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Best of the fests: The UK's top summer festivals

02 JULY 2012

The UK is renowned for its music festivals and this year there is more choice than ever. It's time to check your wellies for leaks, pack a tent and get ready to party! From opulent opera at Glyndebourne to the poptastic V Festival, we have something to suit everyone’s taste.

Check out our top 8 summer festivals

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BT River of Music, July 21-22, several venues, London

This year the truly international BT River of Music will take place in London, with stages representing Asia, Europe, the Americas, Oceania and Africa. Over 160,000 free tickets are available for these Thames-side concerts. Some of the highlights that have been announced so far include Scissor Sisters, Baaba Maal, The Noisettes, Matthew Herbert, Mariza and Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra featuring Wynton Marsalis.

Cambridge Folk Festival, July 26-29, Cherry Hinton, Cambridge

Set in a pretty house and park, the festival is one of the most major for folk in the country. Names confirmed for 2012 include Clannad, The Proclaimers, June Tabor and the Billy Bragg celebrating Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday.


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Wilderness, August 10-12, Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire

A festival with a difference set in ancient parkland in the Oxfordshire countryside (sister festival to the sold-out Secret Garden Party in Cambridgeshire). It’s for those who want more than music: you can catch theatre, debates, horse riding, a spa, and gourmet food with internationally renowned chef Yotam Ottolenghi. Spanish duo Rodrigo y Gabriela and Wilco are highlights.

Green Man, August 16-19, Glanusk Park, Wales

A chance to spend three chilled out days in a beautiful Welsh parkland not usually open to the public for the weekend. Green Man has a strong reputation as one of Wales’s best festivals – this year Van Morrison and Feist are on the bill.

V Festival, August 18-19, Hylands Park, Chelmsford and Weston Park, Staffordshire

One of the year’s most popular events and always attracting big commercial names to two different sites over one weekend. Just confirmed that this year the Stone Roses, The Killers, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds will all be appearing.

Glyndebourne, August 20-26, Lewes, East Sussex

Family owned, world renowned opera festival, the only UK arts organisation to be powered by renewable energy only. The festival’s programme is always very international in outlook, with this year no exception: big names and young talent from all over the world this year include celebrated Chinese baritone Shenyang as Alidoro in La Cenerentola. The opera house setting is stately and the grounds are beautiful.

End of the Road Festival, August 31 - September 2, Larmer Tree Gardens, North Dorset

Beautiful surroundings for a mainly folk, Americana and psych/alternative rock line-up, with Grizzly Bear, Grandaddy, Dirty Three and funk-rock Alabama Shakes confirmed. 

Bestival, September 6-9, Isle of Wight

With Glastonbury not on this year, Bestival is one of the best all-rounder good-time guaranteed festivals. Four days of live music and premier league DJs, with Stevie Wonder, New Order, The XX, Sigur Ros and DJ Rob Da Bank on the bill. One of the most colourful festivals, with dressing-up encouraged and a ‘wildlife’ theme this year set to make it one of the craziest yet.

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