The pinnacle of summer is the UK festival scene. In fact, summer isn’t summer without getting knee-deep in music (and possibly mud) at a festival weekender. The UK has one of the richest and most diverse festival circuits in the world – Glastonbury has become one of the most iconic festivals on the planet! If you’re itching to hit up some UK festivals then here is some background knowledge you might find interesting.
Inside UK Festivals
So popular are some of the sell-out weekenders, that as we edge towards Autumn, it’s already time to start thinking about early-bird tickets for 2020. But, if you miss out on the scramble to book tickets for the big festivals, don’t lose heart.
There are so many smaller undiscovered festivals which bring a much more intimate vibe to the music festival table and will still give you the festival-fix you are looking for. In fact, as a newbie, smaller festivals are a nice way to dip your toe into the festival scene.
Before you take the plunge and book tickets, here are some interesting facts you might like to know about the UK festival scene.
Why go to a music festival?
So, why go to a music festival? Well, in a nutshell, a music festival is a relatively cheap way to see live music. If you think about the cost of a ticket to a gig to see one or two bands or musicians, festivals provide a cost-effective way to see 2-3 days of live music.
Music is obviously the main reason people go to a festival. But festivals offer so much more than the opportunity to see and hear your favorite artists. Festivals also enable you to see new musicians you wouldn’t otherwise have listened to.
Best of all, festivals are an immeasurable cultural and educational experience. At most festivals, you can see comedy, drama and book readings, get a massage, do yoga and get involved in a whole range of other activities, or simply eat food from the many food outlets and sit in beautiful surroundings and drink beer.
You’ll create unforgettable moments and forge new friendships. There really is nothing like the connection you will feel amongst a crowd of happy people whilst rocking moves to your favorite tunes.
If you are worried about camping and slumming it, don’t let that put you off. You can actually experience VIP luxury at many of the UK festivals.
Exclusive camping areas offer luxury tipis, Gypsy caravans, Bedouin café tents, secret party spaces, pamper tents, luxury loos and proper showers. Some VIP areas even have their own entertainment program with live performances and DJs not available to the masses.
At Latitude festival in Suffolk, VIP options include a range of luxury cabins and luxury accommodation options, plus a concierge service on arrival (so you don’t even have to lug bags across fields – though it could be argued this is all part of the festival experience).
Music festivals are definitely something everyone should experience. To ensure you have an incredible time, read up on these 15 tips for festival newbies.
UK festival History: Isle of Wight, Glastonbury and Reading
UK festival history is incredible. From the flower power hippy movement of the 1960s through the Glam Rock festivals of the 70s, the rave scene of the 1980s, dance scene and Britpop of the noughties and the anything-goes break away from mainstream festivals and boutique events we are still seeing pop up today.
The oldest popular music festival in the UK still in existence today is the Reading Festival (formerly The National Jazz and Blues Festival when it was established in 1961).
The Isle of Wight Festival kicked off as a counter-culture event in 1968 to 1970. It was relaunched under new management in 2002 in a new island location and is still going strong.
The Isle of Wight offering has become the first major festival in the UK summer calendar. Over the years it has hosted headline acts from the Rolling Stones, The Who, David Bowie and Paul McCartney to Amy Winehouse, Coldplay, Kasabian, Kings of Leon and this year Biffy Clyro.
Glastonbury began its festival life in 1970. It quickly grew in stature. It is now the biggest festival in the UK (and the largest greenfield festival in the world) with the latest capacity at 210,000. Tickets sell out in a matter of minutes.
Reading Festival has long been a festival rite-of-passage for the teenage crowd. The Reading Festival actually began its journey as a Jazz festival in Surrey in the early 1960s, moving to Berkshire and again to Kemptown Park Racecourse in Surrey later in the same decade.
In 1971 the Festival found its Reading home where it remains to this day (it was refused a license for two years between 1984 and 1986). The festival has attracted huge crowds to some world-renowned headline acts since, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to the Foo Fighters, The Prodigy, Oasis, Pulp, The Beastie Boys and in more recent years Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs, Kings of Leon, Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Mumford & Sons, The Libertines, Metallica, Post Malone and The 1975.
Over the years the UK has seen an explosion of new festivals with the likes of Download, Bestival, Camp Bestival (family sister to Bestival), Wireless, Festival No.6, The Green Man, Bluedot Festival, and Lattitude, to name but a few.
When it comes to music festivals, there have been all sorts of highs and lows, scorchers and mudfests over the years. The great news for festival-goers is that the UK festival scene has grown exponentially. There are so many UK festivals to choose from, so there really is no excuse for not going to one. Why not make 2020 the year of your first festival?