Britain has its fair share of summer festivals, from the legendary Glastonbury to the crazy dressing up at Bestival on the Isle of Wight. But sometime the festival experience isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, with unpredictable weather, mud-soaked fields, grubby toilets and overpriced food putting a dampener on camping in the countryside. Luckily there are just as many top festivals in London, from weekend-long dance parties to more relaxed picnics in the park.
If you’re more city chic than country bumpkin, you can still catch a summer festival in Britain – just head to the capital for the best events in the summer. And forget rain-soaked tents, stay in one of the hundreds of London hostels in the city center – choose a typical shared dorm for crashing post-party, or live like a rock-star for less in a private ensuite apartment. You’ll need to book online in advance though, as hostels book up fast during the summer season.
There are still tickets left for some summer festivals – here’s a guide to London’s best:
Get Loaded in the Park/South West Four, 29th-30th August
On the last weekend in August, Clapham Common hosts not one but two great music festivals. Easy to get to by tube and bus, this huge common right in the leafy heart of South London is ideal for a summer dance-athon, and there are plenty of pubs, bars and clubs around for a post-festival party.
On the Saturday, SouthWest Four showcases the best dance DJs from around the world – the 2009 line-up includes Sasha and Timo Maas. On Sunday, the award-winning Get Loaded in the Park takes center stage with an eclectic line-up ranging from Royksopp to rapper Peaches. Orbital headline this year, and with the next day a national holiday in England, there’s plenty of time to recover.
Lovebox Weekender, July 18th-19th
Hosted by dance duo Groove Armada, this legendary “rave-up” in Victoria Park, East London always has a great line-up and a fun atmosphere. Bigger acts such as Duran Duran take to the main stage, and hardcore clubbers can get their fix in the surrounding dance tents and bars.
02 Wireless Festival, 4th-5th July
The more commercial (and most expensive) of the London Festivals, this two-day festival in Hyde Park always draws big-name acts in dance, pop, rock and RnB. This is the most like Reading, Leeds and Glastonbury, with advertisers galore, merchandise stalls and overpriced burger vans. This year Kanye West, Dizzee Rascal and Basement Jaxx top the bill.
Field Day, August 1st
This smaller music festival in Victoria Park has only been running for a few years, and is a favorite with edgy East Londoners and Indie kids alike. It may be less slick than other festivals, with haphazard organization, but the line-up and cheap ticket prices (around $30) still manage to draw the crowds back. This year the mix of bands and super-cool DJs include Mogwai and Four Tet. Haven’t heard of them yet? Then brush up on your music credentials and get down to Victoria Park in August.
Great British Beer Festival, August 4th-8th
If you’re more into drinking than dancing to the best bands, sample 450 local and international beers and ciders (but not all at the same time) at Earls Court Arena in West London. The Campaign for Real Ale hosts the event, with music and pub games organized and plenty of good quality food stalls to help line your stomach.
Watch this Space at the National Theatre, July 1st – September 27th
This free festival on London’s Southbank lasts for two months, so you’re sure to catch some of the National Theatre showcase of outdoor theatre, cabaret, music, film screenings, family events and late-night DJs. Here’s hoping the great British summer is rain-free!