Five of the Best: UK Arts Festivals

Thought festivals were limited to music and mud? Think again...

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Reviewed by Holly Swayne 

A whole new breed are paving the way for something a little more diverse, rebooting the typical music line-ups with everything from film and literature to fashion and food. The ultimate playground for the culture vulture, we’ve rounded up the best arts festivals in the UK.

Latitude, 17th-20th July, Suffolk

 

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Photo: Danny North

Now in its ninth year, Latitude is mother of all arts festivals. Not content with a top music line-up (headliners include Damon Albarn and The Black Keys), Latitude’s vast spread of theatre, literature, film and comedy has all the ingredients for a weekend of top culture seeking. This year’s highlights? We’ll be catching scenes from West End musical Once, stand-up from funny-man Simon Amstell and a lakeside performance by the English National Ballet.

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Price £195.50 (weekend ticket with camping); latitudefestival.com

Port Eliot, 24th-27th July, Cornwall

 

 

 

Photo:Michael Bowles

Books have long been the main draw, but Port Eliot is so much more than a literary festival. Alongside the renowned author talks and readings, you can feast on culinary delights from the Hemsley + Hemsley sisters and laugh yourself silly at The Cabaret Tent. The BFC-curated Wardrobe Department is a must for fashion- lovers, with face-painting by Louise Gray, a couture sewing bee and talks by Fashion Week’s new star designer Simone Rocha.

Price £172.50 (weekend ticket with camping); porteliotfestival.com

Curious Arts Festival, 18th – 20th July, Hampshire

 

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It may be small-scale but this festival packs an impressive literary punch, with some of Britain’s best contemporary writers and critics taking part (Antonia Fraser, Craig Brown, Dan Snow, Rachel Joyce to name a few). Based in Hampshire's Pylewell Park, you can prepare to relax to the laid-back sounds of Nick Mulvey, get spooked by horror flicks at The Curtis Brown Film Tent or catch a guided tour of the grounds by expert historians. Magic shows and donkey rides are also on hand to appeal to the inner-child in you.

Price £100 (weekend ticket with camping); curiousartsfestival.com

Voewood, 15th – 17th August, Norfolk

 

 

 

If you’re partial to a little English tradition, this festival will be right up your street. For three days in August, the quaint gardens of Voewood House will become the setting for Shakespearean readings, performances by pop legends like Paul Young and traditional teas on the lawn. The star billing goes to Mike Heron, who’ll be marking his 45th anniversary since playing Woodstock with The Incredible String Band. Rock on.

Price £165 (weekend ticket with camping); voewoodfestival.com

Festival No. 6, 5th- 7th September, Wales

 

 

 

While its music is more mainstream - with chart-toppers like Tom O’Dell and Julio Bashmore playing - Festival No. 6 is anything but ordinary. For starters, it’s set in the Welsh town of Portmeirion, a Mediterranean-inspired coastal village with a unique mountainous landscape which provided the location for cult 60's TV series The Prisoner. The unusual location plays home to an equally eclectic line-up, pairing music with enlightening talks, surreal street theatre and immersive interactive experiences that will leave you with plenty to muse over on your return.

Price £160 (weekend ticket with camping); festivalnumber6.com

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