Not all great UK music festivals are Glastonbury-esque monsters. Some of the most enjoyable summer festivals out there are little boutique affairs with a low capacity and a cosy, friendly atmosphere. Save your feet (and your budget) by booking this summer for one of these brilliant small music festivals.
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The best boutique festivals
Head up to Cheshire for a spacey weekend under the stars with the Chemical Bros and Flaming Lips
How does partying for a weekend in a deep space observatory sound? Not too shabby, right? So do yourself a favour and check out this mind-opening festival that combines music, science and tech, all with the vast Lovell Telescope in the background. Held at Jodrell Bank in Cheshire, Bluedot offers punters a chance to get intergalactic, alongside alternative bands, live science experiments, talks and ‘cosmic culture’ events. Truly far out.
Line-up includes The Chemical Brothers, The Flaming Lips, Future Islands, Public Service Broadcasting, Gary Numan, Little Dragon.
Jodrell Bank, Cheshire. Jul 20-22. £169.
Charming villagey event in the depths of Hertfordshire
Continuing the trend for festivals that started in someone’s back garden and then got huge, Standon Calling returns for its thirteenth year of boutique fun. As well as solid, genre-straddling line-ups, there’ll be all kinds of kooky fun to engage in too: from a swimming pool and a celebrated dog show (bring your pooch) to after-hours clubbing and a comedy programme.
Line-up includes Bryan Ferry, Paloma Faith, George Ezra, Goldfrapp, Django Django, The Horrors.
Standon Lordship, Hertfordshire. Jul 26-29. £169.
Tasteful indie for civilised folk, with added scenic plus-points
Too old for Reading and Leeds but still want to get a bit squiffy in a field this August? Well, look no further than Green Man: the thinking person’s weekender of choice, complete with a line up plucked straight out of a BBC 6Music wet dream. Set in the lush surrounds of the Brecon Beacons, this one’s as much a treat for the eyes as it is for the ears. And while Green Man definitely falls on the calmer end of the festie spectrum, you can still merrily chug on box wine into the wee small hours.
Line-up includes The War on Drugs, Fleet Foxes, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, John Grant, Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors, Anna Calvi, Cate Le Bon.
Brecon Beacons, Wales. Aug 16-19. £180.
End of the Road
Landing in the sacred crossover point between namedrop-friendly muso faves and bands that are actually, y’know, fun, Dorset season-closer End of the Road has been excelling itself on the line-up front in recent years. From high-shine leftfield pop to grizzled post-punk, they’ve got all the bases covered. Add to that a solid programme of arts and literature, plus an increasing nod to late-night larks, and you’ve got a veritable playground for the more discerning 20-something.
Line-up includes Vampire Weekend, St Vincent, Feist, Ezra Furman, Fat White Family, John Cale, Yo La Tengo, Oh Sees, Ariel Pink, Idles.
Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset. Aug 30-Sep 2. £195.
Weird and wonderful weekender in eccentric Portmeirion
These days, with every summer Saturday filled to the brim with entertainment options jostling for attention, festivals need a USP to really stand out. And boy, does Festival No 6 deliver on that front. Situated in the strange town of Portmeirion – a village in North Wales designed to emulate the Mediterranean and made famous on ‘60s cop show ‘The Prisoner’ – it’s worth going to purely for a holiday. Throw in a suitably quirky music and arts bill, and you’re golden (even without the actual Med sun).
Line-up includes Franz Ferdinand, Friendly Fires, The The, Everything Everything, Jessie Ware, The Charlatans, Hurts, Django Django.
Portmeirion, Wales. Sep 6-9. £180.