Hear ye for the We Are Cardiff guide to the summer’s festivals! Below is our hand-picked list of the best easy-reach festivals from Cardiff and south Wales. Some of them are in England. Embrace diversity, yeah??
Some of them are also still looking for volunteers, so if you can’t quit afford a ticket, have a hunt around on their websites for information for volunteers.
The sun’s out (sort of), but even if it’s not, isn’t that what fabulously design waterproof ponchos are for??
Larmer Tree Festival
13 – 17 July, Dorset
One of the most beautiful festival locations in England: get ready for a family friendly, week long knees up amidst wandering and ca-cawing peacocks. Larmer Tree Gardens are a beautiful setting for a lovely festival: there’s plenty of day-time stuff for those who are more active in sunlight, and for the night owls, plenty of mischief to be had in amongst the deep forests of the Lostwood. There are craft workshops, dance yoga sessions, bubble discos, poetry readings, relaxation therapies, delicious food, and pop-up fun galore.
This year’s line up: Jamie Callum, Caro Emerald, The Stranglers, Calexico, Afro Celt Soundsystem, Quantic Live, Kitty Daisy and Lewis, Lau, Eska, The Wave Pictures.
Distance from Cardiff: 105 miles
28 – 31 July, Charlton Park, Wiltshire
The country estate on the outskirts of Malmesbury plays home to this annual celebration of wonderful sounds from around the globe. If you want bounce between Tibetan throat singers and Javanese bells, this is the place to do it. There’s a very relaxed approach to ‘world music’ here, so you can expect to see some mainstream artists peppered into the mix. There’s a Children’s Carnival on Sunday, and it’s a safe place to bring older kids too.
This year’s line up: George Clinton, Baaba Maal, Ibrahim Maalouf, Hot 8 Brass Band, Aziza Brahim, Sidestepper, The Grit Orchestra.
Distance from Cardiff: 65 miles
28 – 31 July, Lulworth, Dorset
From the Isle of Wight Bestival crew comes a proper family festival set in the gorgeous grounds of Lulworth Castle on Dorset’s Jurassic coastline. Camp Bestival is jam-packed with awesome entertainment. The music (handpicked by famous-off-the-radio-Rob-Da-Bank) always features fabulous headliners, and along on the side are cultural delights, sideshow attractions and extra servings of family fun. It’s won Best Family Festival a ton of times and has a truly massive kids’ area. There are kids’ shows and performances on the Castle Stage and in the Big Top, daring antics to be had at the Freesports Park, and fairytale escapism in the Dingly Dell.
This year’s headliners: Fatboy Slim, Tears for Fears, Katy B, Squeeze, Arrested Development, Bananarama, DJ Yoda, Turin Brakes, Brand New Heavies, The Cuban Brothers.
Distance from Cardiff: 120 miles
5 – 7 August, Baskerville Hall, Hay
2016 is the reboot year for this lovely festival which is one of two to come from the excellent Troyfest. A home-grown affair (and by that, I mean the folks running it are based in Cardiff), TrueFest promises a return to their roots, echoing the personal and intimate experience of those previous house parties, combined with a selection of some of the finest live acts on the festival circuit that they’ve met along the way.
The festival is set in the gorgeous grounds of Baskerville Hall in Hay: a festival party, in a mansion! And it’s a short drive from Cardiff: bonus!
This year’s line up: Broken Brass Ensemble, Solo Banton and the Uppercut Band, Lazy Habits, The Allergies, DJ Cheeba, Ratcatcher, Afro Cluster.
Distance from Cardiff: 60 miles
Kaya Festival of World Music and Arts
5 – 7 August, Margam Country Park, Neath Port Talbot
While it’s not quite WOMAD sized, if you like your beats eclectic then Kaya is definitely one to consider: over the years, this celebration of diversity within our culture has grown to playing host to some of the world’s best artists, in the lovely surroundings of Margam Park.
This year’s line up: Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show, Asian Dub Foundation, Judge Jules, The Selecter, Jerry Dammers (The Specials), Don Letts, Paul Trouble Anderson, General Levy.
Distance from Cardiff: 30 miles
11-14 August, Matterley Bowl, Hampshire
Without doubt one of the most beautifully ‘dressed’ festivals in the UK (and by that I mean the amazing attention to detail that goes into all the stages and bars there), Boomtown has gained a reputation for being a seriously party-hard affair. There’s so much diversity in terms of music: from afrobeat to old skool rave to bashment and roots, if you’re into alternative music, you’re sure to find it here. The festival is also hosted by Cardiff music man, Kaptin and features hundreds of Cardiffians running stages, DJing and generally having a lovely time. It’s another of those where you’ll wander around all weekend saying ‘I recognise you …’
This year’s line up: Madness, Damian Marley, Leftfield, Parov Stellar, Asian Dub Foundation, MJ Cole, Nightmares on Wax, Derrick Carter, Shades of Rhythm, Chris Liberator, Calibre, Imelda May.
Distance from Cardiff: 124 miles
18- 21 August, Glanusk Estate, Crickhowell
Yes son! One of Wales’ best-loved festivals, now in its 14th year (!!!). Also known as the weekend where the whole of Cardiff decamps in Glanusk, Green Man brings a delightful mish-mash of music, comedy, performance arts, healing vibes and science together and serves it up like some insane cultural smorgasbord you just can’t stop chomping down on. The site is small enough that you’re never a ridiculous distance from your tent (handy if you need to pop back for food, booze, or just to top up your glitter), but big enough to hold delightful treats that can keep you amused all day, and all of the night. We love Einstein’s Garden – teaching kids (and adults!) with interactive science throughout the weekend.
We Are Cardiff tip: make a proper week of it and get Settlers tickets. Also, indulge yourself some pamper time in the Nature Nurture field: we booked a Green Man hot tub last year and it was THE BEST DECISION WE EVER MADE. You get to shower before hand, then hang out with your friends in a wood-heated hot tub drinking Prosecco.
This year’s line-up: Belle and Sebastian, James Blake, Wild Beasts, Laura Marling, Grandaddy, Lush, White Denim, Battles.
Distance from Cardiff: 45 miles
20-22 August, Bristol
If rock of varying varieties (eg post / math / noise / alt, and so on) is your gig, then ArcTanGent is a must. The world’s ultimate music festival for connoisseurs of RAWK, it’s a lovely intimate festival with a capacity of just 5,000. Three nights of camping, over 70 bands across four stages, a silent disco, plus some tasty treats provided for those who can’t deal with festival cooking!
This year’s line-up: GY!BE, American Football, Mono, Toe, Gallops, Three Trapped Tigers, Errors, Hexvessel, Falls, Samoans
Distance from Cardiff: 40 miles
End of the Road
2 – 4 September, Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset
Back in the grounds of the beautiful Larmer Tree Gardens (see Larmer Tree Festival above), End of the Road focuses on alternative music of the folk, indie and alt-country variety. There’s also stonking literary and comedy line ups, featuring Bridget Christie, Josie Long, Stewart Lee, Darren Hayman and Cathi Unsworth. The food offerings are delicious, as is the surroundings.
This year’s line-up: Joanna Newsom, The Shins, Bat For Lashes, Animal Collective, Bat For Lashes, Cat Power, Devendra Barnhart, Goat, Savages, Thee Oh Sees, Teenage Fanclub.
Distance from Cardiff: 105 miles
Festival Number 6
1 – 4 September, Portmeirion
Undoubtedly the most ornate festival location of all the ones we’ve listed … Festival Number 6 is situated in the beautiful Italianate village of Portmeirion, in the stunningly AMAZING north Wales. Seriously. I can’t over-egg this pudding: it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. You’ve probably heard all about getting lost in its magical forests, eating silver service pop-up banquets and dancing on the white sand of the estuary, massages and spa treatments, so I won’t go on about that too much: I’ll just say that if you’ve made the effort to go all the way to Portmeirion for the festival, do yourself a favour and take a few extra days off to go exploring Snowdonia. It’s one of the jewels in the Welsh landscape crown. Maybe even our diamond!
This year’s line-up: Noel Gallagher, Hot Chip, Bastille, Super Furry Animals, Cassius, Roisin Murphy, Roots Manuva, Andy Votel, Crazy P, Gold Panda, Hot Chip, Joy Orbison, The Two Bears.
Distance from Cardiff: 150 miles
The Good Life Festival
16 – 18 September, Hawarden Estate, Flintshire
A relative rookie when compared to some of the more long-standing festivals in this list, nevertheless The Good Life has possibly our favourite line up. Its tagline is “Culture, food, and the great outdoors” – how can you argue with that? Great things about The Good Life: the ticket price is very reasonable, and once you get in, all activities are free. This includes family axe throwing workshops, hay bale fights, tree climbing, and all sorts of amazing fun activities for small kids (and big kids). Oh – and it was founded and curated by Welsh lady, Cerys Matthews. Do you listen to her 6Music radio show? Then you’ll know you’re in good hands for a weekend of entertainment.
This year’s line up: Mercury Rev DJ set, Gilles Peterson, John Cooper Clarke, Cerys Matthews
Distance from Cardiff: 153 miles
Porthcawl Elvis Festival
23 – 26 September, Porthcawl
If you were going to pick a wild card from the festivals on offer in this post, it would be this one. An entire weekend – JUST devoted to Elvis impersonators? Widely recognised as the biggest Elvis festival in the world, the tiny seaside town of Porthcawl becomes transformed by lycra, huge flares and Vegas glasses. You might not be the world’s biggest Elvis fan – but spending a weekend surrounded by them is a transformative experience.
This year’s line-up: do you really need to ask?
Distance from Cardiff: 30 miles
And that’s it for this summer’s festival guide. Have we missed anything out? Let us know in the comments and we’ll update the post!