14 Magnificent Midlands’ Festivals
Move over Glasto and Wilderness - Warwickshire & the West Mids welcome festival goers of all types too...
There are loads of festival shenanigans planned for the county between now and September. Here’s a round-up of the best family-friendly festivals on our doorstep and beyond…
Down on the Close – A Festival in a Night, Rugby School, Sat Aug 26
There’s no need to bring a tent as you’ll see Imelda May, Wilko Johnson, Toploader and the Roving Crows perform live at the historic venue on the same night. Festival organiser, Lee Martin, founder of Lakefest in Ledbury, said: “Rugby was the ideal spot to host this magical night. The venue itself is just beautiful and I’ve hand-picked acts that will put on a great live show for a family audience.” Local food traders will be catering within the grounds & guests are also welcome to bring picnics. VIP packages include a private Gin Bar, with access to the side of the stage and a backstage seating area.
Warwick Folk Festival, Warwick School and town, Thur July 27- Sun July 30
Award-winning Scottish singer Barbara Dickson will be headlining a special acoustic set on Sun Jul 30 with pianist Nick Holland exploring her back catalogue of songs including million-selling number one single, I Know Him So Well. The 2017 line-up for the 38th Warwick Folk Festival includes the likes of veteran punk folkies Oysterband, the uniquely entertaining Australian The Spooky Men’s Chorale, award-winning Goitse from Ireland, DJ Andy Kershaw and Gaelica from Venezuela. Circus skills, storytelling, theatre, crafts and even star-gazing for kids. Plus, the first folk-comedy night, ceilidhs, workshops, a Craft & Music Fair and Wine and Cocktail Bar.
Warwick School, Warwick, warwickfolkfestival.co.uk
V Festival, Staffordshire, Aug 19-20
V Festival is a pop fest with the youngest audience of any major festival. 2017’s headliners include Jay-Z, Sean Paul, Stormzy, Emile Sande, Ellie Goulding, The Vamps, Dizzee Rascal and Pink.
Weston Park, Staffs, vfestival.com
Camper Calling, Ragley Hall, Warwickshire, Aug 25-27
Camper Calling is a family-friendly festival on the 6,500-acre restored Ragley Estate (pictured below), home to the 9th Marquess of Hertford and family, set up by the founders of Camper Jam at Staffordshire’s Weston Park. The 2017 line-up so far includes 90s Britpop Cast, Reef and The Lightning Seeds. There’ll be woodland walks and House tours, free lake activities including kayaks, pedal boats and Canadian canoes; an adventure playground, campfire tales and fairground as well as lots of lovely locally-produced street food/drink.
Ragley Hall Estate, Alcester, Warwickshire, campercalling.com
Mosely Folk Festival, Birmingham, Sept 1-3
This year is the 12th Moseley Folk Festival and the likes of Laura Marling, Amy Macdonald, Jose Gonzalez, Fairport Convention, Seth Lakeman, Kate Rusby and The Magic Numbers topping the bill. Moseley Park, two miles south of the city centre is an 11-acre woodlands glade in the centre of Moseley Village. Best reached by the No 50 bus it’s unsuitable for camping but Birmingham city centre and the surrounding suburbs has plenty of affordable accommodation such as Nite Nite, a hotel with stylish cabin rooms.
Moseley Park, Birmingham, moseleyfolk.co.uk
The Big Feastival, Alex James’ Farm, The Cotswolds, Aug 25-27
Jamie Oliver and the ex-Blur bassist’s annual intimate foodie-music fest attracts big name headliners and top chefs. Food is always going to be an important part of a festival run by a chef and a cheese-maker. Very family orientated, it has the Little Dude’s Den field, children’s TV stars, cookery classes, Family Olympics and the new for 2017, Amy’s Kitchen Village Green. Olly Murs, The Cribbs, Madness, X factor winner Louisa Johnson and Norman Jay, Conga Natty and a Faithless DJ set will be providing the musical soundtrack.
Alex James’ Farm, Kingham, Cotswolds, thebigfeastival.com
Parklife! Compton Verney, Sun June 25
Park Life! returns for the third year this summer in the beautiful grounds of Compton Verney, 10.30am-5pm. Folk fans are in for a real treat as headliners on the music stage are the award-winning Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman, supported by Folklore and Blondes with Beards. Kathryn and Sean won the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Duo in 2013 and 2016. This one-day family-friendly festival condenses a smorgasbord of entertainment, contemporary crafts and artisan products, including delicious food and drink.
Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival, Birmingham, July 7-9
Rock your body with Chaka Khan, Soul II Soul, Alabama 6-piece soul band St Paul & the Broken Bones and Sugarhill feat Melle Mel who’ll be headlining Mostly Jazz this year in Moseley Park. This festival for jazz aficionados and hip hop fans alike continues to attract an increasingly impressive array of artists since it started in 2010. There’s no camping, but a wide range of accommodation in Birmingham city centre from boutique hotels to serviced apartments and affordable B&Bs.
Moseley Park, Birmingham, mostlyjazz.co.uk
Be Festival, Birmingham, Birmingham Rep, Tue July 4- Sat Jul 8
An explosion of international theatre, dance, circus, comedy, music, visual and performing arts giving audiences the opportunity to explore and enjoy the backstage areas of The REP where the Construction Workshop acts as a Hub to the festival. Every night is the famous interval dinner which takes place on the main stage. After stage performances, there’s the BE Late Stage with live music and DJs taking the festival into the wee hours.
Stratford River Festival, Sat July 1 & Sat July 2
This two-day free family-friendly nautical fest event takes place along the River Avon. On Saturday night expect the traditional lighting up of the narrow boats, live music and a spectacular firework display.
Also Festival, Compton Verney, Fri June 30-Sun July 2
Fancy a Shipwrecked Midnight Feast? An Ibiza Brunch or a Summer Heights Friday Night Pop Up Restaurant? The food is a big part of The Also Experience. Created by Salon London, Also is a small award-winning boutique family-friendly festival with big ideas from top thinkers and academics in a stunning lake-side setting at Park Farm, Compton Verney near Kineton, Warwickshire. Plus wild-swimming. Read review here
Park Farm, Compton Verney, Warwickshire, also-festival.com
Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival, Sun June 18-Sun June 25
The UK’s longest running poetry festival returns with 7-days of readings, performances and workshops, mixing the talents of inspirational and award-winning poets with actors and musicians. This year’s theme is Crossing Borders. Events include An Evening with an Immigrant in which award-winning poet and playwright Inua Ellams will tell his story, Kurdish poet Bjan Matur: In Conversation on Wed June 21, and All the Business of War with actors Simon Russell Beale and Alexandra Gilbreath on Sun June 25.
Rugby Festival of Culture, including Festival on the Close, Sat June 24- Sun July 16
There’s an impressive line-up for this culturally diverse arts and music festival. Festival on the Close celebrates the 450th Anniversary year of the founding of Rugby School and includes Birmingham’s Mercury Music Award nominated singer-songwriter Laura Mvula, Captive by Motionhouse, G4 & Lesley Garrett, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin author Louis De Bernieres performing with the Bookshop Band and poet John Agard. Plus across the town there’s new art exhibitions, film screenings, heritage walking tours, live music and some cool kids theatre.
Avoid stadium costs at this free and easy city centre festival which welcomes acts including the Stranglers, Example, the Darkness, Cast and Kate Nash. It costs nothing and is ticketless, just turn up for the day with a picnic. Done.
Camp Bestival, July 27-29
Bestival’s less wild little sister, the award-winning Camp Bestival, is the Rolls Royce of family festivals. There’s tonnes for kids to do and the music bookings are always high calibre. This 10th anniversary year will see the dapper Mark Ronson getting the party started, with ’90s favourites Leftfield and All Saints also in attendance. If you’re tearing your hair out at the cost of taking the family to a festival (when did they become the same price as a holiday?!), it’s worth noting that Camp Bestival do a brilliant payment plan to spread the cost.
Lulworth Castle, Dorset, campbestival.net
Green Man, Brecon Beacons, August 17-20
Green Man is set in the beautiful Brecon Beacons with the Black Mountains as a backdrop to the Mountain Stage. This year’s line-up includes the wonderful PJ Harvey, Ryan Adams, Future Islands and Michael Kiwanuka. 100% independent, it still draws a brilliant line up of performers spanning indie, psychedelia, Americana, electronica and folk…Also Comedy, Cinema, art, Einstein’s Garden (fab family-friendly science area), Nature & Nurture (spa, yoga & therapy), Little Folk (for 2 – 12-year-olds) and Somewhere (for 13 – 17-year-olds with DJ & song-writing workshops, fire shows, film-making & football).
Glanusk Park, Brecon Beacons, greenman.net
Festival No. 6, Portmeirion, Sept 7-10
A personal fave. An amazing setting with views over the stunning Snowdonia mountain range and peninsula in the slightly surreal Italianate village of Portmeirion (where the pottery comes from) designed by architect William Clough-Ellis. The 2017 line-up includes Flaming Lips, Bloc Party, Mogwai, Rag ‘n’Bone Man, Laura Mvula, Jarvis Cocker, Goldie and Sgt Pepper’s and the Summer of Love with Liverpool Philharmonic and the Bootleg Beatles. Other highlights: a banquet overlooking the estuary, a Swedish spa and Paddle Boarding sessions.
Portmeirion, Gwynedd, Festival No 6