With warm weather on the horizon — trust us, it’s coming — it’s time to start mapping out those summer & fall excursions. You don’t want to be the one who waited too long to lock down a plan and end up settling on visiting your Great-aunt Beverly for three weeks in August — no offense, Bev. Especially not when festival season is just around the corner.
And nobody does festivals like the Brits. Whether it’s unforgettable music, taste bud stimulation, world-class theatre or nature you’re after, Great Britain has got you covered.
“There’s so many festivals in England that I haven’t had a chance to take in yet–we’re such a forward-thinking and inclusive country that I know they’ll probably end up being some of my favorite festival experiences,” says popular London-based YouTube personality and musician Doug Armstrong. “I’ve been to Brighton Pride the past two years which incorporates a festival on the Saturday, and it’s honestly been so incredibly fun both years as they always have iconic acts performing and have lots to do away from the main stage. Everything about it is just so quintessentially fabulous.”
Here’s a handy guide to help you Find Your Great Britain today.
1. Edinburgh Fringe Festival
If the Edinburgh Fringe Festival isn’t at the very top of your bucket list, you’re doing something wrong. Against a medieval backdrop that screams high drama, the Fringe Fest is not only the world’s largest arts fest, it also happens to be the best. You’ll find envelope-pushing theater, comedy, music and top-notch street performers every which way you tun, and you’ll be turning so much you’ll get dizzy. It’s also a place where celebrities go to try out material, so don’t be surprised if you bump into someone famous. Just play it cool.
Back in 1959 civil rights activist Claudia Jones organized the Caribbean Carnival at St. Pancras Town Hall in Euston. Over the years the event has shifted from a beauty contest to a carnival masquerade costume competition. Work! The carnival moved to Notting Hill in 1966 where it’s been ever since. Now it’s the largest street festival in Europe, and each August the colorful and vibrant and vibrantly colorful Notting Hill Carnival makes the streets of London burst out in peacock-feathered realness. Will Julia Roberts get into the Carnival this year? Maybe, it’s Notting Hill, after all.
You may have heard of Glastonbury and Leeds and Reading Festivals, but have you heard of Green Man? The intimate Green Man Festival is a three-day music event boasting an eclectic lineup in Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales. 2018 marks the sixteenth year of the festival, which has included such lineups as PJ Harvey, James Blake, Belle and Sebastian, The Flaming Lips & Patti Smith.
The tagline for Bestival 2018 is “the most colorful show on Earth” and the first week of August is going to be hopping in Dorset. Bestival takes place at The Lulworth Estate, an enchanting wooded country estate on the Jurassic Coast. This year’s lineup will include M.I.A., London Grammar, Grace Jones, Chaka Khan and more.
Meatopia, founded in the US by Josh Ozersky and brought to London by chef Richard H. Turner, takes place August 31-September 2nd. The weekend love affair of meat, drink, fire and music will take place at Tobacco Dock. 25 chefs will create a unique dish and cook it for a crowd of foodies each day of the festival.
Taste festivals started running the Jamie Oliver-supported Big Feastival in London in 2011. The festival has grown into a feel good event of food & music, running on musician Alex James’ Farm in the Cotswolds each summer.
Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale will headline this year’s Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, which will run in a tented village at Hay-on-Wye from May 24 – June 3. Hay Festival brings readers and writers together in an annual conversation and exchange of ideas. Described by Bill Clinton as “The Woodstock of the mind,” the festival has attracted writers like Ian McEwan, Stephen Fry and Carrie Fisher.
What do Solange, Jessie Ware & the Killers have in Common? The 2018 Latitude Festival, of course. The annual music festival, which takes place in Henham Park, has brought crowds to Suffolk since Snow Patrol, Patti Smith and The Lemonheads headlined the in 2006. Other acts have included Gossip, Arcade Fire, Florence and the Machine, Lykke Li, SBTRKT, and Goldfrapp.
9. London Pride
Step in and march with London in the Pride in London Parade on Saturday, July 7 2018. Pride in London is the official organizer of London Pride Parade, which will take place on Saturday, July 7 this year. Last year’s theme, “Love Happens Here” brought over 300 groups through the 1.4 mile route from Oxford Circus through Piccadilly Circus and down to Whitehall. Key performances at last year’s event included Glee‘s Amber Riley, X Factor stars Saara Aalto and Fleur East, London Gay Big Band and Pride’s Got Talent finalists. Who will take the stage at Trafalgar Square? Could it be Adele, Jessie Ware, or maybe a Spice Girls Reunion? You never know!
BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival is the biggest LGBT film festival in Europe. Running from March 21-April 1 this year, it features the best new and classic films from around the globe. This year’s event will include Rupert Everett’s film The Happy Prince, James Ivory’s Maurice and Shaz Bennett’s Alaska is a Drag.
11. Brighton Pride
Brighton Pride Festival rivals London Pride in size, grandeur and the range of entertainers to hit the stage. Designed as a community fundraising event, the festival over the years has hosted acts such as Sister Sledge, Pet Shop Boys, Years & Years, Carly Rae Jepsen, Fatboy Slim, Paloma Faith, Katy B, Ruby Rose, The Human League, Fleur East, Ella Henderson, Boy George, Alison Moyet, and Ms Dynamite. Among this year’s headlines is none other than legendary pop icon Britney Spears.