Festivals - Strange Days Indeed

Wickerman festival

If all the world is a stage, its players are getting more eclectic by the year. Anna Millar pads around the odder end of the festival circuit

An integral part of the cultural calendar, festivals are fast becoming a vibrant part of the tourism industry – both at home and abroad – and organisers are undoubtedly raising the bar to keep up with demand, pushing the boundaries to give the audience more choice than ever.

This year welcomes back the return of popular stalwart, the Wickerman Festival (25 & 26 July, www.thewickermanfestival.co.uk), Scotland’s favourite ‘cult’ music festival. The perfect antidote for those looking to avoid the commercialism of a bigger event, the Wickerman concludes two days of music and mayhem with the now iconic burning of a makeshift 30-foot man. This year’s line-up includes headliners KT Tunstall and The Fall, while Gary Numan, De Rosa and Dean Friedman provide ample support.

A little further afield down Wales way, in Usk, the Croissant Neuf Summer Party sets its stall out (15–17 August, www.partyneuf.co.uk) and showcases a mix of cabaret, croissants and coffee at one of Britain’s few (if only) solar powered festival. Run by environmentalists, organisers power the party using solar panels and wind turbines instead of diesel generators, while all the food onsite is 100% organic and locally sourced. Highlights include the lantern procession and masked ball, as part of the festival’s finale.

For those with some money to burn and a propensity for fiery fun, the Burning Man Festival (25 August–1 September, www.burningman.com) in Black Rock City, Nevada should have it covered. Set in the desert, tens of thousands flock each year for a festival which encourages its audience to show self-expression through art.

Closer to home, things are similarly DIY at the Secret Garden Party (24–27 July, www.secretgardenparty.com) down south, near Huntingdon, with this hands-on event. Festival-goers are encouraged to help perform Shakespeare, stage custard pie fights or build their own sculpture, before the day rounds off with a roster of up-and-coming musical talent.

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