Guide to Britain’s best outdoor, music, craft and food festivals

From the Hebrides to the Channel Islands, celebrate summer with live music, traditional crafts, local food and drink, wild swimming, hiking and more with our pick of some of Britain's best festivals for 2018

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Best music festivals

Tiree Music FestivalInner Hebrides, Scotland

The Tiree Music Festival/Credit: Alan Peebles

The Tiree Music Festival is a small, family-friendly festival on the tiny Isle of Tiree in Inner Hebrides. Its white sandy beaches and choppy waters are loved by international surfers. Amongst the acts so far announced are Elephant Sessions and Martyn Joseph.

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HebceltStornoway, Isle of Lewis

Taking place in the grounds of Lews Castle overlooking Stornoway harbour/Credit: Hebcelt Festival

Taking place in the grounds of Lews Castle overlooking Stornoway harbour (with daily ferries to Ullapool and the Isles), this magnificent location is where local, international, traditional and new Celtic musicians are showcased. This year Deacon Blue, The Fratellis, and more.

Sark Summer Festival, Sark

Cyclists push bikes across the iconic La Coupée in Sark/Credit: Alamy

The beautiful island of Sark hosts an array of live music, arts and crafts, yoga, tai chi, choir singing and plenty of good local food and drink at its annual summer festival. Camp nearby or take a look at our guide to Sark.

Deer Shed Festival 11Yorkshire

Making Waves family-friendly festival in Yorkshire/Credit: Deer Shed Festival

This year’s theme is ‘Making Waves’ at the ultimate inter-generational family-friendly festival.. Music (Goldfrapp, Drenge, Field Music, Public Service Broadcasting, Gaz Coombes), comedy, sports and workshops, plus yoga, massage and hot tubs.

WOMAD, Wiltshire

A global fiesta of music, food, dance & art/Credit: Womad Festival

Folding seats are welcome at Charlton Park grounds and arboretum where WOMAD celebrates global and British music and dance, with plenty of fusion. This year will see music from Amadou & Mariam, Camille, and Django Django.

Green Man, Brecon Beacons, 16-19 August

Set in the Brecon Beacons, Green Man Festival/Credit: Olivia Williams

Set within miles the Brecon Beacons, Green Man festival 2018 offers live music, comedy, theatre, walks, talks and interactive installations. If you need a sit down after all of that there is also health and holistic rejuvenation, and over one hundred independently brewed beers and ciders more sampling.

Festival No 6, Portmeirion, North Wales

The Italianate village of Portmeirion in North Wales/Credit: Lucy Whitehead

The Italianate village of Portmeirion in North Wales hosts an eclectic music, arts and culture weekend. While the centre stage area can be busy, there’s plenty of room to escape into exquisite coastal estuarine landscape. There is be a vast programme of music and the arts, with performances from The The and Franz Ferdinand. A torch lit procession makes its way through the village in the evening, and to wake up, a morning run through the Gwyllt Woodland followed by paddle-boarding is on offer.

Forest Live, various dates and locations 

Head to the forest this summer for a unique concert in spectacular grounds/Credit: Getty

Every summer, The Forestry Commission opens spaces within some of the UK’s most spectacular forests, to host unique concerts in a magical environment.

WychwoodCheltenham Racecourse

<strong><a href=”wychwoodfestival.com”>Wychwood</a>, </strong>Cheltenham Racecourse/Credit: Martin Reynolds

Alongside music from Shed Seven and The Gypsy Kings, this family-friendly festival offers a wealth of entertainment, a lot of which you can join in yourself. Expect Bhangra, comedy, pub quizzes, and crafting.

Shambala, Northamptonshire

Shambala in Northamptonshire/Credit: Ben Daure

Shambala is a utopia of eclectic eccentricity, with dance workshops, music lessons, sea shanty singing and mushroom growing. It is extremely family friendly, and their jam-packed kids’ area “Playtopia” features sandpits, a golf course, craft workshops and generally an area where kids can roam wild. For those aged between 8 and 12, there is ‘Bush Camp’ – an off-site, overnight camping adventure hosted by storyteller and bush craft master, Chris Holland.

Committed to being as environmentally sustainable as possible, Shambala has won multiple awards for its sustainability efforts. It is now 100% renewably powered, and meat and fish free.

Starry Skies, Monmouthshire

Enjoy an adventure at Starry Skies Festival this summer

Reconnect with nature at Starry Skies Family Camp in Wales. Ideal for families with young children, this festival encourages exploring. From climbing trees to building dens, fishing in streams or going on woodland adventures, this is a weekend children young and old will enjoy. This year the event takes place in the new location of Usk in Monmouthshire.

Latitude, Suffolk

Latitude Festival, Suffolk/Credit: Amy Azarinejad

With massive headline acts The Killers and Solange, plus comedy, cabaret, theatre, art, literature, poetry and more – Latitude is one of the most vibrant and exciting escapes of the summer. Throw caution to the wind as you dive into lake swimming, or get lost in the enigmatic woodland areas of Pandora’s Playground and The Faraway Forest. In the children’s Enchanted Forest, they can learn circus skills or wildlife crafts, meet award winning authors, or take part in kids’ yoga.

Truck Festival, Oxfordshire

Credit: Sarah Koury

Priding themselves as an “anti-major festival” festival, they offer a real family friendly weekend. As well as great music (De la Soul, The Courteeners), food, and beer, there is a dedicated area of circus activities, children’s shows, puppets, and the staple Ferris wheel and helter-skelter. From £105.

Larmer Tree Festival, Wiltshire

Larmer Tree festival/Credit: Owen Tetley

Larmer Tree defines itself as ‘the quintessential summer party’. Both intimate and eccentric, the festival has remained small despite its 27 years. Presenting top-notch music, outdoor theatre, and comedy, it’s a festival which truly promotes a community shindig.

Best outdoor festivals

Festival of Nature, Bristol

Bristol Festival of Nature/Credit: Jon Craig

Bringing together more than 150 environmental organisations, the Bristol Festival of Nature is the UK’s largest free celebration of the natural world – and this summer, it will celebrate its 15th birthday. Running from 2-10 June, the Festival of Nature starts at Bath’s riverside Green Park before sailing down the River Avon to Bristol’s Harbourside. From the impact of plastics on our oceans to the rise of sustainable fashion, Festival of Nature will throw the spotlight on many of today’s most important environmental issues, as well as providing a chance for people of all ages to celebrate their love of nature.

Savita Willmott, director at Bristol Nature History Consortium, which organises the festival, said: “This year is an important milestone for Festival of Nature as it celebrates its 15th anniversary. We’re excited to mark the occasion with nature and wildlife lovers from Bristol and Bath and beyond.”

South West Outdoor Festival, Devon

Learn outdoor skills at the South West Outdoor Festival/credit: Getty

Hosted by the National Trust, this festival incorporates stargazing, wild swimming, hiking, biking, coasteering and camp cooking with films, live local musicians and talks by adventurers. It’s a real celebration of outdoor activities.

Wilderness Festival, Oxfordshire

Credit: Fanaticlive/ Carolina Faruolo

Four days of camping, music, the arts, skills and activities. With music from Nile Rogers and Chic you can also enjoy wild-swimming, fly-fishing, archery, wild running, cricket, and more. Plus there is a horse-riding school for the little ones.

The Green Gathering, Chepstow

credit: Stefan Handy

Intimate solar stages showcase up-and-coming acts, legendary favourites, DJs, poets, and activists. There will be magicians and mystics, crafts, permaculture, campaigns, and healing. Dance at a rave, and then wake up to an eco-breakfast, and put the world to rights.

Major Oak Woodland Festival, Sherwood Forest

Credit: Nottinghamshire County Council

Join the Sherwood Forest Trust for a weekend celebrating the great British woodland, in the heart of Sherwood Forest. There will be demonstrations and displays across the weekend, showcasing both the traditional and modern-day management techniques that have shaped the forests we see today. FREE entry.

The Robin Hood Festival, Sherwood Forest, dates TBC

credit: Nottinghamshire County Council

Returning for its 34th incarnation, and this year organised by the RSPB, expect a fun filled week-long festival with activities, a host of costumed characters, and a truly fantastic experience. Price TBC.

Shrewsbury Folk Festival, Shropshire

A friendly festival in seated marquees by the River Severn. It features international legends but focuses on the great British folk tradition, from jigs and sea shanties to Turin Brakes. Workshops offer yoga, dance and kids’ activities.

The Good Life Festival, Flintshire

Eclectic music – from disco to swing – meets poetry, bush-craft, foraging and abseiling in the grounds of Hawarden Estate. A celebration of real food, vintage tweed, bicycles, books, singing and tree-climbing.

Unearthed Festival, Pembrokeshire

The three-day ‘Unearthed in a Field Festival’ returns to the Pembrokeshire countryside near St Davids for a 6th year this June, for a celebration of live music, arts, performance, workshops and discussion.

Festival-goers can also look forward to spectacular trapeze and fire show performances, as well as a kids tent, workshop area where you can learn willow weaving, the digeridoo, daily yoga and meditation, poetry and much more.

National Trust WoodFest, Essex

Local music and open mic music programme from Friday to Sunday, and stalls open Saturday and Sunday. Traditional crafts being sold and crafted before you. Camping, caravanning and food stalls. FREE event (book pitch for camping).

Top of the Gorge Festival, Cheddar Gorge

Challenge yourself with outdoor action, relax with live music and enjoy local food. There will be axe-throwing, guided walks, crafts, outdoor yoga, and fun competitive sport – all at the top of the incredible Cheddar Gorge.

The Neverworld Festival, Kent

Second star to the right, and party on till morning. If you have ever wanted to explore Neverland, and fight pirates or swim with mermaids, Neverworld Festival may just be your dream come true. Made up of three magical realms, children and parents alike will love this festival. Now that is a happy thought.

Camp Wildfire, Sevenoaks

Camp Wildfire promises festival goers an unforgettable weekend of adventure activities and forest parties. This is not one for the children though, and is exclusively for adults. Release your inner child at Camp Wildfire with adventure sports, bush craft, and much more including with DJs and live music.

BBC Countryfile Live, Oxfordshire

Join the Countryfile presenters for a spectacular family feel-good show, where you’ll get unprecedented access behind the scenes. There’ll be plenty of surprises along the way, from acrobats to animal antics. Matt, John, Adam, Ellie, Anita, Tom and Charlotte will take to the stage to share their passion for the nation’s favourite programme.

Best food festivals

The Big Feastival, Oxfordshire

Chefs including Raymond Blanc, Marco Pierre White, and Masterchef winner Saliha Mahmoon Ahmed. Farm park, vintage fun fair, children’s entertainer Justin Fletcher, and Peppa Pig, and Alex James’ Cheese Bar, cookery schools, and music from Basement Jaxx, David Rodigan, and Paloma Faith.

National Trust Festival of Food & Drink, Nottinghamshire

Back for its sixth year, this is the biggest food fest in the region. Food and drink producers, celebrity chefs, street food, and pop-up cafes. Expect also live music and cookery schools.

Shrewsbury Food Festival, Shrewsbury

Sample the delights of Shropshire’s artisan food producers amidst 29 acres of picturesque parkland. With a packed programme of entertainment, there is something for whole family to enjoy.

Arts & culture

Bath Festival, Bath

Politics, poetry, music, literature, and everything in between from some of the best speakers, singers, guests, and performers the UK has to offer. Individual tickets to be bought for each event.

Hay Festival Wales, Brecon Beacons

Hay Festival takes place on the edge of the beautiful Brecon Beacons and includes talks, poetry and music from Benjamin Zephaniah, music from Laura Mvula, comedy from Jeremy Hardy, and hundreds of other guests including Rose McGowan, Gordon Brown, and Bear Grylls. The Wild Garden is new this year, with workshops in camp-fire cookery, RSPB safari and treasure hunts, and activities from The Wildlife Trusts.

To celebrate the return of our beautiful bluebells, Blickling Estate is turning blue for a whole month. The Blue Festival will culminate with an afternoon of music in the garden on Saturday 26 May, from 3pm – 7pm.

National Trust Wimpole History Festival, Cambridgeshire

A weekend of history and heritage for the whole family, set in the beautiful Wimpole Estate with its country mansion, rolling parkland and library of more than 10,000 books. With talks, book signings, and living history, there will be activities for young history lovers too, including sword school and dressing up as a Roman Emperor. Tickets TBC

National Trust Great Barn Arts Festival, Wiltshire

A family friendly Festival of the Arts, offering a wide variety of separately ticketed events ranging from Shakespeare to drumming, medieval storytelling to comedians. The evening opens up to food vans, bars, and music. FREE event (admission to estate applies)

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Also Festival, Warwick

This “small festival with big ideas” returns to the heart of the Midlands, in a landscape sculpted by Capability Brown. There will be award-winning historians, Nobel Peace Prize nominees, quantum physics, interactive gospel, partying, and much much more.