The world comes to Reading

Part two of The Independent's guide to the summer's festivals
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Womad

Womad

Festivals are often mere parties, rather than celebrations of anything in particular, but the Womad festival is a laudable exception. Founded by Peter Gabriel nearly 20 years ago, Womad is dedicated to the variety of the world's musical cultures and aims to unite them in a musical "global village". It takes place from Friday 21 to Sunday 23 July at the Rivermead Leisure Centre complex, in Reading - perfectly located on the banks of the River Thames. Musical and visual artists from over 25 countries will be performing this year on seven indoor and outdoor stages. Almost every taste is catered for, be it roots, reggae, dance or salsa, performed by artists from Suzanne Vega and Maceo Parker to Tibet's Yungchen Lhamo. Brazil's Lenine in particular has been hotly tipped to upstage many more familiar names, and DJ Monkey Pilot's famous Whirl-Y-Gig parties are highly recommended. The festival is family-oriented, with activities for children including a swimming-pool and fairground. Adults can admire Womad's superb site deco and relax to the peaceful post-midnight sounds. The relatively luxurious setting of this festival, good value at £69 for a weekend ticket, also has excellent facilities for the disabled, and even the food is a cut above most festival fare. It is no surprise that Womad draws a large following of regulars, and their ranks look set to swell even further this year.

T in the Park

Further north, the theme and ethos is simply hedonism. Scotland's indie rock festival T in the Park is now into its seventh year. The only pretext for the event is to have a good time, and it doesn't care who knows it. Balado in Fife raises its stages for a weekend of music from an unmissable line-up on 8 and 9 July. Iggy Pop himself will be appearing on the Sunday, along with his recent collaborators Death in Vegas. Brushing off rumours of a split, Melanie Blatt and the Appleton sisters return from their acting exertions to play a set with their fellow All Saint Shaznay on the main stage on Saturday. Groove Armada will be playing their only live set in Scotland this year, joining such names as Ocean Colour Scene, Macy Gray, Beth Orton, Travis and the Fun Lovin' Criminals. Jacques Le Cont of Les Rhythmes Digitales will re-mix the Eighties, while the Slam tent provides a background of non-stop techno and house. A three-hour head-to-head over four decks will round off each day. DJ Sneak and Gene Farris take on Roger Sanchez and Junior Sanchez, while Stuart McMillan and Orde Meikle go head to head with Carl Cox and Jim Masters. Last year's festivities ended with the sight of Fatboy Slim kneeling in praise of Cox in front of 12,000 people.

Love Parade UK

Yorkshire will be taking its lead from Germany on 8 July with its own version of Berlin's legendary free street party. In a joint venture with Radio 1, Love Parade UK will see over 100,000 clubbers from all over Britain descending on the streets of Leeds. The floats roll out at 2pm, each hosted by an array of clubs, top DJs and dance publications. The procession will wind its way to Leeds City Hall, where the day will culminate in a vast open air-party in front of the Radio 1 Sound Stage. Home, Manumission, Cream, Gatecrasher, Slinky, Sundissential, Muzik, Mix Mag and the Ministry of Sound will all have their own floats, sound-systems and groupies. The event will bring together several of the biggest names in dance: Judge Jules, Pete Tong, Carl Cox, Dave Pearce, Seb Fontaine and Paul Van Dyk have already confirmed their involvement. Leeds residents willing, the event could become the biggest date in the clubbing calendar.

Islington International Festival

ON A smaller scale, north London will celebrate the Islington International Festival from Monday 19 to Saturday 24 June. The festival may not boast all the stars of rock and dance, but it will certainly have the best food. It is subtitled Feast, and live music and performance will work up revellers' appetites throughout the week. On Saturday they can fall upon a giant communal banquet entitled "A Table at My Angel".

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