Festivals in Somerset 2022
Somerset is world-famous for its festivals, with one in particular to rule them all - Glastonbury, of course. Perhaps the world’s largest green-field music and performing arts festival, the legendary event is finally returning to Michael Eavis’s farm in Pilton this summer after being forced, by the pandemic, to cancel for two years in a row. A highlight in every British music-lover’s calendar, Glastonbury Festival began in 1970 and has steadily grown, with around 210,000 revellers now expected to pitch up in Somerset at the end of June. Crowning the bill this year will be Billie Eilish, Paul McCartney and Kendrick Lamar, with Diana Ross also appearing on the iconic Pyramid Stage.
While tickets sold out a while ago (including those that were resold), Somerset’s fields contain enough magic for many more festivals besides. Here are some of the best taking place this summer, and all of them have day and weekend tickets left, including many with luxurious glamping options that even feature real beds.
Farmfest (July 29-30, farmfestival.co.uk) is an intimate gathering, held in fields just outside Bruton. It is reliably fun, with disco dancing on a bus, DJ-sets from the back of a tractor and a quality, leftfield lineup, encompassing dance music, guitars, jazz and world sounds. Suiting the whole family, a kids area will keep little ones busy with crafts and stories, while there are yoga, wellness sessions, poetry and comedy alongside the music. Elder Island, Joy Orbison and Gentlemen's Dub Club headline this summer and tickets are good value, at £99 each for adults.
Meanwhile, over in Chew Valley in the Mendips, a fire-breathing tower will light up the nights at this year’s Valley Fest (August 4-7, valleyfest.co.uk). Arcadia, the stage-builders behind Glastonbury’s fire-spitting, late-night spider, are bringing their Afterburner stage to Somerset. Built from a Rolls Royce jet engine, the stage will be surrounded by flaming tree sculptures. The festival site affords lovely views of Chew Valley reservoir and offers lots of tempting, regeneratively-farmed food, from the farmer who owns the site. Faithless will play a DJ set, while Roni Size and Sports Team also perform.
Attracting fans of both live music and great food, Pub in Park (June 17-19, pubintheparkuk.com) is a touring weekender championed by Michelin-star chef Tom Kerridge. It arrives in Bath in June and, as it is based in Victoria Park, festival-goers need not camp for once but can book overnight accommodation in the city. Chefs will perform cookery demos and there will be interesting cuisine to sample from local artisan food and drink producers. Supergrass headline on Saturday night.
Priddy Folk Festival (July 8-10, priddyfolk.org) is a smaller but still passionate affair in the Mendips that offers plenty of opportunities to get the whole family dancing. Ceilidhs will be organised, along with dance workshops and Morris dancing performances. A long list of folk bands are set to play, with lots of UK talent appearing alongside musicians from as far away as Quebec. A free fringe festival will run in the village alongside the ticketed folk shows. Children are well catered for too, with entertainment provided.
If soundsystems are more your thing, look to Shindig Festival (May 26-29, shindigfestival.co.uk), which is setting up in a new location this year, on the 16th-century Dillington Estate. Mardi Gras is the theme, providing an excuse for the crowd to shake their peacock feathers to sounds from De La Soul, Roy Ayers, Ibibio Sound Machine and Nightmares on Wax. There is no main stage, just marquees to dip in and out of. Expect a rave dedicated to Prince; giant, welded artworks, from Mutoid Waste Company and Rockaway Park artists and a heart-in-your-mouth, high-wire walking show from Chris Bullzini. Crafts, such as wood whittling, plus wellness treatments and exercise classes are on offer too. The kids area, meanwhile, includes a skate ramp this year, crazy golf, cinema, drumming sessions and clay modelling with Aardman Animations.
Over in Exmoor, on the coast, Watchet is experiencing something of a cultural renaissance, with a new art hub, gallery and studios at East Quay. Watchet Music Festival (August 26-28, watchetfestival.co.uk) is a celebration across the August bank holiday, with some big-name, heritage acts playing, such as Belinda Carlisle, The Fratellis and Alabama 3. The free children’s area runs from 12pm until 6pm, Saturday and Sunday. Camping is allowed, along with a limited number of campervans.
Wells, meanwhile, invites young orchestral musicians to come, practice their craft and to perform in some of the city’s historic venues during WOWFest (July 15-18, wellsyouthmusicfest.co.uk). Those hoping to catch a classical music concert in either Wells cathedral or Bishop’s Palace should keep an eye on the WOWFest website.
The Marston Park glamping site, just outside Frome, has its own mini music festival happening this summer, with Soho Radio @ Marston Park (July 15-17, marstonpark.co.uk) featuring party-starting sets from Norman Jay MBE and DJ Yoda. Other artists are yet to be announced but revellers can check into the campsite’s luxurious bell tents for the night, which feature duvets, log-burners and proper beds.
Finally, families into skateboarding, BMX biking and urban music will want to note the dates of NASS Festival (July 7-10, nassfestival.com). With street art curated in collaboration with Bristol festival Upfest, The Showground in Shepton Mallet will be a riot of colour and movement. The bill includes Headie One, Ella Eyre, Sub Focus and Shy FX. Flying down the ramps meanwhile will be BMX pros and some of the world’s best skaters, with the likes of Tony Hawk having appeared in the past. Elsewhere, festival-goers can try Djing or MCing workshops.
There really will be stages offering something for everyone in a Somerset field or concert venue this summer.
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