When you look back on your festival days in years to come, you won’t necessarily remember the bands who performed that stonking set, or the number of beers you drank on the first evening. What you will remember is who you were with. Festivals can be surprisingly romantic places – you are away from home, steeped in nature (and alcohol), and free of the drudgery of everyday life. It’s a chance to reconnect with yourself and your partner, and just ‘be’ together in an otherworldly place for a few days each year.
Of course, some festivals are more romantic than others, but there are a few UK events which tick a lot of boxes.
From Norman castles to massage yurts; from champagne by the river to oysters by the sea – we have hand-picked the UK’s most romantic festivals which will appeal to couples everywhere.
Croissant Neuf Castle Sessions
Location: Caldicot Castle, Gwent
Date: 18-19 September
The stunning 1000-year-old Caldicot Castle forms the backdrop to this year’s Croissant Neuf Castle Sessions festival, adding a touch of ancient charm to what already promises to be a thoroughly romantic festival. Previous headliners have included Ed Sheeran, Seth Lakeman and Willy Mason, and there is always a great mix of different musical genres, as well circus performances, walkaround performers and craft workshops (don’t miss the lantern-making class).
Book out a private room in one of the castle turrets and enjoy a relaxing massage or facial together, while the sounds of the festival drift up from below.
Most romantic moment: Toasting marshmallows together beside the festival’s huge communal campfire, before releasing a hand-made lantern into the night sky.
Location: Castle Hill, North Devon
Date: 23-27 July
Somersault is a surprisingly laid-back festival, full of eclectic fringe activities that are best enjoyed by two. Don’t miss one of the epic feasts by top restaurants such as Fifteen Cornwall and The Ethicurean, or take a cookery class together at Seven Mile Cookery. In the Wellbeing area, enjoy a couple’s massage, an organic facial, or a spot of meditation.
Or just cosy up on a picnic blanket and listen to ethereal tunes by Angus and Julia Stone, The Staves, and Laura Marling. Somersault is all about good vibes, so there’s no need to rush around from stage to stage, pushing your way to the front. Just turn up, chill out, and focus on spending quality time with the person you love.
Most romantic moment: Treat yourself and your partner to a simultaneous Somersault Wellbeing Signature Massage. Two top massage therapists will spent a full hour massaging away your worries and tension, while you simply relax in the comfort of an upmarket yurt.
Location: Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
Date: 8-12 July
Henley is perhaps best known for its Royal Regatta, which sees the good and the great of British society descend on the riverside town to watch Olympic-standard rowers race past.
The Henley Festival is in many ways an extension of this. Perhaps the only festival where black tie is an acceptable dress code, this is the sort of place where you drink champagne instead of cider, and eat seared scallops at pop-up restaurants instead of a greasy burger from the back of a van.
Entertainment is provided by Jessie J, Lionel Richie, The Philharmonic Orchestra, and more, while you can also catch a ballet performance, or simply seek out some performance art in the town itself.
Most romantic moment: Watching the Sunday night fireworks burst into light above the Thames, while you drink champagne in evening-wear with your beloved.
The Secret Garden Party
Location: Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire
Date: 23-26 July
One of the (many) mottos of The Secret Garden Party is “glitter not litter”, so that should give you an idea of what to expect. This is one of the most colourful, most sparkly and most romantic festivals on the planet – from the iconic field of sunflowers, to the randomly scattered love notes in the trees. This year’s theme is ‘Childish Things’, so it’s perfectly acceptable to indulge in a little PG-rated role play (think Lady and the Tramp; Ron and Hermione; Peter Pan and Wendy; or any other iconic couple from your childhood).
Headline acts include Jungle and The Cat Empire, but your most unforgettable festival moments will probably happen off-piste, wandering through the woods, lounging around at the lakeside pagoda, or doing silly things at the Bearded Kitten.
Most romantic moment: Where the Wild Things Are. This fairytale-inspired stage is surrounded by twisting branches and bathed in pastel lights – the perfect place to steal a kiss at twilight.
Festival of Romantic Fiction
Location: Stratford Upon Avon
Date: 6-8 November
Any festival which is sponsored by Mills & Boon is bound to be just a little bit romantic… This is an intimate and friendly festival which celebrates romantic fiction in the birthplace of William Shakespeare himself. Day tickets include access to the Shakespeare Archive and a guided tour of Anne Hathaway’s cottage, where you will mingle with like-minded literature lovers, and famous romance authors such as Adele Parks and Milly Johnson.
Most romantic moment: Friday Night Book Crush – a mass book launch event featuring established and upcoming authors. Costumes are welcome so expect to see several dozen Romeos and Juliets (win extra literary points by coming as Much Ado About Nothing’s Beatrice and Benedick – possibly the only functional couple Shakespeare ever wrote).
Whitstable Oyster Festival
Location: Whitstable, Kent
Date: 23 July – 2 August
Oysters are a famous aphrodisiac, and England’s own Whitstable has some of the season’s finest offerings. Indulge in your favourite seafood in the Gothic surroundings of Whitstable, and cheer each other on as you compete in the famous Oyster Eating Competition.
The week-long festival features performances from DJ Craig Charles, The Cuban Brothers, and Jonny Borrell (the former Razorlight frontman), plus dozens of beachside activities and oyster-themed events.
Most romantic moment: The not-very-romantic-at-all-sounding ‘Grotters’. Join the locals in building your very own oyster-shell turret (or ‘grotter’) on the beach. As the sun sets, light a candle in the middle of your creation and watch the pearly shells shimmer and glow in the light of the setting sun. Stay on the beach to witness the famous Whitstable firework displays, and keep warm with a pint of something local.