Festival Guide 2012: As Glastonbury rests, rival festivals look to raise their game

With the daddy of them all taking a fallow year, 2012 is a chance for smaller festivals to show off their charm and diversity

"Never. Glastonbury is immortal," says Alex Trenchard, organiser of the Standon Calling festival, in an amused response to Michael Eavis's gloomy prediction that the Worthy Farm extravaganza is "on the way out". The Glastonbury founder's prediction that his baby has "three or four years" before extinction hasn't been taken too seriously, but it'll be fascinating to see how much the other festivals can up their game in Glastonbury's absence (the granddaddy of music festivals is taking 2012 off, ceding to the Olympic Games which is eating up most of the country's resources, most crucially the Portaloos). The signs are looking very positive indeed.

Glastonbury has always excelled on the "extras" – theatre groups, surreal happenings, puppetry, magicians, fancy dress – and this is something that the ambitious, family-friendly Latitude Festival, now in its seventh year, and the innovative (but also family-friendly) Standon Calling, which takes place from 3-5 August, are trying desperately to replicate. Latitude, which takes place in Southwold between 12-15 July, will feature a wildly diverse programme that will include world famous concert pianist Lang Lang, comedy from Jack Dee, productions from the National Theatre and Sadler's Wells, plus poetry from Benjamin Zephaniah and Scroobius Pip. This is on top of a giddy music bill that includes Paul Weller, Laura Marling and Janelle Monae.

Hertfordshire's Standon Calling intends to match Latitude, offering as it does a wealth of "unique experiences" including interactive theatre curated by the Heritage Arts Company, sculpture classes, a literary lounge, a "silly Olympics", tree aerialists, a dog show and even a "beatbox workshop".

"Standon isn't just about the music. It's about the arts and theatre programming too," emphasises Trenchard. "Our audience want an escape, even more so now that times are tough. I think those festivals that offer an interesting line-up as well as a unique experience will continue to do well."

However, will there be much of an audience for this no doubt impressively staged event?

"We have seen real upswing in ticket sales this year and are currently running at about 30 per cent up on last year's start, which was a good start," says Trenchard. "Both tiers of early bird tickets sold out in record quick time."

Simon Taffe, organiser for the End of the Road, echoes this sentiment pointing out that he's "100 per cent" confident his quirky, independent festival will be profitable, before adding "it will sell out. It has sold out for the last four years and is well ahead of last year."

It's not a surprise as End of the Road, winner of the Best Small Festival Award last year, is one of the loveliest music events of the year, nestled as it is deep within Larmer Tree Gardens, home to roaming peacocks and exotic birds. Now in its seventh year, the 5,000-capacity festival, taking place from 31 August to 2 September, will feature Anna Calvi, Grizzly Bear, Midlake and Beach House. However, Taffe also emphasises the importance of providing festivalgoers with extra stimulation beyond the music.

"We have lots of other great stuff going on around the site and have been expanding on the literary element over the years," he maintains. "Last year, the comedy came into its own, with a new setting in a natural outdoor amphitheatre. Then there are animation workshops, ping-pong tournaments, great food, fine ales – the list goes on and on."

Taffe is similarly upbeat about his debutant festival, No Direction Home (8-10 June), a family-friendly event pitching up in Welbeck at the edge of Sherwood Castle. "I think our audience trusts us now to deliver on a music level," he says. "It takes a while to build that trust, but we sold 1,000 tickets for No Direction Home before we announced a single band." Acts include Richard Hawley, the Unthanks and Gruff Rhys.

The general feeling, particularly among the more established festivals, is that sales are good. The Isle of Wight festival looks like a guaranteed sell-out given that American heavy-hitters Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty are performing, and festivals such as Wychwood and the Cambridge Folk Festival, which cater to a slightly older festivalgoers, always have healthy sales. The radically hip Secret Garden festival (19-22 July) meanwhile, which takes place either side of a picturesque lake in Cambridgeshire, has very nearly sold out and boasts an embarrassment of riches that include art tents, theatre workshops, a big wheel, boat rides, swimming, treasure hunts, massage, barefoot discos and twilight fire circle tales. Its impressive Kids Area features egg hunts, kite flying, circus shows and karaoke.

However, if you're solely seeking thrills, then Rob Da Bank's hedonistic Bestival on the Isle of Wight (6-9 September) offers you the chance to swim your way across to the island or you can join Bike to Bestival, a group of musicians who plan to busk and cycle their way to the site (visit http://2012.bestival.net/news/bike-to-bestival to join them) for charity. Once there, you can savour Stevie Wonder headlining on Sunday night.

So even though tuition fees are exorbitant, the economy has gone to hell in a handcart and some festivals bit the bullet last year, 2012 still has an air of triumph about it with the considerable feelgood factor of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and, of course, the Olympic Games. Who needs Glastonbury? Well, as Taffe points out, it's "still one the greatest shows on Earth".

Arts and Entertainment
Stewart Lee (Gavin Evans)

comedy

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

film
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment

film
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own