Britain’s best cultural festivals

Does live music, artistic performances, artisan food and picturesque scenery sound like your cup of tea? Sophie Hannam explores Britain’s finest boutique festivals... and there isn’t a muddy field or portable loo in sight!

Green Man

GREEN MAN Nr Crickhowell, Brecon Beacons

Green Man

Immerse yourself in the Welsh countryside and explore miles of untouched mountains, forests and rivers with a trip to eco-friendly retreat Green Man (16th-19th August). Alongside a stellar line-up of musicians, including indie legends War on Drugs and Fleet Foxes, visitors can enjoy family-friendly activities, plus plenty of locally sourced food and drink. For those looking to explore beyond the festival grounds, you’ll find art galleries, gardens, castles and sites of natural beauty just a short car journey away. Adult camping tickets start from £180, or invest in a ‘Settler’s Pass’ (£225) for a week of camping, plus some exclusive workshops such as foraging, bat walking and raft building. 0161 813 2222;


PORT ELIOT FESTIVAL St Germans, Cornwall

5. Credit Michael Bowles.

Set amid the vast lawns, sun-dappled woodlands and ornamental gardens of this lush Cornish estate, Port Eliot Festival (26th-29th July) is a far cry from the muddy wellies and plastic ponchos of a traditional music festival. Alongside sampling live music, festival-goers can enjoy talks from A-list authors and big- name comedians, plus there are demonstrations from celebrity chefs and wellbeing experts. Visitors are also encouraged to embrace the outdoors with a wild swim in the estuary, or an indulgent hot tub session in Cornwall’s roaming eco-spa, Kernow Springs. Prices for adult day tickets start from £62.50, with weekend camping from £170.


HAY FESTIVAL Hay-on-Wye, Powys


A must-visit for those interested in books, the arts and beautiful scenery, the Hay Festival (24th May-3rd June) brings together acclaimed writers and speakers from around the world for a calendar of discussions and performances. Make time for antiques-hunting between talks too, as Hay-on-Wye is a hotspot for independent shops stocking antiquarian books and collectable finds. Entrance to the festival site itself is free and tickets to individual talks range from £5-£40. 01497 822629;


LATITUDE Beccles, Suffolk


For a genteel and refined music festival experience, Suffolk’s Latitude (12th-15th July) is a well-mannered salute to live music, contemporary arts and the British summertime. Highlights for culture vultures include waterside dance and theatre performances from Sadler’s Wells and Recirquel Contemporary Circus, plus live podcast recordings, film screenings and stand-up comedy from Harry Hill and the cast of quiz panel show, QI. Of course, there’s plenty of music – but for those looking for relaxation and luxury, you’ll find wellbeing and spa sessions, lake swimming, a children’s enchanted garden and endless glamping options. Prices for adult weekend camping tickets start from £197.50. Be quick, because they sell out fast! 020 7009 3001;


VINTAGE BY THE SEA Morecambe, Lancashire

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Combine a trip to Morecambe’s Victorian promenade with a celebration of all things vintage at Vintage By The Sea (1st-2nd September). Pay tribute to timeless design from the 1920s through to 1990s, with live music, classic cars, a pop-up dance hall and old fairground rides. Dressing up is optional (although we never pass on the chance to slip into a Fifties sundress!) and festival-goers clad in their finest 20th-century garb can enter the hotly contested ‘Best in Show’ competition. Entry to the festival is also free, leaving spare pennies for antiques and vintage shopping, of which there is plenty.


FESTIVAL NO. 6 Portmeirion, Gwynedd


During the summer, it’s easy to mistake the clear blue waters of Portmeirion for that of a Mediterranean seaside town. Festival No.6 (6th-9th September) is a civilised affair. Described as a ‘boutique music and arts festival’, it delivers indulgent food, illuminating talks, immersive theatre and plenty of popular music to boot. Prices for adult weekend camping tickets start from £180. 0844 967 0002;


CURIOUS ARTS FESTIVAL Lymington, Hampshire

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Surrounding the lavish estate and pleasure grounds of Pylewell Park, Curious Arts Festival (20th- 22nd July) is a rip-roaring escape for those with an eye for fun, creativity and a touch of the eccentric. Festival-goers are just as likely to while away evenings listening to A-list musicians and comedians, as they are to find themselves caught up in a cocktail-mixing masterclass, a revitalising yoga session or ambling through the countryside on a midnight bat walk. Headliners this year include singer-songwriter John Newman and comedian Al Murray, alongside a stellar line-up of literary acts and family-friendly workshops. Prices for adult weekend camping tickets start from £128. 0333 300 9911;




Established in 1949, Cheltenham Literature Festival (5th-14th October) is one of the UK’s oldest literary events. Taking place after the high-summer festival season, visitors can witness the town transform into a celebration of the written word. Delight in talks from award-winning writers, or enjoy a new book in the autumnal sunshine. The main festival site is free to enter and individual tickets for each event can be bought separately. 01242 850270;