Our pick of the best UK summer festivals, from Devon to the Cotswolds

The UK is the Capital of Festivals – and here’s our pick of the best summer events, from foodie fun on Blur bassist Alex James’s cheese farm to cosmic capers at the Jodrell Bank Observatory

  • History buffs will love Wiltshire’s Chalke Valley History Festival in late June
  • Enjoy a blend of cookery classes and live music at The Big Feastival in August
  • The Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate features author dinners and cabaret

Festival fever is back this year after a period of enforced hibernation. And there’s no excuse for not finding an event to match your interests.

Indeed, there’s a case to be made for giving the UK the title of Capital of Festivals. So here are just some of our suggestions for the summer…

Foodie heaven

The Big Feastival, pictured, in the Cotswolds offers oodles of fun for kids – including an old-time funfair, and cookery classes

Equal parts music and food on Blur bassist Alex James’s 200-acre Cotswolds cheese farm for The Big Feastival. There’s oodles of fun for kids — including an old-time funfair, and cookery classes. Acts include The Human League and Anne-Marie.

When: August 26–28.

Festival highlight: The latest innovations at the Cheese Hub.

Book it: Day tickets £92.50 for adults, one child under 12 goes free, then £17 for additional children, thebigfeastival.com.

Reach for the stars

For science, music and art, make your way to the Bluedot festival at Jodrell Bank Observatory (pictured) in Cheshire this July 

Feeling cosmic? Head to the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire — home to the Bluedot festival — for fun-packed days fusing science, music and art. There’s a space camp for children, live experiments on the Big Bang stage, and a set from Icelandic singer Bjork.

When: July 21–24.

Festival highlight: A real-life spaceman in the form of UK astronaut Tim Peake.

Book it: Day tickets from £35, weekend camping for four from £433, discovertheblue dot.com.

Memory lane

Be-bop back in time at The Nostalgia Show in the back garden of Edwardian pile Stansted Park in Hampshire. With English eccentricity at its core, the festival majors on music, fashion and classic cars — with a bunting-clad village green at the heart of the action.

When: June 17–19.

Festival highlight: Shop for vintage clothes at The Best of British marquee.

Book it: Tickets with three nights’ camping for £94 pp, thenostalgiashow.com.

Go wild

Into The Wild hosts 200-plus workshops in Sussex’s dreamy Chiddinglye Estate. This craft-focused extravaganza offers everything from blacksmithery and foraging to woodland theatre for kids (and big kids) to try.

When: August 26–29.

Festival highlight: Campfires after dark and a global food menu.

Book it: A weekend ticket with a tent pitch costs £350 for a family of four (under fives go free), intothewildgathering.com.


Enjoy three days’ worth of author dinners, cabaret and murderous comedy at the Crime Writing Festival at the Old Swan in Harrogate, pictured, this July. Picture courtesy of Creative Commons 

Agatha Christie’s one-time haunt The Old Swan in Harrogate hosts the literary luminaries of the Crime Writing Festival. Flit between author dinners, cabaret and murderous comedy over three days. Sponsored by Theakston Old Peculier, a decent pint of Yorkshire ale is a dead cert, too.

When: July 21–24.

Festival highlight: Lynda La Plante lifting the lid on Prime Suspect.

Book it: Three nights’ B&B at the Crown Hotel including festival tickets cost £574 pp, harrogateinternationalfestivals.com/crime-writing-festival.

Fly high

Like your weekender high-brow? New festival Kite, at Kirtlington Park in Oxfordshire, has an impressive roster of thinkers and writers for its inaugural appearance — and a portion of comedy to boot. Did we mention the music? Grace Jones, no less.

When: June 10–12.

Festival highlight: Professor Richard Dawkins on defying gravity.

Book it: Day tickets from £54, or £140 pp for a weekend ticket with camping pitch, kitefestival.co.uk.

Back in time

Festivalgoers at Chalke Valley History Festival in Wiltshire in 2021. This year, historians such as Max Hastings and Dan Snow will be among those sharing stories

Chalke Valley History Festival in Wiltshire woos the world’s best historians again, with Max Hastings and Dan Snow among those sharing stories. Visitors can expect a vintage funfair and dramatic air displays.

When: June 20–26.

Festival highlight: New for 2022 is an Iron Age roundhouse and settlement.

Book it: Events individually priced from £10, cvhf.org.uk. Doubles at Burcombe Manor from £95, burcombemanor.co.uk.

One night only

If short and sweet is your style, then this boutique-y Devon festival is just the ticket. Pairing local music with wine straight from the vineyard, there’s also beach exploration and gentle hikes up to the Iron Age fort at Musbury Castle to enjoy.

When: June 11.

Festival highlight: Feeling flush? Splurge £50 on the four-course evening banquet.

Book it: Adult tickets with camping £45pp, or glamping for two £125 pp, castlewoodvineyard.co.uk/festival.

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