Festival season is fucking sick isn’t it? Every year in the UK, winter comes through like a fart on a dancefloor and slaps you with an unwelcome mix of depression, sadness and freezing cold temperatures.
Apart from Christmas and New Year's, which can even be tiresome at times, it’s a perfect storm of bad vibes and appalling weather. But once March comes around, you start to get that frisky feeling again, a feeling you’d long forgotten about, oh how we’ve missed you old friend.
So that brings us onto the pinnacle of the British summer for any dance music fan; festival forays, going wild in a field for four days and losing your mates and the plot to a wealth of amazing electronic music.
Holidays abroad, providing they don’t break the bank, are naturally a great way to unwind but at the same time, why bother when the UK has more amazing festivals that ever before. In fact, we’d go as far to say that we’ve got one of the richest festival circuits on the planet, period.
The elephant in the room is of course that Glastonbury is currently in its fallow year. Glastonbury is the best festival on the planet, there’s no debate on offer here, that’s a fact and this year the holy ground needs to repair. Enter Glasto blues. It’s easy to feel a bit down that a trip to Worthy Farm isn’t on the cards in 2018 but this time is essential so we can enjoy another five years at our favourite field on Planet Earth. The grass needs to grow, the site needs to breath, hell, the Stone Circle can’t handle any more nos canisters and empty baggies being trodden into the mud.
Another festival missing this year is our beloved Secret Garden Party, a staple of the festival circuit for 13 years. The idyllic little spot was like a mini-Glasto in its own right. It was unashamedly silly, laughed in the face of seriousness and had some of the best late night party stages of any festival we’ve ever been to. If you don’t remember trying to navigate your way down the hill at The Drop then you’ve missed out on a solid chunk of UK festival history.
Last year however, marked the festival’s final year and with that came a bittersweet farewell that when thinking back now, is still a hard pill to swallow. So no Glasto and no SGP this year, so it’s off to Creamfields then, right? Wrong, unless that’s your bag, but to be honest, there are more incredible festivals to hit in the UK than ever, all of which have established themselves among the best.
Take Houghton for instance. Born from the beautifully warped, musically visionary mind of Craig Richards, the 8000 capacity hotspot in Norfolk won 2017. It was our festival of the year for good reason; 24 hour music, the best DJs in the world, 24 hour music, Ricardo Villalobos, 24 hour music and a beautiful, mystical location that hosted 24 hour music. It quickly became one of those “oh my god, you didn’t go” festivals so this year, it’s a no brainer.
Gottwood is another UK-mainstay and one that’s been transporting ravers not only to Wales for the weekend, but to new dimensions of their mind with line-ups that always cover every base (this year includes Zip, Move D, Avalon Emerson, Ben UFO, Binh, Shed, DMX Crew and Jackmaster b2b Grain). It's worth bearing in mind that Tyson Fury partied there in 2016, not really sure what that means but if the festival is good enough for the Heavyweight Champion of the World, then it's damn well good enough for us.
It houses around 5000 people so has an intimate vibe from the off and the atmosphere is one that promotes safe, relaxed partying with a view to wind things down at around 4am every day. That doesn’t mean you can’t go wild with your mates though, far from it. There’s a lake, there are woods to run around in and it always strikes you as a place that only somewhere as quaint as the UK could pull off.
Talking of woods to run around, Farr Festival has to take the crown when it comes to thrashing round the forest at 3am. Only around 35 minutes away from London, this little beauty has really stepped up its game over the last few years in terms of programming. The big guns have been brought in alongside fresh up and comers, basically it's the cream of the crop of today's hottest acts.
It lends itself to silliness for sure and once the sun goes down, the lights twinkle in the trees and the music ramps up. This year revellers can look forward to acts like Dixon, Daphni, DVS1, Lena Willikens, Willow and Job Jobse, who turned in one of the most fun, euphoric closing sets we’ve witnessed at a festival in a while.
Right so there’s three alternatives this year and if you hit those, we reckon you’ll have safely cured that festival itch but let us offer up one more UK hotspot, one of the smallest and most compact of them all. In fact, when someone came up with the phrase, the best things come in small packages, we think they were actually referring to Field Maneuvers.
The 700-capacity festival holds about the same amount of people as your average-sized club, so finding your mates is never an issue and making new friends is not only easy, it’s encouraged. A family mentality is what makes this beautiful little getaway tick and it’s right at the end of festival season (towards the end of August) so it's perfect for squeezing out the last remaining drops of your summer.
When we headed down in 2016, we described it as “an event that doesn’t feel like an event”. It literally feels like a cosy little party that’s a bit of a secret, something that you’re a special part of. It has every potential of growing and becoming a huge festival, but it doesn’t want that and that’s the beauty of it. It's quite content with being a small party with great people. The bookers this year have excelled themselves with a line-up that features K-Hand, Dr Rubenstein, Powder, Ryan Elliott, Jane Fitz, rRoxymore, and Shanti Celeste. That kind of speaks for itself, doesn’t it.
So don’t be glum about Glasto and don’t be sad about Secret. Be proud, be excited and be transported to one of the many, numerous festivals that the UK puts on every year. The real beauty of it, is that we’ve only scraped the surface, dig deep and you’ll realise we have more to be happy about at home than ever before.
Now where the fuck are those wellies?
Funster is Mixmag's Digital Editor, follow him on Twitter