Empty beer cans, broken sunglasses, soggy tents and a million miles of mud….the UKs festivals don’t exactly have a reputation for cleanliness and beauty. But this is all changing… The UK is home to some of the most stunning natural scenery in the world – from the sandy coves of Cornwall up to the wild Scottish countryside – the perfect backdrop for a summer of festivals.
If you want to find festival that you can enjoy during the day as well as the night, look no further. We’ve assembled eight of the most scenic festivals across the country for nature-lovers and music fans alike.
Green Man Festival
Date: 20-23 August
Location: Brecon Beacons, Wales
Its Wales’ answer to Burning Man…a huge wooden giant is assembled (both before and during the festival), then ceremonially set on fire on the Sunday evening in a blaze of fireworks and coloured lights.
But before you get to all that, there’s just the small matter of a festival to attend to. Green Man is set in the stunning Brecon Beacons in South Wales, and it really makes the most of its natural environment. This is one of the cleanest, greenest festivals you will ever see.
TIP: Arrive as the doors are opening on Thursday morning and enjoy a full day of exploring the pristine site and the surrounding Brecon Beacons before the festival kicks off.
End of the Road Festival
Date: 4-6 September
Location: Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset
Larmer Tree Gardens have been lauded for their beauty since they were first opened to the public in 1880 by the impressively-named General Augustus Lane Fox Pitt Rivers. Thomas Hardy himself was a regular visitor during the late 19th century and described them as “quite the prettiest sight I ever saw in my life.”
The Gardens are still officially owned by the Pitt Rivers family, who have maintained the stunning lily ponds, Victorian outhouses, vintage bandstands and glorious floral displays. Each September, the End of the Road Festival takes over to combine the naturally tranquil setting with ambient folk music, to create a one-of-a-kind festival experience.
This year, the big draw is Sufjan Stevens, who is playing his first ever UK festival to mark the 10th anniversary of EOTR.
TIP: Look out for your favourite acts in the crowd – musicians will often stick around for the rest of the festival after they have performed.
Date: 5-9 August
The British Riviera may not be able to guarantee the sun, but it more than delivers when it comes to the setting. The Cornish coast is all jagged edges and secret beaches, with some of the most Insta-worthy views in England.
Boardmasters 2015 offers festival-goers a chance to see this stunning coastline in a totally different way – from the top of a wave in the English Channel
Curated by skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, the festival stretches across several Cornish beaches, and boasts surfing competitions as well as a stellar lineup featuring the likes of Rudimental and Bastille.
TIP: Make a week of it and arrive in Cornwall a few days early so you can squeeze in a few surfing lessons and find your sea legs before the professionals arrive!
Festival No. 6
Date: 3-6 September
Location: Portmeirion, Wales
Arguably the most beautiful boutique festival in the UK, Festival No.6 is set in the picturesque village of Portmeirion in Wales, the very same village where the iconic TV show The Prisoner was shot.
This year, headline acts include Grace Jones, Belle and Sebastian, Mark Ronson and James Bay, but the real gems are to be found further down the programme. Festival No. 6 has a knack for attracting some of the country’s most interesting alternative musicians, artists, poets and writers.
Once you’ve recovered from the sheer beauty of the location, schedule in some ‘wandering round’ time and discover your new favourite performer.
TIP: Bring swimming gear – if the huge outdoor pool doesn’t tempt you, the calm waters of the Afon Dwyryd will.
Date: 22 August
Location: Loch Ness, Scotland
Loch Ness has had a bad rep over the years thanks to a certain alleged monster. But there is no denying that it is one of Scotland’s most beautiful nature spots – regardless of what lurks beneath.
For years, the Rock Ness Festival capitalised on the stunning location to attract festival-goers from all over the world. But in its absence, Groove Festival is doing a fine job.
For one night only, the shores of Lock Ness will be filled with the sounds of Groove Armada, 2 Many DJs and many other dance acts, who have vowed to keep going until sunrise.
Raise a pint to Nessy as the sun goes down, then lose yourself in the magic of the festival until you can’t dance any more.
TIP: Bring a waterproof camera, because, well, you never know….
Date: 30 July-2 August
Location: Lake District, England
Converts will claim that the Lake District is the most beautiful part of England, and it’s not hard to see why. From the rolling hills, to the glassy lakes, and the postcard-perfect country villages – it is one of those rare parts of the country which looks idyllic even in the rain.
Kendal Calling is situated right in the middle of it all – at the sprawling Lowther Deer Park near Penrith. The festival is set up to feel like you’ve wandered into a small market town, where Flavor Flav just happens to be performing. Explore the woodlands, knock back a few craft ales and pretend that this is normal life.
TIP: Arrive by train so you can watch the scenery sweep past you in all its glory before you settle in.
Secret Garden Party
Date: 23-26 July
Location: Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire
The SGP people really know how to make a festival look gorgeous. Every year, The Secret Garden Party pulls out all the stops with zany themes (this year’s is Where the Wild Things Are), thousands of fairy lights and an ‘anything goes’ mentality that includes continuous dance-offs, enormous installation artworks, endless parades and a spectacular ‘paint fight’ on the final day.
All of this would look impressive in an abandoned parking lot, but The Secret Garden Party takes place on an old Georgian farmland, which comes complete with its own lake, river and forests.
TIP: When it comes to fancy dress, this is definitely a ‘go big or go home’ situation. Bring glitter; bring wigs; bring the craziest costumes you can find.
Date: 25-26 September
Location: Ullapool, Scotland
Ullapool is a beautiful location in its own right. The harbour village stretches along the North West coast of Scotland, all wild beaches and purple mountains. But add a festival into the mix and the place is transformed into a riotous rural paradise.
Now 11 years old, Loopallu tickets are usually sold out even before the line-up has been announced, but you can expect an enchanting mix of folk music, alternative bands and local musicians.
TIP: Wrap up warmly – the evenings can get a wee bit nippy!