I remember desperately wanting to go the Isle of Wight. I’ve also never really recovered from having missed Woodstock and having to make do with watching the 1970 film of the world’s most famous outdoor festival. I’m still game for some outdoor music, providing the mud isn’t too deep. However, beyond Glastonbury, which is always around the last week in June, the British summer has a stunning variety of music events to suit all tastes in July and August. Dust off your picnic baskets, hunt out your rugs and stick your wellies in the boot – just in case!
These are “picnic concerts” and they’re taking place at stately homes dotted around the UK. Each of these events combines music with fireworks, cannons and cavalry, plus the odd Spitfire acrobatics thrown in. These informal, open-air concerts have been running since 1997 and take their inspiration from the Battle of Waterloo that ended the Napoleonic wars. This year they will celebrate 70 years since the end of the Second World War and 75 years since the Battle of Britain, hence the Spitfire! Hosts are Burghley House, Lincolnshire, Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, Highclere Castle, Hampshire (that’s Downton Abbey), Hatfield House in Herts and Ragley Hall in Warwickshire. Dates run from 4 July – 15 August. Plus ticket sales support Combat Stress – the Veterans Mental health Charity.
Boogie Woogie International
The Boogie Woogie festival is held in the heart of rural Dorset and brings the best international stars of Tap, Lindy Hop, Jive, Swing and Boogie Woogies to a historic watermill.
T in the Park
This is Scotland’s biggest festival and this year it’s from 10 – 12 July. Featuring Kasabian, Sam Smith, Fatboy Slim, The Libertines and The Script, it promises three days of top entertainment in Balado, Kinrossshire.
This festival, held in Victoria Park in London’s Hackney is widely advertised as one of the most authentic music festivals of the festival calendar. The one-day festival starts on 17 July and finishes the following day. In music terms it offers everything from folk to hip hop, disco punk, rock and indie, plus loads of different DJs and other performers. If you prefer your festivals in an urban setting, then this could be a perfect one for you. You will never be far from civilisation and a comfortable place to eat and drink if it all gets too much. It has a pretty hot line-up including Rudimental, Snoop Dogg, Cypress Hill, Skepta, and, for those of us who remember ‘clubbing’, Groove Armada are appearing.
Watchet Music Festival
If you happen to live in the West of England, it shouldn’t take you long to get to Watchet in West Somerset for this lovely family friendly festival, which is held over the August bank holiday. It’s only in its ninth year and apart from the music, it has camping, three stages, a Kid’s Corner, a Cider Bar (naturally!) and a Silent Disco. There are food tents and 60 live acts from all over the UK and beyond. I can reveal that The Blow Monkeys, The Boomtown Rats and Big Country are among the groups performing – plus the Wurzels. Well, it is Somerset!
The summer season would not be complete without some opera and the place to watch and listen on an English summer evening is Glyndebourne, near Lewes in East Sussex. If you’ve never visited before, learn all about Glyndebourne here. This season the programme features “Carmen” by Bizet, which is an excellent opera to start with if you’re new to it. Bejamin Britten’s “The Rape of Lucretia” and Mozart’s “Die Entführing aus dem Serail” are also showing through July and August.
This is just a small selection of the wealth of live music the UK has to offer. You may prefer to pass on the camping and wellies, but there are few experiences better than time shared with friends and family, accompanied by music played by talented performers.