From nipple tassles to self defence: These music festivals are totally feminist

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  • Fringed tops optional.

    17th – 19th June
    Billed as ‘half adventure camp, half music festival’, Camp Wildfire is less about neon facepaints and crop tops – and more about survival skills and, er, nipple tassle crafting. Beyond the areola-based arts and crafts, activities also include fire-starting, bivouac-building (google it), self defence and slack-lining (google that too) – not to mention knife-throwing, slip-sliding, photo-taking and downward dogging. Every activity is included in the ticket price, and while the days follow a pretty rigid structure (kicking off at 8am), nothing is obligatory (you’re an adult woman, not an 11 year old Girl Guide), and for £350, you can sleep off your adrenaline in a luxury bell tent. Which is just the kind of outdoorsy activity we can truly get behind.

    28th – 31st July

    Bringing in female (and male) acts from all over the world, this is probably the most excitingly diverse festival out there. From L’Amazones de l’Afrique to Wiyaala, Hindi Zahra and Luna Pena, the line up transcends many of the gender, racial and age boundaries that generally restrict women within the music industry. The acts are still predominantly male, but the curators appear to have taken previous feminist criticism on board and made a concerted effort to level out the, er, camping field. At our count, 18 out of 40 acts on the line up featured women (which is a marked difference to five years ago, when guests commented that it was only 13 per cent female).

    1st- 4th September

    If you’ve been to Wilderness and fancy something ‘just-as-pretty’ but ‘much-less-crowded’, you need to pitch up in Portmeirion. The line up is disappointingly male-heavy, but when it comes to activities, the organisers just about (almost) manage to make amends by prioritising female empowerment and equal opportunities. The No.6 Academy is the place to go: learn to DJ, study social psychology and attend lectures on How To Write Your First Novel, before heading over to see Holly Walsh perform her amazing stand up routine in the comedy tent.

    5th – 7th August

    The most arty festival in the UK today, Supernormal is a three day long, experimental music affair. With over 400 artists from all over the country in attendance, it’s organised by a team or men and women who prioritise subverting social norms and “experimenting” in the way we live and work together. In 2013, one group of women met at the festival for the first time, formed a group, and returned the following year to perform together (check out Charismatic Megafauna, seriously). It’s a lovely, authentic affair.

    25th-28th August

    If you care about the environment, you probably care about gender equality. Or, er, if you care about the environment, you should care about gender equality. (And if you don’t care about either, then just go away and bang your head against a wall for a little while, yeah?) Shambala is a sustainable, independent, beauty of a festival, which comes complete with a creche so that mums and dads in attendance aren’t lumbered with childcare, not to mention bushcrafts, theatricals and hot tubs. Plus profits go to charities such as the Vivekananda Shobha Jeevan Jyoti orphanage, which helps girls in Mumbai escape sex work.

    28th – 29th May

    If you’ve heard of Bestival, but fancy a slightly more low key affair – or if you just want a warm up event to get you in the festival spirit before the big event in September, you need to check out Common People. There are two venues – one in Southampton, and one in Oxford – and it’s totally budget friendly. But the best thing is definitely Josie da Bank – the event’s creative director, who does everything from overseeing the artwork (she actually used to hand draw all of the elements of the website and the flyers) to designing the stages and dressing the whole festival. Hurrah!

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