Summer festivals – for live music and a whole lot more

The summer of 2011 has some magical festivals lined up, and whether you want to be at the big hitters such as Glastonbury, Reading or the Isle of Wight, or one of the many smaller events happening around the UK, there really is something for everyone.

If you’re unsure of what’s on offer, check out websites such as  www.thefestivalcalendar.co.uk for current listings. Chances are there will be something on close to home, or if you’re up for a spot of travelling, then why not make the effort and go further afield? Live music can be an unforgettable experience and a festival can also offer the fun of camping, plenty of activities and a sense of community. With so many of us  working hard and having less time to socalise than we’d like, it can also be a great way to catch up with friends away from the everyday pressures.

While the traditional view of a festival is that it’s filled with raucous music and is predominantly for a younger crowd, this really is becoming a thing of the past. Festivals are no longer the sole pursuit of the under 25 indie crowd, with more and more events taking off, catering for people of all ages and tastes.

Take Treefest, for example, which provides four days of family fun from 26-29 August at The National Arboretum in Westonbirt, Gloucestershire. It involves camping, local musicians and woodcraft. Another family-friendly festival with a green theme is the Holifair, which is held at the Helford Estuary in west Cornwall from 5 – 7 August. Now in its fifth year, it features music, workshops, cabaret, cinema and plenty of other activities for children.

If a festival with a ‘community’ feel, where you can also learn new skills is more your thing, then why not head off to Hastings on 18 August for four days at the Tribal Earth Summer Gathering.  By day there are workshops in dance, singing, crafts, learning to play instruments, theatre, tai chi, yoga, blacksmith forge workshops, meditation and relaxation and drum circles. In the evening, there is live music, storytelling and cabaret.

Meanwhile, for a different type of mellow, others might fancy the Mostly Jazz Festival, taking place on 1-3 July at Moseley Park in Birmingham. And for something completely different, you could try Ben and Jerry’s Double Scoop Sundae, which promises lashings of ice cream at locations in London and Manchester on 23 – 24 July.

If it’s your first time, make sure you pack wisely, taking sunscreen as well as clothes and footwear that will be suitable for any unexpected downpours.

Making the most of summer festivals is easy if you get organised and buy tickets in plenty of time. Remember too, that there may be charges for parking on top, and that you will need to take money with you for spending.

A credit card is often the easiest way to pay – but with so many tempting events happening this year, just make sure you choose carefully. Prices vary, and some are considerably more expensive than others.  Check out rates online for the best APR deals and you should also be able to make a credit card application over the internet.

Once you’ve caught the festival bug, the chances are you’ll want to attend as many as possible – for those already hooked, they’re a big part what summer’s all about – just remember your wellies!

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