The Best UK Boutique Festivals To Book This Summer

festival no6

by Katie Rosseinsky |
Published on

The warmer weather is finally here (for now, at least) meaning that festival booking is high on our summer agenda (along with hunting down some high factor SPF that doesn't leave our skin looking and feeling chalky, acquiring a decent poolside read and testing out every rooftop bar that the capital has to offer...)

Glastonbury is, of course, off the agenda for 2018 as Worthy Farm takes a much-needed fallow year, but what if you're after all the eclecticism that Glasto offers, coupled with a more intimate atmosphere and carefully curated line-ups? With our guide to the best smaller, boutique music and arts events taking place in the UK this summer, you'll certainly find your festival niche in no time, whether that means gaining a new perspective on picturesque Portmeirion at Festival No6 or feeding your brain at Cornwall's Port Eliot Festival. Disclaimer: you'll probably still need to pack your wellies, though...


Boutique festivals - grazia

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Port Eliot Festival

Where: Port Eliot, CornwallWhen: 26th – 29th JulyWho said festival-going can't be cerebral? Each summer, the St Germans family open up their 6,000 Cornish estate (including their 100-room stately home, Port Eliot House, which is thought to be the longest continually inhabited residence in the UK) to the ticket-buying public for a four-day celebration of art and imagination. This year's highlights include talks from Reni Eddo-Lodge, Afua Hirsch and Robert Webb, music from Kitty, Daisy and Lewis and a new Fashion Foundation programme focusing on sustainable style.

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Farr Festival

Where: Bygrave Woods, HertfordshireWhen: 5th – 8th JulyIf you're based in the capital but have had your fill of London's one day affairs like Lovebox and Wireless, Farr Festival promises the perfect weekender. About a 45 minute journey from King's Cross (not that the feel is remotely commuter belt) the line-up focuses on electro, with Maribou State and Mount Kimbie among this year's headliners. 2018's event will be the biggest yet, stretching out from Thursday to Sunday for the first time in the festival's nine year history.

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Festival No.6

Where: Portmeirion, North WalesWhen: 6th – 9th September Every September, the inexplicably Italianate village of Portmeirion in North Wales becomes the UK's most unique festival backdrop. Named after the lead character in surreal '60s TV show The Prisoner (famously filmed in Portmeirion), Festival No6's programme is nothing if not eclectic, encompassing culture, comedy and music (Friendly Fires, Franz Ferdinand and Jessie Ware feature on this year's line-up) along with film screenings, performance art, yoga and paddle boarding on the River Dwyryd Estuary.

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CREDIT: Instagram @gottwood


Where: Anglesey, North WalesWhen: 7th – 10th JuneHidden away in a wood in one of the furthest flung corners of Anglesey, Gottwood is still relatively young in festival years and – crucially – with a crowd of 5,000, still feels intimate. The line-up focuses on emerging electro and underground DJs (many of whom return year after year), with stages nestled around a forest clearing and dramatic views over the Anglesey coastline.

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Where: Cornbury Park, OxfordshireWhen: 2nd – 5th AugustWith food from Petersham Nurseries, Ottolenghi and some of the capital's favourite street food joints (this year's selection includes Patty&Bun and Homeslice pizza) plus open air theatre performances, craft workshops and an emphasis on wellness (with dedicated spaces for yoga, massage and fitness) Wilderness couldn't be further from the festivals you frequented as a teen. That's not to say that the organisers are slacking on the music line-up, which features Nile Rodgers, Groove Armada and Bastille.

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CREDIT: Instagram @blissfields


Where: Woodmancott, WinchesterWhen: 5th – 8th JulyAfter 17 years, Blissfields has been reimagined as Blisscamp, which promises to distill the best bits of the Hampshire-based shindig into a 'micro festival' that'll recreate the intimate atmosphere of the event's early days. Alongside an electro and dance-heavy line-up which includes Gold Panda, Mr Jukes and Baxter Dury, with headliners for further stages yet to be confirmed, there'll also be craft workshops, a kids garden and a nightly aerial circus.

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CREDIT: Shutterstock

Common People

From the people who brought us Bestival comes Common People, a two-day affair with outposts in Oxford's South Park and Southampton Common (hence the name…) Think of it as a younger, more low-key sibling to the biannual Isle of Wight gatherings. This year's line-up is certainly eclectic, with turns from '90s Britpoppers James, Noughties indie types Maximo Park and the Jacksons (as in, the actual Jacksons), as well as being family friendly for kids of all ages (world's biggest bouncy castle, anyone?)

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CREDIT: Instagram @endoftheroad

End Of The Road

Where: Blandford, DorsetWhen: 30th August – 2nd SeptemberA Victorian pleasure garden populated with ornate pavilions and floral mazes, Larmer Tree Gardens near Salisbury makes a picturesque backdrop for End Of The Road Festival, which takes place in the final weekend of August. Now in its fourteenth year, the line-up for 2018 features Vampire Weekend, St. Vincent and Yo La Tengo.

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When: 2nd - 5th AugustWhere: Hever, KentFound just 40 minutes from central London, Neverworld promises an 'immersive kingdom of music, party and wonder' based around three fantastical 'realms,' with music from the likes of Bastille, Clean Bandit and We Are Scientists. While you're fully engrossed in the magic, you needn't worry too much about the environmental impact. Each year, the festival gives itself a new sustainability target: as of 2018, the shuttle transport runs on used chip far and there's a complete ban on plastic cups.

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