15 summer festivals and events to book now
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Houghton Festival, Houghton Hall, Norfolk
The Palladian mansion hosts the fourth edition of its dance music festival. Curated, as ever, by DJ Craig Richards, the four-night event has a 24-hour licence (bring earplugs if you plan on sleeping) and will feature more than 200 DJ and live-set acts, including Ricardo Villalobos, Zip, Ben UFO, Helena Hauff, 5am, DMX Krew and Chris Korda.
There’s a floating restaurant on the lake, a wellness tent and free yoga and a 14-person sauna. The Hall’s sculpture park, reached by miniature railway, is also open throughout the festival, with works by James Turrell, Rachel Whiteread, Richard Long, Stephen Cox and Anya Gallacio. 10 to 13 August, tickets with camping from £250; houghtonfestival.co.uk
Present Futures, Royal College of Art, London
For the AI-curious artist, the Royal College of Art is hosting a first-of-its-kind short course on virtual and augmented reality and AI in contemporary art. The five-day collaboration with art-tech company Acute Art will see students immersed in the burgeoning field at locations across the capital, including the Serpentine Gallery for a talk by curator and director Hans Ulrich Obrist. Other guest speakers include Gilbert & George, Olafur Eliasson, and NFT entrepreneur Vignesh Sundaresan (aka MetaKovan, who infamously spent $69mn on a non-fungible artwork in 2021). Participants will have a chance to get creative, transforming the city with their own augmented reality projects, with RCA tutors on hand for feedback. 28 August to 1 September; from £2,880; rca.ac.uk
Alex James’s Big Feastival, Worthing, Oxfordshire
Fresh from the lustre of Blur’s Wembley Stadium gigs, bassist Alex James segues to his food-meets-music knees up on the Cotswolds farm where he lives and makes cheese. Friday sees performances from Norwegian electro pop star Sigrid, The Vaccines and Example; Saturday is Tom Grennan, Everything Everything, and Newton Faulkner; while Sunday welcomes some of the names who hit the high notes at Glastonbury back in June: Rick Astley, Hot Chip, and Melanie C, plus headliners Blossoms.
But for others it’s all about the feasting – and tuck in you can: Nathan Outlaw, Asma Khan (the Kolkata-born British chef who owns Darjeeling Express) and TV megastar Ching He Huang are just some of the names to conjure with. 25 to 27 August; day tickets from £93.50; adult weekend tickets from £197.95, thebigfeastival.com
The Goodwood Revival, Goodwood, West Sussex
Revival’s retro cocktail of period fashion, vintage cars, bikes and planes and old-school hospitality (think officers’ mess-inspired bars) never fails to intoxicate. Day tickets on the Saturday have sold out, but Friday offers its own joys as the crowds are less intense; excitement builds with the race qualifiers as drivers and riders jockey for prime position on the weekend’s grids; the Warbirds roar into the sky; and there’s a rich seam in earlybird finds in the vintage fashion market.
Sunday sees the high adrenaline and prestige races – plus the Settrington Cup, the cute but cutthroat kids’ race where children between the ages of six and nine race in Austin J40 pedal cars. The Vintage Fairground runs all weekend, and features a roller disco, helter-skelters and dancing into the small hours to the siren call of big-band beats. 8 to 10 September, from £75; goodwood.com
Soft Cell, OMD and Heaven 17, Audley End House, Saffron Waldon, Essex
For an evening of unadulterated ’80s nostalgia, head to the grounds of one of England’s finest Jacobean mansions. Marc Almond and Dave Ball of Soft Cell announced in 2018 that their O2 concert in London would be their final ever, but it’s turned out to be more a case of “Wave goodbye, then say hello”, as they’ve subsequently released new material and are back on the road. Add in Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and Heaven 17 and you’re in synth-pop, well, heaven. The legendary DJ Readers Wifes will kick matters off from 3pm. 11 August; from £31, heritagelive.net
Glyndebourne Festival, Lewes, East Sussex
Don Giovanni, Semele, Dialogues des Carmélites, L’elisir d’amore, The Rake’s Progress and A Midsummer Night’s Dream grace the stage at this year’s operatic event. Partake in a traditional picnic in the grounds – order one from the venue if you don’t want to pack your own – or dine at one of the venue’s restaurants.
Mildmay has a new offering of a one-hour two-course dinner, designed to give guests more time in the gardens that open up to two hours before the performance. Until 27 August; from about £146, glyndebourne.com
Eden Project Summer of Play, Cornwall
Children are entertained at the new natural adventure playground – a wooden kingdom of slides with water play arranged around a nine-metre-tall “Tree of Life” tower – which opens on 8 July. The feature enhances the Eden Project’s summer programme of outdoor games (including a giant Jenga set) in the orchard and, from 29 July, a den-building village erected at the stage and arena, where materials will be laid out for children to experiment. The events are part of the general admission fee but pre-booking slots is essential for the playground. 22 July to 3 September; adults from £33, children from £11, under-fives free, edenproject.com
QIPCO King George Weekend, Ascot, Berkshire
Flat racing meets English garden party elegance at one of the high points of Europe’s midseason middle-distance championship. It’s a dress-up affair, heralding the return of the event’s Glambot – a robotic-arm camera similar to that used at the Met Gala – located on the lawns of the Bandstand.
DJ Yasmin Evans will take to the decks for the closing party on the final day of racing. 28 to 29 July; from £30, ascot.com
Feria de Londres, Wembley, London
The Spanish culture fiesta returns to London in the new location of Wembley Park – transformed by colourful casetas of Spanish food and drink, music, workshops and family-friendly activities. A new feature, the Feria stage (the only ticketed area of the event, open 4pm to 11pm), will provide live entertainment from Spanish artists including singer Tomasito and vocalist-guitarist Muchachito. Music is also part of the offering at The Arena Square (open 12pm to 10pm), an interactive space with dance classes, including Sevillana and Rumba workshops, and DJ entertainment. Head to the stalls on Market Square (open 12pm to 10pm) to sample paellas, tortilla de patatas and pinchos, authentic churros, jamón Ibérico and croquetas. 29 to 30 July, wembleypark.com
Summer at Somerset House, central London
Affordable fun is the theme here: the courtyard’s 55 fountains will be switched on, splashing in sequence from 10am to 7pm for most of August, for children to play around in – while Shobana Jeyasingh Dance’s 2010 dance performance Counterpoint, a piece specially devised around the fountains, is to be reprised on 19 and 20 August, and is free to watch.
The courtyard also provides a backdrop to a series of weekend events including the return of Vogue Rites’ open-air Vogue Ball on Saturday 12 August (tickets from £5 to £15), while the free exhibition Black Venus, curated by Aindrea Emelife, examines the historical representation and shifting legacy of black women in visual culture. There’s also a new site-specific installation Cycles of Unmasking by artist Theresa Weber. Throughout August, somersethouse.org.uk
Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh, Scotland
At “the world’s greatest platform for creative freedom”, organisers are calling this year’s international ensemble an “American comedy invasion” with appearances from Angela Beevers of Beavis & Butt-Head and Silicon Valley (from £8, gildedballoon.co.uk) and debuts from both Eden Sher (who spent nine seasons playing the socially awkward teenager Sue Heck in hit ABC series The Middle (gildedballoon.co.uk) and SNL writer Drew Michael (pleasance.co.uk). There is plenty of homegrown talent, as well as what’s showcased as awe-inspiring circus shows from Australia and Hungary. 4 to 28 August, edfringe.com
Wilderness Festival, Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire
Wilderness is known as much for food as music and this year’s gastronomy roll-call is tasty: from Ben Quinn’s sold-out Long Table Banquet in the Woods to a restaurant pop-up with Max La Manna, The Cat’s Whiskers cocktail and cabaret hour and a creative-writing breakfast club and Sunday sessions with Clare Finney and Social Pantry’s Alex Head.
The music medley looks equally enticing: headliners include The Chemical Brothers, Christine and the Queens and Fatboy Slim. 3 to 6 August; non-camping adult tickets from £229.50, wildernessfestival.com
Dubai Duty-Free Shergar Cup, Ascot, Berkshire
Jockeys from around the world compete for this prestigious team prize. Post-racing the evening concert has big headliner credentials: Craig David will take to the stage along with former Spice Girl Melanie C and radio DJ-turned-singer Marvin Humes. 12 August, ascot.com
Festival of Sport, Holkham Estate, Norfolk
Founded by ex-England rugby stars Will Greenwood and Austin Healey, this family event at the Holkham Estate offers an array of sporting activities and the opportunity to work with sporting stars who lead several sessions.
Go for the day or stay for the weekend glamping experience at the pop-up campsite where the evening entertainment includes a silent disco and outdoor cinema on the Friday night. Core sports include rugby, gymnastics, rowing, hockey, cricket, football and athletics, and there will be taster sessions for MMA, trampolining, kayaking and lacrosse. All children are encouraged to join. 11 to 14 August; day tickets £185 for one adult and one child under 17, under-fives free, holkham.co.uk
Chatsworth Country Fair, Bakewell, Derbyshire
Horse tournaments, dog shows, motoring demos, aeroplane acrobatics and cookery demonstrations hosted by top chefs star on Chatsworth’s rolling 1,000-acre parkland.
The three day event is experience-packed, from stunts by the Atkinson Action Horses, Spitfire action from the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, a parade of vintage cars and skyline displays of parachute and hot air balloon skills. 1 to 3 September; day tickets from £24, ticketsrv.co.uk