Festivals don’t like recessions. This year and last saw the folding of numerous events thanks to the lack of sales, with people forced to scale back the number they can afford to go to
With this in mind all the ones going ahead are desperately battling for your readies. Below we are going to pitch three of the pricier events in the calendar together, and find which one is perfect for you.
Round 1: Music Line-Up
Headliners-Stevie Wonder, Florence and the Machine, New Order
Also playing- The xx, Sigur Ros, SKTRKT, De La Soul, Django Django, The Cuban Brothers, Alt-J
Bestival has got its act demographic totally sorted in the last couple of years; generally offering the peak of bands on the indie scene (The xx/Alt J) , mixed with the biggest dance names (Nero/2 Many DJs) and a smattering of vintage acts (New Order/De La Soul). Getting Stevie Wonder is its first step into Glasto headliner territory and would appear to be a sign that Rob Da Bank is confident of selling out, as Stevie don’t come cheap.
Headliners- Bon Iver, Elbow, Paul Weller
Also Playing- Rufus Wainwright, Metronomy, Yeasayer, Josh T.Pearson
Latitude doesn’t devote much time to the dance end of the spectrum, but then that doesn't chime so well with its crowd which is famed for being kid friendly, guitar-loving and in bed at a not entirely unreasonable hour. Personally, Elbow and Weller don’t hold a lot of appeal but they certainly do for many, and further down the bill there is much to get excited about- a UK festival exclusive appearance from Brooklyn psych-poppers Yeasayer, singer-songwriter Josh T.Pearson, Alabama Shakes, The Antlers and the sublime Perfume Genius.
Green Man- 7/10
Headliners- Van Morrison, Feist, Mogwai
Also playing- Dexys, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Willy Mason, The Bees
Folk is Green Man’s stock in trade, and this year is no different with top-quality names like Damien Jurado, The Felice Brothers and Van on the bill. The Tallest Man On Earth is playing a UK festival exclusive, and should bring the place to its knees with his one-man tales of melancholic aspiration. Elsewhere there’s a lot of fun to be had with Dexys, whose new album has had some pretty ecstatic reviews, while Friends will get the beards and weirds bopping with their 21st century alt-disco.
Round 2: Other Entertainment
The Bestival site has got progressively bigger over the years, with offerings this year like The Grand Palace Of Entertainment (cabaret), Gay bingo (pretty self-explanatory) and Classic Album Sundays, the latter being an indoors run-through of a classic album that is indispersed with stories and anecdotes about the record from organiser Colleen Murphy.
There’s an array of nooks and crannies in which to momentarily lose one’s mind, money or dignity. Last year my favourite place in the festival was the Wishing Tree, a hollowed out tree that played rock and roll and soul until 6 in the morning. It is in places like this, and not in front of a speaker by the main stage, that festival memories are born and burnt.
They also get plus points for David Icke doing a talk in the Ambient Forest
Latitude doesn’t necessarily have the variety of Bestival in terms of the late-night ents, but it has a huge wealth of other stages to make up for this. Foremost among this the Comedy Stage, where the likes of Tim Minchin, Jack Dee and Greg Davies will be up. Never been too much of a fan of comedy at festivals myself-all that that standing still- but Minchin is one of those people you hate for being so good at everything so he’ll be well worth a look.
There’s a million other stages too, in which to indulge your every performance-related desire- the Cabaret Arena, the Theatre Arena, The Poetry Stage, The Literary Arena where the likes of Iain Banks and Simon Armitage will be up.
Green Man- 7.5/10
Green Man is smaller than Bestival or Latitude (15,000 capacity to 55,000 and 35,000) so doesn’t have quite the scope of acts or arenas, but it provides a lot for its visitors. These tend to be more towards the Latitude end of the spectrum, with a Literature Tent, Comedy Tent and the Future Generations area, which is exclusively for under-18s
Einstein’s Garden is a perfect place to kill a couple of afternoon hours with art installations, performances and workshops where merry adults and excited kids alike can get building.
Round 3: Mash-up Potential
It’s at night that the devil in Bestival comes out. Main acts play late in the Big Top, with a major name normally coming on around 1.30. Other than that there’s Arcadia where the big DJs play until sunrise and the Swamp Shack which is a gothic Louisiana juke joint. This is only scratching the surface though, and if you want to chew your arm off and not sleep for a couple of days you can pretty much find somewhere to do it, if you look for it.
Latitude have expanded their late-night line options; this year they have the I Arena, where every night is being played out a host of big and not-so big name DJs like Shy FX, Toddla T and Tuesday Born, who plays African-inspired electro-soul and is a perfect match for the Latitude crowd.
The best place to go for a drink, dab and a grope is Into The Woods area, where names like Norman Jay and Goldierocks will be dropping tunes under the cover of trees and making sure you don’t have to call it a night after Garvey drops One Day Like This.
There isn’t the emphasis on hammering it all night, though. Depends on what you are looking for of course, but it’s a festival I could feasibly take my Dad (who is an honest God-loving man) to, and not feel like I’d have to cover his eyes the whole time.
Green Man- 7/10
Green Man’s late night MDMA monkeys will probably find themselves in the Far Out After Dark big top, which has a 24 hour license; a sure sign that you can find the best and sweatiest of humanity in there. This year it’s got festival staple Mr Scruff, a DJ set from James Blake and the marvellous Vondelpark playing.
They also have a bonfire burning dusk till dawn, which is genius and acts as a focal point for anyone with a guitar and a hammering heart to buddy up and talk about the cosmic beach.
Round 4: Family Friendliness
There is a family camping field at Bestival, and they offer the Kid’s Garden which has inflatables, Children’s Yoga, performances from the Big Top Family Show and the rather fun sounding Big Balloon Disco.
However, in reality it isn’t really the best. There’s a lot of events that are a lot more geared up for them so, if you do want to give your kids a sniff of the festival experience, go to Camp Bestival. Easy.
Latitude likes kids so much it has its very own Children’s Arena; looking particularly appealing for those not bothered about Bon Iver is Noisy Toys, an interactive sound installation with all manner of machines, buttons and wires which they can bash and fiddle with. The Woodcraft Folk are also offering constantly changing workshops, offering stuff like uke-playing and fire-building. Added to this, the Theatre Workshop will be offering musical theatre lessons for all the future divas.
This is just a snippet though, and there is a whole raft of plays directed purely at kids, including young persons theatre company Snickleway, Punch and Judy (of course) and Theatre Workout, who put on adapted versions of classics like Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Wizard Of Oz.
Green Man- 7.5/10
The Future Generations tent is a haven for restless hands and minds. As at Latitude there’s all manner of workshops, whilst author Adele Nozedar will be leading hedgerow walks. The Rock Club gives kids a chance to play the instruments of the guys playing on the main stage,
In research for this piece, I asked a friend of mine who was a Green Man devotee what it’s like for kids. He said: “there’s absolutely shitloads for them to do, and kids are bloody everywhere, especially by the main stage.” It also has the benefit of being more low-key that the other two, thus a little less imposing.
Ticket prices for under 12s for all 3 are negligible- free at Bestival, and fiver each at Latitude and Green Man
Round 5: Value For Money/Drinks
Ticket prices are:
Green Man comes out on top because it lets you take drinks into the arena, which could easily save you a hundred quid over the course of a weekend.
And The Winner Is…
Green Man 37.5
Latitude just sneaks it, by dint of the fact that as an all-rounder it has more to offer family-wise that Bestival, and line-up wise than Green Man. But whether you agree really depends on what you want from a festival-the whole experience is so subjective. Is your reason for going the artists, the session or the experience for you and your family? Find that out, then you can find your perfect festival.
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