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Travel Guide: The best summer music festivals
1. Festival for celeb spotters: Glastonbury
Where: June 26 to 30, 2013, England
Vibe: Coachella for Her Majesty’s subjects.
The essentials: After a year’s hiatus, “Glasto” is back (glastonburyfestivals.co.uk). The Rolling Stones and Mumford & Sons are among the headliners set to play to 100,000 blissed-out Brits moshing in a farmer’s field.
Roughing it: In years past, Kate Moss, Alexa Chung and both Delevingnes have set up tent (or tricked-out Winnebago) in the VIP camping area. Snoop Lion and Shakira are both fans of the fest’s signature accommodation: the deluxe teepee.
Weather alert: The “Glastonbury mud hole” is well documented on YouTube—English “summer” often means rain, so the fest is notoriously mucky.
Big moment: Jay-Z playing “Wonderwall” on an acoustic guitar in 2008.
While you’re there: Soak the mud off your wellies at Thermae Bath Spa (thermaebathspa.com), Britain’s only spring-fed spa, in use since Roman times.
If camping’s not your thing: Book an Imperial Suite at the Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel (macdonaldhotels.co.uk). Clean off the day’s grit with Molton Brown toiletries before tucking into champagne and canapés delivered to your room every evening.
What to pack: The only time we don’t recommend wearing a breezy Zara caftan is while you’re crowd-surfing ($100, zara.com).
Photography by Forest Woodward.
2. Festival for country folk fans: Bonnaroo
When: June 13 to 16, 2013, Manchester, Tennessee
Vibe: Hippie commune with a Taylor Swift twang.
The essentials: For something happening a mere 100 kilometres from Nashville, “Roo” is surprisingly less battle-of-the-banjos and more back-to-the-earth-free-spirit-love-in (bonnaroo.com). Now in its 12th season, the festival is renowned for its friendliness and a musical menu that mixes names big and small. Paul McCartney and Tom Petty will be playing alongside indie darlings like Foals and Purity Ring…oh, and R. Kelly too.
Unplug: Get ready to literally disconnect: Cell service is almost non-existent across the 283 hectares of countryside where 80,000 nature-loving “Bonnaroovians” will roam.
Fun fact: The fest takes its name from bon au rue (“good on the road”), in honour of the Louisiana tradition of street performance.
While you’re there: Whether you’re a Grand Ole Opry kinda gal or you just want to see where Faith Hill lives, Nashville’s Tours by Locals (toursbylocals.com) can customize a behind-the-scenes peek at the country-music capital.
If camping’s not your thing: Snuggle in front of a roaring fire or get some fresh air on your balcony at the sleek Hutton Hotel (huttonhotel.com) in Nashville.
Check out the best festivals for skinny dippers and experimenters on the next page…
Photography by Vegard S. Kristiansen
3. Festival for skinny dippers: Roskilde
When: June 29 to July 7, 2013, Denmark
Vibe: Burning Man meets MTV, with a dash of Nordic social policy (roskildefestival.dk).
The essentials: This is a thoroughly Scandinavian event–the kind where Rihanna and some obscure Swedish folk band share a billing. There’s a daily festival-centric newspaper, and all of its profits go to charity.
Sightseeing: This is a celeb-free zone, but there are lots and lots of impossibly attractive blond people.
Signature quote: “It’s the Orange Feeling, man,” which refers to the “mystical” state only found at the festival—all natural, we’re sure.
Getting there: The festival has its own train station, and it’s an easy (and eco-friendly!) 35-kilometre jaunt from Copenhagen.
Roughing it: Themed campsites are popular–but Lord of the Rings has already been done, so get creative!
Dive in: The fest has its very own lake—moonlit skinny-dipping seems inevitable, no?
While you’re there: Embark on a four-hour Danish-delicacy extravaganza (starring chocolate!) with Copenhagen Food Tours (cphfoodtours.dk).
If camping’s not your thing: Book a room at the Hotel D’Angleterre (dangleterre.dk) for gildedpanel opulence and afternoon tea.
What to pack: If you don’t want to bare it all, stand out in a citrus bikini by Topshop ($58, at Hudson’s Bay, thebay.com).
WEB EXCLUSIVE: FESTIVALS FOR EXPERIMENTERS AND INTELLECTUALS
Image courtesy of Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
4. Festival for experimenters: Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Where: August 2nd to 26th, 2013, Scotland
Vibe: Slightly shambolic with an irreverent DIY spirit.
The essentials: If you can’t find something to entertain you among this festival’s 3,000 shows, you probably don’t have a pulse. From cabaret to spoken word, the self-proclaimed “world’s largest arts festival” caters to every cultural palate, although it’s best known for its theatrical offerings.
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Fun fact: The fest is unjuried (meaning participants aren’t vetted before performing), so that new play you’re watching could be the next Tom Stoppard masterpiece–or something experimental by student actors.
Now famous alumni: Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tim Minchin.
While you’re here: Running concurrently with Fringe is the Edinburgh International Festival–a thoroughly highbrow offering of opera, dance and visual arts.
Where to stay: With just four suites, the Atholl (theatholl.com) is all-whims-catered-for luxury in central Edinburgh. Make the Dundonald suite your three-bedroom home away from home–complete with its own whisky-tasting room.
While you’re here: On the historic Royal Mile, book a table at Angels With Bagpipes (angelswithbagpipes.co.uk) for some Scottish fine dining–haggis, ’neeps, beef from the Orkneys and some Thistly Cross cider.
What to pack: Keep an eye on all the acts with a wristlet. Only the quirkiest accessory will do for the Fringe. (M Missoni, $78.77, shopbop.com)
Learn more at edfringe.com.
Find out which festival to attend if you’re an intellectual on the next page…
Image courtesy of Festival No. 6
5. Festival for intellectuals: Festival No. 6
Where: September 13 to 15, 2013, Portmeirion, Wales
Vibe: A quirky, cerebral festival for grown-ups.
The essentials: One of the newest additions to the circuit, this “luxury” festival takes over the picturesque village of Portmeirion for a weekend of lectures, art installations, film screenings and an eclectic musical program, headlined this year by the Manic Street Preachers.
Listen up: Feminist-of-the-moment Caitlin Moran will also be speaking at the Piazza stage.
Snack time: Warm beer and day-old hot dogs need not apply–along with food trucks selling locally sourced goodies, you’ll find a pop-up champagne and oyster bar.
Where to stay: The accommodations here don’t include tents or yurts–a four-star country house and an actual castle are among the sleepover options—so book your own house. Hafod Cae Maen (historichouseretreats.com) comes complete with two acres of gardens, a wood-panelled library, stunning views of the Rhinog mountains and your very own chef.
While you’re here: Round off the rural experience with a day at Glyndwr Vineyard (glyndwrvineyard.co.uk), where you’ll enjoy a proper country lunch of artisanal cheese and cider.
What to pack: Play the mysterious (possibly hungover) intellectual in pentagon sunnies (Miu Miu, $430, sunglasshut.com).
Learn more at festivalnumber6.com.