Travel: Your complete guide to ... Festivals '98

As summer approaches, the festival season is about to get underway. From Stereophonics - Cwmaman Feel the Noize at Cardiff Castle to the regular venues of Glastonbury, Reading and Notting Hill, Fiona Sturges previews what's ahead
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The Independent Travel
A deserved rest from your daily toil or a cruel test of endurance? As the days get longer, the weather starts to turn and the summer looms it's time to ask yourself, are you ready to brave the elements for the sake of a few bands, do you want to reintroduce yourself to those mud- caked boots, aren't you too old for this anyway? There's only one way to find out.

MAY

Sat 2 - Sun 3

Creamfields

The Liverpool uberclub has finally stepped out of its strappy sandals to bond with Mother Nature as it hosts this dance extravaganza somewhere in a field in Hampshire. While you read, Liverpool's glitterati are putting their Calvin Klein's through hell as they negotiate a terrifying nine arenas, each boasting more top drawer DJs than you can shake a 12 inch record at. Cream residents Paul Oakenfold and Danny Rampling play alongside disco shock-jock Jon Pleased Wimmin and Radio 1's Dave Clarke. On the whole the event pitches at the dance side of things, though Cream have managed to persuade the granddaddy's of rap, Run DMC to put on their first show in a decade. Finley Quaye is also expected, as are Primal Scream and Cornershop. Expect spectacular sets from Daft Punk, Roni Size and the Chemical Brothers, but for utmost entertainment, look out for the gaggles of disco divas daintily picking their way through the shrubbery on the hunt for the elusive powder room.

The Bowl, Matterly Estate, Nr Winchester, Hampshire.

Tickets pounds 37.50 (subject to booking fee)

Credit card bookings 0171 500 0044

Information line 0336 404904.

NB: Universe 98 has been postponed.

JUNE

Sat 6

The Guinness Fleadh,

Having begun as a celebration of Irish music nine years ago, the Fleadh (pronounced 'flaah', not 'flea') is now London's biggest outdoor music festival and an extension of the ever-growing Guinness empire. The line- up is not strictly Irish these days with the revivified Scots stadium rockers Simple Minds topping the bill this year. Support comes from Celtic wailer Sinead O'Connor with Shane MacGowan and the Popes, Mike Scott, World Party and Dr John as well as buckets of the black stuff. If you want to stand out from the crowd, don't wear a waistcoat.

Finsbury Park, London N4

Tickets pounds 28 (subject to booking fee)

Credit card bookings 0541 500 044

Information line 0336 404 909.

Sun 7

Madstock IV

Demonstrating unparalleled longevity in these fickle times, Madness are still at it with their biennial reunion concert, this year featuring support from reggae maverick Finley Quaye and the wayward Liverpudlian quartet Space. Plus Catatonia, Toots and the Maytals, Desmond Dekker and Jazz Jamaica.

Finsbury Park, London N4 Tickets pounds 25 (subject to booking fee)

Credit card bookings 0541 500 044

Information line 0336 404 903

Friday 12

Stereophonics - Cwmaman Feel The Noize

The Welsh trio, stars at this year's Brat Awards and winner's of the Brit's Best Newcomer, play to 10,000 at the first gig to be staged at the venue since 1978.

Cardiff Castle, Cardiff, Wales

Tickets pounds 12.50 (subject to booking fee)

Credit card bookings 0541 500 044

Information line 01222 230 130.

Fri 26 - Sun 28

Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts

Despite it's monstrously vast proportions, grotesque lavatory arrangements and customarily freak weather conditions, Glastonbury is still fantastic. Last year's thigh-high brown mulch certainly didn't give rise to "the best festival on record", as organiser Michael Eavis claimed, but it was nice to see vanity go out the window - apart from the backstage area where lurex and sunglasses still ruled - as punters donned their wellies and bin-liners (at a staggering pounds 1 each) and, literally, got stuck in.

The usual rumours of snipers, Rottweilers and a moat filled with hungry alligators are doing the rounds regarding this year's 18th festival in the hope that someone out there will buy a ticket and the line-up has once again been withheld. "Rumoured" to be putting in appearances are Bob Dylan, Blur, Underworld, Placebo, Embrace, Spiritualised, Finley Quaye and Ian Brown as well as the usual assemblage of old gits trying to revive flagging careers.

As well as music, there is something for everyone in the food department. Glasters is a vegan's paradise with every kind of soya, lentil, bean and vegetable creation on offer - the selection of veggie cake is unparalleled and there is a 24-hour organic bakery. But meat-eaters will not go hungry as barbecues, hog-roasts, and burger bars are everywhere. There will also be the usual glut of theatre, dance, circus and cinema as well as the children's area and, adding a new cultural dimension to the proceedings, all World Cup soccer matches will be going out live on a giant TV screen. If the chaos of the big stages and shopping thoroughfares prove too much, there are quiet moments to be had in the Green Fields. These encapsulate the aptly-named Healing Fields, the Theatre Field (more a juggler's paradise) and the Sacred Space (not sacred at all, just a group of carefully placed stones) with drumming, chanting, mud-massage, face-painting, space-cake munching, round-the-campfire singsongs and 24-hour sound-systems. Whatever you do, take Monday off.

Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset

Tickets pounds 80 (plus pounds 3 booking fee)

Ticketline: 01179 767868

Information line: 0839 668899

JULY

Sun 4

Pride '98

Over 500,000 gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people will be painting the city pink with their annual party in this 27th year. In view of the festival's unprecedented growth, this year has become for the first time a ticketed event. In excess of 75,000 people will march in support of the gay and lesbian community, setting off from Hyde Park at noon, followed by an entourage of camped-up technicolour floats. They will arrive with a flourish at Clapham Common, the nucleus of the festivities, where a rip-roaring party will kick off with more than 100,000 people. All the major gay clubs will be putting on sweaty parties in the smaller tents, including London's Trade, Heaven and Popstarz. The pop acts haven't been announced yet, but rest assured, they will rock. Previous years have seen Boy George, Erasure, Pet Shop Boys and Alison Moyet.

Clapham Common, London

Tickets pounds 5; expected to go on sale Thurs/Fri

Ticketline: 0870 1210 121

Sat 11 - Sun 12

T in the Park

Scottish festival-goers will be well catered-for in this beer-soaked rock fest (the T stands for Tennants) which also experienced more than it's fair share of mud last year. Now in it's fifth year, only the hardcore make it to T in the Park since the irresolute consider it too far from London. The top three acts are Pulp, James and Robbie Williams plus The Prodigy, Beastie Boys, Garbage Seahorses, Space, Ian Brown and Portishead. For the clubmeisters, the Slam Tent will be offering a multitude of top- notch DJ's (yet to be announced) and for the Celts, The Ceilidh Tent will be putting on a foot-stomping mixture of traditional and contemporary Scottish music featuring Martyn Bennett, The Humpff Family and The Tartan Amoebas. If that's not alarming enough, then get a butchers of the children with a dribbling "T" painted in red on their faces. They'll beat you hands down in necking a can of Tennants.

Balado, near Kinross, Perthshire

Weekend tickets pounds 54 (subject to booking fee)

Day tickets pounds 29.50 (subject to booking fee)

Credit card bookings: 0141 339 8383

Information line: 07000 113114

Thurs 16 - Sun 19

The Phoenix Festival

Spanning four days, this is the longest lasting festival of the lot and requires a sincere devotion to the festival spirit, stinking bogs and all. A particular hit among acne-ridden teenagers, Phoenix is an Indie- oriented event (though they've given in to their rave clientele with a modest dance stage) and boasts the best funfair ride of all - a big wheel that will promptly bring your special-fried noodles back to the fore. Best of all is the five-a-side celebrity football that pits the dribbling wits of pop stars, TV stars and has-been footballers. Among Phoenix's big name acts are Run DMC, Natalie Imbruglia, Jesus and Marychain, Faithless, Ocean Colour Scene, Echo & the Bunnymen and Spiritualised.

pounds 75 for 4-day ticket (subject to booking fee)

pounds 27.50 for day ticket (subject to booking fee)

Credit card bookings 0541 500 044

Information line 0336 404 949

Sat 25

Pulp's Finsbury Lark

Pulp have devoted a whole day in praise of themselves, though not a la Michael Jackson. Based on the assumption that after two months of partying you can't face any more tents and portaloos, they have had the decency to stage their celebration within the cotton wool confines of the metropolis. This Jarvis jamboree promises to be tastefully spectacular.

Finsbury Park, London N4

Credit card bookings 0171 344 0044

Information line 0181 963 0940

24 - 26

Womad

Womad is by far the calmest and most kind-hearted of the festivals. A taste of this and you'll have packed your bag and be on the next train to India before you can say Nusfrat Fateh Ali Khan. Since its inception in 1993, courtesy of Peter Gabriel, Womad's honourable aim has been to compress global music into one single weekend, leaving no euphonious stone unturned. You can expect an equally diverse array of food, and not a kebab van in sight or smell. This year sees six stages showcasing a throng of international artists including Ladysmith Black Mambazo, followed by Abdullah Ibrahim with his spiritual brand of South African jazz. Look out for the thumping Brazilian rhythms of Margareth Menezes and Zimbabwean Oliver Mutukudzi & Band. One to bring your kids to.

Rivermead Leisure Centre, Richfield Avenue, Reading.

pounds 58 for weekend tickets (pounds 53 before 4 June)

pounds 27.50 for day (pounds 17 on Friday)

Box office 0118 939 0930

Information line 01225 744494

Website: realworld.on.net/womad

AUGUST

Sun 16

Jam In The Park

Not to be confused with T in the Park, Jam offers a double-staged Sunday of The Lighthouse Family plus LL Cool J and the iron-lunged Carleen Anderson. Has anyone had enough of Finsbury Park yet?

Finsbury Park N4

pounds 25 (subject to booking fee)

Credit card bookings 0541 500 044

Information line 0336 404 980

Sat 22 - Sun 23

V98

You can get there on Virgin trains, sip on Virgin cola, see Virgin-signed bands, buy the Virgin CDs and probably wear Virgin wellies. And you can rely on Dickie B to take things a step further - V98 happens in two places at once, Leeds and Chelmsford. And to make sure there is no squabbling over who gets which bands, the line-ups swap overnight. It sounds like an organisational nightmare but last year's V97 was by far the best arranged - all the bands played on time, the transport worked properly, the loos stayed respectable and the noodles were the best in the business.

Hylands Park, Chelmsford, Essex and Temple Newsam Park, Whitkirk, Leeds West Yorkshire.

Leeds - pounds 62 for weekend (camping) / pounds 55 for weekend (no camping) / pounds 30 per day

Credit card bookings: 0113 244 4600/0115 912 9198/0161 832 1111.

Chelmsford - pounds 64 for weekend (camping) / pounds 55 for weekend (no camping)

pounds 30 per day

Credit card bookings: 0171 287 0932

Fri 28 - Sun 30

Reading 98.

Who'd have thought that the Reading festival started out as a genteel jazz and blues soiree in the Sixties? It has now evolved into an all-out stage-diving, beer-swilling rock fest. Reading has hosted some legendary performances including Kurt Cobain in a wheelchair and Courtney Love in a strop. It also has more body-piercing stalls then the rest of the year's festivals put together. The line-up has yet to be announced but rumoured acts include Ash, Garbage and the Beastie Boys

Richfield Avenue, Reading Berkshire

Price unconfirmed.

Information line 0336 404905.

Fri 28 - Mon 31

The Village Charity Mardi Gras

Centred mainly around the Gay Village of Manchester, this four-day event gathers over 400,000 people and is now in it's seventh year. In true Rio spirit it kicks off with a parade of lights, lanterns, colours, costumes and dancing and continues on two stages and a myriad of tents over the weekend. It goes out with a bang on Tuesday morning, should you have any energy left, with a spectacularly pink firework display.

Manchester

Sun 30 - Mon 31

Notting Hill Carnival

One of the most colourful and dope-addled spectacles of the season and the only one that specifically celebrates Caribbean culture. It 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 adults' party on the Monday. Feast your stomach on lots of lovely Caribbean food, feast your lungs of lots of lovely Caribbean herb and feast your eyes and ears on flouncy costumes, flamboyant floats, steel bands, calypso and sound systems pumping out reggae, jazz, soul, hip-hop and jungle. And ladies, beware of the bump and grind ...

Notting Hill, London.

Information line 0181-964 0544.

Website - nottinghillcarnival.net.uk

NB: Some information lines, especially for later festivals, may not yet be in action.

Do's and don'ts

Do

- bring weatherproof gear and water.

- bring a tent; you will lose friends if you try and bunk up with them.

- bring lots of sweaters. No matter how hot it is by day, it'll be chilly at night.

- buy a ticket. Don't turn up on the offchance that you will find a hole in the fence.

- get there early, or else you'll sit in a traffic queue while your favourite bands are playing.

Don't

- offer drugs to a policeman. The fact that you're having a good time doesn't mean that they've suddenly developed a sense of humour.

- try and identify your tent with a white flag/piece of tinsel unless you want spend hours looking for it. You'll find that everyone else has done the same thing.

- take valuables.

- buy oxo cubes, dishwasher powder or tranquillisers from strangers.

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