10 UK Boutique Festivals To Explore in 2012
The term “boutique festival” has been chucked around the UK press mercilessly in recent years, and as a result, no one can actually pinpoint what it means anymore. But, broadly speaking, if things like a small(ish) site, forest/rolling hill backdrops, intricate costumes, performance art, locally brewed cider and an emphasis on woodland creatures and masks float your festival boat, then you should definitely indulge in some of the following:
Nova: Sussex (July 5-8) Intimate and arty good-vibes here, with surely the hippest literary media partners ever (Penguin, The Chap, and Rankin’s The Hunger), theatre, spoken word, and hot-tubs, alongside a superb lineup: Fink, Jessie Ware, Hexstatic, Ghostpoet, Kyrstal Klear, Norman Jay…
Wilderness: Oxfordshire (August 10-12) Top London chefs serve up gourmet food in long table banquets, with midnight masked balls (pictured above) and late-night parties after the headliners finish, amid promises of “killer liquors and afterdark arts.” Music from: Spiritualized, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Crystal Fights, and Cloud Control.
Playgroup: Kent (August 3-5) Wonderfully oddball event, featuring: cabaret, quizzes, taxidermy workshops and the inspired festival theme of “lost toys,” complete with tribes. And plenty of music, of course, from DJ Format, The Herbaliser, Anchorsong, Reso and Nedry.
Field Day: London (June 2) Painfully cool, but in a good way, especially when you’ve got amazing festival food and an immense lineup, including: Death Grips, Hudson Mohawke, Modeselektor, Julio Bashmore, Maya Jane Coles, Eats Everything, Zomby, Metronomy…
Winterwell: Gloucestershire (June 29 - July 2) Set amid rolling hills and lush countryside, and home to mysterious “pervasive adventures”… Alt label Moshi Moshi host the main stage on Saturday, and there’s also: Casiokids, Clock Opera, The Nextmen and Count Skylarkin.
Festibelly: New Forest (August 25-26) Cozy event in lush surrounds, full of artsy-crafty goodness, delightful oddities like “wrong cabaret” and “wonky game shows,” and plenty of gypsy jazz. The lineup is currently top secret, but last year saw Drums of Death, Oneman, and New Young Pony Club, so expect similar goodness this year.
Secret Garden Party: Cambridgeshire (July 19-22) Is it still a boutique festival now that it’s massive and popular? Who cares, it’s still full of paint-fights, mud-wrestling and wonderful fairytale woodland weirdness. And some music, courtesy of: Orbital, Little Dragon, Jacques Lu Cont and Utah Saints.
Kaya: Snowdonia, Wales (June 1-3) Global music festival where the emphasis is on rich, rootsy sounds, with plenty of reggae, funk and soul from: Lee Scratch Perry, Trojan Records, The Dub Pistols, Craig Charles, and Tony Allen a.k.a. “the Godfather of Afrobeat.”
Kelburn Garden Party: North Ayrshire, Scotland (June 30 - July 1) Independent, beautifully set and obscenely fun, and probably the only festival in the world to boast a (superbly) graffitied castle. Music from DJ Food, The Phantom Band, Submotion Orchestra, and United Vibrations.
Standon Calling: Hertfordshire (August 3-5) Wins serious boutique points for the following: a swimming pool; a nightclub in a cowshed, “which never seems to close” say the organizers. Literally what more could you ever need, apart from Death In Vegas, Beardyman, (!!!) and Greg Wilson.