UK - Top 10 Festivals For The Cultured

Posted on August 11, 2014

The UK is famous for its abundant music festivals, but there are also many outstanding writing, theatre, food, film and crafts events. Here are some of our best picks from small and local to internationally famous festivals in the UK.

East End Film Festival, London - June

Cosmopolitan and eclectic, the EEFF is two weeks of cinema, cross-arts programming and discovery. The EEFF is now second only to the London Film Festival in innovation and popularity. Its charter is to foster discovery in film, encouraging audiences to experience new artists and film art forms in traditional and unusual venues.

The 2014 festival features the films and artists of Mexico, with Mexican filmmaker Sebastian Hoffman as director in residence.

Other events include:

  • Mind The Gap, a professional development program that focuses on mentoring filmmakers to graduate from short films to first features.
  • EEFF’s youth arm, Cutting East, a three-day film festival run by young people, for young people.
  • East End Live, the EEFF’s music festival, in some exciting new venues.
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The UK is famous for its abundant cultural festivals, particularly during summer.

Latitude, Suffolk - July

An idyllic setting by the lake, attracting everyone from toddlers to 60-year-olds, and with the best festival food, Latitude is one of the most popular music and arts festivals in the UK.

Bands span everything from blues, gospel, soul and folk to rock and roll, so there is sure to be something for everyone to enjoy. Although most of the bands are not big names, those that play are well worth hearing. The tucked-away spots such as Lavish Lounge with its tiny stage and outdoor sofas or the open-air bar in the woods make this festival unique.

The food at Latitude is much better than the usual festival hamburgers – grilled chorizo and haloumi, noodles, jerk chicken, curry and oyster pie are some of the delicacies on offer. Latitude is laid-back and middle of the road, very clean and pleasant.

Green Man, Brecon - August

Set in the Brecon Beacons in Wales over seven days in August, the Green Man festival has steadily grown in popularity. This award-winning contemporary music and arts festival features hundreds of live performances across 17 stages, with music, comedy, literature, science, film, food and family fun.

Some of the areas include:

  • Fortune Falls, a secluded area of the festival among trees, a fresh running stream, a pond and a miniature waterfall. The area features a range of interactive art installations.
  • Somewhere, for young adults and teens, featuring everything from film-making and circus skills workshops to free running and rock music classes.
  • The Little Folk area, with activities, entertainment and workshops to entertain younger children.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh - August

The Edinburgh festival is well-known worldwide, but the Fringe is also famous for its spontaneity, vitality and fun. Taking place over three weeks in August at the same time as the main festival, the Fringe, the largest arts show on earth, started in 1946 with eight uninvited theatre groups turning up and performing. Today it features thousands of performers on a multitude of stages all over Edinburgh, with shows for every taste. The performers are not vetted or auditioned beforehand, leading to an eclectic, exciting and adventurous mix of contemporary theatre, dance, street art and circus.

Glenfinnan Gatherings And Highland Games, Glenfinnan - August

Join the Glenfinnan Gatherings festival to celebrate a way of life that is almost gone.

Enjoy traditional Scottish games, feasting on local delicacies, drinking and dancing. Watch the colourful spectacle of highland dancing in traditional costume, or marvel as a kilted contestant for the strong man prize winds up and hurls a heavy hammer 50m or more. The highlight of each games is the ‘tossing of the caber’ requiring strength, speed and skill. The games are set amongst some of Scotland’s most beautiful natural mountain scenery.

Newquay Fish Festival, Newquay - September

This festival takes place over three days in September and is a celebration of the harbour, the fishing that is the lifeblood of the area, and local crafts. The program includes cookery demonstrations, pirate parties, a Fish and Chip Ball and live performances.

Loopallu, Ullapool - September

A tiny festival in late September in a remote village on the West Coast of Scotland 90km from the nearest town sounds like a long shot, however Loopallu has developed a reputation for being one of the most fun and friendly festivals in the UK.

Loopallu is held in the pretty fishing village of Ullapool on the shores of Loch Broom. It's an intimate, local affair with a mix of major artists and up-and-coming Scottish talent, set in one of the prettiest villages in Scotland.

Scottish International Storytelling Festival, Edinburgh - April

This festival, held over 10 days in the Scottish Storytelling Centre in culturally-rich Edinburgh, offers lively performances, professional workshops, thought-provoking talks, panel discussions and fun family activities. In 2014 it focuses on the folk tales of Old Europe to mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Grimm’s Children and Household tales.

Dublin Writers' Festival, Dublin - May

Dublin, the City of Words, holds its Writers’ Festival each year in May.

The festival is Ireland’s premier literary event, and gathers the finest writers in the world to debate, provoke and enthrall. Readings, discussions, workshops, performances and screenings all contribute to a stimulating, thought-provoking series of ideas to surprise and inspire you. Children are also catered for with story readings and interactive events.

Wilderness, Oxfordshire - May

Set in England’s most ancient woodland on Cornbury estate, the multi-award-winning Wilderness in Oxford is one of the best festivals in England to enjoy outdoor fun with luxury.

The 10,000 capacity event takes place over a weekend in August and features spectacular fire displays and aerial acts, bell-ringers, string quartets and acrobats. After sunset, dance until late into the night to traditional African beats, disco and more. In the morning, there's a choice of healthy or hungover, with organic muesli, reiki massage and yoga, or a to-die-for bacon sandwich and coffee.

There's also a luxury spa, with wood-fired Swedish hot tubs by the lake, where you can enjoy an iced drink.

Children are catered for with cubbyhouse-making, woodland fun and a unicorn hunt.

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