It’s once again time to turn our thoughts to tents, fields, live music and interesting looking food, as the summer festival season looms. For some, this will mean some serious tightening of the purse strings for a ticket to Glastonbury (purchased already of course), Reading/Leeds or the Isle of Wight Festival. However, for those with purse strings already stretched to their limit, there is thankfully an absolute plethora of festivals around the country that don’t charge a bean to get in. In this PAAM Volunteer Management Software blog, we bring you just a few of the best free music extravaganzas taking place in the UK this summer. Just don’t expect Bono to show up!
Live In Barnsley, Barnsley, 21st June 2014
Now in its second year, Live In Barnsley 2014 promises to be even bigger and better than its remarkably successful inaugural event. In 2013, some 3,000 revellers turned the otherwise unglamorous South Yorkshire town into a fabulous free festival, incorporating various live music venues across the town centre.
The indoor music festival has already confirmed an impressive number of up-and-coming bands, including The Broken Flowers, The Rising, Invisible Grease and Anaconda Vice.
All of the venues are within easy walking distance of each other, and visitors are invited to pop in and out to experience as much of the talent as possible.
This year, a new stage run by Barnsley College students is also going up at the Retro Bar – that’s bound to be messy – and The Civic will be the new home of classical music and jazz bands.
Africa Oyé, Sefton Park, Liverpool, 21st-22nd June 2014
Africa Oyé is the UK’s largest free African music festival. The big news this year is that BRIT and Mobo award-winner Finlay Quaye (you remember him right?) is to take up the responsibility of headlining. Best known for hits Sunday Shining and Even After All, the reggae man came to global fame in the ’90s, but what he’s been up to since is anyone’s guess.
The organisers behind Oyé say the festival is much more than a celebration of Africa’s diversity of music, but also a celebration of multiculturalism, harmony and tolerance.
More than 40 stalls will be set up to provide culture-seeking visitors with the finest food and drink, arts, crafts and fashion from across the continent.
Other acts confirmed include HAJAmadagascar & The Groovy People (can’t beat that for a band name), and Jupiter & Okwess International.
The Godiva Festival, Coventry, 4th-6th July 2014
Coventry’s Godiva Festival is one of the biggest free family festivals in the UK. Last year, a record-breaking 125,000 visitors came to the city over the three days, and organisers are confident that even more will attend in 2014.
And that is highly likely, as on Saturday the headliners will be none other than indie legends The Happy Mondays! Front-man Shaun Ryder said on the festival website: “We’re all really excited and looking forward to playing the festival for the first time; outdoor events always have a good vibe and atmosphere about them.”
Joining Shaun and the boys on the Main Stage will be other big names including Buzzcocks, We Are Scientists, Selector, and Funeral For A Friend, while playing in the Rhythm Tent on Saturday will be The Specials’ lead guitarist Roddy Radiation with his new band The Skabilly Rebels.
Willow Festival, Peterborough, 11th-13th July 2014
This year, Peterborough’s Willow Festival will be free to enter for live music lovers. The organisers are concentrating on promoting emerging acts, unsigned bands and new performers, and have promised that everything will most definitely be live.
Last year around 82,000 people turned up to share in the fun and watch 160 performances, and this year even more festis are expected. The line-up of acts for 2014 is due to be announced shortly, but a glance at the number and quality of the acts performing last year suggests fans are not likely to be disappointed. Other entertainment on offer includes art and craft demonstrations, a food village, a kids’ fair, an exotic market and an extreme ride fairground. Scream if you want to go faster!
Monmouth Festival, Monmouth, South Wales, 25th July 2014 – 2nd August 2014
Following on with what is considered to be one of the biggest and best free music festivals, not only in the UK but Europe, Monmouth Festival is a celebration of every music style imaginable. Over nine days, visitors are invited to soak up world music, punk, jazz, folk, blues, pop, classical and rock in the beautiful historic Welsh market town of the same name.
As well as a choice of venues featuring fabulous live music throughout the town every night of the festival, the organisers have confirmed a Carnival for Sunday 27th. There will also be a Dance Night on Thursday 31st with local DJs and a main live act.
Monmouth is now entering its 32nd year, and although the final line up is still to be confirmed, bands formerly to have graced the Main Stage include The Secret Police, Poco Latino, Hells Bells and The Mighty Pledge – yeah, we’ve never heard of them either!
Woodstock Live, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, 23rd-24th August 2014
Taking its name from the legendary 1969 free music festival held in the USA, Woodstock Live in the heart of the Cotswolds will be returning to the Town Square at the end of August. Around 20 bands and artists are due to take to the stage, which is conveniently surrounded by bars, restaurants and cafes. Yipee!
This gives the historic Town Square a particularly European (as opposed to English) feel, inviting visitors to settle back with a glass of wine and soak up the live, and largely eclectic, sounds. The music will run from 1pm to 10pm on both days, so there’ll also be plenty of time for early risers to explore this gorgeous part of Oxfordshire.
BunkFest, Wallingford, 29th–31st August 2014
Wallingford BunkFest is a free festival on the bank of the River Thames with something for all the family.
The event, now entering its 13th year, started life as a small marquee erected in a pub car park, but has since blossomed into a jolly old affair that provides a rich range of entertainment across the town.
The Main Stage line-up for Friday includes video synchronised with live music from Baka Beyond; on Saturday bands including 3 Daft Monkeys and Papa Truck will be taking to the stage; and on Sunday, entertainment will come from the likes of Tarras and Jackie Oates.
Other events over the three days include storytelling for children, a Saturday Street Fair, buskers, musical boat trips and a range of workshops and classes, although, (disclaimer) some of these may not be free.
Worcester Music Festival, Worcester, 29–31 August 2014
Run entirely by volunteers and with all the bands performing for free, Worcester Music Festival is the perfect place to go and see up-and-coming acts without having to pay a penny. Last year, around 300 performances took place in historic buildings, pubs, cafes and clubs across the city, and many of the musicians also host classes and workshops to help visitors to get more involved.
Last year’s workshops included world drumming, hip-hop and even gothic belly-dancing – nothing if not eclectic. More than 1,000 artists from around the globe have applied to play at this year’s festival, and organisers are still whittling down the finished line-up.