The alternative summer festivals guide 2012

Festival season is officially upon us – but if you fancy something a bit different this year, why not head to one of these events? From music to art and literature, we’ve got it covered. 

Taste Of Edinburgh 

WHAT? A chance to sample some of Scotland’s finest cuisine, featuring live cookery demonstrations, food tastings and dishes from fifteen of Scotland’s most-commended restaurants. Yum. If you’re a foodie type yourself, you can also book an exhibitor’s stand and sell your wares.

WHEN? 6th – 8th July

WHERE? The Meadows park, Edinburgh

London Literature Festival

WHAT? Billed as the UK’s ‘most dynamic’ literary festival, the LLF offers a mix of all things wordy, ranging from Q&As to lectures, readings and more. There will be a host of big names from the various literary spheres, including the likes of Michael Morpurgo, Andy Kershaw, Stella Duffy and Saul Williams. Learn about genres, cultures and texts via this series of fascinating events.

WHEN? 3rd – 12th July

WHERE? London’s Southbank Centre – Belvedere Road SE1 8XX

See the full range of events here:

Harrogate International Festival 

WHAT? This impressive line-up boasts a range of big names from the worlds of music, literature and comedy, including Sue Townsend, Michael Frayn, Victoria Hislop, Bellowhead and the John Wilson Orchestra.

WHEN? 5th – 28th July

WHERE? Various venues in Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Voewood Festival

WHAT? Blending literature, art and music, this festival – hosted at the glorious Voewood House – has a very impressive speaker list. Guests include Giles Coren, Esther Freud, British Sea Power, Diana Athill and a huge host of others. There’s even a puppet show and a chance to explore the grounds (with a garden historian and everything).

WHEN? 24th – 27th August

WHERE? Voewood House, Cromer Road, High Kelling, Norfolk NR25 6QS

Deer Shed Festival

WHAT? Blending music with art (via lots of delicious food…), there’s something for everyone at Deer Shed. There will be performances from the likes of Saint Etienne, Cherry Ghost and Los Campesinos!, as well as stand-up, workshops from the animators at Teesside University, debate, magic and cinema. And that’s not even the half of it…

WHEN? 20th – 22nd July

WHERE? Baldersby Park, Topcliffe, Thirsk YO7 3BZ

Bloomsbury Art Fair

WHAT? Browse – and, if the mood takes you, buy! – the work of artists from across the globe at this event. With prices ranging from £100 to, er, £100,000, there’s art to suit a range of budgets, and, even better, the fair raises funds and awareness for three very worthy charities: Walking With The Wounded, Motivation and the Southern Spinal Injuries Trust.

WHEN? 5th – 8th July

WHERE? Goodenough College, Mecklenburgh Square WC1N 2AB

To get 2 for 1 entry, click here.

Looe Music Festival 

WHAT? Music by the sea – is there a better combination? Throw in a few Cornish pasties, performances from the likes of The Stranglers, Levellers and, er, Showaddywaddy, and you’ve got an amazing weekend in the bag.

WHEN? 21st – 23rd September

WHERE? Two stages along the coastline in East Looe, Cornwall

Huddersfield Food and Drink Festival

WHAT? Boasting celebrity chefs, award-winning cheese and lots of demonstrations, this is the ultimate foodie event. It also boasts competitions, Ready, Steady, Cook stand-offs and even a rather tasty football match (yes, really)…

WHEN? 9th- 12th August

WHERE? St George’s Square, Huddersfield HD1 1JF

Southport Flower Show

WHAT? Flowers, celebrity guests (including – squeal – David Bellamy!), sheep dogs and more – the Southport Flower Show is something of a treat. And even more so this year: it’s launching two brand new food and book festivals. Lovely.

WHEN? 16th – 19th August

WHERE? Victoria Park, Southpark PR8 2BZ

East End Film Festival

WHAT? In its 12th year, this is one of the UK’s largest film festivals, and offers a range of screenings, masterclasses and pop-up shows. Also, on this Sunday (1st July), there will be 12 hours of free screenings, workshops, talks and competitions as part of the festival’s launch, which kicks off at Brick Lane’s Vibe Bar (which also hosted it last year).

WHEN? 3rd – 8th July

WHERE? At various locations around East London

Scarborough Jazz Festival

WHAT? Jazz performers from across the globe will descend upon Scarborough for a long weekend of jazz. Highlights include Kyle Eastwood, Georgie Fame and the world’s greatest jazz guitarist, Martin Taylor.

WHEN? 28th – 30th September

WHERE? The Spa, South Bay, Scarborough, North Yorkshire YO11 2HD

Henley Music Festival

WHAT? Celebrating all things art – from music to dance and comedy – this strictly Black-Tie event is one of the country’s best-loved cultural celebrations. Cool tequila Patron are sponsoring this year’s festivities, and performers include Sting, Olly Murs and the Oompah Brass band, plus a laser violinist. We repeat, a laser violinist. Wowzer.

WHEN? 4th – 8th July

WHERE? 14 Friday Street, Henley-On-Thames, Oxon RG9 1AH

Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival

WHAT? Crime writing maestros Ian Rankin, Peter Robinson and Jo Nesbo (as well as a host of others) will be heading up this three-day event. The festival will be chaired by Mark Bellingham – author of the Tom Thorne novels – and there will be panel discussions, Q&As plus analysis of various popular crime TV shows. It would be criminal to miss out…

WHEN? 19th – 22nd July

WHERE? Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate HG1 2SR


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