Preview: Festivals 2011

With Brighton hosting dozens of festivals throughout the year and Britain seemingly having gone festival crazy over the past decade, it is only apt that BN1 provide a quick run-down of the some the different places you could find yourself at this year.

In Brighton itself we have the Fringe Festival, Brighton Festival and the Great Escape all running this May. The former two are a celebration of art across a wide variety of mediums, while the latter is more focused on new music. Each offers something a little different, and are broad enough to accommodate pretty much anyone’s tastes, aside from those of you freaks out there with obscure fetishes that we won’t go into here.
In July the city will see the wonderful Paddle Around the Pier return, with its excellent free-to-enter range of activities on show, covering both the land and the sea. The festival promises to be even more jam-packed with events than last year, so you can expect to muck about on BMXs as you listen to some live music and paddle in the sea, all the while stuffing your face with some locally-produced delicious cuisine - simultaneously, of course. July will also welcome the Shakedown festival, a non-camping, music-focused event with an impressive lineup, which is all set kick off at Stanmer Park on the 9th.

25 miles down the road is Eridge Park, which will host the second Playgroup Festival this August, Small in scale but big in character, the festival is much more about the carefree attitude and friendly atmosphere than most other events, so this one definitely caters to the more relaxed punters out there. Also more focused on its vibe is the Secret Garden Party, a wild and weird festival held in East Anglia. The silly nonsense associated with the ever-changing event is what keeps people so intrigued and coming back for more, and even with the likes of Blondie and Milo featuring on the lineup, Secret Garden Party is absolutely nothing to do with music (in a good way). It comes with a BN1 seal of recommendation.

Also with this stupid made-up seal are the Rockness festival in Scotland, set to take place in June, and the DotDotDot festival, which is scattered amongst Bristol, Nottingham and Manchester and will happen in late May. Rockness has won a number of prestigious awards, and despite having put together an amazing lineup featuring the likes of The Chemical Brothers and Kasabian, it is still almost sure to retain that lovely atmosphere it is so famous for, and will forever be a quirky and lovable ‘small festival’ to us. DotDotDot is a more urban affair, but with the artists they’ve managed to book, such as Hurts and The Joy Formidable, we’re sure this festival is going to be off the chain.

Finally, there are the big hitters like Reading and Glastonbury. Despite bland lineups, increasing competition, sky-rocketing prices and flagging innovations, these goliaths are showing no sign of losing public interest and any criticism levied at them by myself are surely in vain. Last year the cruel cynicism in my Glastonbury preview was far too short-sighted, as the festival was a defining year in its glorious history and the beautiful weather and astonishing performances meant it was a weekend to remember for many years to come. These festivals are popular for a reason, and I can tell you with a great deal of experience that both Reading and Glasto, as well as all the other notoriously good festivals (Bestival, Isle of Wight etc.) are sure to be as fantastic as they ever were when they are staged this Summer. Now all you have to do is find the time and money to go to them all. You might need a time machine too.

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