The best of British seaside festivals and events for 2021: readers’ tips

<span>Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA</span>
Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA

Winning tip: Bournemouth Arts by the Sea festival

The annual programme here takes place across the picturesque backdrops of Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch, which have a growing cultural scene. Visitors are encouraged to participate in the wide range of art, music and dance events alongside both emerging and established artists. It’s diverse, it’s intriguing and, ultimately, it connects visitors to the amazing talent in the local community.
1-3 October,
Olivia C

Sidmouth folk festival

Morris men on the seafront at Sidmouth during the folk festival.
Morris men on the seafront at Sidmouth during the folk festival. Photograph: Alamy

Sidmouth, south Devon, is a fantastic place to go any time of year, but the folk festival week is particularly special. Live music in lots of locations throughout the day (from gentle to more lively later on – this year’s line up includes Show of Hands, Seth Lakeman, and the Eliza Carthy trio). There are other things to enjoy, such as storytelling events, family entertainment and dance displays, as well as the chance to support the local coastguard. Don’t forget to stop for an energising slice of (gigantic) cake at the Clock Tower Cafe after a walk on the coast path before the entertainment starts!
30 July-6 Aug, ticket prices vary,

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Lindisfarne festival

Dizzee Rascal on stage
Dizzee Rascal will headline at the Lindisfarne festival 2021. Photograph: Danny Payne/Rex

Eight stages, more than 100 bands, thousands of visitors and sun, sea and spirituality – what’s not to like? Lindisfarne festival is the friendliest weekend party in the north of England. It’s also, for me, in the best location: in the dunes of the celebrated Northumberland coast just before you cross for Holy Island. Theres’s a great variety of musical styles to dip into, from Dizzee Rascal to Holy Moly and the Crackers. Shanti Bee offers workshops and holistic therapies for a bit of zen. Over-18s only, mind.
2-5 Sept, Saturday pass £73, weekend pass £132,
Monique Gadella

Victorious, Portsmouth

Victorious Festival landscape with people sunbathing and enjoying bands
Victorious Festival landscape with people sunbathing and enjoying bands

Victorious festival is where you can see some of the biggest names in music, right alongside the water’s edge. Every August bank holiday, Southsea Common bursts into life with live music. This year’s lineup includes The Streets, Royal Blood, Chic and Madness. Plus, there’s a family arena with acoustic music, fairground rides and activities organised by the city’s top visitor attractions. Some of the most affordable tickets around for a large UK festival, too.
27-29 August, tickets from £35,
Dai Howells

Largs Viking festival

Burning a Viking longship in Largs.
Burning a Viking longboat in Largs. Photograph: MediaWorldImages/Alamy

Largs in north Ayrshire is hosting its annual Viking festival again this summer. The festival commemorates the Battle of Largs in 1263, which was the last time Vikings fought on British soil. Events are not confirmed yet but the week is a blend of the new and the old, and serious history mixing with the child-friendly, such as the replica Viking village. There is usually a torch-lit procession and the burning of a longboat, plus history seminars. Musical and community events take place throughout the week.
28 Aug-5 Sept,

St Ives food and drink festival

paella, yellow rice, mussels and seafood
paella, yellow rice, mussels and seafood

The St Ives food and drink festival is my favourite. The seafood is incredible and despite multiple trips to Spain, that’s where I had the best paella of my life! St Ives itself has much to offer and it’s always great to visit. St Michael’s Mount is nearby and that’s another one of my favourite spots. I’ll never say no to fish and chips by the sea (with a pint of beer. Or two. Or three … this could go on for a while).
17-19 September, day tickets from £7.50,

Ramsgate festival of sound

In my historic seaside gem of a town, the festival of sound is a real treat. Not just music, this festival celebrates all audible and sound art in beautiful and famous locations on the coastline. All the events – from the Sonic Trail and Busk at Dusk to the Heritage Talks – are easily accessible by public transport, by bike or on foot. Be prepared to be surprised by this mix of eclectic, traditional, exciting and burlesque entertainment. Most events are free.
27 Aug-5 Sept,
Deb Shotton

Lewes to Newhaven raft race

Competitors race downriver from Lewes to Newhaven on homemade craft.
Competitors race downriver from Lewes to Newhaven on homemade craft. Photograph: Jim Holden/Alamy

Starting in the historic and quirky town of Lewes, the annual raft race sees local groups entering homemade rafts and paddling in a seven-mile race. All the while receiving a barrage of missiles from the audience! Onlookers line the riverbanks and bridges to take their shot at the passing vessels; eggs are the main weapon of choice. The race finishes in Newhaven on the coast, where the tired crews can rest on the quiet beaches under beautiful chalk cliffs.
8 August, free, on Facebook
Harriet Harker