(Originally commissioned for Northants Herald and Post)
THE British weather is as unpredictable as ever, which can only mean one thing: it’s the start of the festival season.
As the mother of all music festivals, Glastonbury, has just taken place in all its muddy glory, we bring you a round up of some of the hundreds of UK festivals in Northamptonshire and beyond and some advice for those thinking about going for the first time with the family.
If you’re travelling with babies and toddlers, festival camping can be daunting, but a couple of fun days in a festival field can be easier to handle – and cheaper – than having to fly abroad in school holidays.
You need to accept that everything might not be operating-theatre-sterile for a couple of days, but there’s little that can’t be sorted with a multitude of various wet wipes.
A travelcot may seem like a heavy thing to lug to your campsite but it will allow peace of mind if your smaller offspring are prone to wander.
Take a tent that you KNOW how to put up in advance and if possible, invest in your own small trolley or wheelbarrow. Days can involve a lot of walking and it’s easier to entice a squealing toddler into a blanket-lined barrow than an unwieldy buggy that’s lost a wheel. Pack a set of warm clothes for evenings as it can get chilly (all-in-one rainsuits for kids are worth bringing) and give loads of time to get to stages for a favourite act.
Inevitably you won’t see everything on the line-up – sometimes you’ll just need to chill out with the kids and listen from a distance for your own sanity’s sake. Letting your bigger kids off the leash to wander without you may feel like a worry, but it’s an essential part of growing up and you should make sure they have a watch and regular meeting points. Don’t rely on phones as signal and battery life are usually limited.
Rucksacks and bumbags work better than handbags, cashpoints will be on site but be prepared to queue and pay fees, and you’ll probably survive with lots of socks but just two pairs of footwear – trainers and wellies.
If you’re bringing food, but only want to cook with minimal effort, a camping stove and kettle, cereal bars, tortilla wraps and noodles weigh little and can save you a fortune on festival food. Disposable barbecues are great if allowed and packet bacon will last a couple of days in a coolbox. Tea bags, coffee and UHT milk will feel like luxuries and you’ll be glad you invested in that multipack of earplugs from Boots.
Festival line-up for summer 2016.
Glastonbury, June 22-26, Pilton, Somerset. SOLD OUT.
Featuring: Muse, Adele, Coldplay, Foals, Beck, ELO
FOLD (Freak Out Let’s Dance), June 24-26, Fulham, London.
First year of this Chic and Nile Rodgers curated weekend, with Beck, John Newman, Alison Moyet, Thompson Twins
Love Supreme, Lewes, July 1-3
Featuring: Grace Jones, Burt Bacharach, Lianne La Havas, Kelis
British Summertime with Barclaycard, Hyde Park, London, July
This sees various big names for all music tastes play throughout the month, including Massive Attack, Kendrick Lamar and Jamie XX, Patti Smith, Carole King, Florence and the Machine, Take That and Olly Murs, Alabama Shakes and the Mumfords.
Northampton Town Festival, Racecourse, Northampton, July 2-3. FREE.
OK, so not strictly a music and camping festival, but the first year the town show and hot air balloons have been on the Racecourse for some time. A huge festival of family fun over two days.
Tannerfest, Loddington, Northants, July 9.
A firm fixture on the Northants music scene, this small but perfectly formed event is a laid-back day out for all the family.
Wireless, Finsbury Park, London, July 8-10.
Featuring: Calvin Harris, Chase & Status, Jess Glynne, Disciples, J Cole, KYGO, Boy Better Know. wirelessfestival.co.uk/
Electric Daisy Carnival, Milton Keynes Bowl, July 9
Massive dance music event featuring headliners Avicii, Axwell, Martin Solvig.
Lovebox, Victoria Park, London, July 15-16.
Featuring Jack Garrett, Major Lazer, Diplo, Kano, Stormzy, Jungle, Chet Faker.
Secret Garden Party, Huntingdon, Cambs, July 21-24.
Featuring: Primal Scream, Air, Caribou
Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, July 28-31.
The little sister of September megafest Bestival and a favourite of our clan, this is a great place to kick off the school holidays and start festivaling with the family, and you’re quite likely to see former music stars chilling out with their own young ‘uns as well as the world’s largest bouncy castle. This year’s line up features Fatboy Slim, Tears for Fears, Squeeze, Katy B, Bananarama and Jess Glynne, with turns from Dick and Dom and Mr Tumble.
Green Man festival, Brecon Beacons, Wales, August 18-21
Featuring Belle & Sebastian, James Blake, Warpaint and Laura Marling
V Festival, Staffordshire and Chelmsford, August 20-21
H&P Ed is feeling very old; he attended the first one of these back in ’96. The big names are flying in for this year’s V Festival with Justin Beiber, Rihanna, Sia, David Guetta, faithless, the Kaiser Chiefs, Little Mix and All Saints on the list.
Atomic vintage festival, Sywell Aerodrome, Northants, Aug 20-21
This 1950s-themed festival features music, pre-1963 cars and hot-rods, lots of food ideas and stalls, set in the aerodrome and surrounds over two days.
Reading and Leeds festivals, August 26-28.
The traditional after-exam-results experience for teens, this year’s line up across the two cities includes The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Fall Out Boy, Foals, Disclosure, Vaccines, Eagles of Death Metal and Biffy Clyro.
Shambala, Kelmarsh Hall, Northants, Aug 25-28.
This is a lovely family festival with a real eco-ethos and a huge sense of humour. Dressing up is encouraged and while the stages usually feature less-well-known but excellent musicians, they’ve brought in the 80s soul divas Sister Sledge to headline on Friday. The circus and arts fields are always amazing.