Fields full of fun

The Positive News festival guide 2012

Grab your wellington boots; plait your flower garland and stock up on sun cream (ever hopeful) because festival season is back! With the likes of Reading, V and Bestival making their annual appearances, there are also a vast number of independent events taking place as festival fever creeps its way into all corners of the UK. If you’re looking for a non-corporate weekend of music, arts, crafts, food and relaxation this summer, read on for the Positive News round-up of some of the best alternative festivals.

Big Green Week

9-17 June

Bristol city centre

A new weeklong celebration of everything green launches in Bristol this summer. Big Green Week, a festival of environmental ideas, art and culture, will host the UK’s biggest farmers market, Bristol’s biggest bike ride and a number of Schumacher Lectures designed to inspire conversation and action on key environmental issues.

Guest speakers include Kevin McCloud, presenter of Grand Designs; Tony Juniper, editor-in-chief of National Geographic Green Magazine; Dame Vivienne Westwood, the queen of British fashion and design, Bill McKibben, Deborah Meaden, Caroline Lucas, and The Eden Project’s Tim Smit.

As well as music performances and stand-up comedy, there will also be free activities such as an electric bicycle extravaganza, street art with Bristol Biennial and non-stop screenings of Wonders of the Planet.

Ticket prices vary, many activities are free. More information:

Sunrise Celebration

21-24 June

Bruton, Somerset

Voted Best Green Festival 2011 by Green Parent magazine and picking up the Ethical Travel Award 2011 from the Guardian, Sunrise Celebration has unparalleled eco credentials. 100% sustainably run, Sunrise works in tune with nature to create a four-day celebration of life, which is underpinned by a comprehensive and holistic vision of an interconnected, abundant, and empowering world.

The 2012 line-up includes music from The Imagined Village, Gaudi and The Egg as well as performances from Dream State Circus and talks from Jamie Catto, David Hamilton and Greg Sams. Back for another year is the Sacred Circle, and area celebrating the summer solstice. Sunrise’s very own woodhenge will be used as sanctuary offering activities such as yoga and tai chi.

A new addition to Sunrise 2012 is the Tibet Village. The dedicated area will be used to screen documentaries, hold talks and house information stalls to raise awareness of ongoing issues for Tibetans around the world. And with every ticket purchased, people will now have the option to buy a fruit tree for planting on site to create a Sunrise community woodland that can be visited any time of the year.

Tickets: adult weekend £115, family £225, child £25, teens £75, live-in vehicle £30, car pass £15. More information:

Priddy Folk Festival

6-8 July 

Priddy Village, Mendip Hills

This year sees the 21st birthday of the Priddy Folk Festival and they plan to celebrate their coming of age in style. The bar is stocked with local ciders and ales, the market square is filled from pillar to post with an eclectic mix of stalls selling everything from ethical clothing to vintage furniture and jewelry, and the village green promises to serve up top quality food at realistic prices.

Of course, this festival is really about music and popular folk acts will be spread across the village, while children’s themed tents and activities make it a good choice for young families. Volunteer-run, the Priddy Folk Festival is a friendly celebration of everything that’s local.

Tickets: weekend with camping £72, without camping £61, day entry free. More information:

Secret Garden Party

19-22 July

Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire 

‘Standing on ceremony’ is the theme of this year’s Secret Garden Party, which celebrates its 10th birthday in July. Founded on artistic participation, the four-day festival aims to be an escape from cities and schedules, brands and boundaries.

The Great Stage line up features KT Tunstall, while the Temple of Boom will showcase the freshest underground dubstep, techno and acoustic artists. Each night at The Feast of Fools, a gathering of travelling European artists and craftsmen will be performing in their handmade vintage emporium, entrancing people with their weird and wonderful stunts, which, followed by a trip to the Oddball Dancehall, will guarantee a night you will never forget.

Set in beautiful grounds, with yurt-based restaurants, spontaneous theatre, and an eclectic musical line-up of big names and quirky new discoveries, Secret Garden Party is a spectacle not to be missed.

Tickets: adult ticket £195, campervan pass £60, children under 12 free. More information:


27-29 July

Charlton Park, Wiltshire

WOMAD (World of Music, Art and Dance), which has now been running for 30 years, was born with the hope of bringing together a multi-cultural society and has continued to grow each year with an ever-increasing demand from both artists and festival lovers.

The line-up boasts a diverse range of world music from an impressive array of countries and cultures across the world, while a global village of shops selling international arts, crafts and cuisine is also a central part of the WOMAD experience.

This year an outdoor wellbeing spa is creating waves amongst the festival’s regulars. Set in an oriental tent with a beautiful outdoor garden, the WOMAD spa features four therapy rooms, two hot tubs and a yurt sauna, as well as a long list of treatments provided by festival therapists. Who said festivals have to all mud and portaloos?

Tickets: adult weekend £135, teenage weekend £70, weekend spa £110, children go free (all weekend tickets include free parking & camping). More information:

The Big Cheese

27-29 July

Caerphilly, Wales 

The Big Cheese is an extravaganza of street entertainers, music, history, folk dancing, fire eating and more. The free weekend event expects to attract over 80,000 visitors this year as it continues to grow and appeal to a more diverse audience beyond the Welsh boarders.

The festival kick starts on Friday night with the Great Cheese Race (fancy dress encouraged but not compulsory) and a firework display and is followed by two days of non-stop family fun in the form of a traditional funfair, food hall, craft stalls, historical reenactments and musical entertainment. And, as you might have guessed, if you’re looking for some nibbles there is of course a cheese market.

Free festival. More information: 

One Love Festival

10-12 August

The Hop Farm, Kent 

One Love promotes itself as the UK’s leading reggae and dub festival and this year will be screening the largest reggae film programme in Europe. Alongside its dance floors, the festival includes a Chill Out Zone and Healing Area, which are nestled within a woodland landscape.

While festival-goers are invited to bring their own campervans, those looking for a luxury retreat experience can choose to stay in bell tents with all the facilities of a hotel, including tea light chandeliers, hand-painted tables, 100% cotton bedding and door mats for your boots.

Tickets: adult weekend £110, adult day £40, child weekend £60, child day £20. More information:


23-27th August

Market Harbourough, Northamptonshire

Shambala is a small, diverse festival known for its warmth and welcoming atmosphere. Celebrating community and creativity, it’s a playground for dreamers and free thinkers, taking place over the August bank holiday weekend.

The 2012 line-up is topped by ‘the Hendrix of the Sahara,’ Vieux Farka Toure, hip-hop star Roots Manuva, and renowned activist-songwriter Billy Bragg. But the Shambala experience goes way beyond the performances; during the festival its woodland site is transformed into a giant open-air gallery, filled with interactive art and a vast number of creative workshops.

There’s also a while luxury cinema, comedy performances, and women can choose to sneak off and become disco divas at the female-only Ladies Night venue.

Children have plenty of things to chose from too – in fact, there is an entire field dedicated to them, packed with art tents, hula hooping, trampolines, circus skills and puppet shows. Kids are also free to explore the forest, take part in workshops, climb trees and listen to bedtime stories in the family camping yurt.

Tickets: adult weekend £119, teen weekend £79, child weekend £29. More information: