Out in the Country
MATT NEWBURY carries on camping at some of the UK’s best music festivals
As an alternative to Gay Pride festivals, more and more gay boys and girls are opting for a lost weekend away at one of the variety of music festivals now on offer across the UK and beyond. And why not? Festivals have always been about celebrating freedom, diversity and sexual expression from the hazy days of Woodstock through to the first Isle of Wight and Glastonbury Festivals over forty years ago.
Gay people have always made up a core element of these types of festivities, although in the past few years more and more people have been tempted out into the open, with everyone from Kylie and the Scissor Sisters through to Pet Shop Boys and even Shirley Bassey taking to the stage. Recently Glastonbury has even had a huge gay pop-up club called the New York Down Low packed with revellers escaping the confines of Shoreditch, Vauxhall and beyond for the very first time.
Of course the thought of any form of camping that doesn’t involve an innuendo-laced mince around Soho Square fills some people with dread. And indeed festivals can be an absolute nightmare, especially when the weather turns biblical and it rains for days on end and the entire site turns to sludge. Then with no Glastonbury this year, your odds of a wet weekend have been greatly slashed. And who coincides a festival with Wimbledon anyway – that’s just asking for trouble!
Camping has greatly improved in this age of inflatable mattresses and pop-up tents, although you’ll need a doctorate in astrophysics to get the things back in the bag again. Or if you really can’t be bothered with self erecting, companies like Tangerine Fields let you rent a pre-pitched tent, complete with all your bedding, etc. And if that still sounds like slumming it, why not try some “glamping”? Most festivals now hire out everything from yurts and tipis, to tree cabins and airstreams.
Here’s our run down of the best festivals of summer 2012. We’ll meet you towards the front right of the main stage… we’ll be the ones with the rainbow flag.
Willow Farm, Loughton, Essex
Acts include: Dance a la Plage, Holly Cosgrove, Athletes in Paris, Flynn Farrell Angry v The Bear
Head on over to Essex for the UK’s only gay festival with camping. Promising a rebellious alternative to other Pride events, the line-up includes the very best up-and-coming indie and electro acts on the main stage, while KushKamp resident DJ Handbag House spins the remixed chart hits, electro, oldskool and mashups in the dance circus tent. Throw in some giant inflatable games, a karaoke stage, a VIP area and lots of up-for-it gay party monsters and their friends and it sounds like a winner. Go to: kushkamp.co.uk
Charlton Park, Malmesbury, Wiltshire
July 27 ? 29
Acts include Jimmy Cliff, Patrick Wolf, Hugh Masekela, Tokyo ska Paradise Orchestra
The biggest World Music festival in the… well, world, celebrates thirty years this year and it promises to be a huge weekend of diversity, discovery and delight. Expect seven stages packed with hundreds of performers and artists from every corner of the globe, as well as workshops, arts and crafts stalls and some seriously delicious international street food. We are particularly excited about the La-Di-Da Loos (worth an extra tenner for a lovely porcelain flushing toilet) and the WOMAD spa with a range of treatments and two Jacuzzis.
Go to: womad.co.uk
White Waltham Airfield, Maidenhead, Berkshire
August 10 ? 12
Acts include The Jim Jones Revue, Big Boy Bloater, Jack Rabbit Slim, King Salami & the Cumberland 3
Retro is so “now” and whether you are a full-on vintagista or just retro-curious, don’t miss this festival of 40s, 50s and 60s fashion, trends and kitsch. As well as three live undercover music stages, there’s a vintage shopping village, classic cars, scooters and hot rods, flying displays, a wall of death, a roller disco and dodgem cars. You’ll find us soaking up the 1930s Shanghai glamour and decadence in the Scarlet Ballroom, featuring champagne, cocktails, live music cabaret and burlesque.
Go to: retrofestival.co.uk
THE V FESTIVAL
Hylands Park in Chelmsford and Weston Park in South Staffordshire
Acts include the Killers, Tom Jones, LMFAO, the Stone Roses, Ed Sheeran
With a clever formula that sees the Saturday’s Essex line up going to Staffordshire on the Sunday and vice versa, the V Festival manages to secure the very best acts by being two festivals in one. Although there have been moans about the commercial nature of the festival, it remains one of the cleanest, safest and well-managed festivals around. As well as a great range of bars and a Gourmet Garden selling seriously good food, there’s also a huge open-air cinema screen showing free films throughout the night.
Go to: vfestival.com
Daresbury, Halton, Cheshire
Acts include David Guetta, Example, the Chemical Brothers, Annie Mac, Tiesto, Paul Van Dyk
Organised by the team behind Liverpool super club Cream, this is without doubt one of the biggest and most respected dance events in the world. The line-up mixes genre-breaking pioneers of dance music, with live acts and superstar DJs to create a mind-blowing atmosphere. Boasting a huge live outdoor stage and eight dance arenas as well as lots of happy smiling faces, this event is also always popular with gay dance music fans… we’d book the Monday off work though!
Go to: creamfields.com
Isle of Wight
Tickets from 170.00
Acts include: New Order, Sigur Ros, Orbital, Hot Chip, Florence and the Machine, De La Soul
Take the ferry across the Solent to Bestival and enjoy one of the most quirky, friendly and fun festivals out there, set in the stunning Robin Hill Country Park. The four-day boutique party mixes up big name acts with some seriously credible alternatives, while you’ll also want to get planning your fancy dress ? this year the theme is “Wildlife”. There’s also endless other distractions to stumble upon, including the Bollywood Cocktail Lounge, the Wishing Tree Stage and even a Roller Disco
Go to: bestival.net
Nevada Desert, USA
August 27 – September 3
From 210.00 (dollars)
Acts include: You.
This festival should be on everyone’s list of 100 things to do before you die. Once a year, 48,000 people gather in the Nevada Desert to create Black Rock City, a pop-up community founded on art, self-expression and self-reliance. This is completely different to any other festival in the world: every bit of entertainment or art is created by the participants – and that includes you. This is definitely not a passive experience – attendees create the city, the art and the performances. Cash is banned, so you will need to bring everything you need and be prepared to share. One week later, everyone departs leaving not a single trace of the city, but with some amazing memories. Awesome, man.
Go to: burningman.com
STOP MAKING SENSE
Acts include: Dalston Superstore featuring Severino, Dan Beaumont, Mikki Most, Hannah Holland, Nadia Ksaiba and Rokk
For something completely different, why not grab a cheap flight to Croatia for five nights of musical anarchy in “The Garden” – a magical secluded bay with its own private beach. A muddy Glastonbury this ain’t. Expect a stellar line-up of DJs and bands including a few familiar faces from the London gay scene, playing across the dance music spectrum (from jazz, folk and Latin to house and techno via reggae, dubstep and electro). Throw in boat parties, tiki bars and two entertainment stages taking the party through to 1am, before a courtesy bus whisks you 15 down the road to Barbarella’s open air club, so you can party under the stars till 7am. Bliss. Go to: stopmakingsense.eu
THE BEST OF THE REST
Larmer Tree Festival, near Salisbury, July 11-15
Four thousand capacity and starring Paloma Faith, Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, Levellers, Tim Minchin. Go to: larmertreefestival.co.uk
Tramlines, Sheffield, July 20-22
Free urban festival, Roots Manuva, We Are Scientists, Ms Dynamite, Field Music. Go to: tramlines.org.uk
Global Gathering, July 27-28
Chase and Status, Tinie Tempah, Friendly Fires, Labrinth, Annie Mac. Go to: globalgathering.com
TribFest, East Yorkshire, August 17-19
World’s biggest tribute act festival, The Black Eyed Peaz, Abba Revival, The Police Academy, Heart of Glass, and The Clone Roses. Go to: tribfest.co.uk
Reading Festival, August 24-26
The Cure, Kasabian, Foo Fighters, Florence and the Machine. Go to: readingfestival.com
Top Festival Essentials
A cheap mobile phone
Ditch the battery guzzling smart phone, so you don’t have to join a 10-hour queue for a recharge.
Wet wipes, dry shampoo and hand gel
Stay clean and fresh, you don’t want to limit your pulling potential to the first day.
Vital when you are stumbling back to your tent, negotiating the criss-crossing guy ropes.
Even if it’s a heat wave when you are packing, don’t make the fatal mistake of not packing some funky festival wellies.
Sunblock and sunglasses
There may be a heat wave, you never know. And if not, the sunglasses are perfect for covering your glazed eyes when you stumble out of your tent.