The British Festival



Britain does festivals well. This summer, there are on average over 30 festivals every weekend. Small, grandiose, established, shiny and new, achingly cool, adorably disheveled, diverse or niche… Each summer we find ourselves on one hell of a party Island.


Perhaps this is because the British Summer is revered, a thing to be treasured and celebrated. As the sun warms us well into the evening, we shed a stuffy, zipped up mentality that is the product of British character passed through a British winter. The year’s middle months unleash an explosion of creativity and semi-rebellion. The plethora of UK festivals represents and reflects all facets of this release.


True, we do not have a festival as insane as Burning Man in the US, but then again we don’t have an environment as insane as the arid Nevada Desert. Burning Man, with its manned robots and crippling dust storms is a festival for Urban Americans who live in the high-pressure hodge-podge of conflicting origins and ideals. Our rolling hills and green fields give rise to a different kind of celebration. Hence we spend our winters looking forward to a more ethereal, mid summer night dream kind of escape. As can be seen from those we hold high in literary esteem, Britain yearns to fall down the rabbit hole, step beyond the wardrobe, investigate Lyra’s Oxford. There is a strong desire to find the magic in our familiar environment.


This philosophy is epitomized by the increasingly popular Secret Garden Party, its very name suggesting a hidden yet familiar place for us to get lost in. This year at Bike2basics, we are organising our bike tours to the most magical of English Festivals. Secret Garden Party is of course high on our agenda, but we are also pedaling our merry way to its sister festival, Wilderness. It would be hard to find a festival that emulates more of a Mid Summer Night’s Dream feel, ‘‘banquets under canopies, tented talks, midnight masked balls, barefoot dancing, parkland processions and ritualistic revelry.’’ Where as at Glastonbury, Bestival and SGP you expect to look very different coming out than going in, Wilderness is a festival for those who like to get Wild, but keep their hair mudless, their fairy lights bright and their fancy dress immaculate. Last year we soaked for hours in a lake-side hot tub made of Rose wood, banqueted at endlessly long tables, and got very merry on mead.


Bike2basics gang at Wilderness 2011


The festival scene changes as fast as we do. There are hundreds of small new festivals to keep up with, and we like to try our best. In the spirit of embracing this change we have chosen 3 festival-etts to pedal to. Firstly we are delighted that Playgroup Festival graces our summer program: 3 days of insanely good music, magic and miscellaneous fun. Playgroup take pride in not being a big festival, and purport they’re about ‘making new friends, being kidnapped by aliens, learning taxidermy, being part of a marching band, creating giant sculptures, and listening to the best in live Electronica, World, Funk, Reggae and Swing’. Lewis Caroll would be most pleased.

Now get geared up to meet Golden Down, a new Festival in Hampshire that has truly landed on its feet. Salivate over the line up and congratulate them in knowing what the UK festivaler wants; the dance tent is housed in an enchanted woodland, the chill out area is nestled in a beech wood high above the music, and the whole festival is woven within the excellently named Black Bush Valley. June can’t come quickly enough - I want to dance my socks off throughout the night and collapse under the Golden Down sky.

Lastly we present the tiniest festival on the Bike2basics calendar; Brain Child. There are only 300 tickets available for this mini adventure, and that’s one reason we’re going. We’ve been to tiny festivals before, by the end of which, my God if you don’t feel popular. The organisers of Brain Child profess that big things can happen from tiny thoughts and a little imagination, and that’s what new UK festivals are all about. We look forward to exercising our little grey cells as we dance we this particular weekend away.

At Bike2basics we have a many more festivals up our sleeve, for instance we haven’t yet touched on a major dance festival like Cream Fields or Global Gathering. The chaos of a metal festival has a darker appeal, the long-established Cambridge Folk Festival is a must at least once, Green Man is for anyone that relishes verdant fields and excellent music… I could go on forever.


Join us at one of these excellent festivals, or go yourself. Enjoy the British summer in the best way you know how. We needn’t go abroad to feel like we’re on holiday. Just jump on your bike and pedal to another world…  


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