2023 Festival Guide
Glitter my tits up, it’s festival season!
Let’s be honest, one man’s chalk is another man’s cheese. Not everyone wants to get tw@ted and listen to Drum and Bass all weekend, so this year we’re breaking down our guide into categories to help you navigate the many different festival vibes. Most festivals have now released their line-ups’ so it’s time to make your choices!
Most creative Festivals for escapism
We’re expecting to see much more Boomtown after last year’s post-covid recalibration. Boomtown was a much smaller footprint last year with a scaled back map and some of the big arena’s decommissioned (I miss the Lion’s Den). This isn’t to say that it was diminutive in size, with 75,000 people. The remodelling has brought all the stages much closer together which does ease the hiking around the site slightly, and also developed more into the camping areas with their own social areas.
The line-up is again a closely guarded secret with no official date for it’s release. It was a bold move to go through the full event marketing without a line-up for a festival, but it didn’t hinder ticket sales. So they have gone with the same approach this year. This makes it possible for them to book acts with out the conflict of interest issues with some of the other festivals who have placed non-compete clauses in their contracts for acts. The line-up will certainly not disappoint and I’m expecting the Boomtown crew to pull something quite special to celebrate their 15th birthday!
Image Credit: Jody Hartley
Boomtown is top of our list for otherworldly experiences for its dedication to making the Boomtown experience much more than just the music. To be honest I’ve found more fun in the hidden depths of the micro venues and the theatrics around the site than on many of the main stages in the past. The energy and effort that the crew go to, to create a different world to escape into is truly astonishing. It’s worth a trip just to wander around in awe of the effort that goes into putting it on.
I’m sure tickets will sell out, so get in there fast! https://www.boomtownfair.co.uk/
This Lincolnshire based festival is another special place to get lost in! The Lost Village is a curious place full of surprises, and intrigue. With an awesome line-up, this is sure to be one of the festivals high up on many’s list this year, so book fast to avoid missing out.
Festivals for musical discovery
I’m pretty sure Womad is older than me, and I’m no spring chicken. I’m old enough to remember when Womad sat the other side of the park to Reading festival. Now in much nicer surroundings (no offence Reading) of Charlton Park just outside of Cheltenham on the edge of the Cotswolds. It’s a behemoth of a world music festival with some of the biggest global artists having graced it’s stages over the years, and 2023 is no exception. With ‘Femi Kuti and the Positive Force’, ‘Bombay Bicycle Club’, ‘The Cinematic Orchestra’ to name a few of the headliners, it’s going to be a real treat for those of us who like to experience music from around the globe. We’ve also got the stunning vocal range of ‘Mariza’, Reggae heavy-weight ‘Horace Andy’ and one of my favourite bands out of Ghana ‘Alogte Oho & his Sounds of Joy’. This could easily of sat in our family picks too, as it’s certainly one for all ages.
We out Here
Lovingly curated by Gilles Peterson, you know you’re in for a real treat (and a few unexpected delights). This year is no exception. It’s a flipping huge line-up! Ezra Collective, Knucks, Alice Russell, Galliano, Kruder & Dorfmeister to name a few (and that’s before we mention the Metalheadz takeover with DJ Marky, Goldie, Roni Size and LTJ Bukem). I’m really blown away with the line-up this year. There’s a special 50 year celebration of Hip Hop with Cymande, Brian Jackson and one of my favourite interviewees ever DJ Jazzy Jeff. This year is going to be spectacular. I think I could have picked any of the artists this year as stand-out acts. It’s really that good. Did I mention Sister Nancy and Channel One are there too.
Our pick of Family Friendly Festivals
While Lattitude has a reputation for being a bit of a ‘Middle Classed’ affair, it’s certainly one of the most family friendly and teenager friendly places. It’s very chilled, and the sort of place where hedonism and debauchery appears in very small doses. The line-up this year includes some big names like Paulo Nutini, George Ezra and Pulp. They also have a pretty high standard for festival grub too, so you won’t go hungry!
The Great Estate
Penned as the most rambunctious garden fete, this is another great option for those with youngsters and teens. Expect to find some very unexpected happenings here, including an historical Viking re-enactment camp, Victorian sports day, and a Scandinavian wild spa. The line up includes 2 tone hero’s ‘The Selector’ pink suit wearing ‘Primal Scream’ and ‘Symphonic Ibiza’.
Another firm favourite with the Yummy Mummy’s, is Wilderness. Nestled in the Cornbury Park Estate in the Cotswolds, you could legitimately call this a weekend escape to the country. I’m pretty sure they still play cricket on the grass at some point in the weekend. But don’t let that fool you, this is a serious party. There’s still a level of civility here, so a great option for those wanting to take kids and teens, but there’s also a touch of classy opulence and debauchery to seek out if you want to. There are huge dining experiences to take part in, loads of arts and talks too.
This possibly goes beyond the child friendly festival into it’s own category of Child Focussed. This is the offspring of Shambala festival crew and a dedicated family festival. Described as the best family camping holiday, with loads of music, and a vast array of activities for all the family. This is the perfect escape for aspiring ‘free-range’ families.
Small (but perfectly formed) festivals
This is one of my top picks this year. The line-up is a corker with, The Skints, Stereo MC’s, Goldie, Krafty Kuts, General Levy, Eva Lazarus, DJ Format, Rodney P. I could list the whole lot, as it’s all top draw. Last time I was here is was an amazing weekend with only 1000 people there, so really intimate. This year it’s grown a bit, but not enough to spill out of this category. Dub Pistols frontman Barry has been nurturing this forwards for the last few years and having not been since pre-covid times I can’t wait to see what he’s done with the place. See you in the field!
I would describe Noisily as a legitimised rave with DNA from the late 90’s before the Criminal Justice act kicked in. It’s a place of euphoric love and connection, that can be unlocked with the help of a little magic dust called MDMA! It’s the ultimate forest party, where no more consideration is needed for the police to take away the sound system, so they’ve spent time to build a haven of light and spectacle for you to enjoy. It’s an unashamedly pure electronic music extravaganza.
Nozstock: The Hidden Valley
Possibly at the larger end of the small festival spectrum, Nozstock is another festival that punches way above it’s weight. It all started as a BBQ at the family farm, and has grown into the delight it’s become today. With Fat Freddy’s Drop, Shy FX, and reggae superstars The Wailers, the list goes on!
There might be a lot of cow references here, but this festival is no bull! This year’s line-up is a belter. Mr Scruff, Laurent Garnier, Craig Charles, Stereo MC’s, Freestylers and Dreadzone to name a few. Expect beefy beats, and select cuts all weekend!
Hang the DJ, we want bands!
Metallica, Placebo, Skindred, Slipknot, Behemoth. If you like to hit the mosh pit, then Download is the place for you. Held at Donnington Park, and having featured some of the biggest rock and metal bands in the world. If it’s rock you’re after, then it’s Download 20 where you need to be.
I popped my festival cherry at Reading. At the age of about 15 we sneaked in through the trade entrance, and got up to things we shouldn’t have got up to at that age. It was a monumental weekend in my adolescence that I compel all teenagers have a go at. A lot has changed over the years, but Reading is still one of the best live band festivals. This year is no exception with lot’s of familiar faces from the Indie and pop music world.
I don’t want a muddy field. Festivals in the sun
Cala Mijas festival
Cala Mijas festival captures the last glints of the summer, calming sunsets, the final outdoor dances and sundowners with friends – all in all, the perfect setting to finish Summer 2023. The coastal town of Mijas on the sunny shores of Malaga greets travellers to its exceptional location to explore local beaches and gastronomy. Prepare for an unforgettable party hosted by international and local acts.
It’s in August, in Croatia with some of the best electronic music and DJ’s, boat and after parties. What more do you need to know?