Not too long ago I wrote a thoughtful piece on whether or not 2012 would be the death of the festival. Whilst my conclusions were somewhat vague given how early in the year it was, I did decide that smaller niche festivals would continue to thrive so long as they maintained their original appeal. In keeping with this, I’ve had a look ahead to what I think are the most promising small festivals this year…
8 – 12th August
A great UK festival that caters not just to the music lovers, but also to sports fans – particularly those who love their surfing since this is a beach festival. The line-up this year looks great, featuring the likes of Ed Sheeran, Dizzee Rascal, Zane Lowe and The Ting Tings. The music side looks slightly more expanded this year as well. As you may expect with most festivals, the weather will play a key part in the experience, and none more so than here at Boardmasters as the it can change the sporting experience at the drop of a hat (or rise of an umbrella).
17 – 19st August
Whilst you may get your skates on and roll on down to Boardmasters, Green man takes a more laxadisical approach to the festival experience. This is always considered a much more chilled out, folky event, with mellow music and calm, fun vibes shared amongst the crowd. There are literary delights as well as comedy to be had here, and the overall line-up plays very well into the niche it has carved out: Van Morrison, Feist, Mogwai and Alt-J to name but a few acts. Alt-J have been a band to look out for over the past 6 months and I expect big things for the second half of 2012, especially with their debut album on the way, so catch them here whilst you can.
27 – 29th July
Rather than be as niche as Green Man or Boardmasters, Kendal Calling prides itself on taking the big festival experiences of Glastonbury and condesing it into a more managable and wonderful package. This was my highlight of last year and I hope to be going again! A few of the 2012 customary festival acts will be in appearance including Dizzee Rascal, and Maximo Park, but also James, and Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip (and individually) will be there, not to mention an absolute bucket load of great musicians and acts. A number of local acts will also appear, such as favourites The Lancashire Hotpots, as this festival takes pride in it’s northern roots. Don’t miss out.
Secret Garden Party
19 – 22nd July
Always strangely obscure and always attended by obsessives, Secret Garden Party has a real core following that hit it every year and always come back raving. Its not so much about the music as it is the overall experience, and each year has a specific theme that is explored through music, literature, arts and workshops. Previously we have seen ‘Origins and Frontiers’ in 2011, ‘Fact of Fiction’ in 2010 and this, the year of our lord 2012, sees ‘Standing on Ceremony’ as the main theme, it being the party’s 10th birthday this year. This is a really great festival for alternative partying and fun for all the family.
Larmer Tree Festival
11 – 15th July
Having been going since 1990, this year sees yet another a small and indimate crowd of 4000 descend on the park for what will be a festival of diverse entertainment and a truly great and unique experience. As said, I thought niche festivals will do well this year, and Larmer Tree Festival should be head and shoudlers above them all, having previously sold out 17 festivals prior to this year. Musically, people can expect the talents of Paloma Faith, Jools Holland, the Levellers and Roots Manuva. The laughs should come courtesy from some of my favourites, including Tim Minchin, Milton Jones, Stephen K Amosand Carl Donnelly. This is a special little festival that simply refuses to grow, so get there if you can.
27 – 29th July
If Kendal Calling doesn’t quite look likely to be your cup of tea, perhaps you should consider Womad? This is certainly something different, rather than genre specific musicians, a real flavour for the world of music, arts and dance (WOMAD). Expecting around 35,000 attendees, this is really going to be a stage for something different this summer rather than your typical large and generic festival. There are going to be artists from far flung places such as Senegal, Cape Verde, Canada, Denmark, Australia, Cuba, Jamaica, and the list goes on! Its hard to explain what to expect, other than a really diverse crowd, diverse music scene, diverse entertainment… um, it’ll be diverse?
Eastern Electrics Festival
This is a short, 1 day festival, and a new one at that too. Why am I including it on this list? Because I think it will be packed, it will be crazy, and it’ll be what all the electric fans in and around the nation’s capital have been waiting for. Taking place on a Saturday in the Docklands in London, the line-up of stellar and promising electronic artists definitely caters to the niche crowd of revellers that search for this sort of thing. I think it typifies my belief that big festivals may suffer and smaller ones may live on. I’d recommend going if you are in London and ticket sales have so far been going stupendously well. If you like electronic music, get your rear in gear and down here!