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The eight best arts events at music festivals,
© Samantha Milligan

Eight great arts events to check out at music festivals

UK music festivals offer so much more than music, y'know. We pick eight artsy things to do in a field this summer

By Alice Savile
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1. Learn a maddeningly brilliant new skill

Strumming half-heartedly at a ukulele just won’t cut it these days. Citadel Festival in Victoria Park is offering festivalgoers the chance to join a reggae choir, try a hula hoop workout or mix street and traditional dance at Folk Dance Remixed.

2. Cut a rug to innovative contemporary dance

Rambert dance company at Wilderness Festival

Wilderness Festival has pushed the boat out by getting two of London’s powerhouses of cutting-edge choreography involved this year. The Place will fill the stage with quirky shows that draw on everything from household objects and comic books to epic literature, while Britain’s leading contemporary dance company Rambert is bringing a full programme of new work that includes ‘Ruffle’, where two men in a romantic relationship morph between love and emotional aggression. There’s even the chance to learn samba from Rambert’s dance masters.

3. See ‘Jurassic Park’ in a whole new way

Jurassic Park at Wilderness Festival

While Superbolt Theatre may have made the wise decision to escape Spielberg’s sharp-suited lawyers by naming their physical theatre piece ‘Dinosaur Park’, the inspiration is still amber-clear. Their production (also at Wilderness) tells the story of a dino-loving family who find themselves sucked into the dark heart of the jungle.

4. See an incredible inflatable parade

Inflatable carnival at Festival number 6

There’s already plenty of visual weirdness to accompany Festival No 6’s musical line-up thanks to its setting in the quirky Welsh seaside village of Portmeirion. But when darkness falls, the oddness goes up a notch as French street theatre wizards Compagnie des Quidams mix dance, theatre, and surreal inflatable animal costumes.

5. Enjoy a circus without the sequins

Australian company Circa specialise in pared-down circus shows, which put the focus on the hard work and sheer sweat that go into their feats of acrobatic brilliance. Their new work ‘Landscape with Monsters’ will fill Latitude Festival’s indoor theatre space with a physical ode to being human among the hard concrete edges of the industrial landscape.

6. Watch something really spectacular

Wilderness’s annual Saturday-night show is one of the highlights of the festival season, and in 2016 – following human nets and ceremonial burnings over the last two years – it’s being planned by Bristolian company Cirque Bijou. Details are always tightly guarded, but they don’t call it a capital-S Spectacle for nothing.

7. Sip up some cynicism along with your cider

stewart lee at end of the road

Stewart Lee is a great choice to head up the comedy line-up at End of the Road festival: his abject disappointment with the world will ring true to anyone who’s just paid £6 for a box of chips or woken up with what feels like an entire hay bale inside their hungover head. Because whether you’re bopping on a space hopper or getting lost in a parade of giant inflatables, the best festival medicine is surely being able to laugh at yourself.

8. Discover the importance of being earnest

Latitude’s arts programming has a pretty serious reputation, so there might be a little irony to renowned theatre powerhouse Lyric Hammersmith’s announcement that they’re bringing ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ to the picnic this year. This production of Oscar Wilde’s classic cucumber-sandwich-scoffing comedy will star Mel Giedroyc of ‘Bake Off’ fame. On your marks, get set, prepare for a satire of Victorian manners!

Discover this year's best music festivals

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Music Music festivals

If you’re looking for musical mayhem in a field, we’ve got you covered. Check out the best UK music festivals using our music festival calendar, or stay right here in the city with our big list of London music festivals.

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