End summer on a high note

Stourbridge News: End summer on a high note End summer on a high note

Andy Welch continues his round-up of this summer's UK festivals, casts an eye over international offerings, and offers a few survival tips.

If you'd still like to go to a festival this summer, but haven't made plans, think a little further ahead to August and September.

The second half of the festival season somehow always feels calmer than events in June and July, as if the mad surges of exuberance have been spent earlier on, and things are winding down again.

:: One Love Late summer is when you tend to find more laid-back festivals like One Love (www.onelovefestival.co.uk), which takes place at Hop Farm in Kent from August 10-12. If you like reggae, you'll love their line-up, which consists of Dawn Penn, Aba Shanti and Channel One Soundsystems, Don Campbell and Dennis Alcapone.

:: Green Man Continuing the trend for blissful festivals is Green Man (www.greenman.net) in Glanusk Park, Wales from August 17-19. Still growing in popularity, the highlights of this year's bill include Van Morrison, Feist, former Pavement man Steven Malkmus with his band The Jicks, Michael Kiwanuka, The Bees, Field Music, Lucy Rose, The Staves and The Walkmen.

:: V V Festival (www.vfestival.com) is now a staple of the summer where traditionally mainstream guitar bands sit alongside some of the biggest pop acts in the world. This year, which takes place in Stafford and Chelmsford over the weekend of August 18, is no different. The Killers and a reformed Stone Roses are headlining, with Snow Patrol, Noel Gallagher, Nicki Minaj, Tinie Tempah, David Guetta and Ed Sheeran among the line-up.

:: Reading and Leeds Reading and Leeds (www.readingfestival.co.uk) has long been the most rock-oriented mainstream festival. They're living up to the reputation this August Bank Holiday with The Cure, Foo Fighters and Kasabian as headliners, and Paramore, The Black Keys and Bullet For My Valentine all high up on the bill.

:: End Of The Road If beardy Americana and laid-back festivals are your thing, you'll already know all about End Of The Road festival (www.endoftheroadfestival.com) on August 31. If you don't, the line-up of Grizzly Bear, Grandaddy, Midlake, Beach House, Tindersticks, Dirty Three, Mark Lanegan Band, Van Dyke Parks, The Low Anthem, Anna Calvi, Villagers, Roy Harper, John Grant, The Antlers, Alabama Shakes and First Aid Kit should excite you. A fantastic way to see in September.

:: Bingley Music Live Now in its sixth year and gathering momentum all the time, Bingley Music Live (www.bingleymusiclive.com) is a small festival in Yorkshire, but attracts some big names and a keen crowd. This year, from August 31, Nero, DJ Fresh, The Charlatans, Maverick Sabre and Delilah are among the artists performing.

:: Bestival For those wanting a party to end the summer, head to the Isle Of Wight for Bestival (2012.bestival.net) for four days from September 6. Fancy dress is mandatory at the ever-expanding gathering, as is the laid-back atmosphere of great music, food and comedy. This year Stevie Wonder is headlining one night in what might be the set of the summer, while Florence + The Machine, New Order, Justice, Two Door Cinema Club, Frank Ocean, Warpaint, Hot Chip and The XX all play too.

Survival of the fittest Festivals aren't the easiest weekends to get through. It's not impossible - thousands of people wouldn't attend otherwise - but you do need to think ahead to make the experience as comfortable as possible.

A roll of bin bags is pretty much essential. As well as its primary use of somewhere to put your litter, a plastic liner can be used as a poncho if it rains or provide storage for wet items if you weren't quick enough to dodge the rain shower, and as something to sit on if the ground's not dry, while one bin bag on each foot offers a lighter alternative to wellies to stop you getting stuck in the mud.

A hat is a great thing to have, for either keeping the sun or the rain off your head, while some sandwich bags are also handy for keeping money and phones dry in your pockets. A strong mouthwash is perhaps more practical than a toothbrush and toothpaste, and earplugs will help you get a decent night's sleep if the bands carry on into the wee hours or your campsite is especially noisy.

Food at festivals can be expensive, and after three or four days the costs can really mount up. It's not practical to take that much food with you, but a stash of cereal bars, dried fruit and nuts will keep you ticking over, and make sure to take a few big bottles of water to keep in the tent as well.

Don't forget wet wipes and hand sanitiser too. As nasty as festival toilets can be, a recent survey showed the walls inside portable toilets are far, far dirtier than the toilet seats, so bear that in mind.

Plasters are must-haves, and it goes without saying, even in rainy Britain, that you should take more than enough sun cream, at least SPF 30.

Obviously organisers can play their part as well, and these days most will offer the basics to help the assembled masses, from shops selling essentials such as wellies, ponchos and extra camping gear you might have forgotten, to slightly more luxurious facilities including Wi-Fi points, showers, hair straighteners to hire and places to go and charge your phone.

Of the major festivals, Isle Of Wight are leading the way on that front this summer, where Vodafone's 44-tonne recharging truck returns, capable of giving juice to 2,000 mobiles at any one time - for free.

This year, however, there's no need to wait while this happens as you can lock your phone away with a swipe of the palm, meaning only you can collect your phone once its battery is full again.

Best of the rest of the world Recession or no recession, workers still need holidays. But justifying a weekend away for a festival on top of your normal week or two in the sun gets harder the worse things get.

If you're not willing to give up your annual festival, you could combine the two and head overseas.

Pick of the European bunch is Primavera Sound in Barcelona (www.primaverasound.com), although you might have left it a bit late this year - it starts on May 30 - but the super-smooth organisers normally have early bird tickets on sale by August, so keep your eyes peeled.

If you were heading to the Far East in late July, you'd be mad to miss Fuji Rocks (www.smash-uk.com/frf12). This year the festival, which takes place at the Naeba ski resort, not far from Niigata on the north west coast of Honshu, boasts a typically Brit-heavy line-up with The Stone Roses and Radiohead headlining, and Beady Eye, Spiritualized, Elvis Costello, The Specials and Ray Davis lining up alongside Jack White, At The Drive In, The Shins and Toots And The Maytals.

Other fantastic options include Benicassim (benicassimfestival.co.uk) in Valencia, Spain from July 17-19, Norway's Oya Festival (oyafestivalen.com) on August 7-11, and Lowlands (lowlands.nl) the weekend afterwards in the Netherlands.

There's never been a bigger choice of festivals and, best of all, as you're outdoors with friends listening to music, you're virtually guaranteed a great time whichever one you choose.

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