When we think of UK festivals, music festivals generally spring to mind – after all, the UK is famous for them! In fact, according to CNBC, 5 of the world’s top 20 most-attended music festivals take place right here in the UK, with the celebrated Glastonbury topping the list with its massive attendance of 175,000 people per day.
Yet music is just one niche for festival fun in the UK, as plenty of other genres enjoy growing popularity, drawing local, national and international crowds, by offering specialist attractions for experts, enthusiasts and interested visitors alike…
1) Insomnia Gaming Festival – NEC, Birmingham
For games creators, players, fantasy and technology enthusiasts, the Insomnia Gaming Festival offers exhibitions, activity and event stages, displays and special guests. The venue comes alive, virtually and literally, with gaming zones covering all popular and growing niches, including retro gaming, Minecraft, fighting games and tabletop options, whilst there’s dedicated space for upcoming gaming technology, virtual reality gaming and drones.
This hugely social festival also includes plenty of tournaments and Head2Head throw-downs where there can only be one winner! And whilst there’s so much to see and do that you may not have time to sleep (clue’s in the name there) Insomnia offers chill zones to help you recharge whilst enjoying the chance to try out, explore and buy the latest in gaming technology.
2017’s festival runs across the bank holiday weekend of 25th to 28th August, with tickets available across each day or the whole weekend, including family ticket options.
2) Dorset Chilli Festival – Giles Park, Wimborne St Giles, Dorset
Growing in popularity, Dorset’s own chilli festival returns for a 7th run across 5th and 6th August 2017.
Set in the delightful grounds of Giles Park, home of the Earl of Shaftesbury, the Dorset Chilli Festival is a real foodie festival covering all things chilli – from growing to cooking, whether spicy savoury or peppery sweet. Hot entertainments, activities and artisan crafts abound and, as no chilli event is complete without sizzling competition, the Dorset Chilli Festival doesn’t disappoint! There are chilli eating competitions, a Chilli con Carne cook-off and the Chilli Sauce Competition, which includes a sauce specially created for the event to go against all-comers for the condiment crown!
3) Manchester Film Festival – Manchester
Proclaimed one of the top 10 best reviewed festivals in the world, 2017’s Manchester Film Festival proved one of the biggest yet, with the 2017’s festival film winner already securing UK distribution following its premier at the festival.
This highly popular independent film festival next takes place 1st to 4th March 2018, and plans are already underway for its famous themed opening night. Special guests, including big names from both domestic and international film, are plentiful across all four days of the festival – whilst many more frequently pop in to visit. Events and activities include Q & As, panel discussions, gala screenings and premiers, plus a must-be-there closing award ceremony and party. A new hit event, the 48 hour film challenge introduced in 2017, is already on the schedule for 2018, making this festival a must for would-be filmmakers.
4) Vintage By The Sea – Morecambe, Lancashire
Hailed for its diverse attractions, atmospheric events and wide appeal for all ages, Vintage By The Sea 2017 takes place on 2nd and 3rd September. Transforming the seafront at Morecambe, this festival offers a kaleidoscope range of retro, across vintage shopping, activities such as old time dancing, live performances, art and design, fashion shows, classic cinema screenings, vintage vehicles, food and drinks, along with the chance to try costumes and hair makeovers. Whilst dressing up for the event isn’t essential, it’s really part of what makes this festival fun!
And although this isn’t a dedicated music festival, music is of course included – after all, how can you learn those dances without music? Then, once you’ve mastered the moves, it’s time to try the venue’s vintage nightclubs, with sights, songs and dances covering decades and genres alike.
5) Wildfire Adventure Camp – Sevenoaks, Kent
Winner of numerous festival awards, including Best New and Best Small Festival, the word’s spreading about this incredible festival experience … well, like wildfire! Set in fabulous forest in the heart of Kent, the idea behind the Wildfire Adventure Camp festival is that camping is an adventure, so the festival offers a fun focus on outdoor activities including paddle boarding, camp fire lighting, wild game cooking, woodland walks, meditation and yoga, photography, astronomy, bee-keeping, wood whittling, scavenger hunting and zombie runs – to name just a few!
As you’d expect, although this isn’t a “music” festival there’s a musical element – because of course no camping trip is complete without campfire singing! However, musical highlights aren’t restricted to a few banjos around the campfire (unless you want them to be) because Wildfire includes musical entertainments by big name DJs, such as Craig Charles for 2018.
Ticket booking for 2018’s festival, which takes place across Friday 31st August to Monday 3rd September 2018, opens on 1st September 2017. As the growing popularity of this festival means that activity schedules fill up fast, booking early is essential!
So, from retro, food and film, and adventure to gaming, our top 5 prove that when it comes to festival fun in the UK, it doesn’t stop with the music!