They said it would never happen, but this list says otherwise! Laura Fedeli brings you an indispensable quickfire guide to this year’s Welsh festival season, with a few cheeky trips a short distance across the border because why not.
FOLK ON THE LAWN
Set in the beautiful Abbey Mill, this innovative folk, roots and acoustic festival is a not-for-profit get-together, run by volunteers with all donations (which attendees are encouraged to make) shared amongst the artists. A modest event, FOTL features international artists and signed bands in addition to the Welsh, English and very local talent gracing its stage. Full lineup details for this year can be found on their official website – expect to see veteran of the festival Andy Ponsford performing alongside Calm, Chelsea Taylor and many more.
Abbey Mill, Tintern, Fri 16-Sun 18 July. Admission: free (donations welcome). Info: here
BATH FESTIVAL FINALE WEEKEND
A two-day live music event in a fabulous setting, this is a family-friendly festival with something for all ages. With McFly, Scouting For Girls and UB40 among those booked to perform on the main stage, other stages will feature local talent, spoken word, street theatre and a Kids Zone. festival stalls will offer various artisan food and drinks; bars, naturally, sell beer and cider.
Bath Recreation Ground, Sat 7 + Sun 8 Aug. Tickets: from £27.50 per day/from £49.50 for both days. Info: here
Four-day, family-friendly festival teeming with music, entertainment and fairground rides. On the first of those points, headliners include Welsh legend Tom Jones, Seasick Steve, Scouting For Girls and Razorlight. Set in the charming Eastnor Castle Deer Park, organisers have worked hard to ensure there is something for everyone.
Eastnor, Herefordshire, Thurs 12-Sun 15 Aug. Tickets: £160 adults/£79 13-17-year-olds/£59 6-12-year-olds/£39 under-6s. Info: here
VEGAN CAMP OUT
Claiming to be the world’s largest vegan camping festival – as well as the most international, with campers each year coming from over 40 different countries – 2021’s Vegan Camp Out promises space for music, talks, activism workshops, yoga and other fitness activities and much more. The lineup is popping, with Russell Brand, Chris Packham and Joey Carbstrong among its highlights, and with dozens of quality plant-based food options on offer you definitely won’t go hungry. Each night finishes with an afterparty, helmed by an eclectic crop of DJs.
Newark Showground, Nottinghamshire, Fri 20-Sun 22 Aug. Tickets: £60. Info: here
BETWEEN THE TREES
A unique festival in south Wales, Between The Trees provides a brilliant fusion of live music, art, science and nature in the middle of the woods. Its three-day lineup is full to the brim of indie and folk types like Sheelanagig and Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys; meanwhile, you can reconnect with nature through a variety of scientific, creative, literary and wellbeing activities and workshops so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Merthyr Mawr National Nature Reserve, Fri 27-Sun 29 Aug. Tickets: £120 adults/£45 4-17-year-olds/free under-4s (weekend); £25 adults/£15 4-17-year-olds/free under-4s (Fri 27); £45 adults/£25 4-17-year-olds/free under-4s (Sat 28 or Sun 29). Info: here
Back for its seventh edition in its now-established Chepstow setting (“near Bristol”, says the poster, offering a hint at its target audience), expect Balter to deliver live sets from Gentlemens Dub Club, The Skints and Slamboree, plus dozens of revered DJs drawn from the jungle, acid techno, gabber and raggatek scenes to name but a few. Even your mum will love this festival – hear us out – with a newly added feature, Mothers Coffee Morning. Register her via the link on their website, and they can enjoy the site being opened especially for them early doors Saturday…
Chepstow Racecourse, Fri 17-Sun 19 Sept. Tickets: £140. Info: here
THE PORTHCAWL ELVIS FESTIVAL
Returning to Porthcawl in its customary late-September slot, the organisers of the Elvies – as it’s colloquially known – reckon this festival is the biggest of its kind in the world. VIP ticket holders can expect champagne on arrival and an opportunity to meet the ETAs (that’s Elvis Tribute Acts – ‘Elvis impersonators’ is a misnomer, they advise) featuring across the weekend. It wouldn’t be complete without the search for the best dressed Elvis, and look out for the late night afterparties which are bound to get you on your feet dancing to the King’s classics.
Grand Pavilion and town centre, Porthcawl, Fri 24-Sun 26 Sept. Tickets: £175 for full access; events priced individually. Info: here
Wales’ biggest dance festival has planned an epic two-day party in their home city of Cardiff, with an added bonus of an Amsterdam raveup the following weekend: Wilkinson, Nathan Dawe and a whole host of other legends will deliver good vibes to the Dutch. The Bute Park bill includes Rudimental, Mostack, Nathan Dawe, Jay 1, Hannah Wants and Central Cee on the main stage, with two arenas offering upfront house and techno (the Big Top) and drum’n’bass (Canopy).
Bute Park, Cardiff, Sat 2 + Sun 3 Oct. Tickets: £67.50/£47.50 per day. Info: here
NORTHERN EYE INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL
A collaboration between the Oriel Colwyn photography gallery and Aberystwyth festival The Eye, this is set to host photographers, speakers, film screenings and exhibitions in this north Wales coastal spot. A multifaceted tribute to the art of photography, the core of the weekend will take place in Theatr Colwyn over both days, and there’ll be various shows and other events elsewhere in the town.
Theatr Colwyn, Colwyn Bay, Sat 9 + Sun 10 Oct. Tickets: £40. Info: here
This year will be the 10th edition of this multi-venue Wrexham showcase event, held over from last autumn and then this spring. Patient attendees can look forward to over 250 bands across 20 stages and a schedule of industry sessions, art events and film screenings. Richard Hawley, Gruff Rhys and Juice Menace sit in the upper reaches of the lineup, with ample new Welsh talent, established names and exciting international acts also dotted about the place.
Various venues, Wrexham, Thurs 7-Sat 9 Oct. Tickets: festival passes £45-£160; day passes £25 Thurs 7, £35 Fri 8 or Sat 9; tickets to individual events available. Info: here
words LAURA FEDELI
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