Weather permitting, the UK festival season would happily stretch itself across much of the winter months, providing a colourful array of field based festivities throughout the entire calendar year. But here in Britain, very little isn’t weather permitting. So now that the winter is in retreat and the sunshine is being ushered across from Europe as though it desired its own UK based sovereignty, an influx of festivals small and large are sweeping across the land. With so many festivals making a strong case for themselves it can become an intense chin scratcher working out which one gets your vote. Whether you’re looking to remain on UK shores or leave and sample what the continent has to offer, we’ve weighed up the arguments and picked out five festivals worth your time in May.
Pier Jam: Part One
Sunday 30th April
North Pier, Blackpool
The Blackpool illuminations aren’t usually a fixture of the seaside town’s attractions until the late summer, but this year Pier Jam will be picking up the baton early and lighting up Blackpool with some sonic illuminations of its own. Set atop the North Pier, below Blackpool Tower’s mid afternoon shadow, Pier Jam Part One will provide house music fans with the first opportunity of the year to strut their stuff in an open air setting while watching the sun lay to rest in the Irish Sea. With father of future house Tchami, Amine Edge & Dance, Defected star Sam Divine, Tough Love, Preditah and MJ Cole all providing the tunes, you’ll be forgiven for having to be reminded you’re in the north of England, not amongst the high season parties on the Balearic Isles.
The Great Escape
Multiple Venues, Brighton
Since launching in 2006, The Great Escape in Brighton has become a centrepiece of the UK’s jam-packed festival calendar. Arguably the most in-the-know weekender on offer in May, and better yet the entire summer, TGE is always light years ahead when it comes to its lineups and billing, expertly pulling diamonds out of the rough, providing them a with stage, before going on to watch them become some of the biggest touring acts in the country. Spread across Brighton’s numerous venues and establishments, 2017 will see a batch of fresh faced talent feature alongside the likes of Rag’n’Bone Man, Slaves, Rejjie Snow, Ibibio Sound Machine and Homeshake, while a range of industry experts and figures will also be in attendance for the music conference which runs adjacent to the festival. For the discerning music fans out there, The Great Escape is an odds-on favourite with plenty of returns.
Sea Star Festival
While the British summer marks a considerable improvement from the over familiar winter months, 17° and a fruity cider doesn’t quite match up to the stature of the Croatian climate. Enter Sea Star, the latest festival attempting to make a splash in the Adriatic. Billed as ‘the new festival pearl of the Mediterranean’, the festival seemingly has a lot to live up to, but, with Fatboy Slim and The Prodigy leading the way on the lineup they’re already halfway to ensuring a debut success. The first instalment in EXIT Festival’s ‘Summer Of Love’ three part series, Sea Dance should have no trouble transcending the spirit of 1967 with iridescent blue waters and musing landscapes a constant feature of the peripherals on the Umag peninsular.
Oxford & Southampton
Curated by the team behind Bestival, Common People has been adding a dash of colour to the late May Bank Holiday Weekend in Oxford and Southampton, while providing a bite size taste of the festival formerly situated on the Isle Of Wight. Set across both Oxford’s South Park and Southampton Common, the sister events share much of same lineup of artists over the course of the weekend, with a range of family friendly activities weaved into the programming for good measure. Eclectic tastes are sure to be appeased by the 2017 lineup which features headline appearances from dancehall hero Sean Paul and Pete Tong – who’ll perform Ibiza Classics with the backing of The Heritage Orchestra. Deep digging DJs Joy Orbison, Midland and Kornel Kovacs are in charge of the late evening atmosphere in Southampton, while over in Oxford DnB don Goldie makes a special guest appearance, with the intriguing prospect of a b2b DJ set consisting of Foals and Wild Beasts makes for another eye catching addition to the bill.
Creamfields: Steel Yard – Axwell & Ingrosso
Sunday 28th May
Victoria Park, London
Cream hasn’t risen to become one of the world’s most recognisable clubbing brands by sticking to the status quo. Never ones to shy away from stamping some the biggest dance music parties in the UK and beyond with their distinctive signature, the return to Steel Yard this summer provides another chance to see their own 10,000 capacity superstructure pushing the limits of multi sensory production as it beds in at London’s Victoria Park. A stage of such magnitude deserves a worthy selection of artists at the helm, therefore it’s no surprise that the seamless selections of Swedish powerhouse duo Axwell & Ingrosso, Don Diablo and Martin Solveig have been enlisted to soundtrack the day festival. Giving new meaning to the big room genre, Steel Yard is an experience not susceptible to imitation.
Photo courtesy of Common People