Where to go with no Glasto…

Whether its the Green Fields, the headliners, the crazy goings-on, the Somerset dirt, or just the general ambience of Glastonbury, you can still find little bits of the festival in your travels elsewhere this summer...

[r-zone1]Think back to the weekend of 24 June, 2005. Picture the majesty of the Pyramid Stage, remember the ethereal magic of the Green Fields, and indulge once more in the hedonistic delights of Lost Vagueness. Take a walk up to the Stone Circle where thousands congregated to watch the sunrise, and reflect fondly on the first time you found yourself stuck in three feet of mud, only to be pulled to safety by a complete stranger. Imagine the rain, the sun, the music, the magic, the people … And now forget it all, because it ain’t happening this year.

[l-zone2]That’s right, in 2006 Glastonbury Festival is taking a breather. The fields are being left to fallow, Pilton village is being allowed at least one summer without the roped-off fun that normally ensues when the hordes descend on the Vale of Avalon, and Michael Eavis is taking a much deserved sabattical. But the absence of the world’s greatest greenfield music and performing arts festival has invoked a common response amongst its 160,000-strong following that goes something like “What in the name of Moses are we going to do?” Luckily, this question can be answered. For while Glastonbury takes a break, there are loads of alternative events that, while not pretenders to Glasto’s crown as the world’s greatest festival, do offer pockets of similar experiences or at least have something in common. Below are just a few:

[r-zone3]Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
29 – 30 April
Empire Polo Field, USA
If you go to Glasto every year kidding yourself that the sun’s going to shine all weekend, furiously swearing you’ll never return as you soggily trudge towards your mud-engulfed car on Monday morning, then this could be for you. Wipe the tears from your eyes, hop on a plane and start your festival summer by getting as far away from Somerset as you can. The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is a haven in the midst of the Texan desert, a festival whose eclectic line up is almost as impressive as the show’s organisation. Invest $165 in a full camping ticket and go a bit further afield to see acts such as Depeche Mode, Daft Punk, Tool, Massive Attack and even the Queen Mother of Pop, Madonna.
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[r-zone4]Glastonbudget
26-28 May
Turnpost Farm, Leicestershire
A cheeky take on Glastonbury, Leicestershire’s Glastonbudget promises similar sounds to the ones you’d find at Worthy Farm, just with cover bands performing the tunes instead – although the real Chas N Dave (Glasto legends in their own right) will be performing this year! Bands booked to play include the Ded Hot Chili Peppers, Robbing Williams, Stereotonics, Pink Fraud and Oasish. There will also an unsigned stage, a festival village, real ale bars, and free camping for weekend ticket holders. And as the name suggest, its pretty kind on the wallet – stay the weekend for less than £40.
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[r-zone5]Isle of Wight Festival
9 – 11 June
Seaclose Park, Isle of Wight
History geeks might be mistaken into thinking that by treading over Glasto’s ancient laylines they’re tapping into the original hippy fest – they would be wrong. For while all sorts of
ritualistic weirdness has been taking place in the West Country for centuries, it’s the Isle Of Wight where the biggest ever congregation of free-loving beard platters took place. Between 1968 and 1970 more than a million music fans made the hazy pilgrimage across the Solent to see the likes of Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Dylan and Fairport Convention. (Michael Eavis started up his farmyard bash the year after the Wightian locals said ‘not on our isle’, in 1971.) So if it’s festival folklore you’re after, head for the ferry port and see if you can get closer to Coldplay than you did at the Pyramid Stage last year. It’s just a shame those hoards of ancient hippies won’t still be there for Primal Scream’s Bobby Gilliespie to snarl at.
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,[r-zone1]Sunrise Summer Solstice Celebration
16-21 June
Secret Location
Many a reason to take in this one; Firstly, it’s taking place just down the road from Pilton, well, somwhere in Somerset anyway. The location’s being kept secret to stop hoards of free-loaders gate-crashing the party. But if it’s the county of Somerset you crave, the rolling hills, the slippery feel of the mud between your toes, and the chance to buy some cheese on your way home, then look no further. Reason two, the festival will be made up by some of the main players who make Glasto so unique, contributors such Hearthworks, Beduoin Tents, Buddhafield, Avalon Rising, EartHeart and The Nectar Temple, meaning it’s sure to evoke the nearest sense of Glasto’s spiritual community you’ll find anywhere this summer. Add on leftfield acts like Banco Da Gaia, Tarantism, Dragonsfly, and Altered Native, pay out just £65 for a weekend camping ticket, and you’re guaranteed an experience as close to Glasto’s Green Fields as you could possibly get. It’s even got a stone circle for that spiritual Solstice moment.  
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[r-zone2]Wireless Festival
21-25 June
Hyde Park, London
You’ll probably get arrested by the Parks Authority if you so much as camp on Hyde Park, let alone spark a spontaneous fire juggling face-off, and on the surface, the slick and safe Wireless Festival has little in common with the earthy mystique of Glastonbury. But if, as a Glasto veteran, you’re programmed to have your annual bout of ‘festival bonkersitis’ on the last weekend of June every year, or have already booked time off work forgetting that the gates at Worthy Farm will be well and truly boarded up this year, then this series of five back-to-back gigs in the centre of London could go some way to fulfilling your fix. Try to ignore the city skyline and pretend like you are in the countryside for at least one day, enjoying acts like The Strokes, Depeche Mode, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, and, er, David Gray rocking out next to the Serpentine. A two-day Wireless event is also taking place in Leeds.
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[r-zone3]Roskilde 
29 June – 2 July
Roskilde, Denmark
Roskilde is the largest music festival in Northern Europe, Pearl Jam’s event of choice, and a huge supporter of international humanitarian charities. Established in 1971 it is as old as Glastonbury and attracts big acts: Guns N’ Roses, Bob Dylan, Kanye West, Franz Ferdinand, Sigur Ros and The Streets will all be making like sonic Hans Christian Andersens by heading over to Denmark this summer. As well as the huge acts on show, there’s a lego box choice of activities, sports, workshops, side-shows, and other diversions to keep you occupied for weeks. From poetry slam to rock climbing and skating to book reading, you could go to Roskilde, not see one band, and still leave happy having had the weekend of your life. Ring any bells? And like Glastonbury, you can arrive days before it all kicks off ‘proper’ to soak up the ambience and make yourself at home.   
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[r-zone4]The Glade Festival
14-16 July
Secret Location
Glasto goers who spend their days skipping around the dance village, before wrapping themselves around a kebab van booming tunes through a 10K rig throughout the night need look no further than The Glade Festival. Having spent its formative first five years at Glastonbury, the electronic beats feast fled the nest and started up on its own in 2004. With an acclaimed debut, some of the most pioneering names in dance music have since been clamouring for a slot, resulting in Sasha and Aphex Twin headlining last year. So far, the location of the event has been kept secret until the last minute to keep out fence jumpers, and this time round it looks as if it might even switch venues. Wherever it ends up, Glade is destined to be a must for cutting edge dance enthusiasts, offering up a mix of psy-trance, nu breaks and electronic mayhem over three days.
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Tickets on sale soon.

[r-zone5]Festival Internacional de Benicassim
20 – 23 July
Benicassim, Spain
If it’s the glamour of Glastonbury you seek and you’re one of them who invests in a luxury teepee and spends the day sitting back-stage hoping to rub wellies with Kate Moss, then you may want to don your gold chain get a fake tan and head to Spain. Benicassim is the festival equivalent of the sexy beach chick; four days of unparalleled weather, hundreds of world class acts, and it’s by the Mediterranean. Nothing gets going until ten at night because everyone is too busy sunbathing and pampering themselves, which means partying until the sun comes up the next day. Indulge in Benicassim and you will develop an infatuation that will last forever.
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,[r-zone1]The Big Chill
4 – 6 August
Eastnor Castle, England
Perhaps you love Glastonbury for its ability to give you a virtual life massage, its elements combining to give you the most stimulating, stress relieving antidote to the taxes and traumas of modern life. Well look no further. Attending The Big Chill is like being coated in liquid comfort. On entering the site you immediately feel at home and hit a relaxed high similar to that felt on the fourth day of a holiday. It’s a multimedia festival, club event, and intimate celebration of life set in the green hilly fields of one of the UK’s most beautiful valleys. Combine this with a line up that boasts acts as diverse as Aim, Jose Gonzalez and Mr Scruff, and The Big Chill could be the perfect solution to Glastonbury’s absence.
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[r-zone2]Carling Weekend Reading/Leeds 
25-27 August
Reading/Leeds
Three words: Big. Bastard. Bands. If the return you’re looking for when shelling out £100-plus for a festival ticket is the biggest lineup of massive selling rock and indie bands, plus a smattering of credible hip-hop, pop and dance, then Reading and Leeds are the ones. Making the Pyramid Stage look like Regents Park bandstand and ensuring an explosive end to the major festival season, the two twinned festivals are arguably the best value for money in terms of band to pound ratio and this year looks to be no exception. Pearl Jam, Muse, Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys and Tool are all rumoured to be playing and you’re guaranteed loads more entertainment on top. T In The Park, V, and Oxegen would all (rightly) have something to say over claims that Reading and Leeds bag the best lineups, but seeing as they’ve all sold out their bands have already done the talking for them.
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Tickets on sale soon.

[r-zone3]Beautiful Days
18-20 August
Escot Park, Devon
Seen by many as the natural heir to Glastonbury in terms of its ongoing organic development, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where Beautiful Days has gone so right. Established by The Levellers in 2003, the Devon festival has resisted demands for its capacity to grow beyond 10,000. Instead organisers focus on quality not quantity and ensure visitors have a similar experience to the Glasto goer of old. Whether watching the main stage or drifting off into the fringe fields, there’s truly something for everyone at this family friendly festival, buoyed by a unique spirit that has been self-generated over its short history.
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[r-zone4]Bestival
8-10 September
Robin Hill Country Park
Childlike exuberance, playful tomfoolery, complete escapism – in short, the best combination of fun and naughtiness short of being invisible in a nunnery. Inventive without being pretentious, Bestival orders you to leave any attitude at the door and instead bring a fancy dress costume! If your reasons for going to Glastonbury are to indulge in the bizarre and lose yourself in an atmosphere of collective quirkiness, then making the trip over to the Isle Of Wight will be the best move you could make all summer. One to get fully involved in, Bestival also heralds the end of the summer festival season meaning everyone lets lose from start to finish with a hugely eclectic collection of acts helping things along.
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Tickets on sale soon.

For loads more festivals on offer this summer, visit our listings section by clicking HERE.

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