With Glastonbury having a fallow year this summer, the south coast is a great place to be if you love music festivals. We are a little spoilt for choice when it comes to festivals so I wanted to make everyone’s lives a bit easier by showing what you can expect during the biggest events of the summer.
The Great Escape | Thurs 17th and Sat 19th May | Brighton, Sussex
Brighton’s answer to South by Southwest sees over four hundred artists playing over three days in about thirty different venues. Just think Southsea Fest but bigger! The festival prides itself on championing new and unsigned music so the casual music lover might not see too many familiar names on the bill. Friends of mine have described that the best thing about The Great Escape is just wandering between venues and potentially discovering your next favourite band before they hit the big time. Alternatively, you might be someone like me, who likes to research and make a plan of where I need to be.
If you are thinking of venturing over then I would suggest checking out Elsa Hewitt, AK/DK, Ashley Henry, Portsmouth’s own Hotel Lux and Pheobe Bridgers who I recently caught in Hammersmith when she was opening for Bon Iver.
Common People | Sat 26th and Sun 27th May | Southampton, Hampshire
Common People could be described as the love child of Bestival and Camp Bestival. The smallest of Rob Da Bank’s festival empire expertly captures the welcoming family vibes of Camp Bestival and the party atmosphere of Bestival.
Headlining on Saturday night will be a Lily Allen. The outspoken singer is loved and loathed in equal measure but I would definitely class myself as the latter. After the release of ‘Trigger Band‘ (featuring Giggs) back in January, Lily has recently given fans a teaser of what to expect on her new record No Shame by releasing ‘Three’ and ‘Higher‘ on YouTube.
She will be joined on Southampton Common by Prince’s band, The New Power Generation. They will be followed by the legendary Jackson 5 who are headlining on Sunday evening. Returning to perform again this year will be the awesome Plastic Mermaids and Elvana who are a fantastic Nirvana cover band featuring lead vocals by Elvis. I know it sounds odd but I promise you, you’ll not be disappointed.
Mutiny Festival | Sat 26th and Sun 27th May | Portsmouth, Hampshire
The big draw of the weekend will be Craig David on the main stage on Sunday night. I’ve been fortunate enough to catch Craig a couple of times in the last few years and every time he’s put on a great show. The rest of the bill includes talents DJs such as My Nu Leng, Kurupt FM, Andy C, and special guest DJ, Idris Elba.
Winchestival | Saturday 16th June | Winchester, Hampshire
Winchestival is the baby of the list. Last year saw a crowd of just over three and a half thousand turned for the very first Winchestival. The crowd were treated with music from Eliza and the Bear, Richard Morris and Sean McGowan. Not to forget comedy from Hal Cruttenden and Rachel Parris and street food from Flaming Peaches, Eat Meat Cheese Repeat. I’m hoping that Eat Meat Cheese Repeat are going to be there again this year as it sounds delicious!
This year you will find Fickle Friends, Mercury Prize nominated The Big Moon, Wildwood Kin and Strong Island favourites Laurel and Me and the Moon. There will be stand up from Seann Walsh and Jayde Adams. The bit that has caught my eye is the promise of street food from all around the world, from Paella to Morrocan wraps and Asian dumplings to cheesy raclettes. With the addition of a cocktail bar and the bonus of not having to carry a tent with me, I’m in!
Isle of Wight Festival | Thus 21st to Sun 24th June | Newport, Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight was the first festival I ever attended back in 2005. The festival continues to book upcoming acts, those riding high in the charts and bonafide legends od music. With Bestival moving to the mainland last year the Isle of Wight Festival is now the biggest festival in the UK that requires access by boat. I love getting the ferry over to the island, for me that is something that adds to the unique experience of the event.
Festival organiser John Giddings has already announced a host of performers which includes big hitters Kasabian, Liam Gallagher, Rita Ora, The Killers, The Manic Street Preachers and Van Morrison. They will be joined by Camila Cabello, Travis, Sheryl Crow, Soul 2 Soul, Tokio Myers, James Bay and Depeche Mode.
Blisscamp | Thurs 5th to Sun 8th July | Winchester, Hampshire
Blisscamp is the brought to you by the lovely team behind Blissfields, the Best Small Festival 2007 winner at the UK Festival Awards. The new event has been described by organisers as “distilling the juiciest parts of Blissfields and invoking the carefree party atmosphere we first ignited when we first invited our friends round for a few drinks and a singsong around a campfire. Since then we’ve invited thousands of you to Blissfields, enjoying groundbreaking performances, ridden hot air balloons, walked the trapeze, been in paint fights, dressed as animals, had tractor rides, travelled through time and put on the ultimate house party.”
Topping the bill this year will be Gold Panda, Bliss royalty the Dub Pistols and the onstage carnival that is Slamboree. You will also find performances from Norman Jay MBE, Stanton Warriors, Beans on Toast, Jimi Needles and Too Many T’s.
Camp Bestival | Fri 26th to Sun 29th July | Lulworth Castle, Dorset
The event is the undisputed king of the family festivals. Held within the grounds of the beautiful Lulworth Castle will be something for all the family. This year you can expect live performances from Basement Jaxx, Tokio Myers, Jaguar Skills, Simple Minds and Orbital. For the younger festival goers there will be entertainment from Dick and Dom, Mr Tumble, Dinosaur World Live and the man (or bear) of the moment, Paddington. The 2018 theme will be ‘Camp Bestival sets sail’ with festival goers are encouraged to embrace a nautical theme for their fancy dress, a regular feature of the festival.
Bestival | Fri 2nd to Sun 5th August | Lulworth Castle, Dorset
Bestival organisers has some rotten luck last year due to persistent rain which led to a temporary closure of the main stage for a few hours. That didn’t seem to bother the majority of the crowd who remained in high spirits. Organisers have moved to a new slot in August but frustratingly for me, my day job requires my annual leave requests twelve months prior so I’d already booked September off. As you can imagine school holidays gets booked up quite quickly. This will be only the second Bestival I will miss in the past ten years. Oh well, my loss will be another writers gain!
Enough about my disappointment, the festival is shaping up to be another great party. My must see performances for the weekend (if I was able to make it) are Grace Jones, Mura Masa, First Aid Kit, Jorja Smith, M.I.A, Sundara Karma, Kelela and IAMDDB.
For me, this is still my number one festival on the south coast and I trust that Rob Da Bank and that his team will continue to provide that special Bestival experience. If you do happen to be going, can you please say hi to Lovebot for me?
Boomtown | Thurs 9th to Sun 12th August | Winchester, Hampshire
As a festival Boomtown has grown from 1,000 in Chapter 1 ten years ago, to 60,000 from Chapter 8 onwards; from one main stage built from scaffold planks and a tarp to over twenty of the most incredible stage sets in the festival world. Apart from parts of Glastonbury, Boomtown is the only festival that I am aware of which transport you to another world. For me, Boomtown boasts the best headliners out of all the events listed here, the Gorillaz. I’ve been fortunate enough to see a lot of live music in my life and their performance at Portsmouth Guildhall last year is my absolute highlight of them all.
The rest of the line up includes South African rap-rave crew Die Antwoord, Goldie, Jimmy Cliff, Kitty, Daisy and Lewis, Limp Bizkit, Morcheeba and Sleaford Mods. There are so many contrasting musical styles from all over the world so there is bound to be something for everyone. As well as the music you will find theatre, poetry and street performances. I could never do the event justice so just take a look at the video below for a taste of what you can expect during Chapter 10.
Victorious Festival | Fri 25th, Sat 26th and Sun 27th August | Portsmouth, Hampshire
After our tenth birthday in September this is easily the biggest event in Portsmouth’s calendar but following closely behind is Victorious Festival. After the success of last year, this will again be a three day event with The Libertines, Shed Seven and Kaiser Chiefs kicking things off on Friday night. The big names due to play over the rest of the weekend will be The Prodigy, Paul Weller, Paloma Faith, Friendly Fires, Years & Years, Happy Mondays and Everything Everything.
Among the established acts, you can bet there will be hundreds of local performers including local favourites Jerry Williams, Blackfoot Circle, Kassassin Street, Megan Linford and of course The Southsea Alternative Choir. With Friday tickets available from £33 and Saturday and Sunday at £49.50 a day Victorious Festival continues to be one of the best value festivals on the south coast.
End of the Road | Thurs 30st August to Sun 2nd September | Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset
Brad Sked, our Strong Island Recordings label manager was the lucky writer who covered last year’s event. I have never had the pleasure of experiencing End of the Road festival, this is despite it consistently having the best line up of every festival in the UK. Unfortunately for me it always fell between Victorious and Bestival. Three festival in three weekends was a bit much for me, my liver and my bank balance. With Bestival being held in August, maybe this year will be my year?
End of the Road Festival is held within the beautiful Larmer Tree Gardens in Dorset. This year you will find Vampire Weekend, St Vincent, Feist, Yo La Tengo and Ezra Furman. My tips to see over the weekend include the incredible Julien Baker, Damien Jurado, Soccer Mommy, Stella Donnelly and the inventor of “Ethio-Jazz,” Mulatu Astake.
Dials Festival | 6th Oct | Albert Road, Southsea
Black Honey at Dials Festival 2015
Very little is known about the return of Dials Festival, other than the date, October 6th. Acts who have previously per had Black Honey, Dream Wife, and Fickle Friends. As soon as we know more we will of course share it with you on the website.