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
Boutique beats at a weekend-long masquerade ball
Pack the Ferrero Rochers – the Masked Ball is an after-dark party for wannabe-aristocrats, but with ticket prices that won’t break the bank. Started in 2007, this DJ-centric seaside fest takes place in a colossal coastal guesthouse and fully embraces its ‘boutique’ label. The line-up leans towards disco,house and funk, with some big names on hand. Masquerade dress code essential.
Line-up includes: The Cuban Brothers, DJ Food, Felix Dickinson, Horse Meat Disco, Justin Robertson, LTJ Experience, Norman Jay MBE, PBR Streetgang, PsycheMajik, Shit Robot, Spiritual South, Space Echo and Tiger and Wood.
A dance-focused rural retreat for all the family
After a few successful years up north, Alfresco moves to Tunbridge Wells this summer. There’s a line-up of cool DJs and live acts for the parents plus plenty for kids, including a rock ’n’ roller disco and DJing lessons.
Line-up includes: Alexis Taylor (pictured), Felix Dickinson, Psychemagick, Wolfgang Flur (ex-Kraftwerk), Optimo, Danielle Moore.
Colebrook Lakes, Royal Tunbridge Wells. May 26-28. £69, £35 (day).
The organisers first dreamt this festival into reality aged only 19 with an ambition for a hierachy-less vibe. Five years on and there's still a ban on VIP areas and a brilliantly open approach to programming that has previously drawn Tom Misch, Loyle Carner and Ezra Collective. Expect jam sessions, improv and interactive amongst fields and forest near Brighton. Oh, and there's a miniature railway. Line-up TBA. Bentley Wildfowl and Motor Museum, Lewes. £65-£85.
A small fest with a big line-up for a reasonable price
Petrolheads take note: if you’re after monster trucks, you’re out of luck. Nestled in the Oxfordshire countryside, this intimate festival couldn’t be further away from the world of ten-foot tyres (unless they’re on tractors).
Line-up includes: Line-up TBA.
Hill Farm, Oxfordshire. July 21-23.
A hedonistic wooded wonderland in the Cambridgeshire countryside
Nestled in plush green surroundings, Secret Garden Party is the undisputed home of hippy hedonism on the UK festival scene. ‘Spectacular’ comes as standard: bands, DJs and artists are tucked into every playable space around the site including treehouses, islands, and yurts. SGP is known for being a woodland fairytale, but this year’s theme – a tongue-in-cheek celebration of all things celebrity – should see SGP's always up-for-it dressers take things to new heights of tacky and LOL.
Line-up includes: Metronomy, Toots & The Maytals, Honne, Jagwar Ma, Akala, Rejjie Snow, Ray BLK, Let's Eat Grandma.
Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire. July 20-23. £102-£197.
Continuing the trend for festivals that started in someone's back garden and then got huge, Standon Calling returns for its twelfth year of boutique fun. As well as solid line-ups, a heated swimming pool, celebrated dog show and an after-hours club in a cowshed, Standon is launching a comedy programme for 2017 and intriguely, master choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne is taking charge of a new modern dance series. Line-up includes: Orbital, Clean Bandit, Slaves, Laura Mvula, Nadia Rose, Cabbage, Kero Kero Bonito, Sink the Pink
Fed up of ropey soundsystems at outdoor festivals? Everything you hear at this intimate woodland party will be relayed through the finest soundsystems, having been chosen by long-standing Fabric resident Craig Richards, who curates the event. Richards has handpicked a killer cast of DJs, including some of the biggest and best names from house, techno, disco and more. There’ll also be visual art and sculpture to engage the eyes as well as ears.
Line-up includes: Ricardo Villalobos, Nicolas Jaar, Floating Points, Seth Troxler, Andrew Weatherall, Ben UFO, Optimo, Joy Orbison, Cassy.