Chalke Valley History Festival, Wiltshire 23-29 June 2014
Chalke Valley History Fest has more than realised its unique ambition to put history back on the map.
Alongside the spectacular air show of WW2 fighter planes, there's a 4 acre living history encampment telling stories from the past. Kids will be enthralled by the reconstructed trench with WW1 soldiers going over the top and can even learn how to use a dagger at the sword school. Stellar speakers as always including Damian Lewis, Jeremy Paxman, William Dalrymple, Kate Adie and Michael Morpurgo. Book ahead and sandwich your talks around a delicious 2 course dinner. Civilised, cerebral and fun.
Somersault, Devon 17-21 July
Suffice to say we're beyond excited about Somersault, with its nostalgic, back to childhood vibe, spectacular setting and world class headliners. Set in picturesque Castle Hill near Barnstaple Somersault makes the most of its location with field trips surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding and coasteering on the North Devon coast, hiking and trekking at Exmoor. Back at the ranch there are campfire feasts from Fifteen Cornwall, Nathan Outlaw's Fish Kitchen and The Ethicurean, Pearl Lowe is hosting a gypsy themed tea party and fashion show. At night the party continues with forest raves, then it's up early for yoga and morning runs.
Glastonbury, Somerset 25-29 June 2014
Still the mother of all festivals, an entire festi-town in fact with every conceivable (and some frankly inconceivable) entertainment you could think of. The best line up, always, this year - Arcade Fire, the Black Keys, Pixies, Massive Attack, London Grammar, Jake Bugg and frankly too many others to mention. But you're also here for the incredible comedy, theatre, food and general Glastonbury craziness that makes Britain's first outdoor music festival still the best.
Camp Bestival, Dorset 31 July - 3 August
DJ Rob Da Bank set up the little sister of more grown up and hedonistic Bestival on the isle of Wight when he began to have kids himself. Everything has been thought of to enable parents to gently party while offspring snooze in trailers. Silent discos, a huge kids field and Mr Tumble on tap. Food is always a highlight and new for 2014 is the Feast Collective with the best street food, artisan producers, supper clubs and pop up chefs. Great line up too - Basement Jaxx, Johnny Marr and De La Soul. Historic acts always feature - this year Chas n Dave.
Eden Sessions, Cornwall 21 June-15 July various dates
Eden always punches above its weight with the line up for a 6000 capacity venue and this year is no exception with Elbow, Ellie Goulding, Pixies and Dizzee Rascal. What you have here is a chance to see global stars in an intimate and spectacular venue. Described as like watching a gig on the moon, when those space age biomes are lit up at night there is nothing else like it. Truly magical.
Orchestival, Somerset 19-29 July 2014
Conductor Charles Hazlewood is making waves with his chic festival (previously known as Orchestra in a Field) designed to repopularise classical music. Wagner, Mozart, drum n bass and acid house blend seamlessly with guest appearances from opera’s greatest and urban rappers like Prof Green. This year drum n bass king Squarepusher collaborates with the Philharmonia, house orchestra for the weekend, and folk singers the Unthanks sing with full orchestral backing. Classics too, of course, including Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante and Dvorak's New World Symphony. It’s a genius idea in a gorgeous setting with uber food and plenty of champagne. Vintage helter skelter and a steam train runningaround the pretty, lakeside setting of Bath Show Ground thrill the youngest crowd.
Port Eliot, Cornwall 24-27 July 2014
Quirky, cerebral, a bit ravey, Port Eliot Lit Fest is all these things. Set in the Earl of St German's beautiful estate near Plymouth, Port Eliot attracts a boho, posh hippy crowd. Jarvis Cocker dubbed it a festival of ideas and it's certainly inventive with writers, musicians, artists and chefs performing the unexpected. This year we're looking forward to hearing Shami Chakrabarti discussing human rights and legendary Slits guitarist Viv Albertine talking about her memoir, the brilliantly titled Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys. With food from Moro and Nathan Outlaw, talks from the Idler Academy, music from Caught by the River, all we can say is bring it on.
Sunrise Celebration, Somerset 28 May - 1 June 2014
Entirely sustainable, utterly green but not in a worthy, sandal-eating kind of way, in fact Sunrise Celebration (doesn't the name say it all) is a gem. A massive party with positive vibes and, of course, a top knotch kids area. This is the place to let your offspring roam free. Space hopper zone, climbing wall, even a wholesome, healthy Punch & Judy show from the Pizza & Puppets Man. Chai Wallah get the main stage rocking and offshoot dance and electronica gatherings everywhere.
Bestival, Isle of Wight 4-7 September 2014
Curated madness from Rob and Josie Da Bank on the Isle of Wight, the undisputed kings of dressing up. This year's theme is Desert Island Disco so grass skirts will be out in force. Foals, Beck, Outkast, Chic with Nile Rodgers to headline as well as London Grammar, Basement Jaxx, Paloma Faith and Disclosure. But it's all other stuff that makes Bestival so special - the inflatable church for impromptu weddings (complete with nutty mother in law), a drag queen disco, naked etching and wake up classes from Mr Motivator. Release your inhibitions - let's go.
Beautiful Days, Devon 15-17 August 2014
We're big fans of Beautiful Days, the Levellers' family festival in stunning Escott Park. There's a hippy feel good vibe here and a massive childrens' area with circus, story-telling, theatre, dressing up, arts and crafts and a proper old fashioned fairground. Steve Earle and the Dukes, Seasick Steve and the Levellers are this year's headliners plus Dreadzone, Seth Lakeman, Bellowhead and Fishermen's Friends. No branding or sponsorship, it's wholesome here but the punters sure know how to party.