Outdoor festivals in 2014

Outdoor FestivalsTalk of festivals often brings to mind images of mud-encrusted, unwashed, wellie-clad revellers dancing the summer away, as Pulp most potently said, “somewhere… somewhere in a field in Hampshire”.

Festivals go far beyond that though, and today they are as popular as ever, with many people journeying hundreds of miles to get out into the countryside along with a great many other like-minded individuals. So what exactly is there to look forward to in this year’s outdoor festival season?

Music – Glastonbury

It’s hard to talk of festivals and not mention music. For this, of course, Glastonbury has long been the zenith – its atmosphere, line up and ethos attract nearly 200,000 people to snap up tickets each and every year, even before bands or artists has been confirmed!

“Glasto” has, in its 44-year history, redefined the music festival and shown others just how it can be done. Music plays second fiddle to atmosphere, which is boosted by the sheer volume of activities on offer. Children have their own entire field, there’s cabaret and circus events, a stellar comedy line-up, craft tents and fully-fledged nightclubs.

Few acts have yet been officially announced for this year’s event (aside from the returning Lily Allen, Korean singer Choi Go-eun and headliners Arcade Fire, all of which confirmed their appearances themselves), but it has already sold out.

Others you might like to check out:

Isle of Wight Festival – 12 – 15 June
The Wickerman Festival – 25 – 26 July
Cambridge Folk Festival – 31 July – 3 August

Art – Greenwich + Docklands International Festival

London’s ‘GDIF’ is a nine day festival in which SE10 comes to life with a vast array of performances and events from arts companies across Britain and the wider world.

Taking place this year between 20 – 28 June, the GDIF’s twelfth iteration is set to offer a range of spectacular and thought-provoking arts events – all of which are completely free. A full line up is expected around March, although organisers have hinted about some out-of-the-ordinary settings, which include an island of sand, larger-than-life house, flying ship and even a giant head.

If previous years are anything to go by, events could include a melting pot of street theatre, dance and art exhibitions that illuminate the Greenwich streets through day and night.

Others you might like to check out:

Macclesfield Barnaby Festival – 14 – 29 June
Eisteddfod, Llanelli – 1 – 9 August
Aberdeen Film Festival – 27 September – 12 October

Walking – Isle of Wight Walking Festival

With more than 300 walks organised across its four weeks (two in May, two in October), the ‘IoWWF’ is not only the largest walking festival of its kind in Britain but also in Europe.

Festival fans were provided a new year treat this year when organisers took the beginning of 2014 as a chance to announce many of the walks already organised for the event’s May leg. These include a fossil hunting tour, Tennyson walk (taking in some of the writer’s favoured spots), amble round the churches of Shanklin and a beginner’s guide to Nordic Walking – among many others.

Serious distance walkers are also invited to join the ‘Beaches and Blisters Round the Wight Walk’. It’s not for the faint-hearted, however, as it takes just three days to cover the 74-mile route, meaning that walkers are tasked with 28, 25 and 21 mile treks each day.

This vast array of events show just how far the festival has come in its 16-year history, having originally offered just a few dozen walks for the locals to enjoy. Now, of course, enthusiasts make their way to the Island from all over Britain and sometimes even further than that!

Others you might like to check out:

Crickhowell Walking Festival – 1 – 10 March
Peak District Walking Festival – 26 April – 11 May
National Forest Walking Festival – 17 – 29 May

Ale – Cambridge beer festivals

Not all outdoor festivals are quite so physically or mentally wholesome. That being said, the humble beer festival is a British favourite and no summer is complete without one or two, at least.

Cambridge’s main beer festival – held on Jesus Green in late May – is widely accepted as being the oldest of its kind in Britain, having been held nearly every year since 1974 (albeit not on the same plot each time). Over its decades-long history, the Cambridge Beer Festival has grown into the second largest in the UK in terms of visitor numbers, behind only the Great British Beer Festival, which is held indoors at London’s Olympia.

It’s not only a popular event in terms of attendees but also how much the thirsty visitors managed to put away. During 2012, for example, some 80,000 pints of ale and 13,000 pints of cider were polished off by 41,000 attendees.

It’s not all about the main event at Cambridge, as the city also hosts a Winter Ale festival and Oktoberfest in January and October (of course), respectively.

Others you might like to check out:

Rotherham Real Ale and Music Festival – 5 – 8 March
Farnham Beer Exhibition (or Beerex) – 10 – 12 April
Scottish Real Ale Festival – early July

These are just a small number of the burgeoning calendar of outdoor festivals taking place around Britain this year. There should be plenty of local events for anyone not looking to travel too far, as well as larger events for which it may be worth making the longer journey – though for the ale festivals, it would certainly be best to leave the car at home.

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