Economic factors and other cultural events may had adversely impacted some festivals this year but you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise if you look at the burgeoning list of smaller/mid-sized/boutique festivals still lined up to take place in 2012.
We have already had ATPs Jeff Mangum curated festival that took place in Minehead in March. The next ATP event is the set of Ill Be Your Mirror London shows. Headliners come in the form of Scottish post-rock titans Mogwai, the recently reformed The Afghan Whigs and metal kings Slayer (who will perform Reign In Blood in full). There are plenty of ATP-friendly highlights lower down the bill also Dirty Three, Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat, Forest Swords, Thee Oh Sees, Death Grips and Balam Acab amongst others. And as if the return of The Afghan Whigs wasnt enough, it also sees the reappearance of two much respected American acts Codeine and >b>The Make-Up. Later in the year The National curate another weekend-long event. So far, the line up includes Kronos Quartet, Owen Pallett, Sharon Van Etten, Tim Hecker and The Antlers. Its the only chance youll get to see The National play live in 2012 in the UK also. Expect more names to be announced as the year progresses.
Ill Be Your Mirror will take place over 24th-26th May at Alexandra Palace, London. ATP curated by The National will take place over 7th-9th December at Butlins Holiday Resort, Minehead. Tickets and further information are available from ATP.
The announcement of the BLOC festival has been one of the most striking and ambitious to date. It takes place in a new custom-built, hi-spec venue in Royal Victoria Docks that sounds quite apart from any other festival in the UK (some stages will be floating on water and we are promised spectacular audio-visual effects). It offers uniqueness and exclusivity both in location and line up. It has a dizzyingly good line up of revered acts, predominantly electronic in nature but with some additional wildcard entries. Flying Lotus, Orbital, Richie Hawtin, Nicolas Jaar, Squarepusher, Four Tet, Actress and Battles are the names that initially spring from the page but they are supported by a stellar list of artists, including some unpredictable choices including Snoop Dogg, Steve Reich and Gary Numan. Not many other festivals can compete on breadth and diversity of line up.
BLOC will take place over 6-7th July at the London Pleasure Gardens. Tickets and further information are available here.
BLOC may be the newcomer to the scene, but elsewhere something of a London festival institution returns as Lovebox celebrates a decade of love. Its another reliably strong line up that currently features Hot Chip, Friendly Fires, Crystal Castles, Lana Del Ray, Holly Johnson, Kelis, Emeli Sande, The Rapture and Azari & III. Theres still one headliner still to be announced also.
Lovebox will take place over 15-17th June at the Victoria Park, London. Tickets and further information are available here.
Meanwhile, the Wireless Festival returns to Hyde Park with a more dance/rap/RnB focused offering this year. Rihanna, Deadmau5, Drake, Maverick Sabre, Nicki Minaj, Example, Calvin Harris & Jessie J. will all make the journey into central London at varying stages across 6-8th July. More details can be found here.
The BBC Radio 1 Hackney Weekend aims at a similar audience but succeeds in presenting a slightly wider range of styles. Jay-Z and Rihanna headline but lower down the bill youll find the likes of Jack White, Calvin Harris, Lana Del Ray, Santigold, will.i.am, Tinie Tempah and Jessie J. It all takes place at Hackney Marshes over 23rd-24th June and you can read more here (including on how to apply for your free tickets).Outside of London, Bestival arguably has one of the most eye-catching line ups. Stevie Wonder and New Order will headline respective nights, whilst the festival also boasts UK festival exclusive appearances by The xx and Sigur Ros. Orbital, Bat For Lashes>, Roots Manuva, Hot Chip, Soulwax, Justice and De La Soul will also appear amongst others. Taking place on the Isle Of Wight from 6-9th September and promising new performance spaces and innovative transport options, this is one that could sell out sooner rather than later. Full details are available here.
The Secret Garden Party will take place over 19-22nd July at Mill Hill Field in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. Headliners include Orbital, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros and KT Tunstall with appearances also from Lamb, Little Dragon and Little Roy amongst others. This could possibly be one for those disappointed by the cancellation of The Big Chill. Full information can be found here.
Summer Sundae has one of the more eclectic line ups of the boutique festival selection. The reformed Public Image Limited headline, alongside tUnE-yArDs, Katy B., Django Django, Jonathan Richman, Reverend And The Makers and Adam Ant (who plays with the Good, The Bad & The Lovely Posse). It all takes place as usual at De Montford Hall & Gardens over the weekend of 17-19 August. Read more here.
The Mostly Jazz, Funk & Soul Festival does what is says on the label pretty effectively over 29th June – 1st July at Moseley Park in Birmingham. The line up has a healthy looking mix of old and new names, including Roots Manuva, The Family Stone, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Odyssey, Ghostpoet and Soweto Kinch. Theyve also got Introducing on the bill, who will play DJ Shadows seminal Endtroducing album in full. Click here for full details.
Up in Manchester the Parklife Weekender takes place in Platt Fields Park over 9 -10th June. Perusing the line up can make it appear as some kind of 2 day Manchester version of Field Day (if not quite as wide-ranging/boundary-pushing). The Flaming Lips make their only UK festival appearance of 2012, whilst the other day is headlined by Dizzee Rascal. Other names that leap off the page include Justice, Nero, Azealia Banks, Tom Vek, Crystal Castles, The Field, Mount Kimbie, Factory Floor and Gold Panda. Find out more here.
In terms of location not many festivals will be able to compete with the event that will take place up in Cheshire in the grounds of the Jodrell Bank Observatory. It has hosted an increasing number of gigs over recent years and you will be able to see Elbow, Paul Weller, Graham Coxon, Baxter Dury and Little Barrie will all appear in front of the giant Lovell telescope over 23rd-24th June. Read more here.< br />
All festivals try to forward claims of exclusivity to some extent but The Cambridge Folk Festival have succeeded more than others in securing a rare (and sure to be moving) public performance by folk legend Nic Jones. Jones sustained severe injuries in a car accident in 1982 and only in recent years has been able to start playing the guitar again. Penguin Eggs is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest English folk albums of all time and the chance to hear Jones play songs from it is an enticing reason to head up to Cambridge from 26th-29th July. The rest of the line up is pretty strong also June Tabor and Oysterband, Billy Bragg, Roy Harper, Karine Polwart, Seth Lakeman and The Unthanks will also be appearing at Cherry Hinton Hall Grounds over the four days. Read more here.
WOMAD has the usual plethora of global acts this year – some known, some less so – but all offering something different, with many international joys waiting to be discovered. Some of the more recognisable names due to perform include Norways Ane Brun, Malis Boubacar Traore and Indias Raghu Dixit while the likes of The Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra from Japan, The Alaev Family from Israel, The Terem Quartet from Russia and Narasirato from the Solomon Islands further embellish the globally diverse line up. It all takes place as normal from 27-29th July at Charlton Park in Wiltshire. Further details can be found here.
Music of a defiantly more indie nature can be enjoyed at Indietracks which takes place over 6-8th July at a 1950s railway in Derbyshire. This year the festival will be collaborating with esteemed US indie label Slumberland Records. Allo Darlin and Veronica Falls headline and there are also appearances by C86 types The June Brides and a whole host of others. Visit the Indietracks website for further information.
Meanwhile, The Truck Festival celebrates its 15th birthday this year with the help of Mystery Jets, 65daysofstatic, Villagers and Get Cape Wear Cape Fly. It prides itself on its small scale, family friendly nature and you can join in with the celebrations over the weekend of 20-21st July at Hill Farm in Steventon, Oxfordshire. More information can be found here.
Yorkshire boasts three music festivals this year. On first glance the pick is the Beacons Festival which takes place in Skipton, in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales over 17-19th August. It has an impressively leftfield, under the radar offering that includes Roots Manuva, Junior Boys, Errors, Factory Floor, Still Corners, Peaking Lights and Cass McCoombs. Over in Baldersby Park in Topcliffe the Deer Shed Festival hosts Saint Etienne, Villagers, Cherry Ghost and Beth Jeans Hougton on 20-22nd July. Finally, the Rough Beats festival takes place in Clapham, Yorkshire over 8-10 June, featuring appearances by Gruff Rhys, Pulled Apart By Horses and Azealia Banks amongst others. The same weekend sees the No Direction Home festival take place in Welbeck Abbey in the heart of Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. Attendees have performances by the likes of Richard Hawley, Austra and Other Lives to look forward to. Read more at Beacons Festival, Deer Shed Festival, Rough Beats and No Direction Home respectively.
Guilfest, another staple of the UK small festival scene, returns to Stoke Park in Guildford over the weekend of 13-15th July featuring Olly Murs, Jimmy Cliff, Jools Holland & his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra (with special guest Roland Gift of Fine Young Cannibals). The Lounge On The Farm festival once again takes place in Merton Farm in Canterbury over 6-8th July. Initial acts booked to appear include Emeli Sand, Chic, Goldie and The Wombats. Head over to Guilfest and Lounge On The Farm for more information.
Finally, a mention for the festival with possibly the smallest, humblest origins Leefest. You can read the (mildly entertaining) story in full here but basically it involves a 16 year old boy (called Lee) deciding back in 2006 to hold a music festival in his parents back garden whilst they were away on holiday. It has grown over subsequent years, surviving council interference and various venue changes and this year will be headlined by Mystery Jets, Slow Cub and Ghostpoet, with more artists appearing over the five (count em!) stages. It is due to take place over 29-30th June at Highhams Hill Farm on the outskirts of Bromley/Croydon. Its a non-profit festival also, with any surplus being donated to childrens charities. Find out more on the Leefest website.