From boutique to totally bonkers, here’s my must-do festival list for 2013 – in no particular order (that would be way too hard).
1) ATP Weekender, 10-12 May
There’s something about watching your favourite bands from a retro holiday camp that feels weirdly… wholesome. Not a word I would usually associate with a festival, but heading into my thirties, it’s reassuring to go to a festival where you can stay in a chalet, sleep in a bed, and cook in your kitchen (ok, I might not go that far). All while checking out new bands (TV On The Radio are curating this year so the line up is cherry-picked by them: result), playing on arcade machines and gate crashing other people’s chalets until 6am (wholesome? who am I kidding). Formerly at Butlins in Minehead, ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’ comes this year from Pontins in Camber Sands. Talk about a spring break.
2) The Telegraph Hay Festival, 23 May – 02 June
If your idea of being a bookworm is curling up in a deckchair on a pretty lawn cradling a pitcher of Pimms, then this gorgeous arts festival in Hay on Wye is one for you. With authors like John Le Carre doing the talking and Noah and The Whale providing the soundtrack, it’s no wonder it’s now world-renowned. I’ve been a few times. I’ve stayed in tipis, hung out with parents, stalked Lynn Barber when she was signing copies of An Education, and even ventured off into the sleepy town of Hay in search of a 1990s disco and a strong pint of cider. Both, you’ll be glad to hear, do exist.
3) Winterwell, 8 June
With The Great Gatsby set to be the film of the summer, I’m surprised there aren’t more festivals cashing in on the roaring 1920s theme. If flappers do float your boat, this year’s Winterwell should be at the top of your list. Condensed into one long, hot summer (we wish) day, it’s basically going to be a massive garden party at a sprawling Oxfordshire estate with hot tubs, cigar terraces, speakeasy style bars and erm, cucumber sandwich tossing, which I’m personally most excited about…
4) Benicassim, 18-21 July
I’ve heard so much about this Spanish beach festival over the years. Sigh. But this year I’m getting even – and I’m going! It always has an amazing line-up and the sun always shines… and this year, boasting Jake Bugg, Azealia Banks (I saw her at Coachella last year and she was FIERCE) and Arctic Monkeys, looks set to be no different. I’m booking into an apartment and turning it into my summer holiday. I figure I’ll need a few days of R ‘n’ R after Bender-cassim…
5) Latitude, 18-21 July
An old favourite of mine and my school friends, it was the first festival that seemed to put as much effort into the theatre/literary/comedy side as music – and pull it all off so amazingly well. I have to admit it passed me by a bit this year… and then I saw the line-up. Namely, the BBC Radio 6 Stage. Modest Mouse. Alt J. Beach House. Oh and Kraftwerk are headlining the entire thing. I’d book tickets quick. Then eBay the lot. I predict selling out of Glasto proportions.
6) Wilderness, 9-11 August
The festival that introduced me to hot tubs and lake swimming will always have a special place in my heart. Now in it’s third year, it continues to be what so many others try so hard (but fail) to be – an intelligent fusion of great acts (this year Empire of the Sun and Tom Odell are on the line-up), amazing food (Er, hello, Polpo’s Russell Norman and Mr Mark Hix), thought-provoking arts and hard partying (don’t miss the masked ball in the woods). Can’t wait.
7) The Green Man, 15-18 August
OK, there’s a bit of a theme here. I love Wales (I’m half-Welsh) and I’m not ashamed to admit my festival choices are often steered by the promise of some quality time on those rolling green hills. If you feel the same, look no further than The Green Man, which always has a stellar line-up (this year check out Band of Horses and Veronica Falls) and a great vibe. It’s not full of drunken teens. It’s not full of screaming babies. It’s just nice.
8) The Big Feastival, 31 August-01 September
Ever since I interviewed Alex James before the launch of his then Harvest festival two years ago, I’ve been dying to go back to his (not so) little farm for the full-on festival experience. In association with The Jamie Oliver Foundation, this is the big foodie ticket for 2013 with farmers markets, pop-ups and boutique bars. Although very child-friendly acts like Paloma Faith and Razorlight (who played last year) drown out the noise…
9) Bestival, 5-8 September
With an iconic fancy dress theme (even a bout of gastroenteritis didn’t dampen my space odyssey efforts in 2009) and a stomping line-up, for me is the undisputed daddy of all the festivals. Mixing old indie favourites (Franz Ferdinand), hip hop legends (the artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg) and new talent (yes, that’s you Jessie Ware) and the legend that is Sir Elton John CBE (which really requires no bracket after it, whoops), it’s looks to be one of the erm, best, yet.
10) Festival No 6, 13-15 September
Black Friday 2021
If you haven’t been to the eccentric little seaside town of Portmeiron in Wales yet, then I insist you kill two birds with one stone and get your ass down here in September. Explore the quirky little village where cult 1960s drama The Prisoner was filmed while checking out one of the coolest new festivals (it was recently voted NME’s Best Small Festival 2013). Oh and everyone from The Manic Street Preachers to Laura Mvula is playing. What more could you ask for?