UK festivals are a great way to enjoy the summer- offering the perfect combination of live music, sunny days and good beers, food, and friends. Everyone knows Glastonbury, but want to know some less exaggerated UK festivals? This article outlines those that have kept true to their roots – embracing the alternative, creative, hippy values that made festivals exceptional in the first place.
Beautiful Days is one of the top UK festivals
If you haven’t heard of this festival, you’ve probably heard of the Levellers. If you haven’t heard of the Levellers, you’ve still probably heard their song – what a beautiful day. And this is what it offers – beautiful days. Based in the heart of Devon, surrounded by stunning countryside, this is a festival of simple life enjoyment.
Created by the Levellers in 2003, the 80s Brighton rock band decided festivals needed to return to their hippy culture roots. They said the original weirdness and wackiness had become lost to corporate organization. So they stepped in to restore real festival culture.
It truly is all about the music – they accept no sponsorship or advertising. More than any other festival, Beautiful Days is genuinely and authentically revolved around just performing and listening. No distractions, no capitalizing – just pure, raw talented bands with no agenda.
Based near the small town of Ottery St Mary, the festival is fiercely local – supporting nearby business and celebrated as one of the top UK festivals for families. Don’t be misled; Beautiful Days is not cutesy acoustic. It just celebrates all things alternative. Whether that be punk, electro, pop, rock or folk – it’s available to anyone.
Want to just chill and listen to great music without the wild, party distractions of other festivals? Beautiful Days is the place for you.
Another one of the UK festivals tightly bound up with its roots; WOMAD has risen from humble beginnings organically and successfully. Stemming from pure creativity, it focuses on more than just music – standing for the World of Music, Arts, and Dance. Indeed, it covers all artistic values – from painting to tree climbing, drum circles to Qigong. If you can think of it, WOMAD probably has already.
It has a clear and definite ethos, namely: to enthuse about the world without boundaries – one able to connect through music and movement. It has filled itself with many areas celebrating different arts. The World of Words is dedicated to spoken word and poetry, as well as hosting a book club, library, talks, and discussions. The World of Wellbeing offers various types of yoga, meditation, and general body & mind activities – there’s even a spa. WOMAD is what it promotes: a whole world showing the positive possibilities of creativity.
One of the greatest appeals of WOMAD is its focus on the importance of cultural exchange. The Taste the World section, promotes world recipes by having bands themselves cook up traditional food of their home countries. And, bands like the Madagascar Orchestra use only native instruments – teaching and promoting social diversity. If you want an experience of liberal values and celebrating the finer things in life, go to WOMAD. Where the new age hippies roam – fresh tastes await and much, soul-nourishing music is found.
Hidden among the hills of the Welsh Brecon Beacons, the Green Man festival illuminates this peaceful landscape. By embracing the folksy, bohemian vibe, its values harmonize with the natural beauty around it. Deep in the heart of Wales, it promotes rustic values – local, non-corporate and ethical.
Secure with its Welsh roots, there is an underlying Celtic feel to the place. Everywhere is an air of mystery – secret shows take place in hidden venues, only found by wandering. You can choose your route and pace. Take it easy or stay up all night partying – Green Man is one of the UK festivals that accommodates both. Be sure to relax in the early evening air, before the mystical night begins. Sit outside your tent and watch a red sky sunset sink beneath the hills. On Sunday night, the massive, green man cob sculpture sets on fire. In this impressive display, underlying suggestions of Pagan roots fully reveal themselves. Embrace it – and watch the hippies go wild.
With seventeen stages, this festival is well spread out. Green Man offers the perfect balance of intimacy and diversity – large enough to get lost in but small enough to find your way again. The festival celebrates literature, film, poetry, comedy, and theater. And, of course, all of this is framed by the live music in the background. Be sure to check out the line up before, as you will probably know some key names. But the intimacy of this festival allows you to wander around, follow alluring sounds and discover new bands for yourself. It’s the best part – no pressure to be anywhere, just catching the moments you stumble across.
You never know what you will find at Latitude. Another great of the many UK festivals – wacky and wonderful. It changes every year through a spontaneous, impulsive nature; the festival remains consistent only in its constant excellence. Full of cultural diversity, artistic spontaneity, and creative development, you never know what to expect.
Some stages lie beneath the canopies of trees, playing chilled music in the middle of the woods. In small gigs, unfamiliar voices invite you to follow them as rising talents, staying with you after the festival ends. One stage is for BBC Radio 6 – known for its alternative music taste and cult following. You’ll even find a woodland tent turned Russian style cottage. It will welcome you with tea, games, live music and late night dancing.
Wild and indefinable dance performances are there to be watched. Space is also given to comedy – featuring big names and memorable performances. Writers also play their part, promoting wisdom, as well as weirdness. You will find poet laureates sharing the same stage as rappers, cabaret artists following DJs. Classical, jazz and country joins the traditional folk music of Latitude. This one of the most varied of all UK festivals. It offers a sweet blend of appreciation for the oldies – classic bands and timeless tunes – with new, innovative movements.
UK festivals are a summer highlight. They can be a place of creativity, energy, and joy. But so many have lost their meaning in getting as high and drunk as possible. Some inflict the pressure – go hard or to go home. With these? Nope, take it easy. The grass isn’t churned up but fresh and inviting you to lie on it. Feel free to do so and listen to genuinely good music all day long at these understated UK festivals.