Observations: Na na, hay hay: the countryside comes to those 'rural' music festivals

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The Independent Culture

Despite the fact that most summer festivals take place outdoors, in a field somewhere in the middle of the countryside, they are very rarely thought of as being at one with nature. But, this year, they really are. For the first time at Glastonbury, which starts on Wednesday, the National Trust will have an Outside Inn, where people can swap the sound of ear-splitting music for soothing birdsong or gentle rolling waves.

"We're taking the countryside to Glastonbury," explains Andy Mayled, the Trust's General Manager for the Somerset Countryside. "Most people see us as being about stately homes but that's only a fraction of what we do". So, inside the tents will be a soft pebble beach made of sponges, woodland, and a hay meadow, each meant as countryside chill-out zones in the middle of the festival.

Elsewhere, Port Eliot Festival (which starts on 23 July) is expanding last year's nature-related line-up. The nature disco – a DJ mix of sounds gathered from around the world by leading wildlife recorder Chris Watson – and the Caught by the River area – which has a series of readings and music to help people kick back for a few hours – are both back again.

Plus, there's the Nature Book Reader, where special guests will discuss their favourite nature writing, a new flower-show area created by well-known set-designer Michael Howell, and a special focus on birds, with some of the biggest names from the world of birding, including Ceri Levy, whose latest documentary is The Bird Effect (his last documentary, Bananaz, focused on the Gorillaz creators Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett) and hip urban birder David Lindo.

Meanwhile, right now, there are bees setting up home in London's Square Mile as part of the City of London Festival (there will be bee-related poetry readings and talks too, from 21st June) and next month, at the Latitude festival, the Bush Theatre is celebrating the good life with The Great British Countryside Fete, complete with traditional village characters and a tombola.