since 1970, and one of the three biggest festivals in Europe, Roskilde has bagged Radiohead to headline, plus Neil Young, Slayer, Enter Shikari and Duffy. The events also raises huge sums for humanitarian causes and arts charities.
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July 10-13, Novi Sad, Serbia A spectacular setting in the grounds of the ancient Petrovaradin fortress, clean camp sites with internet access and phone chargers, unusually good acoustics, big-name bands and extremely cheap beer have made Exit eastern Europe’s coolest rock festival and a magnet for world-wide fans. Gossip, Gogol Bordello, MIA, Ministry, the Sex Pistols and Primal Scream play live, and there are DJ sets from Sven Vath and Deep Dish.
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July 17-20, Benicassim, Spain The beachside location, good weather and late starts give Benicassim the atmosphere of a hip holiday camp with excellent entertainment. This year’s acts include My Bloody Valentine, Jose Gonzalez, Babyshambles, Beirut, Richard Hawley, Siouxsie Sioux and Spiritualized.
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Source: TimesOnline, April 06, 2008

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