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What you should be doing in Birmingham this summer

Written by
Chris Parkin

Planners at the ready, folks. The festival season is (just about) upon us and Birmingham is well served this year. Here's a handy guide to the festivals and events you should be booking tickets for right now.

Lunar Festival, June 5-7

Set in bucolic Tanworth-In-Arden, this psychedelic-minded festival is located near Nick Drake's old home. But not everything on the bill is as blissfully melancholy as Drake's own musings. On the bill this year are Mali's desert-rock aces Tinariwen, Mark E Smith's The Fall, psychedelic post-punk warrior Julian Cope, the freshly-returned BBC Radiophonic Workshop and legendary Italian prog-rock band Goblin. If you do want a bit of quiet, though, there's a chance to escape the main event and listen to Nick Drake's music on the man's own record player. Expect lots of artisanal and folk-culture activities as well.


A photo posted by Rhiannon Pierce (@nonathon) on

Supersonic Festival
, June 11-14
With All Tomorrow's Parties going through a transitionary period, Supersonic is the festival for fans of exploratory left-field music right now. Local promoters Capsule have been running the event at the Custard Factory (and beyond) since 2003 after noticing a gap in the tea-and-cake-meets-ear-pummelling-gigs market. This year's stellar event features the cosmos-disturbing alt-noise of Six Organs of Admittance, experimental doom merchants Liturgy, Bristol post-punk legends Pop Group, new Domino Records signing Holly Herndon, The Bug and much more, while also expanding into new territory with fascinating exhibitions, workshops and a specially commissioned piece by The Memory Band's Stephen Cracknell. 

Flickr: Mike Mantin

Holi One, June 13
The traditional spring festival celebrated by Hindus across the world is now big business everywhere, primarily because people seem to enjoy being pelted in the face with colourful powder. If that's something you think you'll enjoy, then prepare to get in a right mess with your fellow Brummies at this one-day event in the city centre, which features a thumping electro soundtrack provided by top DJs.

BE Festival, June 23-27
Nine European countries – BE Festival is short for Birmingham European Festival, after all – will be trashing theatre convention at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre at the end of June with a varied, ambitious and daring mix of performance art, comedy, circus, music and stage productions. Expect the unexpected.

Birmingham International Jazz and Blues Festival, July 3-12
The line-up is still to be announced for this big event, but expect household blues bands and both regional and national trad jazz names to perform across the city. Keep an eye on the festival's Facebook page for details.

Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival, July 10-12
A prize to this one for the most accurate festival name. Just look at the line-up – Roy Ayers, Gregory Porter, Cymande, Craig Charles – and you can see that this festival in Moseley Park does exactly what it says on the tin. The other sorts of acts alluded to in the name are mostly of the old-school hip-hop persuasion, such as the Sugarhill Gang, The Furious Five feat. Melle Mel and The Pharcyde. Another big plus will be the presence of the Purity Brewing Company.

Fusion Festival, August 28-30
One-man headline-making machine Justin Bieber tops the bill on day one of this pop-centric do in Cofton Park, with support from Tinie Tempah, Rixton and DJ Fresh, while Rudimental, Labrinth, Clean Bandit and Ella Henderson do the honours on day two. But really, it's day three that will be the highlight for most with an unholy alliance of Busted and McFly topping the bill as McBusted.

Moseley Folk Festival
, September 4-6

It's the big one-oh for the Moseley Folk Festival this year. That's 10 years of proving folk music isn't delivered solely by men in aran sweaters clutching their ears. This year sees the return of The Monkees for an exclusive UK festival set that, hopefully, features some of the weird, mind-expanding stuff off Head alongside the classics. Jason Pierce's Spiritualized are booked too, alongside a great line-up of acts new and old, including Dawes, Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick, The Unthanks, Anna Calvi, Houndstooth and much more. Expect tasty food and more good ale from Purity.

City of Colours, September 12
Given Brum has such a strong reputation for street art, this community-run arts festival should be something special. Artists such as Inkie, Pixel Pancho and Phlegm! will be present at the Digbeth event, with music, b-boys, film screenings and other goings-on promised too. It's all free, but the event needs your support, which you can offer via their Kickstarter page.


A photo posted by @joelwilluk on

More music on Time Out Birmingham. 

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