Music festivals; Your definitive guide to summer 1997

Days are longer, the sun is shining and the stages are being set for rural merriment and urban abandon. Whether it's a desire to bond with Mother Nature, eat ethnically or get lost in the crowd, festival goers will be taking town and country by storm. But wherever you end up, start here.

May

Tribal Gathering '97

Sat 24 noon-Sun 25 , 8.30am.

Kicking off the summer in astral style, the immense Tribal Gathering leads you away from urban decline and into rural mayhem, as 35,000 revellers shake their collective neo-glo sticks in a "Futuristic Medieval Carnival", somewhere in a field in Bedfordshire. Now in its fifth chapter, the cosmic masters at Universe have once again proved that Criminal Justice Act or no, people simply have to unite in sociably large groups and gently amuse themselves with twenty hours of repetitive beats. There are ten geographically themed tents - think The Crystal Maze only more so - with the usual nomenclature of organic titles like Planet Earth, Trans Atlantic, Pacific and Sahara. The big news is the chance to see Kraftwerk emote for the first time in nearly a decade. Excitement abounds with Eddie Izzard heading the comedy line-up; Diesel launching an auro-visual breakbeat crusade amid their half-pipe skate ramp and muscle car sound system; a cinema tent showing four hours of The X-Files episodes and parlour games courtesy of the Double Six Club.

Luton Hoo Estate, Luton, Bedfordshire. Tickets pounds 35 (any Mean Fiddler venue, credit card booking, with pounds 5 fee, 0171-344 0044/ 0541 500044). Info line - 0181-963 0940.

Essential Music Festival

Sat 24-Mon 26 , 1-11pm.

Vying with Tribal Gathering for crowds and kudos is this rightly proclaimed "Essential" summer festival. Now in its seventh year, the Brighton weekend is one of the more diverse festivals where musical proclivities are divided over three days; Dance, Indie and Roots.

The Elite model agency have announced they'll be sending their minions to scout for the next British supermodel. For Internet junkies, the mesmerising Future Sound of London will be performing their first ever live transmission to an outdoor event. They will be filmed in the studio, transmitting sounds and visualise live by ISDN. Other headliners include Dreadzone, Brand New Heavies, The Orb, Eat Static, Death In Vegas, Kenickie, My Life Story, and Chemical Brothers.

Stanmer Park, Brighton. Tickets pounds 25.00 per day, with pounds 2.25 fee. 24hr credit-card booking 0171-344 4444. Info line - 0891 230190.

Sundance 97

Sat 31 , 1-11pm.

A day out in Delia Smith country, in the esteemed musical company of Space, Sneaker Pimps, Apollo 440, Audio Web, Red Snapper and Zion Train. Also this year, there are appearances from local bands Shere Khan, Bliss and Oroogadoogas, and a dance tent that plays host to DJs Billy Nasty, Bentley Rhythm Ace and Con-Brio-O.

Earlham Park, UEA, Norwich. Tickets pounds 15, with pounds 1 fee, children 5-13 half price. Credit card hotline - 01603 764764.

June

Fleadh

Sat 7 June.

Urban festival now in its eighth year which brings a celtic aroma to the Seven Sisters Road. Big names to have graced Fleadh in the past include Sting, The Pogues and Crowded House. Highlights of this year's event include Brian Kennedy, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Suzanne Vega, the Divine Comedy, Lightning Seeds and everyone's favourite Australian export Midnight Oil. Refreshments are available, but expect to live by Guinness alone.

Finsbury Park, London, N4. Tickets pounds 30, with pounds 5 fee from any Mean Fiddler venue. Credit-card booking 0171-344 0044/0541 500044. Nearest tube, Finsbury Park.

Jam In The Park

Sun 8 June.

Not to be confused with T in the Park, Jam offers a funked-up, double- staged Sunday of Jamiroquai, Faithless, Morcheeba, Lamb, Neneh Cherry, Urban Species and The Pharcyde, all in the safety of the big smoke.

Finsbury Park, London, N4. Tickets pounds 25, from selected HMV and Tower stores and same contact numbers as above.

Glastonbury Festival of Performing Arts

Fri 27-Sun 29 Jun.

The flyer hails "... legend tells of the enchanted city, which appears for just three days a year, at mid-summer, in the flowering meadows of the Vale of Avalon. And 'tis said that there may be found entrancing music, amazing spectacle and strange wonders beyond compare."

We hail "... legend tells of a city of tents, disintegrating into shreds over three days, in the litter and mud-filled fields of Pilton. And the coppers said that there may be found repetitive beats, naked Morris dancers and drug-induced chaos."

Since last year's festival was cancelled, this year's has grown into a considerably bigger creature. The festival now has a license for 90,500 people and the organisers claim to have made the perimeter fence even higher with watchtowers at intervals to prevent desperadoes from scaling the fence. Music be the food of Glasters, but to stop eager young groupies gate crashing at the eleventh hour, no line-ups have been formally released. Daft Punk and Lionrock are rumoured to be putting in an appearances. Other bands rumoured to be playing are Supergrass, Chemical Brothers, Radiohead, Spearhead and The Orb. If you can't drag yourself away from the myriad of stalls that are designed to have you looking like an acid casualty by the end of the weekend, and if the pandemonium of the main stages and thoroughfares are too overwhelming, solace can always be found in the Green Fields or the wisely named Healing Fields. The theatre and comedy areas provide round-the-clock entertainment with cabaret, outdoor dance and theatre performances and a full sized 3-D film screen with 24 -hour screenings.

pounds 77.00 per ticket. Info line - 0839 668899.

July

Gay Pride '97 - Out of the Closet and onto the Common

Sat 5 July.

For the last 26 years, queers of all description from across the globe have descended on London for the exuberant and colourful gay parade through the centre, and its apex, the world's largest free music festival. This year, expect 300,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender party-goers to flood the capital. Festivals in the recent past have brought the campery of the queer community to Brixton and Bow, though this year the common once again becomes a screaming party zone. Entertainments include a dolly cabaret tent, a women's disco, a fairground, a tea tent, a champagne tent, as well as music arenas hosted by gay club nights Trade, DTPM, Kitty Lips and Popstarz. The main stage hosts a day-long selection box of guest stars and pop acts, including the Shamen, Boy George, Gina G and, of course, the big unnamed act. This year's theme is "P.R.I.D.E. - what's it to you?" The word on the streets is that East 17 and The Spice Girls are due to appear.

Clapham Common, London, SW4. Free. A pounds 2 donation is requested. Nearest tube, Clapham common. Info: http://www.pride.org.uk

Respect '97

Sat 12 July, noon-9pm.

Heralded as part of the TUC's campaign to tackle racism "wherever it rears its ugly head", this free festival is a musical message for the European Year Against Racism. Three stages play host to Fun Lovin' Criminals, Luciano, the Specials, Dreadzone, Audioweb, Fun-Da-Mental and smaller community performers.

Victoria Park, London, E3. Mile End tube.

T in the Park

Sat 12-Sun 13 July.

Festival goers in Scotland will no longer feel ostracised from the crusty circuit as the forth annual T in the Park continues to grow. This year's beer-soaked line-up includes Kula Shaker, The Charlatans, Dodgy, The Divine Comedy, Apollo 440 and James.

Balado, nr Kinross, Perthshire. Day tickets pounds 28.50, with pounds 2 fee; Weekend tickets pounds 50.00. 24-hr credit-card bookings 0141-339 8383 or 0131-220 0925. Info line - 07000 113114.

Phoenix Festival

Thurs 17-Sun 20 July.

Launched in 1993 as an Indie-oriented event, the Phoenix festival has grown in stature and is now sporting big names such as Black Grape, The Charlatans, Jamiroquai and David Bowie on four stages. This year they have made a nod towards the dance revolution by inviting club outlets and DJs from the Ministry of Sound and Goldie's Metalheadz to join in the fun. Phoenix has also branched out of its purely musical confines by playing host to Turbo Unit, a hybrid of contemporary circus, dance, and contemporary art. An 18-strong troupe boasts sculptors, mechanics, acrobats, musicians and DJs to produce a mind-blowing, fire-cracking, multi-media extravaganza.

Long Marston, Near Stratford Upon Avon, Warwickshire. Tickets pounds 70 with pounds 5.50 fee, credit card bookings on 0171-344 0044 or 0541 500044. Info line - 0336 404909.

Music in the Sun

Fri 18 (5pm-12 mid) Sat 19 & Sun 20 July (1pm-12 mid).

The multicultural festival of racial harmony and universal love springs back into the Don Valley Grass Bowl for another year. Having come about for one day in a car park in 1989 to celebrate the setting up of the Bob Marley Recording Studio, the festival moved to its present, purpose-built site in 1992. Eight years down the line and four main tents provide live music and DJs with established talent like the Longpigs, Speedy, Babybird and Edward II, as well as artists from Jamaica and Reggae and Soul Acts.

Don Valley, Grass Bowl, Sheffield. Adult weekend tickets pounds 4.00 (pounds 2.00 per day), children under 15 and OAPs free. Info - 0114 275 4504/0802 246491.

Cambridge Festival

Fri 25-Sun 27 July.

Well-organised and long-running festival (this is the 33rd), noted for its laid-back and chilled-out atmosphere. Families and children are especially welcome, and despite the plentiful quantities of real ale on the site, there are no restrictions on bringing your own food and drink. Expect a selection of bluesy, jazzy, rootsy, acousticy numbers from the likes of Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, Eric Bibb, Hothouse Flowers, Sharon Shannon and Eddie Lejeune and the Morse Playboys.

Cherry Hinton Hall Grounds, Cherry Hinton Road, Cambridge. Tickets cost pounds 41 for the weekend, pounds 15 for Fri night only or pounds 25 for Sat or Sun; booking line 01223 357851. Info line - 01223 463346.

Womad

Fri 25-Sun 27 July.

Starting under the conceptual wing of Peter Gabriel in 1982, the aim behind this festival was to unite the best musicians from all over the world in a weekend jamboree of summer madness. The atmosphere is extremely friendly and relaxed; expect a colourful foray into the cultural diversities of the world. Megadog's World of Beats and Faithless provide the British contribution, while other guests include Mad Professor, Ravi Shankar, Angelique Kidjo, Kroke and Mory Kante. Kids under 14 go free if accompanied by an adult.

Rivermead Leisure Centre, Reading, Berkshire. Tickets cost pounds 53 (concs pounds 48) - though if you buy before 3 June, you save a fiver - and are available from Rivermead Leisure Centre or 0118 939 0930 (Mon-Sat, 10am-8pm). Info - 01225 744494 or http://realworld.on.net.

Headworx

Thurs 24 July-Mon 4 Aug.

The UK's biggest surfing tournament and free beach festival returns with such attractions as the Headworx Pro Surf, the Voodoo Dolls Ladies Pro Surf and the Pure Juice UK Surf Open, the usual malarkey of half-pipe skate ramps, and music from Root Joose, Feeder, Killa Instinct and King Prawn.

Fistral Beach, Newquay, Cornwall. Info line - 01626 62883.

August

Earth Energy Music Festival

Fri 1-Sun 3 Aug.

In addition to the outdoor music stage, Earth Energy brings you arts and crafts stalls, street theatre, major themed club tents, a 100ft-long bar and a kids area. For the preceding two months, Croydon hosts a series of music gigs at Fairfield's Arnhem Gallery.

Beddington Park, Sutton, Surrey. Info line - 0181-660 8547.

V97

Sat 16-Sun 17 Aug.

The V event started last year, and owes its existence to the benevolent sponsorship of Richard Branson. Situated in Essex, a chart-tastic line- up of bands like Kula Shaker, Dodgy, Reef, Pavement, Teenage Fanclub, Mansun, Ash, Placebo, the Prodigy, Beck and Gene flit between the stages of Leeds and Chelmsford and are heartily washed down with a vat of Virgin cola.

Hylands park, Chelmsford. Tickets cost pounds 50 with pounds 4 fee for the weekend, pounds 28.50 with pounds 2.50 fee for the day, and are available from HMV and Tower branches through London and the South East, from Chelsmford Civic Theatre or on 0171-287 0932/0171-344 4444.

Reading '97

Fri 22-Sun 24 Aug.

Having started out as a jazz and blues festival in the early Sixties, the Reading Festival has evolved into an all-out stage-diving, beer-swilling rock fest. Since the Donington "Monsters of Rock" has been cancelled, it has unequivocally stolen this year's rock limelight. Headlining bands include Suede, Manic Street Preachers, Metallica, Cast, Space, Terrorvision and Bush. With five stages, a crowd of 45,000 and enough beer and noodle stalls to feed and intoxicate considerably more than the five thousand, it is for the inexhaustible and totally dedicated music lover.

Nr Rivermead Leisure Centre, Reading. Three- day tickets pounds 70.00 with pounds 5.50 fee. Credit-card bookings 0171-734 8932 or 0541 500044.

The Village Charity Mardi Gras

Fri 22-Mon 25 Aug.

Primarily focusing on the Gay Village of Manchester, the four-day-long event starts with DJs, cabaret and fireworks on Friday and ends in much the same vein on Tuesday morning. In between there is the Mardi Gras Carnival Queen/King competition, a City Carnival Parade, a Coronation Street Party with Dance Nights at the Granada Studios Tour and a Mardi Gras Party Night at the GMEX.

Info - 0161-237 3131.

Notting Hill Carnival

Sun 23-Mon 24 Aug (August Bank Holiday).

This festival of Caribbean arts and culture is one of the most colourful spectacles of the season and is attended by up to two million people, making it the biggest street celebration in Europe. The children's carnival on the Sunday is followed by the adult's party on the Monday. Feast your senses on elaborate costumes, flamboyant floats, steel bands and rumbling sound systems emanating reggae, jazz, soul, hip-hop and jungle, all mixed together with the pervasive presence of noxious herbal fumes.

Info - 0181-964 0544.

Additional research by Christian Broughton

Main picture: Stiltwalkers from Kinkny Visual Performance appearing at this year's Phoenix Festival; left Gay Pride at Clapham Common; right a young festival-goer at Womad

THE ESSENTIAL SURVIVAL GUIDE

Don't take anything that you value unless you are prepared to keep it with you. Tent burglary is rife.

Take toilet roll (and, ideally, your own toilet.).

Babywipes, paracetamol, sunblock are essential.

Don't bring a white flag to identify your tent because everybody else does that too.

Beware of people flogging tranquilisers, dishwasher powder and oxo cubes (and being at a festival doesn't mean you can offer a policeman one of your herbal cigarettes).

Bring a torch if you don't want to be garroted by guy ropes or impaled on tent pegs.

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