Sunstroke And Campfires: This Summer’s Top Arts and Culture Festivals
Jazz has the ultimate guide for those of you wanting a festival experience more than just music.
The double-edged sword of summer is just around the corner.
This last week of ‘sizzling’ sun in Bristol has definitely seen summer shorts coming out of their long hibernation. Let’s also not forget the inconvenient and wildly abrupt sneezing at every gust of wind. Yes hay fever season is upon us.
The double-edged sword of summer is just around the corner. I like to think you’re all like me and every year jump on the festival bandwagon. While everyone’s going feral at Glastonbury and Reading, I’ll be taking a more refined approach at some of the UK’s best arts and culture festivals.
Here, I’ve shortlisted a few of the best.
Africa Writes, London, 1st-3rd July
Africa Writes is the Royal African Society’s annual literature festival, and is running between Friday, 1st and Sunday 3rd of July 2016. Every year is a showcase of talent emerging from the continent of Africa, in this vast celebration of writers and literature. There is something for everyone at this lively summer weekend, featuring an array of activity including book launches, readings, author appearances and talks, panel debates, children’s workshops and youth groups.
However, this festival is not just about the books. One of the main objectives of RAS is to promote a heightened understanding of African culture worldwide, delving into Africa’s roots, tradition, politics, troubles and it’s future.This festival allows a true insight into this and above all, is a celebration. Events like this don’t come by often, I’d definitely recommend a trip to London to check this one out.
HowTheLightGetsIn, Hay, 26th May-5th June
From the 26th May until 5th June, the world’s largest philosophy and music festival is back. Light up your life with parties, debates, music and comedy; the stage is sparkling with talent ranging from Maribou State to Ghostpoet and King Charles. With content ranging from mind and culture to politics and science, this festival hits just the right spot. With over 700 events to indulge in, HowTheLightGetsIn is the dawn of a summer alight with arts festivals.
If you’re all about ideas and enjoy getting lectured by the world’s leading thinkers (who doesn’t) then you know where you need to be. It’s an incredible opportunity to hear some influential speakers put their spin on some of the most pivotal topics. But act fast: you don’t have long to get your glittery hands on a ticket. Final tier guys, get moving.
Edinburgh Art Festival, 28th July-28th Aug
Between the 28th July until 28th August, Scotland is ignited with a dazzling display of activities and events at the UK’s largest annual festival of visual art. Audiences new and old are engaged with the visual art displays, existing artists are supported, and debates regarding culture and history within the city of Edinburgh begins. Over 300,000 people were recorded attending in 2015, so 2016 is looking to be on fire.
Scotland is a bit of a lengthy trip, but the sheer amount of activity taking place over the month is a must-see, with events and artworks spanning over the entire city if you have a particularly arty eye this one’s for you. Edinburgh Art Festival runs for a month, with the benefit being you can find a time to go whenever’s convenient for you. Go on, get involved.
Beyond The Border: International Storytelling Festival, Glamorgan, 1st-3rd July
From storytelling to poetry to spoken word, there’s really no other place for all things talk than Beyond The Border. Set to take place in magical castle of St Donats, which overlooks the breathtaking Glamorganshire coast between the 1st and 3rd July.
]The festival is small and friendly, vibrant but relaxed. It involves local artists alongside internationally-acclaimed performers. Beyond The Border is infact a charity, and was set up to promote the art of traditional storytelling for contemporary audiences; which is definitely something gaining momentum not just in Bristol but across the country.
If you’re after a more immersive festival experience, this will be a great shout. With a focus on spoken word and performances, you can engage in a slightly more tranquil environment. It’s a great opportunity to meet and spend time with lots of likeminded individuals. Tickets are still up for grabs, head online to pocket yours now.
Brainchild, East Sussex, 8th-10th July
Winner of the AIM award for Best Independent Festival in 2015, Brainchild is back and better than ever. This volunteer-led festival runs for 3 days from 8th until 10th July, and aims to unite young creative minds for a summer weekend of fun and inspiration. A range of captivating visual art is a main focus, and the warm relaxed vibe is welcoming to people of all ages and interests. You can also indulge in music, spoken word, film and theatre among much more.
This is definitely the kind of festival you can expect to gather a whole new flock of buddies; the open nature of the event encourages people to mix and work together in the best ways. Expect to find a big push on creativity in environment where it’s ok to be expressive and experimental; which is what the world needs more of. Go, meet new people, try new things, discover yourself.
Hay Festival, 26th May-5th June
I’m sure none of you are strangers to Hay Festival, but it’s really something to get gassed about because it’s one of the most renowned literary festivals out there. Set in the staggering beauty of the Brecon Beacons, it attracts a global audience of writers, public speakers, poets and comedians; all united by compelling ideas.
Running for a length 10 days starting on the 26th May, this one is for those of you who are hungry to leave feeling inspired, educated and entertained.
If you’re currently a student of young person under 25, Hay wants you too. The festival hosts an internship and work experience programme for people pursuing all things creative- you can access talks from leading lecturers and here it is… gain access to Hay for free. Don’t believe me? Get online and see for yourself.
Curious Arts Festival, Pylewell Park, 22nd-24th July
A perfect opportunity to get out into the wilderness is Curious Arts Festival, a magical union of writers artists and musicians, brought together in the breathtaking grounds of Plyewell Park Estate this July. With an experience of delicious food and drink also being at the forefront of this festival, this is one for those who love fine dining with exquisite taste. Minted mushy peas and lemon sole goujons? Say no more. I’m sold.
If you’re after a more educational festival experience which stimulates the mind (and also taste buds) then you need to get involved in this. This indulging, musical weekend experience takes place between 22nd and 24th July so; it’s looking like a scorcher. Bring your sun cream, and bring your parents. Sometimes it’s ok to be that guy.
UPFEST, Bristol, 23rd-25th July
Yep, I’m excited. And you should be too; Europe’s largest street art and graffiti festival is back and right on our doorsteps- right here in Bristol. Following on from the huge success of 2015’s festival in which over 300 artists flooded to our beloved city, dominating Bedminster and Southville and taking art to the streets. They got creative in over 30 venues, attracting 30,000 visitors and this year undoubtedly there’ll be many more.
For all you fellow art lovers, unfortunately artist registration has closed but that’s one to keep in mind for next year. But what’s great is the festival is also one giant art sale; so much of the artist’s work you’re going to see will actually be up for grabs in the form of prints and zines. Remember to get outside on Saturday 23rd up until Monday 25th, and feast your eyes on some of the country’s most remarkable and notable street artists at work.
Did that get you rearing to get up, get ready, and get out this summer? There is so much to do not just in Bristol but across the country over the next few months, so go and enjoy them.