The best small British festivals for 2011


More people than ever are turning away from the big festivals like Glastonbury, and seeking out the smaller, more intimate music festivals which take place all around the UK.

If you don’t want to spend hours trying to find your tent and watching the bands through a telescope, then these might be perfect for you. We even have a festival strictly for under 18s in August.


May 2011 Festivals

Run To The Sun in Newquay, Cornwall
The original festival involved VW Campervan owners driving from Heston services on the M4 to Newquay, in a kindof hangout with other VW Campervan owners groupie meetup.

Today however, the event has turned into a fully-flegged three day festival attracting big names such as Boy George, Fedde Le Grand and Mauro Picotto. We’re pretty sure they don’t turn up in a VW Campervan, however trendy those currently are.

If you own a VW campervan, you can still take your place in ‘the cruise’ to the festival which picks up more and more campervans along the way. In previous years, ‘the convoy’ has resembled something from the 1978 film “Convoy” with over 5 miles of campervans heading to Newquay!

27th to 30th May 2011 in Newquay, Cornwall.

Campsites, caravans and lodges in Newquay
Hotels in Newquay
Things to see and do in Newquay


Off The Tracks in Donington, Derbyshire
There are actually two festivals held at Castle Donington, but both try to be as family friendly as possible without toning down the event.

The festivals are based around two stages of live music featuring over 30 artists across the three day festival with a range of music from The Christians, System 7, Mirror System along with trance, techno and downbeat from Cabbage.

Beyond the music there are arts & craft stalls, circus workshops, a children’s play area and a bar with 45 beers…wouldn’t be a festival without a big bar. Saturday nights are for fancy dress and face painting.

For those seeking their inner soul or perhaps a natural cure after sampling many of the beers, there are sessions of Shiatsu, Yoga, Energ ywork, Tai Chi and Chi Kung at the festival too.

27th to 29th May 2011 (and 2nd to 4th September 2011).

Campsites around Donington Park
Hotels in Derby (near Donnington Park)


June & July 2011 Festivals

Blissfields in Hampshire
Very much a local non-commercial festival, Blissfields is run by the local pub owner and held on a dairy farm.

From humble beginnings in 2001 with just 70 people, today the festival attracts around 5000 people every year but remains much more relaxed than festivals such as Glastonbury. You might not find many of the big bands here, but that is part of the attraction with smaller unsigned bands playing to a more appreciative crowd.

If you want to go back to what festivals such as Glastonbury used to be, Blissfields is certainly a good option.

30th June to 3rd July 2011 near Winchester.

Hotels near Winchester
Things to see and do in Winchester


Lounge On The Farm in Canterbury, Kent
One of the most informal festivals on the calendar where you’re just as likely to be sat on a haybale or sofa, as any corporate venue seating.

Many festivals try to have a local theme, but Lounge On The Farm takes this idea and creates an entire festival around it, with all food & drink being sourced within 20 miles of the venue and even mostly local bands playing. If ever there was an eco-festival, this might well be it.

The local countryside feel is even extended to the main dance venue called the Cow Shed…mostly because that’s the purpose when the people and flashing lights go home. Assuming of course the cows don’t have cow-fest.

8th to 10th July 2011 at Merton Farm near Canterbury.

Hotels in Canterbury
Self-catering in Canterbury
Things to see and do in Canterbury


Buddhafield in Taunton, Somerset
Think original Woodstock and that might be a good way to describe Buddhafield which is more about meditation and relaxation, than it is about a music festival.

The whole concept is based around Buddhism with focus on meditation and having a low carbon footprint, to the point where buses are provided from major cities to the festival. There are no big bands here and the majority of the music is created by the audience, so this is more for those who want to refresh themselves rather than see Bon Jovi.

One important aspect of Buddhafield is there is no alcohol, drugs or to a large degree dogs allowed, although why the latter we’re not completely sure.

13th to 17th July 2011.

Campsites and lodges in Taunton
Things to see and do around Taunton


August 2011 Festivals

Standon Calling in Ware, Hertfordshire
One of the relative newcommers to the festival circuit, Standon Calling has quickly grown into a major force in the small festival arena.

The festival attracts both big names and quality small / unsigned bands, but one of the biggest attractions is the all-night nightclub so you can literally become 24 hour party people. Held in the grounds of a 16th Century manor house, the festival has both posh and basic accommodation on-site such as Tipis and Yurts – even Glastonbury doesn’t have those.

11th to 14th August 2011.

Hotel accommodation in Ware
Things to do in Ware, Hertfordshire


Underage Festival in Victoria Park, London
Many festivals promote themselves as family friendly, but if you really want to ditch the adults, who are guaranteed to destroy your cred anyway, then the Underage Festival is the way to go!

Designed specifically for 14 to 18 year old festival goers, the event isn’t watered down either with big names playing each year and a proper festival atmosphere. The only real difference is the lack of adults, alcohol and aggravation from said adults, but who needs the 3 A’s for a good time.

You can book tickets online for Underage Festival.

Hotels near Victoria Park
Things to see and do near Victoria Park

Date: 7th August 2011.


Tapestry Goes West in Port Talbot
Making sure Wales doesn’t miss out on the festival scene is Tapestry Goes West which is usually held in Margam Park, Port Talbot.

Situated next to a ruined Medieval castle, it might not be surprising to learn that the festival has been described as “endearingly eccentric” with a combination of bands playing the main tent at one end and King Arthur battling a foe across the field.

The whole event is designed to be as much fun as possible, and to take itself as un-seriously as any festival can. For something completely different, head to Port Talbot this August.

Review of a previous Tapestry Goes West in The Metro

Date: To be confirmed, but should be early August.

Hotels in Port Talbot
Attractions in Port Talbot


Harlequin Fayre in Bungay, Suffolk
Formerly known as the Green Man Fayre, the main focus of the Harlequin Fayre is to combine a music and crafts festival with helping local groups and charities.

The venue is designed around small bands, so you might not see the big headliners here, but amongst the musicians are the craft stalls and demonstrations, making this more of a country fare than Glastonbury. Fancy dress is encouraged, with prizes awarded for the best, with the idea of creating somewhere to have a good time and make friends.

12th to 14th August 2011.


September 2011 Festivals

Creetown Country Music Festival in Southern Scotland
If country music is more your scene, then the Creetown Country Music Festival is one of the best around, soon to be in its 15th Year.

Based in Creetown, South West Scotland, the entire festival is run by volunteers thus ensuring it stays as far away from the commercial festival scene as possible. Each year brings top country music bands to the small Scottish town.

Alongside the bands, there’s other favourites such as line dancing which normally takes place in the middle of the town, and plenty of people taking themselves very un-seriously dressed up as cowboys / cowgirls.

Date: Exact date to be announced, but usually end of September.


Loopallu in Ullapool, Invernessshire
For a small festival in a remote location, Loopallu really does attract the big names such as Paolo, Magic Numbers, Turin Brakes, Idlewild to name just a few in 2010.

Located on the shores of Loch Broom in North West Scotland, the Loopallu festival is billed as “Like a family reunion you actually want to go to”, and with headline acts of this quality and a grand Scottish welcome, this might be the best way to end the festival season.

Book early as tickets are likely to disappear very fast.

16th and 17th September 2011.

B&Bs and hotels in Ullapool
Things to do in Ullapool

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