Another summer of festival fun is at an end. For most of us, that means the tans and henna tattoos are fading, the tent is hibernating on top of the wardrobe, and any thoughts of festival frivolity have been buried for the winter.
But hold on. Although the days are beginning to shorten and the memories of the summer are beginning to disappear, there’s still fun aplenty to be had during the autumn and winter. In this PAAM volunteer software blog, we’re bringing you a guide to the best UK 2013-2014 autumn and winter festivals. And don’t worry the majority of the fun takes place indoors or undercover!
Swn Festival, Cardiff, www.swnfest.com
17th to 20th October 2013
Now in its seventh year, the 2013 multi-venue Swn Festival promises a line-up of acts bigger and better than ever. Swn (the Welsh word for sound) will see more than 70 acts perform across Cardiff, including the legendry DJ Mr Scruff and lead singer of American Music Club, Mark Eitzel. They will be joined over the four days of the festival by the likes of US alternative rockers Deerhunter, Electro-pop producers Everything Everything and psych-rockers Temple.
Last year more than 5,000 revellers came together to enjoy live acts, film screenings, art exhibitions, seminars and workshops from Wales and beyond. Once again the festivities will be hosting the Welsh Music Prize, which in 2012 went to festival favourites Future of the Left.
As well as pulling in talent from around the globe, Swn will also highlight a plethora of up-and-coming local acts, including the Adelines, Peasant’s King, Gulp, Trwbador and Golden Fable. Along with a host of new venues being added to the circuit this year, the organisers have confirmed that last year’s extremely popular outdoor stage will be making a comeback on Saturday and Sunday, so fingers crossed for good weather!
Gathering Festival, Oxford, www.gatheringfestival.tumblr.com
Saturday 19th October 2013
Returning for only its second year, Gathering has already managed to grab the attention of the festival elite. Last year’s inaugural event was shortlisted for the coveted titles of Best New Festival and Best Metropolitan Festival at the prestigious UK Festival Awards.
Stretching the length of the famous Cowley Road, Gathering Festival opens the doors of Oxford’s top venues to around 40 established and upcoming bands, ensuring great times whatever the weather. The eclectic music mix means there will be something for everyone looking to banish those winter blues, with this year’s acts including Wolf Alice, AlunaGeorge, Local Natives, Temples and London Grammar, among a host of others.
Alongside popular venues including the O2 Academy Oxford, the East Oxford Community Centre and The Bullingdon, Gathering organisers have increased capacity this year by adding St John’s Evangelist Church to the list of locations. And although the line-up is small compared to some of this summer’s behemoths, a great deal of effort has been put into matching the bands with the right venues to ensure everyone has an unforgettable experience.
The Big Reunion Festival, Skegness, www.thebigreunion.com
19th to 21st and 26th to 28th November 2013
Billed as the UK’s biggest indoor winter music festival, The Big Reunion Festival is not to be confused with an ITV show of the same name that pulls bands like East 17, S Club 7 and A1 out of their boxes for some inevitably addictive car-crash television. No, we are talking about a huge ‘Skeggy’ bash, held across two consecutive weekends, for all those who refuse to see the year out quietly. Although East 17 is regrettably unlikely to put in an appearance, 12,000 revellers will still be staving off the chilly winter evenings with 2013’s last mega party.
The four-arena festival is held under one big all-weather roof at Butlins, Skegness, so no wrestling with tents, mud or portable loos. The on-site caravan accommodation also means partygoers can grab a few hours’ sleep and a shower before re-entering the fray, if they’re that way inclined.
The event plays host to the biggest names in UK house, old skool, urban, bass, dubstep, remix and commercial chart, and promises some spectacular state-of-the-art sound and light shows. This year the Encore Party is also back, meaning an extra night of musical mayhem on both weekends.
Headlining the Main Stage on the first Friday will be Jaguar Skills. This balaclava wearing DJ will be hammering the dance floor with his eclectic, multi-genre mixes. On the second Friday, UK rapper Wretch 32 is certain to have the crowds jumping when he takes over the headline helm. The Main Stage Saturday headliner this year is Example & DJ Wire. Playing both weekends, global megastar Example will be satisfying the beat hungry revellers with chart topping hits including Perfect Replacement, Kickstarts and Stay Awake.
Also confirmed this year are The Wideboys, Mickey Slim, MC Majestic, Brookes Brothers, Artful Dodger and Adele Roberts. Dozens more are set to join the list, and don’t forget to look out for confirmation of this year’s fancy dress theme!
Celtic Connections Festival, Glasgow, www.celticconnections.com
16th January – 2nd February 2014
Where better to shake off the post-Christmas blues than in the party city of Glasgow? More than 2,000 musicians from all corners of the globe will descend on the city for 18 days of musical mayhem, art exhibitions, workshops, talks, films, ceilidhs, concerts, one-off musical collaborations and late night sessions between January 16th and February 2nd 2014.
Among the big names confirmed to appear at this year’s Celtic Connections Festival are Scottish alternative rockers Del Amitri, American slide-guitar god Ry Cooder, Vashti Bunyan, The Chieftains and The Low Anthem, to name just a handful.
Celtic Connections has become well known for its spontaneous sessions and collaborations, with many of these impromptu jamming sessions overflowing into the notorious Festival Club and continuing into the wee small hours. An insider tip: as part of Homecoming Scotland 2014, a very special one-off collaboration is set to take place at Scotland’s biggest music venue, the brand new SSE Hydro. The event will feature an irresistible collection of the cream of Celtic talent.
Participating venues across the city include the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, The Tron, O2 ABC, City Hall, The Mitchell Theatre and the Old Fruitmarket.
The 18th Cheltenham Folk Festival, www.cheltenhamtownhall.org.uk/folk-festival/
14th to 16th February 2014
At the beginning of February 2014, folk fans from all over will be flooding to Cheltenham for fabulous live music, Morris dancing, workshops, stalls, children’s events and, as always, the much loved Real Ale Bar. Cheltenham Folk Festival began in 1997, and has since established itself as a midwinter treat guaranteeing the cream of national and local artists. The traditional and family-friendly festival is often described as having the atmosphere of a village folk club with the talent of the Albert Hall.
The bulk of the festival takes place in the regal splendour of the Town Hall, although the Playhouse Theatre will be putting on concerts over the Friday and the Saturday of the festival, and The Princess Hall will host the Dance Festival and Saturday’s ceilidhs.
Already confirmed for this winter’s extravaganza are Blowzabella, Carthy, Hardy, Farrell and Young, O’Hooley and Tidow, The Alistair Anderson Band, The Liberty to Choose, Keith Kendrick and Sylvia Needham, and many other fabulous folksy performers.
If you’re looking for more winter festival fun
Tenterden Folk Festival – takes place between 3rd and 6th October at various venues throughout the village. Expect folk music and plenty of dancing.
Lancaster Music Festival – happening at various venues around Lancaster over the weekend starting 11th October.
Canterbury Festival – Kent’s premier international arts festival opens at Canterbury Cathedral between 19th October and 2nd November.
Frome Blues Festival – probably Britain’s best blues festival takes place on 27th October at the historic Cheese and Grain, Frome, Somerset.
Damnation Festival – the Leeds University Union will be hosting an unforgettable night of head-banging madness on 2nd November.
Wimbledon Music Festival – fans of classical music can get together at venues all over London between 9th and 23rd November.
Musicport – takes place between the 18th and 20th of November at the Whitby Pavilion, North Yorkshire.
House of Fun Weekender – the boys from Madness will be taking over Butlins, Minehead, from the 22nd to 25th November.