Music

The UK’s six best alternative music festivals

Posted by
Danielle Richardson
Published

Whether you’re worried Glasto is becoming a little too middle-of-the-road, or you’re becoming a bit jaded by the usual festival cycle of camp, drink, rave, repeat - we've picked the UK's best festivals that offer more than moshing - and, crucially, still have tickets available. From the gourmet to the groovy, here are the coolest festivals to hit this summer.

  • The UK’s six best alternative music festivals

    Wilderness Festival

    4-7 Aug at Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire, OX7; prices vary; wildernessfestival.com

    While the music line-up features The Flaming Lips, Crystal Fighters and Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters, it’s the food that people flock to Wilderness for. This year Raymond Blanc will be hosting a long table banquet, plus restaurants and stalls from the likes of Duck & Waffle, Petersham Nurseries, Hix, The Quality Chop House and Patty & Bun. Just choosing where to eat each day is stressful enough, so just as well there’ll be 20 (20!) different types of yoga to choose from to restore your zen - one of which is done on a paddleboard in the lake, and one is a ‘yoga rave’...

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    Lost Village Festival

    27-29 May at Thurlby Moor, Swinderby, LN6; £149; lostvillagefestival.com

    Taking place in a rather large patch of privately owned woodland, this festival takes you to the site of a lost village (real or made up? You decide), where you have to disregard ‘Keep Out!’ signs to get in. It has a derelict (or derelicte?), otherworldly feel, where you can gorge on street food, enjoy a four-course woodland feast, sit in a hot tub and gaze at the ‘Lake Of Tranquility’, or just get a bit drunk and listen to Fatboy Slim, Eats Everything, Jack Garratt, Joy Orbison, or the huge list of other DJ sets and live acts set to pump the beats out among the trees.

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    By The Sea Festival

    30 Sept-1 Oct at Dreamland Margate, Marine Terrace, CT9 ; £74.25; bytheseafestival.com

    While Blood Red Shoes once asserted “it’s getting boring by the sea”, this festival, which takes place actually in Margate’s Dreamland amusement park, proves them very wrong indeed. Taking place at a time of year when you’ll need some fun to brighten up a post-summer slump, it’s further cementing Margate as the UK’s unexpectedly trendy new destination de jour, hosting an exciting line-up of well-known and future music hits - though, at the date of writing, this year’s line-up is still yet to be announced. But seeing as Hot Chip and Foals headlined last year, we’re confident it’ll be great.

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    Eroica Britannia

    17-19 Jun at The Bakewell Showground, Bakewell, DE45; prices vary; eroicabritannia.co.uk

    Be honest - after all the cider, pies and late-night chips consumed at the last festival you went to, did your jeans end up tighter than they were before? This three-day cycling festival will sort out your gut. After a weekend of live bands, a swing night, vintage shopping, street food trucks and the best in bike wares, on the Sunday, riders can choose to tackle a 30mile, 55mile or 100mile scenic route around the Peak District. 

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    Also Festival

    17-19 June at Park Farm, Compton Verney, CV35; prices vary; also-festival.com

    Combining up-and-coming music acts, such as Mercury Prize-nominated Lou Rhodes and a DJ session from Dave Haslam, with feast and banquets - one of which is based around roast chicken - plus a whole programme of ‘ideas’, which are what sets this festival apart from the rest. The bill includes Dr John Powell on why we love music, Alexis Dubus on the science of swearing, Dr David Speigelhalter on risk and Professor Steve Fuller on transhumanism and the ability to live forever. Better for your brain cells than sitting next to your tent downing warm cans of Carlsberg.

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    Camp Wildfire

    17-19 June at a secret location in the Kent countryside; prices vary; campwildfire.co.uk

    With a slogan “Only the curious”, this is an adults-only part adventure camp, part music festival that’s back for its second year. The exact location will only be revealed to ticket holders, but if you need some persuading on becoming one, there’s activities such as axe throwing, naked storytelling, tightrope walking, raftbuilding, foraging, hula hooping and dinosaur making. That’s dinosaur making. After a day of activities, the music festival vibe kicks in, with a secret (so secretive) line-up of bands and parties. That’s pretty much all we can tell you. But if you’re the adventurous type, that’s all the information you’ll need, right?