Kelburn Garden Party, North Ayrshire
Just outside Glasgow, Kelburn Garden Party is a colourful event held in the grounds of an appropriately colourful castle: a 13th-century stately home daubed with the work of Brazilian street artist OSGEMEOS. Among the hidden corners of the garden will be art, performances and the intimate stages that make up the festival. There’s also the “Neverending Glen”, a trail that leads through the forest to find multimedia art installations, sculptures and secret events. This year headliners include poet and rapper Akala, Mr Scruff and The Hot 8 Brass Band, while Scottish dance music stalwarts Optimo will be collaborating with Canadian producer Jayda G for a takeover with the Numbers crew, bringing a bit of Glasgow party flavour to the proceedings. The festival also goes all out for families, with many events and entertainments for kids throughout the weekend, on top of the Kelburn estate’s existing attractions.
• 30 June-3 July, adults from £104, children from £21, under-fives, free, kelburngardenparty.com
With a licence that permits music at dawn and dusk, this event at Houghton means twice as many of those magic, euphoric moments that only come when dance music coincides with the arrival or departure of the sun. Add location to the mix: a dense woodland beside a lake, an abandoned warehouse and a subterranean bowl to explore and you have a recipe for an enticing new festival. Curated by DJ Craig Richards, the debut event has a bill of the best electronic acts; Ricardo Villalobos, Nicholas Jaar and Floating Points headline, along with notable live acts, Hercules and Love Affair, Tony Allen, Yussef Kamaal and Cobbleston Jazz. The rest of the lineup is a list of underground DJs well versed in generating the kind of emotional sets suited to a festival like this; Midland, Horse Meat Disco, and Joy Orbison to name a few.
• 11-13 August, from £140, houghtonfestival.co.uk
Brainchild, East Sussex
Brainchild promotes a DIY philosophy and, as such, is a festival born out of the desire of one student to create a platform for the talent she saw in her friends. Marina Blake’s project has grown into a festival that pulls together the work of more than 300 young creatives, from visual artists to DJs; a rare event that’s focused on supporting new talent. Don’t expect a huge, high-production affair – instead, it’s all about small stages, interactive installations to play with and probably a lot of people getting ideas for their own projects. This year’s bill features DJs such as Anu from south London’s Rhythm Section and the Touching Bass crew, London’s young people’s laureate, Caleb Femi, and performance work from the likes of actor/activist Joana Nastari, who is presenting work deconstructing London stripclub culture.
• 7-9 July, from £70, brainchildfestival.co.uk
Field Maneuvers, south-east England
Field Maneuvers is a club-sized festival made by clubbers for clubbers. That means around 700 people decamping to a secret rural spot just outside London for a weekend filled with underground DJs and an easy-going, respectful party atmosphere. Staging is simple and the focus is on the music, but everyone still manages to get lost inside the Sputnik Dome: a tiny smoke-filled sphere that seems to send dancing bodies into another dimension. Outside the dome, however, everything is chilled; by the end of the weekend expect to know pretty much everyone on site. This year’s lineup features a live show from Octo Octa, Bristol house producer Shanti Celeste and Panorama Bar resident Ryan Elliott.
• 1-3 September, £119 plus booking fee, fieldmaneuvers.com
Festival No 6, Portmeirion
The toy-town-like Italianate village of Portmeirion, in Wales, is something really special. This means that as well as concerts in Castell park, festivalgoers can catch intimate performances in smaller venues in the village, such as the Town Hall: a Jacobean venue that hosts a programme of free workshops and lectures; the Gatehouse (home to film screenings and live re-scores); and the Dome Gallery, where you’ll find acoustic gigs, talks and DJ sets. As well as major headliners (the Flaming Lips, Bloc Party and Mogwai), Festival No 6 goes to great efforts to curate a broad arts and culture selection: expect comedy from the likes of Adam Buxton, spoken word from the Tongue Fu crew, and experiences such as hot tub sessions and paddle boarding (not together, possibly).
• 7-10 September, from £180, festivalnumber6.com
Amid the rugged idyll of Angelsey, North Wales, Gottwood is a boutique electronic music festival that pulls together the work of some of the UKs best underground club brands: from Leeds’ classic Back to Basics to south London label of the moment Rhythm Section. The intimate stages are set around a forest clearing, with a lake and campsite with a view over the coastline. The fairytale surroundings and tastefully illuminated woodland make for a mesmerising atmosphere, at a festival soundtracked by headliners including Antal, The Black Madonna, Helena Hauff and Matthew Herbert.
• 8-11 June, day tickets £55, weekend ticket £176.50, gottwood.co.uk
Secret Garden Party, Cambridgeshire
Launched by Fred Fellowes in 2004, Secret Garden Party immediately sent ripples through the UK festival scene; it shifted the focus away from getting the biggest bookings towards investing in arts and performance, immersive environments and intimate hangouts, quickly leading to the explosion of boutique weekenders. This year, however, Secret Garden Party bids farewell to its loyal followers, with a final blow-out before the team moves on to a new project. Peaches, Wild Beasts and Ray BLK headline at a festival that creates a seemingly endless playground of installations, costume, humour and surreal surprises.
• 20-23 June, £190, secretgardenparty.com
End of the Road, Wiltshire
Born a year after Secret Garden Party, End of the Road is another labour of love: a much-respected festival that always pulls together a strong folk, indie and Americana-leaning bill. This time it will feature indie darlings Father John Misty and Bill Callahan, alt-country singer Lucinda Williams and slurry garage rockers Parquet Courts. One treat on the bill is outstanding Malian musician duo Amadou and Mariam, while the festival also has a programme of films, comedy, literature and workshops. With a capacity of around 11,000, it’s a festival that’s perfect for those who are eager to avoid the exhausting scale of some of the biggest events in the calender, a festival you can enjoy at your leisure, taking the time to stumble across the little details, like free books on a shelf around a tree stump.
• 31 August-3 September, £189, endoftheroadfestival.com
The Beat-herder, Lancashire
An independent festival known for its creative, handmade site and eccentric atmosphere (there’s even a heated swimming pool), Beat-herder is an enviable party with a mixed music policy held in the Ribble valley. Among the stages are a giant steel castle, a parish church (don’t miss the Sunday service) and a working men’s club, but the real treat is the Toil Trees stage, a beautiful venue among pine trees, magical during the day, mystical at night. Headlining are shouty Notts duo Sleaford Mods, Trentemøller (Danish producer of atmospheric electronic music) and old-school dub star Lee “Scratch” Perry. DJ sets from Faithless, Jackmaster and Jon Hopkins will have people dancing at all hours.
• 14-16 July, from £144.70, beatherder.co.uk
Farr Festival, Hertfordshire
With its woodland setting, Farr Festival is another boutique event with a focus on creating curious spaces and environments to explore. The 2,000-capacity festival spreads its acts across six stages, which this year includes Brilliant Corners – the east London audiophile bar now bringing the finest hi-fi quality sound on tour. Big names in underground clubbing are also involved: NYC party Mister Saturday Night, London club series The Hydra and Amsterdam’s Red Light Radio; while artists range from Todd Terje to Red Axes, Omar S to Tama Sumo.
• 13-15 July, day tickets £40, weekend ticket £99, farrfestival.co.uk