por Milo Steelefox, direto de Londres*
Glastonbury (Worthy Farm, Pilton)
Surely the festival of all festivals, absolutely massive in both size and calibre of the diverse array of music and entertainment it offers, Glastonbury is quite something to behold. I’ve heard of friends taking 1h30 to simply get from one stage to the next just becase it’s so big and full of people. It’s not the easiest of festivals to get a ticket for either, they seem to evaporate almost as soon as they go on sale, and this year perhaps more rapidly so than ever given that there’ll not be a festival next year, so you’d have to wait until 2013! But if you were going this year you’d be treated to the headline acts of U2, Coldplay, Beyoncé, The Chemical Brothers, Queens of the Stone Age, Wu-Tang Clan, Friendly Fires, and no end of other incredible acts. Take a look at the website for a better flavour, and there’s even a film about the festival that you can check out!
The Big Chill (Eastnor Deer Park, Herefordshire)
OK, now yes I’m a little biased on this one given that it’s a stone’s throw from where I grew up, practically my back garden, but it is brilliant and dearly loved. Saying that, the festival has lost a lot of its regular crowd following a change in ownership, and it’s certainly taking on a younger vibe, moving away from the supremely chilled family atmosphere of before. With one of the most exciting line-ups of the summer, this year’s edition of The Big Chill boasts big guns like The Chemical Brothers, Rodrigo y Gabriela and Calvin Harris, with an exclusive headline set from Kanye West, plus other highlights such as Robert Plant & the Band of Joy, and the UK debut of multimedia electropera The Bullits, featuring Jay Electronica and Lucy Liu. Plenty to look forward to.
Reading & Leeds (Reading and Leeds)
Now every young Englishman’s got to start somewhere and go through the gruelling initiation of the festival experience full of amazing live music… uh, rain and mud, collapsing tents, more mud… and for many teenagers that first adventure comes in the shape of the Reading and Leeds festivals. It’s basically two locations, three days of rock, pop, indie and electronic music, and the bands simply swap places between the two cities, much like Spain’s Summercase in Madrid and Barcelona. Reading was perhaps my first festival, and I only went for a day, and well, seeing Ash, then Muse (in the rain), topped off by the Foo Fighters (the crowd was steaming by that point), it was an incredible night. And I’m glad to see that Muse are back this year, joined by Elbow, Friendly Fires, My Chemical Romance and the dance outfits Simian Mobile Disco and 2 Many DJs, but surely generating the most excitement is the triumphant return of Pulp and The Strokes! What better way to spend the long 3 day August Bank Holiday?
Victoria Park, London (Lovebox / Underage Festival / Field Day)
Right, this isn’t a mistake above with the festival and location in the wrong places, I’m just cheating for this one(!), and I’m going to nominate one of the coolest spots in London when it comes to festivals, and that’s East London’s Victoria Park. First up, founded by Groove Armada, you’ve got Lovebox (15th-17th July), which this year boasts the likes of Snoopdog, The Wombats, Metronomy, Scissor Sisters, Blondie, Robyn and Kelis. And then come August you’ve got a little something for everybody, beginning with one especially for those aged between 13-17, being Underage Festival (5th Aug), featuring Bombay Bicycle Club, Crystal Fighters, Miles Kane and Brother. Growing up overnight, the park then plays host to the blissful Field Day (6th August), bringing you some of the hottest indie bands around including Mount Kimbie, Anita Blay, James Blake, Baio (Vampire Weekend) and Erol Alkan. And then, mixing the kids and the adults, these two are followed by a family-friendly day of music and arts on 7th August called The Apple Cart Festival. Fun for all the family!
Bestival (Robin Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight)
Last but by no means least, this one rounds up the festival season with a huge bang and always a super fun line-up. Now I used to go to the Isle of Wight (yes, an actual island, you gotta catch a boat!) when I was a young boy, and my family used to love going to the theme park Black Gang Chine, but only once did I go to Robin Hill Country Park, and boy should I get myself back there sometime… preferably for early in September, especially if I fancy catching the likes of The Cure, Pendulum, Primal Scream, PJ Harvey, Crystal Castles, Diplo, Katy B, Kelis, Public Enemy, DJ Shadow and Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys. And if that’s not fun enough, each edition of Bestival has a fancy dress theme, and the dress code for 2011 is ‘rock stars, pop stars and divas’!