By Hope Wisechild
Once upon a time, the festival season ended with Reading and the August Bank Holiday and we in the UK rinsed off the wellies and put away our tents as the school holidays drew to a close. But with the 21st-century appetite for festivals growing and the weather now as likely to be sunny in September as in June, passionate festival-lovers began to nab those free late-summer weekends for their own boutique events, making September the favourite month of the festival aficionado.
We take a look at the three very best September festivals, all of which are already highlights of the annual calendar.
Larmer Tree Gardens, North Dorset
30 August-1 September
This intimate, civilised gathering was conceived as an ideal music-lover’s event, independent of commercial sponsorship and without hyped headliners. Held in beautiful Victorian pleasure gardens, it aims to delight the discerning with bills crammed with extra-long sets from superb live musicians, this year including Sigur Ros, Belle and Sebastian and David Byrne. Expect to encounter playful art installations, games facilities, an outdoor library, a ‘secret’ forest stage and the site’s resident peacocks. Tickets are now sold out.
Robin Hill Park, Isle of Wight
Perhaps best known as the wildest fancy dress party of the year, this ten-year-old event transforms a country park paradise into a magical festival wonderland. It won UK Festival Awards’ ‘Best Major Festival 2012’, and DJ Rob da Bank’s reliably eclectic bill for 2013 includes Elton John, Snoop Dogg and The Flaming Lips, plus a dizzying array of star DJ sets and intriguing non-music events. This year’s theme is ‘HMS Bestival’ so dig out that sailor suit of you don’t want to look a fool. Weekend passes are still available from major ticket outlets.
The site of last year’s ‘Best New Festival’ is the Italianate peninsula village of Portmeirion, the surreal Snowdonia setting of the cult 1960s television series The Prisoner. Amid trompe-l’oeil architecture surrounded by rugged mountains and beaches, a musically savvy crowd will enjoy another impressive line-up, this year featuring My Bloody Valentine, Chic and Manic Street Preachers, plus expertly curated dance tents, talks, comedy, interactive performance art and woodland trails. There’s even free power-kiting. Weekend passes are still available from the Festival No 6 website
Thanks to Jaswooduk for End of the Road pic. Thanks to Kate Fisher for Bestival pic.