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The Best of Fests 2009: UK Music Festivals

United Kingdom Travel
by Catrin Rogers Jun 1, 2009
Matador takes a look at some of the UK’s seasonal stalwarts, as well as a few lesser-known newcomers. Don’t forget to pack your wellies!
Latitude – Southwold, England

There’s an old-school vibe at this year’s Latitude, a bohemian, artsy festival combining music with theatre, cabaret, film, poetry and comedy. Among this year’s line-up are The Pet Shop Boys, Grace Jones, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Spiritualized.

Wickerman – East Kirkcarswell, Scotland

Anyone familiar with the film will guess that this is a festival for hedonists, but it mercifully manages to be super family-friendly, too, and it’s cultish following has cemented its position as one of Scotland’s best music festivals. The range of music is huge – this year’s acts include The Zutons and The Human League, while reggae and acoustic music is also in plentiful supply.

Green Man – Brecon, Wales

Set in Wales’ beautiful Brecon Beacons, Green Man is one of the most laid-back and unusual festivals in the country. Last year, even the permanently torrential rain failed to dampen the spirits of hippies, students and teenagers. This year, acts including The Animal Collective, Wilco and British Sea Power promise to deliver the same low-key, folksy vibe.

Bestival – Isle of Wight, England

Fancy dress nights and an always impressive line-up make Bestival an annual pilgrimage for many music lovers and social activists. It’s one of the few remaining non-corporate festivals, and the stunning surroundings of the Isle of Wight make it a summer favourite, too. Kraftwerk, Massive Attack and Elbow will be playing this year.

Womad – Malmesbury, England

Womad – a favourite among world music fans – stands for World of Music, Arts and Dance, and it definitely does what it says on the tin. Founded by Peter Gabriel in 1980, the English Womad is one of a huge network of similar festivals around the world, incorporating an eclectic mix of styles as well as events for children.

Secret Garden Party – Huntingdon, England

A very small, self-consciously eccentric independent music festival that started in 2004 with an audience of just 100 people. The location itself – the grounds of a stunning Georgian house in Cambridgeshire is as unconventional as the line-up, which this year will include Jarvis Cocker as well as several unknown acts.

Guilfest – Guilford, England

Easily accessible from London, Guilfest definitely wins the award for this year’s most bizarre combination of artists – Brian Wilson, Motorhead, Will Young and The Happy Mondays. The swimming lido next to the site provides a welcome break during hot afternoons.

Glastonbury – Somerset, England

The mac daddy of summer festivals, the 32nd Glastonbury this year was sold out months in advance, thanks to the best line-up in years. Blur, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young will be headlining, joined by old favourites including Status Quo, Tom Jones, and The Prodigy. Even the weather forecast, for once, looks promising!

Loopallu – Ullapool, Scotland

One of the smallest festivals, Loopallu is far greater than the sum of its parts. The town of Ullapool is itself a joy to see, the acts often include forgotten gems (which this year include The Undertones and The Stranglers) as well as up and coming Scottish bands which can’t be missed. The perfect end to the summer festival season.

Lounge on the Farm – Canterbury, England

This year’s will only be the fourth Lounge on the Farm Festival, but its popularity is growing fast. The focus is very much local, with new bands from all over Kent getting and unrivalled opportunity to be heard. This year sees the addition of a Rockaoke, offering audience members a chance to take to the stage with a full backing band.

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