Glastonbury is over. More than 200,000 revellers are crawling their way back from the West Country, leaving behind the usual tidemarks of abandoned tents, orphaned wellies and dance-sore dignity.
Mud and queue-free, it was easy to feel smug on the sofa. But for others, the virtual experience prompted an intolerable itch. Fear of Missing Out – or FOMO, as Billie Eilish’s fans have it – was real. From hollering along with Diana Ross to air-guitaring with Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen, some things are better in person.
But don’t fret. The great British summer of festivals is only now beginning. FOMO is as easily banished as it is mortifying to say aloud. These are the events to book now.
Salute ageing stars
No one does it quite like Macca. And while the pop icon is unlikely to cool down from his Pyramid Stage set with another intimate show at Frome’s Cheese and Grain, there are plenty of other options. The Rolling Stones’s second gig at BST Hyde Park is sold out (cheekily, their first clashed with McCartney’s Glastonbury set). But Duran Duran are playing the same festival the weekend after. In search of lost time? Here’s where to begin.
Duran Duran BST Hyde Park, July 10 (www.bst-hydepark.com)
For the downward dog followed by oat milk flat white crowd
Glastonbury isn’t all sweat, glitter and head-pounding bass lines. In fact, for many the Healing Fields are the Glastonbury experience. Yoga with the sunrise, a tot of yerba mate, and a really good scrub in the sound bath are what constitute a decadent Worthy Farm weekend. Emulate these wholesome souls at Latitude Festival, the answer to the question: what would a Guardian readers' away day in the Suffolk countryside look like? Hot tubs, cabaret and excellent grub are de rigueur. Darling.
Latitude Festival, July 21-24 (latitudefestival.com)
Want more bopping with Gen Zers?
Did the 20-year-old headliner Billie Eilish pique your curiosity about what, exactly, your daughter has been listening to? Then Reading Festival is worth investigating. It always attracts a youthful crowd, with Megan Thee Stallion – of the X-rated hit WAP – headlining this year. Still, Arctic Monkeys and Rage Against the Machine will also be making an appearance to even up the demographics. But be warned: the revellers can be, erm, boisterous. And not in a raid-your-wine-cellar way.
Reading Festival, August 26-28 (readingfestival.com)
One for the plaid shirts and CAMRA subscribers…
If that seems altogether too much, then Cornbury Festival could be for you. Taking place among the genteel folds of the Oxfordshire countryside, it’s Mumford & Sons: The Festival. Dust off the lumberjack check and pull on your trilby for a weekend of rootsy music – Bryan Adams, James Blunt and Jools Holland – and thoroughly middle-class vibes. “Posh loos” are promised, and there’s even a nanny service for little Otto and Olivia. Bring your own cockapoo.
Cornbury Festival, July 8-10 (cornburyfestival.com)
One for the tie-dyed bliss chasers…
You’d struggle to believe it now when it has the footprint of Bagram Air Base, but when it was founded in 1971, Glastonbury was simply a thousand hippies in a field chasing peace, love and (chemically persuaded) good times. Today, only the festoons of prayer flags and stone circle remain of this era. But for some genuine flower power, head to WOMAD in Wiltshire. In the festival’s 40th year, expect internationally flavoured music, dance and art – and top-notch visuals.
WOMAD Festival, July 28-31 (womad.co.uk)
And one for the mosh-pit maniacs…
Did Glastonbury’s Shangri-La – the infamous all-night rave arena, known as the “naughty corner” – look a little tame? Then Shambala could be for you. Held at a secret location – revealed to ticket holders a few weeks before the festival – it promises 24hr electronica, more glowsticks than a night landing of the space shuttle and a ramshackle Mad Max-meets-Fabric atmosphere.
Shambala Festival, August 25-28 (shambala.org)
Have a good chin scratch
“Thinking festivals” – such as HowTheLightGetsIn and newbie Kite Festival – have flourished in recent years, led by the success of Hay, the grand dowager of literary events. Most, though, are over by the summer solstice, leaving the indecorous business of singing and partying to July and August’s packed schedule of music festivals. The rare exception is Wilderness Festival. Alongside food and music, there’s an admirable focus on heavy-weight intellectual talent. Last year, for instance, Philip Pullman took to the stage with John Lloyd, the TV producer behind Not the Nine O’Clock News, Blackadder, and Spitting Image. You don’t get that at Shambala.
Wilderness, August 4-7 (wildernessfestival.com)
And if you don’t fancy mingling with the vaccinated hoi-poi
There’s the Freedom Music Festival. Billed as a “red-pill event” for those who “aren’t afraid to spread the truth”, it’s a bona fide anti-vaxxer Woodstock. Held over three days in the grounds of HOPE Sussex – a COVID conspiracist education hub – attendees can educate themselves about COVID, vaccines, 5G and, naturally, the globalist “agenda”. Music-wise, artists such as the “truther” DJ Danny Rambling will be on hand to spin decks and irresponsible misinformation. And all for only £99. Bargain.
Freedom Music Festival, July 29-31 (hope-hubofpivotalevents.co.uk)