I’ve been in love with the idea of a festival since I was fourteen and first read Grace Dent’s LBD: Live & Fabulous, in which the protagonists attend a thinly-disguised fictional version of Glastonbury. It sounded incredible. A four-day party in a field, all your favourite bands, lots of artsy fun (including henna tattoos, which seemed very wild to my teenage self) and a vibrant cultural atmosphere. A mixture of factors prevented me going to my first festival until last year, when I finally got to go to T in the Park, a festival rite of passage for most Scottish teenagers. Although I’m not going to pretend every moment was magical (tents are disgusting in the rain), I loved the experience of discovering new music and proudly surviving the Scottish summer. Sadly, no festivals on the agenda for this summer, so here are the top 5 festivals I’d love to attend in the future.
You knew it was coming. A five day extravaganza of dance, comedy, theatre, cabaret and, of course, music, it’s been running regularly since 1978, boasting such mammoth acts as the Rolling Stones, Muse and Arctic Monkeys in recent years. The line-up is consistently great – this year alone there was New Order, Chvrches, Two Door Cinema Club and James, literally four of my favourite bands in one beautiful weekend – and its placement in British cultural heritage is undeniable. The sheer amount of performers is dazzling, and I honestly can’t wait until I’m finally free for that all-important weekend in June. (Next year please?)
Isle of Wight
Another UK festival with a countercultural history, the Isle of Wight festival originally ran between 1968 and 1970 before it was banned by local authorities for overcrowding. It was eventually revived in 2002 and still dependably delivers older, high-profile headliners such as Queen, Bon Jovi and Blur. One remarkable example is this year’s Saturday act The Who, who also – rather amazingly – performed in 1969. The festival is fairly small for one of its musical weight, with 58,000 attendees every year and although it’s quite a distance away from my native Glasgow, it’s a trek I’d be willing to make.
Reading and Leeds
I still remember the enviably fantastic 2012 line-up: The Cure, Florence and the Machine, Bombay Bicycle Club, Paramore, even a surprise appearance from my teenage favourites Green Day. When heading home from work one saddening August afternoon, I was unbelievably jealous to spot Leeds Festival-goers thronging the crowd, and it’s a sentiment that has stayed with me. Although the line-up varies in quality from year to year, when Reading and Leeds is good, it’s exceptionally good. This year I’d love to see Courteeners, Disclosure and Fall Out Boy and, if possible, get a time machine back to the early 2000s when the line-ups were truly majestic.
California dreaming: if Instagram and fashion magazines are to be believed, then Coachella surely must be the only worthy festival on the planet. Although I still can’t quite fathom a festival without the ubiquitous wellies (really? Not even for back up?), Coachella has become such an iconic seasonal event that, were I ever to head to California, I would make it a priority to grab tickets for one of the consecutive weekends. Regardless of line-up (which is, incidentally, pretty good: Calvin Harris, Grimes and festival favourites Wolf Alice featured amongst April’s acts), this is a place to fearlessly cultivate your flawless festival look come shine, or, well, shine.
And… Europe’s best!
So this is cheating slightly, but as I’d be genuinely happy to attend any of these continental festivals, I’ve reconciled myself to this duplicity! Tomorrowland boasts a stellar EDM line-up, from Hardwell to Nicky Romero and even if I’m convinced I would crave some guitars after a few remix-heavy sets, it’s still an invaluable opportunity to tick lots of DJs off my dance bucket list. Then there’s city-slickers Sziget and Benicasim, located in Budapest and Benicasim respectively: both steadily offer invigorating line-ups, and have the added bonus of being located near two stunning cities, with Benicasim only a couple of hours’ train ride away from Barcelona. And, finally, Rock Werchter in the heart of Belgium, an affordable, pleasingly diverse festival that will definitely be a priority for my first festival trip abroad.