20 music festivals in Herts, Beds and beyond to book now!
'Tis the season for drinking too much cider and getting sunburnt in a field under the guise of being a live music fan. Here's our pick of the best summer fests, both local and further afield. See you down the front!
Who fancies rocking out in a field? ‘Course you do! Our neck of the woods punches above its weight when it comes to music festivals, and many of them are brilliantly family-friendly, too. So, in chronological order, here’s where you’ll find Muddy decked out in daisy chains, denim hot pants and wellies this summer.
Chilterns Live, Pendley Meadow, Tring, Sat 29 June
Oooh, new and shiny! There’s a brand new festival in our ‘hood! Chilterns Live will be springing up in Tring with a stellar pop line-up of Busted (this got a few squeals in Muddy HQ), Sophie Ellis Bextor, The Feeling and Top Loader.
Wood Festival, Braziers Park, nr Wallingford, Oxon; 17 – 19 May
Lechlade Music Festival, Cotswolds; 24 – 26 May
This Cotswolds weekender is very family-friendly with kids yoga, woodland skills workshops and storytelling. Brit indie-pop crew The Feeling will be providing the tunes.
Nocturne, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon; 21 – 23 June
A festival for people who are too posh for festivals! This is more a series of chichi al fresco concerts in ridiculously elegant surroundings, with Lauryn Hill, Tears For Fears and Kylie (sadly sold out) on consecutive summer nights. Having once waited many, many hours for a Ms Hill gig back in the day, I wish all attendees good luck on that front.
Fake Festival, Bedford Park; 22 June
Bon Jovi, Queen, U2… hang on a minute. Ohh, the clue’s in the name. Six fab tribute bands will be blasting out all your fave tunes from some of the biggest bands on the planet. After a few drinks you won’t care that they’re not the real thing ‘cos you’ll be too busy belting your heart out.
Chilfest, Tring, Herts; 6 July
Do you <heart> the ’80s? Get yourself down to Chilfest, now in its sixth year rolling out retro hits across the Chiltern Hills. Acts booked include Bananarama, Soul II Soul, The Selecter and Five Star – although, call me a pedant but it looks like they’re technically One Star now, with one original member and a bunch of newbies.
Cornbury Music Festival, The Great Tew Park, Oxon; 5 – 7 July
The Beach Boys and The Specials head the bill at this civilised festival that prides itself on being quintessentially English. Think country fair with a rock’n’roll twist. Jovial Geordies The Hairy Bikers provide the food.
Henley Festival, Oxon; 10 – 14 July
Don’t forget your red trousers and Champagne for this genteel shebang. The line-up announcement is imminent but last year saw Nile Rodgers and Grace Jones headline so our hopes are high.
Pennfest, Penn, Bucks; 19 – 20 July
For a serene Bucks village, Penn really does manage to pull in an impressive line-up of rebel-rousers. They’re big on ’90s indie favourites and this year sees Suede headlining, plus turns from Happy Mondays (always hilariously shambolic live) and New Order’s Peter Hook.
Standon Calling, Hertfordshire; 25 – 28 July
Truck Festival, Steventon, Oxon; 26 – 28 July
Full marks for nabbing indie favourites and local lads Foals for their first Oxon show in five years. They’ll be joined by Wolf Alice and Kate Nash (side note: have you seen her acting chops in brilliant Netflix series Glow?). This veteran South Oxon festival in a farmer’s field hits all the right notes too with its family-friendly feel and decent food.
Wilderness, Cornbury Park, Oxford; 1 – 4 Aug
Possibly the coolest local festival of them all, here there’s a heady mix of right-on hippiness (think yoga, skinny-dipping and hot tubs) combined with impressive big-name music bookings. The line up has just been released with Groove Armada returning to the Wilderness Main Stage along with Robyn, Bombay Bicycle Club and Tom Odell.
The Big Feastival, Kingham, Oxon; 23 – 25 Aug
This posh nosh extravaganza on the farm of cheese-obsessed Blur bassist Alex James hosts top chefs alongside music acts. Line-up details are tba but this is definitely one to bookmark if you’re a foodie. The only downside is you might bump into Cotswolds locals David Cameron and Jeremy Clarkson.
Step through the gates of this festival and everything (bar food and drink) is free, including hot tubs, as many massages as you like (sign me up now!), kids activities, circus performances, movies, theatre, workshops and a roller disco (yup – time to rock those leg warmers). This year’s line-up’s TBC but with Pixie Lott and All Saints playing last year we’ve got high hopes for some big names.
Towersey Festival, Thame, Oxon; 23 – 26 Aug
Start growing your beard for the return of the veteran folk festival which confusingly is now held in market town Thame, rather than nearby village, Towersey. Acts this year include Hothouse Flowers, Seth Lakeman and Steve Harley & The Cockney Rebel, and there’s loads of kiddy activities to keep the nippers occupied.
Cool Britannia, Knebworth Park, Herts; 30 August – 1 September
Cast your mind back to the time of the clash of Britpop titans (Oasis v Blur, obvs!) and you’re in the right ballpark for this one. On the Main Stage are the likes of James, Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Basement Jaxx. Kids are welcome but you might want to go child-free to this one and re-live your youth raving into the small hours at the Ministry of Sound Stage.
Pub In The Park, St Albans, Herts; 13 – 15 September
Tom Kerridge’s popular gourmet scran meets live music fandango is comes to St Albans’ Verulamium Park this year, (give us a woop!), with Tom Odell, Razorlight, Will Young and Toploader in tow. More deets in our interview with the celeb chef here.
HAVE TENT, WILL TRAVEL? HERE ARE THREE MORE FESTIVALS FURTHER AFIELD…
Latitude, Suffolk; 18 – 21 July
This is the Radio 4 of festivals – refined, civilised and cultured, with its line-up of literary readings, theatre, comedy and Sadlers Wells ballet performances. They don’t skimp on the live music easier – this year Lana Del Rey, Underworld and Primal Scream are on the bill.
Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset; 25 -28 July
The kiddy-friendly alternative to Bestival, this one has loads to keep little people happy while you tuck into that box of wine. Human League, Chic, Jess Glynne are playing, with Sara Cox, Annie Mac and Spice Girl Mel C on DJ duties.
Shambala, Northants; 22 – 25 Aug
Muddy’s Nancy is a big fan of this lo-fi indie festival on a country estate in Northants. It’s not big on household name music bookings for its 12 (yep, twelve!) stages but there’s more cabaret, inspiring talks, yoga, circus acts and comedy than you can shake a stick at. Plus it’s very family friendly.