Now that Rockness 2012 has been and gone, we look forward to the best of this summer’s forthcoming festivals.
T in the Park 5th– 8th July
Scotland’s favourite music festival returns for its 18th year this summer, and thousands of dedicated pilgrims will flock to Balado Park in Kinross for the four day event. The festival’s success and longevity are undoubtedly due to an ever diverse line up, with a great mix of big names and new talent that really does appeal to all audiences. This year sees Snow Patrol, The Stone Roses and Kasabian headlining the main stage, with an equally impressive support comprised of huge acts including New Order, Florence and the Machine, David Guetta and Nicki Minaj. Away from the main stage, the festival also offers a host of up and coming acts, and you can even catch some unsigned talent at the famous T Break Stage, which is well known as a discovery ground for great new artists. The Slam Tent is also a unique experience, showcasing some of the best dance acts around. This year we can look forward to the likes of Skream, Benga, Crookers and more. As well as music, T in the Park offers a wide range of attractions, including a fairground, comedy acts, a cabaret tent and even an outdoor cinema. It’s this diversity that makes T so great, and has established it as one of the most important UK summer festivals. For me, past years have involved shimmying to Bjorn Again (the Abba cover band), gazing questioningly at “Lady” Gaga’s crotch, all before shedding an actual proper tear during a set from Blur – where else can you squeeze all that in to one weekend?
Belladrum 3rd & 4th August
For those that aren’t aware of it, Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival takes place on the lovely, wooded Belladrum estate near Inverness and is one of those excellent smaller British festivals that has enjoyed growing success in recent years without losing its friendly, grass-roots vibe. This year sees it return for the ninth time on the 3rd and 4th of August, with the usual blend of music both local and international, eclectic craft stalls and random bits of installation art dotted about the place. There are five stages, the biggest of which is the Garden Stage, featuring grassy Italian terraces which lead down the slope to where headliners Travis and The Wombats will perform this year. Other 2012 highlights include Scottish champions Frightened Rabbit, old-school punks Buzzcocks and some great American artists including We Are Scientists and Willy Mason. But it is the less well-known music and the prospect of discovering something new and special that makes Belladrum so exciting. The promoters have a knack for booking excellent up and coming bands (the likes of Biffy Clyro have played one of the smaller stages in the past) and I’ve personally discovered bands including Twin Atlantic, The Xcerts and Punch and the Apostles there, all of whom were playing tiny stages. As far as other attractions go, there are comedy and burlesque shows, tents to sit and meditate in, a lot of surprisingly good food vans and some unique and interesting shopping stalls. This is a truly fun and distinctive festival, with a lot to do for a reasonable price.
If the usual big summer festivals aren’t your thing, or if you fancy something a bit different this year, the Hebridean Celtic festival could be for you. Situated in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, the festival has been offering the best in contemporary Celtic music since 1996. But what exactly can be classified as ‘Celtic music? Here, at least, it seems to refer to traditional Scottish music, as well as anything that is influenced by traditional Scottish music, is a bit folksy or is Scottish and features an acoustic guitar. Not that this vague category is a problem; this year’s line-up looks to have some great acts, including Admiral Fallow, Washington Irving, Roddy Woomble, and folkrave pioneers Niteworks. Other familiar names include The Proclaimers, Hebridean stalwarts Skerryvore, Skippinish (featuring a new line-up) and golden oldies The Waterboys, who set the record for the biggest ever gig in the islands in 2003 (it’s up to you to decide whether that’s a big deal or not). Amongst the other bits and pieces planned in and around the site are various walks and workshops and the annual HebCelt Shinty Challenge Cup match, with the throw-up (shinty equivalent of kick-off, not vomit related!) at 2pm on the Saturday. There will also apparently be people wandering about performing ‘Random Acts’, including ‘Jim The Magician’, who does magic, and someone called ‘The Recycled Poet’, who smokes a pipe in silence but will recite poetry if prompted with the appropriate code word… bizarre. If you fancy getting involved in what looks like it might be a lot of fairly wacky fun, further (extensive) details can be found at hebceltfest.com
Wickerman 20th – 21st July
Wickerman has always delivered a quality alternative to more mainstream festivals, grabbing an eclectic mix of music from across the globe and sticking it all in a field in south west Scotland. Don’t be put off by its remote location though; this festival has consistently been one of the most fantastic weekends out there, with some of the very best acts from every kind of music playing. Last year Echo and the Bunnymen and The Coral took to the main stage and by all accounts gave a fantastic performance. Previous years have seen the likes of The Human League and Idlewild form part of the ever-excellent line-up. Rolling in on July 20th, Wickerman 2012 has a bit of everything: electro-clash gods Scissor Sisters (my favourite guilty pleasure) are headlining along with Bearsden lovelies Texas and Scotland’s favourite indie lads The View, their stages gathered around the eponymous giant Wicker Man which is ignited at the end of the festival. Suspicious policemen trapped inside are apparently not a usual feature, but hey, there’s a first time for everything.*
A full adult ticket at Wickerman comes in at a cool £90, making the prospect of the festival even more tempting, and it has a reputation for people going absolutely wild. Let’s face it, anything that involves burning a giant wooden person has got to be mental anyway. So if you’re fed up of the mud, the swarming tent fields and needing a mortgage on a pint of bitter maybe it’s time to try something new this summer. It’s a great line-up, it’s a wee adventure down the road and it won’t break the bank. See you in Dumfries.
*qmunicate does not endorse first (or any) time for homicide.