For every music lover out there, the wait is over. Festival season is officially underway! This weekend sees two of the UK's biggest festivals kicking off one of the biggest, best and most diverse seasons in history. The rockers amongst us have Download in Donnington and everyone from pop princesses to hippies and indie kids have the brilliant Isle Of Wight Festival.
This year though, don't go thinking it's all about the big festivals, because more than ever before, 2011 sees the competition stepped up. Medium and small sized festivals are growing all the time, adding extra dates, capturing huge headline acts and doing it all at a fraction of the huge price-tag's that the bigger festivals have! Along with IOW and Download the season is also kicking off with Glade, Eden and Rockness fests to name but a few. Glade in particular boasting a really impressive line up of dance acts and DJ's and Rockness claiming a similar calibre, if not as diverse line up to IOW.
The next biggy comes in the form of the ultimate heavyweight of festivals, Glastonbury on 22nd June. Keeping up with the trend of disappointing those who expect so much of it, yet again they have missed the mark with the headliners... Coldplay (ok), U2 (pulled out last time, understandable) and Beyonce (yes, really... Beyonce). The line up across the other stages, all 476 of them, is obviously very strong, but when you throw enough sh*t, some has gotta stick. Being so huge, there is literally no competition against Glasto, apart from maybe another of the Eden one dayers, sad really, as Michael Eavis' baby wouldn't even make our top 5 choices.
July kicks off with Wireless coming from Hyde Park in London and showcasing a lot of the worlds biggest pop acts, from the Black Eyed Peas to this years festival whores Pulp. If thats your kinda thing...? No, not ours either. The week after though sees three of the best non big festivals get underway. Relentless Nass, T in the Park and Wakestock are this year set to be some real contenders for the best smaller festivals. Nass not only offers some amazing music acts like Tinie Tempah and Sub Focus, but some of the biggest extreme sports contenders in the world taking part across multiple events from 4 sports. T in the Park and Wakestock, based in Scotland and Wales respectively and are the biggest festivals their nations have to offer, but with Wakestock's superior lineup and the added bonus of live extreme water sports it just pips its Scottish counterpart for us! Hop Farm this year has made a huge change, it has added an extra day! With Eagles, Morrissey and Prince being its headliners, it will surely be one of the surprise packages of the summer and may well see it in good stead for a huge line-up next year.
July is the biggest month for festivals, but with a lot of the offerings being mainly minor folk, country and arts fests, nothing apart from the pop dross of T4 On The Beach and in contrast the brilliance of Kendal Calling really turn many heads. Kendal is one of our real hot tips for this summer though, with The Cribs, Chase and Status and Blondie all appearing under the bargain £100 price tag! Also, Global Gathering at the end of the month does as it always does. Offers a great, if not a little chavvy blend of some of the worlds greatest DJ's and dance acts.
However, if you're willing to travel a bit for your festivals, here are two you may not have considered... Oxegen and Benicassim. Oxegen is based in Dublin and offers probably one of the best line-up's off all 2011's festivals anywhere in Europe, however the price is a bit higher than that of IOW and the line-up isn't much different. Benicassim or FIB as it is also known, is base just north of Valencia in Spain and offers the bonus of almost guaranteed sun, bikinis and a holiday atmosphere. Although at the same time there are the negatives of paying for flights, camping in extreme heat and a very VERY relaxed atmosphere, one that may not be what all festival goers are looking for!
Entering into August, we have another offering from Relentless in the form of Boardmasters in Newquay. Being much like a cross between Nass and Wakestock it is surely going to be a must for all music loving surfer dudes, it's got a great list of acts too! Later on in the month we see the last of the big hitters, V Festival, Reading and Leeds. With V Fest being the usual Mecca for teeny boppers and those on the hunt for a 'Diet' style of festival it leaves the credibility to be swept up by the Reading and Leeds partners and although they don't boast the strongest mainstage performers, the second and third stages are utterly superb. Finally, ending the month we have Creamfields, doing much the same as GG, we dont need to go into to much detail. It has a crackin' line-up though and is probably this years best home grown dance festival.
September and October see the final few festivals of the season, Bestival coming first as the cooler little brother of IOW, showing off some of the best new acts around and also boasting a cracking fancy dress tradition on the Sunday. This year the island based fest greets the legends that are The Cure as their showpiece, one of the spectacles of the decade, without fail. October brings us the final installment of the Relentless festival trio in the shape of Freeze Fest which along with it's sisters, combines extreme sports with music. The likes of The Streets have already joined the bill and with some of the top skiers and snowboarders in the world competing across two days in Battersea Power Station, it makes Freeze a real treat of a fest... Combining this one with some Halloween fun is spot on.
For us, the festival of the year looks to be Isle Of Wight, for the best line-up, best atmosphere and for a relatively reasonable price. But if thats not your bag, then Reading & Leeds probably boasts the next best option. However for those who fancy a smaller fest, try Hop Farm or Bestival where you are guaranteed a great atmosphere and some iconic headliners.
Keep looking back here at PopFodder over the summer, as we are going to be covering a fair few of the festivals mentioned above with exclusive reviews, videos and photos LIVE from the events!
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