20 festivals in Hants, IoW and beyond – book now
The sun is out, you're dancing in wellies and can't find your tent. It can only mean one thing - festival season!
Dogstival, Pylwell Park, Sat 18 – Sun 19 May
Starting off the festival season with this woofing fabulous event, the first-ever Dogstival hits Pylwell Park in the New Forest in May. Hosted by Chris Packham and with a barrage of doggy related delights in store, it’s a going to be barking brilliant.
Alresford Watercress Festival, Sun 19 May
We love a bit of British quirk here at Muddy and the Watercress Festival in Alresford certainly has tonnes of it. This superfood is a speciality of the area and the locals get together once a year to celebrate it in all its greeny glory. As well as live music and activities there’s also the World Watercress Eating Competition – yep, that’s a thing. Very family friendly and lots to do in a beautiful neck of the woods.
South Central Festival, Portsmouth, Sat 25 – Sun 26 May
South Central has just been announced as the latest festival in Hampshire calendar. A replacement for Mutiny Festival, this festival is an over-18s only event with music acts ranging including Mr Craig David, Boy George, Armand Van Helden as well as special appearances from Mr Motivator and Paul Chuckle (To me, to you!). This one is big on dance and I can guarantee you’ll be covered in UV body paint by the end of it.
Isle of Wight Festival, Newport, Thurs 13 – Sun 16 June
Tents at the ready as the Isle of Wight Festival is one of the original and best. Now in its 50th year (yikes), you can pitch up and rock out to the sounds of Biffy Clyro, Bastille and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Bestival may have nipped off to another county but this was the first and arguably one of the best.
Winchestival, Sat 15 June
If you’re looking to keep it on a smaller scale so you don’t have to trek 10 miles from your glamping site to the music, then check out Winchestival. With four stages of music and comedy plus loads of beer and street food, the festival is headlined by beardy musicians The Magic Numbers this year and Zoe Lyons leading the comedy tent.
Kitesurfing Armada, Hayling Island, Fri 21 – Sun 23 June
The sleepy spot of Hayling Island becomes a non-stop action-packed spot in June with the Kitesurfing Armada. This part-festival part-gala is where the great and the good of the kitesurfing world descend to Hants and fill up the skies with their aerial acrobatics and pretty coloured canvasses. And they can certainly party too, with live music, food and the Baywatch theme tune blaring out for good measure, this is one for all you who like to hang loose.
Nostalgia Show, Stanstead Park, Fri 28 – Sun 30 June
We travel back in time now to a kitschy little number in Rowlands Castle’s Stanstead Park. Best dig out the wiggle dress for this one and get ready to party like it’s 1959. Expect pimped prosecco, retro donkey rides and lots and lots of taffeta. No acts have been announced as of yet, but previous years have included vintage delights like the Spitfire Sisters and Ding Dong Daddios. Groovy.
Winchester Hat Fair, Fri 5 – Sun 7 July
With a tagline of “the art of the unexpected”, Winchester becomes a cacophony of curious sights and moments during the Hat Fair in July. With street theatre, dancing and bonkers things at every turn, this is Winchester in a totally different light.
Smoked & Uncut, The Pig, Sat 6 Jul & Limewood, Sat 27 July
Bringing together top-level foodie glamour with open-air music, Smoked & Uncut has fast become one of the top picks on the festival calendar. Held over three separate dates, with two in Hants at The Pig and Limewood Hotel, this is the festival to go to if you love food and music in equal measure. Acts this year include The Noisettes, Razorlight and John Isley of Dire Straits. We’ll see you there!
Wickham Festival, Thurs 1 – Sun 4 Aug
The Wickham Festival is a super family affair, just outside of Fareham. And just because it’s slightly smaller than other local festivals don’t expect anything less. With the King of Wessex, Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls headlining, old school ravers Dreadzone plus Scottish legends, The Proclaimers, the line-up is extremely varied and ticks the boxes for most tastes.
Lymington Seafood Festival, Sat 10 – Sun 11 Aug
If you want foodie fun in the New Forest then make sure you check out Lymington Seafood Festival. This weekend in August is packed with artisanal street food from local producers, demonstration kitchens to get you cooking like a pro plus a line-up of blues, ska and jazz music to go with your lobster. Not to be missed.
Boomtown Fair, Winchester, Wed 7 – Mon 12 Aug
Boomtown Fair is less of a festival and more of a pop-up city. With 12 separate districts, encompassing music, theatre, art and more, over a six-day period this is the festival to go to if you want to completely lose yourself (and probably everybody you go with) for a week. Headliners this year include Ms. Lauryn Hill, The Streets and Groove Armada.
Lendy Cowes Week, Sat 10 – Sat 17 Aug
If all that mud and camping isn’t your cup of tea (or flute of champers), then Lendy Cowes Week could be a better option for your festival calendar. This week-long regatta of sailing prowess in the Solent is also a huge social event with parties, music and a spectacular fireworks display. Watch from your yacht or head into the Cowes town for all the fun and games.
Twisted Village Festival, nr Winchester, Fri 16 – Sun 18 August
New for this year is the Twisted Village Festival which feels like a family festival mixed with a touch of The Wicker Man. Touted as a celebration of arts, music and curiosities, the festival is headlined by Alabama 3 (the ones who did The Sopranos theme tune), local lad and popular snack food, Beans on Toast and a roster of quirky, leftfield acts that’ll get your toes tapping.
Victorious Festival, Southsea Common, Fri 23 – Sun 25 Aug
Did you know that Victorious actually started out as a vintage event in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard? Fast-forward a few years and it’s become one of the highlights on the UK festival calendar, right smack bang on the beach. With acts this year such as The Specials, James Bay, Two Door Cinema Club, with even more headliners to be announced, you can dance the August Bank Holiday away with great tunes and a beautiful view of the Solent.
CarFest South, Laverstoke Park Farm, Fri 23 – Sun 25 Aug
CarFest South may sound like a souped-up car show but its actually a family weekend extravaganza. Hosted by auto-nut Chris Evans, you can ogle over fancy cars and even take a spin in some, plus rock out with The Jacksons, Judge Jools, The Human League and the CarFest Supergroup featuring Rogery Daltry, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, The Feeling and errr… Rob Brydon?
HAVE TENT, WILL TRAVEL
Mudeford Seafood Festival, Dorset, Fri 25 – Sun 27 May
This Dorset-based event is tipped to be something pretty special. With celeb guests due to be announced, music, live cookery demonstrations not to mention a whole plethora of seafood to test out, it’s worth a swift trip over the border for.
Latitude, Suffolk, Thurs 18 – Sun 21 July
Latitude has always been a hot ticket in the festival calendar with its laidback vibe and impressive lineup, and this year is no different. With musical siren Lana Del Rey, Snow Patrol and bass-bartotone hipster George Ezra – plus one of the best comedy tents in the calendar, best get your ticket sorted fast.
Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, Thurs 25 – Sun 28 July
Bestival was always the main event in my festival calendar but now, with my kids in tow, my allegiance has shifted over to its sister event, Camp Bestival. With acts like Jess Glynne and Goldie scratching a musical itch, I’m expecting to be most starstruck by seeing Mr Tumble.
Wilderness, Cornbury Park, Oxford, Thurs 1 – Sun 4 Aug
There are the festivals that everybody knows about – your Glastonburys and Readings, for example – but then there are the ones for the people “in the know”. That would be Wilderness. This Oxfordshire festival is an amalgam of achingly hip music, wild swimming in the grounds of a stately home and Michelin quality pop-up restaurants. This is a festival, done properly.
Arundel Festival, West Sussex, Fri 16 – Mon 26 August
I actually grew up in Arundel and the annual festival was always a highlight. Although they still hold things like the rubber duck race and gallery trail (a good chance to have a look around some of the fabulous houses in this town), it’s even bigger and better nowadays. Set against the backdrop of Arundel Castle, with music, art and theatre rammed in, it’s definitely worth a trip (though definitely get the train as parking can be a nightmare).