Quality Not Quantity: Best Small Festivals 2017

shares his rundown of the summer’s must-see small festivals

Victoria Park, London, 14-15 July – Lovebox began as a residency in Ladbroke Grove, London, before flourishing into a festival that attracted 20 000 people in its second year. Lovebox is always a bright, colourful and extravagant affair, and a number of the acts on its line-up have then gone on to enjoy huge success – including Stormzy and Rag’n’Bone Man. This year’s line-up spans a range of genres, with Frank Ocean, Jess Glynne, Anne-Marie, Jamie XX, Sampha and Rag’n’Bone Man all scheduled to appear. If this wasn’t enticing enough, Lovebox also offers a variety of more unusual events – including Disco Ball Golf and even Hip Hop Karaoke. The latter event is an annual fixture that has supposedly helped “thousands of people live out their rap fantasies”, and we’ll leave you to consider whether or not that’s necessarily a good thing.

Upcote Farm, Cotswold Hills, 6-8 July – 2000trees prides itself on being “one of the friendliest festivals you’ll ever go to”, and this (along with its intimate atmosphere), means that it could be a good first festival for anyone who’s never attended one before. The line-up is made up largely of alternative rock acts, including Slaves, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, Nothing But Thieves, Deaf Havana, Lower Than Atlantis and even the cheekily-titled The Front Bottoms, among numerous others. 2000trees Festival is also especially well-suited for those seeking to discover new bands and musicians, because they recently announced that 12 bands have been added to the line-up who have never performed at the festival before. Even veterans of the festival are able to discover something new at 2000trees.

Truck Festival, Oxfordshire, 21-24 July – Sadly, Truck Festival is now sold out, but this year’s line-up shows that its not to be missed in 2018. The line-up is similar to 2000trees, with a number of alternative rock acts like Franz Ferdinand, Nothing But Thieves and Twin Atlantic. It also has several country and folk acts including Catherine McGrath; an Irish country singer recently dubbed ‘the next Taylor Swift’ by Apple Music. There’s even an all-day dance party of house and techno – just one aspect of what promises to be a high-energy, exuberant festival. Each year sees a new theme, with last year’s 80s theme apparently leading to widespread donning of latex and fluorescent clothing by festival-goers. So anyone who’s particularly enthusiastic about Halloween would probably also enjoy the Truck Festival.

Lake District, 27-30 July – Like Truck Festival, Kendal Calling is unfortunately already sold out, but it’s definitely one to look out for in 2018. Like Lovebox, Kendal Calling boasts ‘alumni’ who have gone on to enjoy great success – notably Rag’n’Bone Man, who first performed at Kendal Calling in 2014. The weekend offers a festival House Party, a cinema and a Garden of Eden section where you can de-stress and emotionally stabilise yourself after the onslaught of Slaves’ set. Although a band called Reverend and the Makers are also scheduled to appear, so perhaps you can also have your soul cleansed; there’s something for everyone!

Derbyshire, 27-30 July – Based on its name, Y Not Festival may seem to be built on a sense of ambivalence, but there’s plenty to get excited about with their line-up. There’s something for all across the weekend with the likes of Clean Bandit and Example for the mainstream fans, Frank Turner and Jake Bugg for your singer-songwriter fix, and Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes for those after something heavier. You can use your visit to support York locals King No-One, who have nabbed themselves a spot on the main stage. With such an extensive line up this it the perfect first time festival for somebody with eclectic tastes.

Portmeirion, North Wales, 7-10 September – This one is a bit more of a trek from York, and it would also be a challenge to spell Portmeirion if you needed to get the sat-nav out at any point. But it would undoubtedly be the most glamorous and comfortable of any of these festivals, because they offer luxury boutique camping – which could just mean you get a tap next to your tent, to be fair. The line-up, however, is undoubtedly strong – featuring legendary rock band The Flaming Lips, soulful siren Laura Mvula, and for the 157th time in this list of small festivals, there will also be an appearance by Rag’n’Bone Man. Tickets are quickly selling out, so best get involved quick!

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