The alternative festival countdown

There’s something for everyone around the country this summer

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The Independent Culture

Chagstock Festival

Chagstock Festival is one of the West Country’s best-loved festivals. Set on the northern edge of Dartmoor, it is renowned for its stunning location, diverse line-up and family- friendly atmosphere.

Chagstock is proud to be in Devon and promotes the best the West Country has to offer, from performers to food stalls.

Acts confirmed include Fun Lovin Criminals, Seth Lakeman, KT Tunstall, Alabama 3 (acoustic) Juan Zelada, Ruarri Joseph and The Travelling Band.

Info: Chagstock Festival, Whiddon Down, Dartmoor, Devon. 20–21 July 2012;

Off The Tracks Festival

Off The Tracks Festivals take place twice a year in a perfect setting amid beautiful Derbyshire countryside.

They deliver an eclectic mix of roots, rock, folk, world, ska and reggae artists (plus more) plus acoustic sessions and club nights in the venue’s barns. There’s a huge real ale bar and great food choices.

Permanent toilets and showers help make the facilities among the best, and most family-friendly, available. Easily accessible in the heart of England, Off The Tracks stays true to the real independent festival spirit.

Info: 07825 512 168;

21st GuilFest – 13-15 July

GuilFest returns to Stoke Park, Guildford to celebrate its 21st Anniversary on 13-15th July this year.

Olly Murs, Jools Holland, Bryan Ferry, Tulisa, Tim Minchin, Chic, Jimmy Cliff, Gary Numan, The Straits, Candi Staton, Buzzcocks, Cher Lloyd, The Undertones, The South, & much, much, more feature across 12 stages for the award-winning three-day festival. Also featuring a brilliant kids zone, food from around the world, late-licenced bars and a fantastic, friendly atmosphere you won’t find anywhere else!

Info: 0871 230 1106;

WOWfest... for people who want to Global Party

UB40, Paul Oakenfold, Madeleine Peyroux… five main stages of massive names from the worlds of reggae, ska, 70s and 80s originals, soul, jazz, African traditions, house, dub, psychedilia and an African village of activity... three days of eclectic music, dance and entertainment from across the globe… with pod pads, yurts, tipis, bell tents, and festival camping… where culture meets harmony… the brightest and biggest new festival of the year.

Info: Isle of Wight – 17-19 August 2012 under St Martin’s Down, near Shanklin, with outstanding views. Tickets are available from

Watchet LIVE Festival

Watchet LIVE Festival is a not-for-profit family festival with amazing views of the West Somerset coastline. It is the county’s largest outdoor music event.

The Blockheads will be headlining, joining a line-up that includes The Popes, Babyhead, Mad Dog Mcrea, The Wurzels, Miles Hunt & Erica Nockalls (from the Wonder Stuff); Tom Hingley & The Lovers (Ex-Inspiral Carpets) The Cheeky Girls and over 50 others.

Info: Watchet LIVE Festival, Parsonage Farm, Watchet, Somerset. 24–26 August 2012;

Cork Midsummer Festival

A human glitterball, unique backstage tours of Cork city, Gavin Bryars’ The Sinking of the Titanic, Cara O’Sullivan in Pagliacci and international dance smash hit Rian are just some of the highlights at Ireland’s Cork Midsummer Festival.

Presenting unique experiences in unexpected places, the festival is an explosion of exceptional theatre, dance, music, opera, visual arts and street performance, which will transform the city of Cork into a celebration of ideas and creativity.

Info: 21 June - 1 July,

Towersey Festival, Oxfordshire – 23-27 August

At 48 years old, this is the grand daddy of independent festivals. Over five nights and four days it delivers much more than your average weekend event, free of major corporate sponsors and branding and all about great music with real folk roots. Add spoken word, street theatre, visual art, the best children’s festival on the scene, a unique village location in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside and you have something very special.

Info:; 023 8071 1818

Beyond the Border – Wales International Storytelling Festival

Feast on ancient epics from Persia, legends of Celtic Britain, Grimm’s fairytales and more. From June 29 – July 1 at our fairytale castle by the sea, you’ll find storytelling and circus, world and folk music, puppetry and film in tented venues and halls. Rare international performances from Canada, USA, Germany, Kazakhstan and Switzerland, plus the best of Wales and the UK. Weekend camping or mix and match day and evening tickets.

Info: 01446 799100 / 02921 660501;

Greenwich Comedy Festival – 13-20 July

Now firmly established as one of London’s best comedy events, Greenwich Comedy Festival marks its fourth year at the stunning Old Royal Naval College and plays a starring role in the spectacular new Greenwich Summer Festival. This year features another stellar line-up including Dylan Moran (right), Sean Lock, Reginald D Hunter, Jerry Sadowitz and many more. Come and enjoy award-winning comedy in the Big Top and Top surrounded by a full-on festival with delicious street food stalls and more!


Rhythm Festival – 24-26 August

Rhythm Festival has been held in the beautiful Bedfordshire countryside for six years, returning in 2012 for the August Bank Holiday Weekend as “three festivals for the price of one”. Rhythm Festival comes with two additional arenas: Rhythm Folk and Rhythm & Blues. This year’s headliners include Hawkwind, Booker T, Ken Boothe, John Cooper Clarke Wilko Johnson and Show of Hands. There’s also lots for the kids to do, including organised sports, Panic Circus and cinema. An all-festival adult weekend pass costs £99 before 31 May and includes a free child (5-16 years) ticket. Camping is extra.


Wickerman Festival – 20-21 July

Known for its unforgettable atmosphere, diverse music line-up and picturesque Dumfries & Galloway setting, the Wickerman Festival is set to be one of the summer’s biggest parties. This year, monumental New York pop stars Scissor Sisters and top Scottish popsters Texas will headline the main stage. Acclaimed new Scottish talent, an extensive punk and ska bill, legendary DJs, reggae and acoustic performances also feature, with a DJ set from Mike Skinner after the awe-inspiring burning of the Wickerman statue. A celebration of arts and entertainment, festival goers can also enjoy everything from fire walking to grass sledging over the weekend.


Apple Cart Festival – 3 June

The Apple Cart is back after a warmly received launch last summer but with a new date for 2012 due to the London Olympics, now taking place over the Diamond Jubilee weekend at Victoria Park, London. A fun and colourful mix that goes beyond the music, the festival adopts a melting pot ethos. No other event in the capital has Turner prize winners, world class magicians and cabaret stars sitting happily alongside arena-filling comedians, music legends and rising stars on the same bill, on the same day.

Info: 0207 690 0106;

Brisfest 2012... music, street art, theatre, comedy and circus

Bristol will play host to an extravaganza of music, street art, theatre, comedy and circus on 22 - 23 September as Brisfest, the city’s biggest music festival, moves from the harbourside to the rolling fields of nearby Ashton Court Estate. Brisfest, which started in 2008, showcases the best of the South West from hip hop to heavy metal, folk to funk, comedy to carnival. The festival prides itself on providing a platform for up-and-coming talent from all over the region, so expect an eclectic line-up featuring some of next year's breakthrough acts. In all, more than 500 bands, DJs, comedians, cabaret and circus performers join the poets, street artists, dancers – and there’s a whole host of free workshops!

Info: Tickets are priced at £31 for a weekend ticket. There is no camping at the site; more information can be found at

Goodwood Festival of Speed

Set in the stunning private grounds of Goodwood House, this annual hill-climb event (28 June – 1 July) is a true celebration of motor sport and all things automotive. In addition to seven F1 teams, this year attendees can expect to see a star-studded line-up of drivers including Vettel, Webber, Hamilton and Button, plus an array of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s vehicles, exciting sideways action on the Forest Rally Stage, adrenaline-fuelled FMX and BMX action and much, much more. More on Facebook and Twitter @fosgoodwood

Info: 01243 755055;