Where are your hidden gem small festivals?
February 18, 2014 6:36 AM   Subscribe

Where are the best small music festivals in Europe this summer. In my ideal world there is a reasonably priced festival with a half decent line up that hasn't got too big for its britches.

This summer, I would like to take Mrs MM to a music festival. I don't mind if it is in the UK or somewhere in Europe. The US/Canada are too far away (for this year; however if something is *so* amazing it is worth spending that much more on the airfare I'll take note for next year). My requirements are:

- a mix of music in the line up, low fi is good; not heavy metal, not full bore dance music
- Preferably one band I've heard of*
- Less than 30,000 people; ideally less than 20,000; better still - 10,000
- Toilets / showers are not a bloodbath
- A quiet camping space; if not formally, then somewhere where you can pitch with an expectation of some kip
- Relatively easy to get to from London; flying is OK, a driveable distance within 12 hours is better
- Preferably in July/August if in northern Europe - i.e. less chance of rain, more chance of sunshine is good
- Not overrun by w*nkers
- We're basically looking for somewhere with a nice vibe to spend a long weekend listening to music and having some fun

Some additional info:

We are in our late thirties but have never knowingly been described as hip. We are reasonably plugged in London's cultural scene and go to gigs, the theatre, the cinema, galleries etc.

We went to the Big Chill nearly 10 years ago and enjoyed it. We'd have liked to have gone when it was smaller and more intimate.

We have camped before a lot and have our own kit. We do not expect toilets/showers to be pristine - we just want to be able to wash etc without queuing for ages or the facilities being disgusting. We don't mind spending a bit more for facilities, but are not in the market for spending £500+ for access to a posh tent and 'luxury' showers.

Yes, reader, we are middle class. No, we don't really need a literature or debate space or a magic garden or a bar serving champagne cocktails, or to dress up. Edible food and some things to see, do and listen to are really the only requirements. Some of the more boutique festivals seem to be very pretentious. I'm prepared to be persuaded otherwise.

We aren't going to be popping pills or snorting lines.

* Reasonably broad music tastes; Line ups like this or this are fine, as were successive Big Chill lineups. More than happy to look at more niche music festivals and explore genres of music.
posted by MuffinMan to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Cambridge Folk Festival seems to fit the bill. Capacity of 10,000, a mix of music (it's moved away from pure folk to acoustic over the years), 60 miles from London up the M11 and with good camping available.
posted by essexjan at 6:47 AM on February 18


Truck is quite nice. Fairly small scale (as far as festivals go), OK toilets, actual nice food cooked by local charitable organisations, decent music. Not too far from London, I've always driven there without issue but you can get a train then a bus I think.

Caveat: Last time I went was about 3-4 years ago.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:51 AM on February 18


The program for the Oundle Music Festival isn't out yet, but you can check it out when it is.
posted by BibiRose at 7:29 AM on February 18


Latitude in Suffolk is a gem. It's getting a bit larger now, but the camping spaces (last time I went, which was a couple of years back) are huge, the people are friendly and the toilets are *excellent* (for a festival). The vibe is great, and it's got poetry, drama and comedy as well as music.
posted by six sided sock at 8:35 AM on February 18


Wickerman in Dundrennan, near Dumfries would normally fit the bill, I think. The 2014 lineup has not been announced, but if you look at the previous lineups, I think they meet your criteria. It's pretty laid-back and not too crowded. I can confirm firsthand that the bog-standard camping is fine, and a lot less fraught than the big festivals. The loos and other facilities are also fine. It's also fairly cheap compared to some of the big festivals.

As a bonus, you get to see the giant wickerman go up in flames after the Saturday headliner.
posted by Jakey at 10:12 AM on February 18


The Moseley Folk Festival? It's in a tiny, beautiful, private park in Birmingham. There's no camping, so you'll have to sort your own accommodation (but that might actually be a bonus for you!). It's really a neighbourhood festival that's got a lot bigger. I had a lovely chilled out weekend there last year. Also, they have a very brief definition of 'folk'.
posted by Helga-woo at 11:19 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Completely seconding Moseley Folk - we've gone every year so far and it's great.
This should give you more info.
Edit: full line-up to come by the look of it. Other years will give a good flavour, though.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 12:14 PM on February 18


End of the Road near Salisbury, first weekend of September. Lovely garden setting. Around 12000 people. Very good vibe. Not pretentious, very few people in costumes. Not a druggie festival (maybe other than a few exceptions, but not noticeable). You can take your own food and drinks into the arena. Showers and toilets good. Very few wankers, plenty of people your age, also older and families (and some younger of course).

Lineup is alt-country, folk, postrock, some indie, few other genres but no metal and almost no electronica (Caribou played once and were fantastic). Past lineups here in no particular order unfortunately (neither alphabetical or headliners at the top).

I also hear good things about Truck. At End of the Road I camped with these people who I met through a forum, you would be welcome to join them and a bunch of them also go to Latitude.
posted by Pink Frost at 3:12 PM on February 18


Seconding the End of the Road, or also the Larmer Tree Festival which is at the same place (the Larmer Tree Gardens), but in July. Always has a big name on the wednesday evening before getting down to a more obscure but fun mix for the remaining days. Very middle class, in a nice way. The food stalls can be fantastic.
posted by dowcrag at 4:47 AM on February 19


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