ON OUR DOORSTEP
The Gap Festival, Goring and Streatley, 1-12 June
If you’re quick, you can still get involved in this hive of cultural activity, which sees the picturesque villages of Goring and Streatley come to life with over 80 events, including theatre, comedy, live music, free children’s activities, open gardens, and more. Ticket prices vary, from £0 – £20.
Kite Festival, Oxford, 10-12 June
New this year, Kite Festival bills itself as a festival of ideas and music, taking place in Kirtlington Park. An enticing mix of highbrow thought and thumping music, the line-up is appealingly eclectic: Grace Jones, David Miliband, Elizabeth Day, TLC… colour us intrigued!
Great British Food Festival, Sudeley Castle, 18-19 June
The Great British Food Festival comes to Sudely Castle in Glos, harking an array of tempting treats for gobbling, chef wizardry for goggling, live music for boogie-ing, and a mini zoo because — well, why not? If you fancy yourself a bit of a kitchen whizz yourself, enter the Cake Off for a chance at baking glory — and automatic free entry to the festival, of course. Tickets are otherwise £10.80.
Charlbury Beer Festival, near Witney, 25 June
Every year the well-heeled Cotswolds town of Charlbury pulls out all the stops for its beloved beer festival, one of the largest of its kind in England. The fest attracts thousands of punters with its offering of real ales, craft beers, ciders, perries, wine, gin, Pimm’s, and food trucks to help it all down. There’ll also be live music, a culture tent, children’s entertainment and high-octane sport with the World Aunt Sally Singles Championships. Entry is £5.
Henley Royal Regatta, 28 June – 3 July
It’s a festival of sorts, and the best-known regatta in the world. Henley Regatta is back for five days of summer sporting frenzy and frightfully refined eating and drinking. Get yourself a straw boater, dig out the heels, and watch those boats go. Tickets from £30, or (insider tip!), if you hire out a boat, as long as you keep moving, you can watch the races from a prime spot on the river itself.
Chilfest, Tring, 1-2 July
Over the border into Herts, Chilfest is quite the glossy affair: posh loos, sushi, and good wine to knock back as you boogie to tribute acts and 80s hits. Friday is tribute night: The Bootleg Beatles, Noasis and ABBA Revival, among others. Then Saturday is a funky throwback of 80s and 90s legends: The Proclaimers, Toploader, Peter Hook & The Light (ie., guitarist/vocalist of Joy Division and New Order) and Tony Hadley are just some of the familiar faces ready to light up the stage. Fluff those shoulder pads and get grooving. Tickets from £26.50.
Henley Festival, 6-10 July
Don’t forget your black tie and Champagne for this genteel shebang. Henley Festival is back for five days of fabulous fun, promising knockout performances from Tom Jones, Craig David, and The Script. Tickets from £65.
Cornbury Festival, Great Tew Park, 8-10 July
This iconic Cotswolds music festival has spent the last 18 years perfecting a uniquely mellow, friendly and happy family vibe. Think amazing music and atmosphere, plus a kids zone with circus workshops, puppet shows, dance parties, samba drumming, storytelling, crafts, and more. But, OMG, this year is the last ever! Quit sobbing and go make it count: you can catch Bryan Adams, The Waterboys, The Darkness, Mica Paris, Ronan Keating, James Blunt, Jools Holland and friends — oh, and er, us! The Muddy team will be be there en masse as Cornbury’s media partner, so come and see us for a glass of champers at our tent.
Nocturne Live, Blenheim Palace, 15-18 July
A festival for people who are too posh for festivals! This four-day series of concerts sees The Great Court at Blenheim Palace turn into a grand, 7,000-seat arena. The line-up is a series of nostalgic greats: Simply Red, The Brand New Heavies, David Gray celebrating the 21st anniversary of his ‘White Ladder’ album, and UB40 featuring Ali Campbell, among others. Individual concert tickets from £36, series passes from £181.50.
Pennfest, Penn, 22-23 July
For a serene Bucks village, Penn really does manage to pull in an impressive line-up of rabel-rousers. Hello, Clean Bandit, Jake Bugg, and Rudimental! Other acts will include Grandmaster Flash, The Selector, and Arrested Development. Pitch up your tent in the scenic field next-door and get ready to party. Weekend tickets from £104.63, day from £54.
Standon Calling, Standon, 21-24 July
Over in Herts again, boutique music and arts festival, Standon Calling started life as an extravagant birthday garden party, only the party just kept getting bigger and bigger. This year’s line-up includes Anne-Marie, Loyle Carner, Craig David and the Sugababes, with DJing by Annie Mac and Grandmaster Flash. Day ticket for £70, or weekend ones for £189.
Truck Festival, near Abingdon, 22-24 July
This veteran South Oxon festival in a farmer’s field, known to some as “The Godfather of the small festival scene”, hits all the right notes: family-friendly feel, good food, thumping indie tunes. Headlining this year are Sam Fender, Bombay Bicycle Club, The Kooks, and Kasabian among others. Resale weekend tickets from £150.
English Wine and Food Festival, Wallingford, 25-26 July
Move over Bordeaux, it’s the Thames and Chilterns terroir that has tongues wagging and lips smacking in the wine world these days. Enter the English Wine and Food Festival, a two-day opportunity to taste, compare, and buy award-winning local wines, as well as tuck into perfectly-paired food from local producers. It’s safe to say we can think of worse ways to spend a weekend. Tickets from £5.
Wilderness Festival, Cornbury Park, 4-7 Aug
The most revered of the Oxfordshire festivals, Wilderness returns this summer for a four-day boutique experience. There will be music (headliners: Years & Years, Jungle, Underworld), long-table banquets, woodland parties, theatre, film, dance, and a pop up spa (well, we are in Oxfordshire). It’s generally a heady mix of right-on hippiness (yoga, skinny-dipping, hot hubs) and top-tier music. General camping adult tickets from £230.
Waterperry Opera Festival, Near Wheatley, 12-20 Aug
Love a bit of high culture? You’ll want to get yourself tickets to an opera festival, darling. The 2022 line-up promises eight productions to enjoy over the eight days: Mansfield Park (Dove), Peter and the Wolf (Prokofiev), The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart), Svadba ‘A Wedding’ (Ana Sokolović), and more. There is also a Young Artist Gala on 14 and 19 Aug. Tickets for The Marriage of Figaro are £45 (or £25 for under-30s — think we could pass?), or from £15 for all other productions.
Rewind Festival, Henley-on-Thames, 19-21 Aug
Leg warmers and glitter at the ready (sustainable, natch)! Henley’s REW!ND at Temple Island Meadows is steaming ahead. Headliners are an Eighties pop queen’s dream: Holly Johnson, The Human League, Belinda Carlisle, T’Pau, Level 42 … What are you waiting for? Adult day tickets from £65, weekend from £99.
Shambala Festival, Northampton, 25-28 Aug
Sadly, tickets for this lo-fi, indie festival on a “secret” (t.b.c) country estate in Northants are sold out, but you can keep eye on its ticket page to potentially bag a returned ticket. The festival isn’t big on household name music bookings for its 12 (yep, 12!) stages but there’s more cabaret, inspiring talks, yoga, circus acts and comedy than you can shake a stick at. Plus it’s very family friendly.
The Big Feastival, near Kingham, 26-28 Aug
A posh nosh extravaganza, and an unbeatable excuse to eat yourself silly. Hosted on the farm of cheese-obsessed Blur bassist Alex James, The Big Feastival promises top notch chefs, family fun and chart-topping artists: good food, and great music. The line-up this year includes Anne-Marie, The Human League, Stereophonics, plus others. Adult day tickets from £92.50.
Towersey Festival, 26-29 Aug
This veteran folk celebration (which, confusingly, is now held at Claydon Estate, rather than Towersey village) has a reputation for being family friendly, thanks to plenty of workshops, entertainments, and dance classes. Activities includes yoga, a circus, community singing, Tai Chi, and more. The line-up includes Bill Bailey, Anais Mitchell (writer of the Broadway and West End hit Hadestown), and Kate Rusby among others. Adult weekend tickets from £152, day from £50.
Foodies Festival Oxford, 27-29 Aug
The UK’s biggest food festival returns to Oxford South Parks over the Bank Holiday weekend, featuring Chef residencies from The Orange Bakery‘s Kitty Tait, the team behind Oxford’s Taste Tibet, and Lottie Bedlow from 2020’s series of The Great British Bake Off. Music headliners include Natalia Imbruglia, Toploader, and The Feeling. Get ready to eat, enjoy good music, learn new skills, and then eat some more. Weekend adult tickets from £42, day from £23.
BunkFest, Wallingford, 2-4 Sept
Get your beard growing now for BunkFest, a family folk festival of music, dance, and plenty of beer, back with a vengeance for the first time since 2019. Best of all? It’s completely free. The line-up features some excellently-named acts: Geno Washington & The RamJam Band, My Mate Dave, and Rusty Shackles to name but a few. You do however have to pay for a camping space, from £23.
The Vache Baroque Festival, Chalfont St Giles, 2 / 4 Sept
Based at the stunning 15th-century Vache estate, this year The Vache Baroque Festival will be championing Charpentier’s 17th century opera La descente d’Orphée aux enfers. The grounds open from 3pm for picnicking, exploring, and drinks (FYI there’s a bar), where you can expect a few sound installations and pre-show pop-up performances. As far as I’m concerned, a leisurely evening listening to classic tunes is just what the doctor ordered. Tickets from £25 for under 35s, or £50 for over.
Pub in the Park, St Albans, 9-11 Sept
Marlow’s turn might have been back in May, but you can catch Tom Kerridge’s popular gourmet-scran-meets-live-music fandango Pub in the Park over at Verulamium Park in Herts in September. Tuck into top-level food and boogie along to the likes of Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Mel C, Gok Wan, Kaiser Chiefs, and more. The Hairy Bikers will also be there, affably slinging good food with all that Geordie charm. Adult tickets from £40.
Dogfest, Knebworth House, 10-11 Sept
Over the border in Herts, Dogfest is back for a barking good time. There’s a big dog walk, a puppy academy, doggy wellness, and the chance to prove — once and for all — who’s the best boy, in one of the dog shows. Tickets from £20, or £35 for the weekend.
HAVE WELLIES, WILL TRAVEL
Isle of Wight Festival, 16-19 June. (Line-up: Lewis Capaldi, Kasabian, Pete Tong, Muse, Craig David, Shaggy)
BST Hyde Park, London, 24 June – 10 July. (Line-up: Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Adele, Eagles, Pearl Jam, Duran Duran)
Wireless Festival, London Finsbury Park, 8-10 July. (Line-up: Cardi B, SZA, Nicki Minaj)
Latitude Festival, Suffolk, 21-24 July. (Line-up: Lewis Capaldi, Foals, Snow Patrol, Phoebe Bridgers)
Kaleidoscope Festival, London Alexandra Palace, 23 July. (Line-up: Orbital, Happy Mondays, Charlotte Church)
Camp Bestival, Dorset, 28-31 July. (Line-up: Rag’n’Bone Man, Rudimental, Kool & The Gang)
Edinburgh Summer Sessions, 8-14 Aug. (Line-up: Tom Jones, Simple Minds, Simply Red, Michael Kiwanuka)
Boardmasters, Cornwall, 10-14 Aug. (Line-up: George Michael, Disclosure, Kings of Leon)
Camp Bestival, Shropshire, 18-21 August. (Line-up: Fatboy Slim, Rag’n’Bone Man, Becky Hill, Sara Cox)
All Points East, London Victoria Park, 19-28 Aug. (Line-up: Charlie XCX, Gorillaz, Nick Cave, Kraftwerk)