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Six best festivals for grown-ups: Latitude, Larmer Tree and more (and no, you’re never too old to go)
May 12, 2015 | By:
Festivals aren't only about mud and misbehaving teenagers. These offer luxury camping, fine dining, writing workshops, opera, massage and yoga as well as brilliant music, says Lucy Handley
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Wilderness festival will feature outdoor activities plus a big music line-up

Festivals aren’t only about mud and misbehaving teenagers. These offer luxury camping, fine dining, writing workshops, opera, massage and yoga as well as brilliant music, says Lucy Handley.

Latitude, 16-19 July

Far more than just a music festival, Suffolk’s Latitude is celebrating its tenth birthday this year with an eclectic mix. Alt-J, Portishead and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds headline, while the ‘Faraway Forest’ and The Little House will show theatre, dance and other live performances from the likes of Sadler’s Wells, the National Theatre and Opera North.

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Latitude festival

There’s standard camping (if you can face it), but we like the idea of staying in an Airstream, a traditional American camper van complete with your own kitchen and shower. They don’t come cheap, at upwards of £2150 + VAT, but worth it for the cool factor. For something more affordable, try the lakeside Wherry Hotel, a 20-minute drive from the site, from £368 per person (includes weekend ticket).

Latitude: 16 to 19 July 2015. Day tickets from £84.50.

Festival No.6, 3-6 September

A ‘bespoke banquet of music, arts and culture’ is how Festival No.6 describes itself and we don’t disagree. It’s set in Portmeirion, overlooking Cardigan Bay in south Wales, and is the kind of place where anything can happen.

Irvine Welsh will read new work, Grace Jones performs at Castell Park, and outdoor expert Tristan Gooley leads ‘natural navigation’ walks.

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The Portmeirion Hotel. Picture from Visit Britain

There’s even a floating dancefloor on the Chinese lake in the nearby Gwyllt Woods, and you can do sunrise or sunset yoga, or make your own headdress if you so desire.

Hotels and rentals are sold out in Portmeirion, but you can still hire a luxury bell tent complete with Indian rugs, hand-painted tables and tea light chandeliers, or stay in nearby Porthmadog, close to the festival’s park and ride. You can rent a room in Rose Cottage, right on the beautiful Glaslyn and Dwyfor Estuaries, through Airbnb, from £80 a night.

Festival No.6: 3 to 6 September 2015. Adult weekend camping tickets from £170.

Wilderness, 6-9 August

Wilderness is possibly the UK’s poshest festival, held near the pretty Cotswold town of Charlbury on the Cornbury Estate.

You can banquet on long tables enjoying food by Angela Hartnett or Raymond Blanc, or book the tiny Chef’s Table by Nuno Mendes. Björk and Ben Howard headline, and you can dance in a ballroom, try long bow archery or go on a philosophy walk.

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Wilderness Festival, on the Cornbury Estate in Oxfordshire

The Sanctuary will host meditation, yoga (obvs) and you can even learn how to ‘keep your wild side alive’ with wellness expert Suzanne Duckett. Stay in a Sleep Hut, a basic but cosy wooden cabin, from £945 for two people. If sparse isn’t your thing, try The Bull Hotel, which has doubles from £90.

Wilderness: 6 to 9 August 2015. Adult weekend camping tickets from £175.94.

Meltdown, 17-30 August

Ex-talking Heads David Byrne will curate this year’s Meltdown festival, at London’s Southbank Centre, following on from such luminaries as Jarvis Cocker, Yoko Ono and David Bowie.

Byrne himself will perform with playwright Young Jean Lee’s band Future Wife, which the New York Times called ‘sly, weird and thoroughly winning’. Family band the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble will play, a group made up of eight brothers from Chicago’s South Side, as well as Anna Calvi along with a 12-piece choir.

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Anna Calvi will perform at Meltdown on 22 August

If you’re making a few days of it in London, the Corinthia hotel on the Embankment just across the river has a superior king room from £450 per night, with access to the ‘thermal floor’ part of the spa, complete with striking glass-walled sauna and black mosaic steam room.

Meltdown: 17-30 August 2015. Tickets available from 8 May on the Southbank Centre website.

Larmer Tree, 14-19 July

This festival near Salisbury claims to be “the happiest, friendliest, quirkiest festival in the land”, and has eight areas featuring music, comedy and theatre. Headliners include Tom Jones, Rodrigo y Gabriela and Jimmy Cliff. The organisers pride themselves on being independent and sponsor-free.

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Larmer Tree festival. Photo by Carolyn White

The Larmer tree itself was probably a wych elm that stood on the site in the tenth century, and you’ll find peacocks and macaws in the grounds.

Stay in a yurt on site from £493.75 for three days. You can hire wood burners, furnishings and tables to kit it out.

Larmer Tree: 14 to 19 July 2015. Day tickets from £65.

Curious Arts Festival, 17-19 July

This boutique festival at Pylewell Park is an “eccentric literary garden party for culturally minded kids and adults of all tastes and ages”.

There will be writing and poetry workshops, life drawing classes, storytelling, bat walks, mind reading, contortionists, breathing lessons, and an Alice in Wonderland Tea Party.

The long literary line-up includes celebrated authors of history, crime, art, memoir and nature, such as David Nicholls, Lynn Barber, Patrick Gale, Esther Freud and Polly Samson.

The musical bill combines new talent such as Amber Run and George the Poet alongside some of rock’s older luminaries such as Phil Manzanera from Roxy Music and John Illsley from Dire Straits.

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Breakfast at the Curious Arts Festival

You won’t go hungry: there’s a pop-up fine dining restaurant, a variety of gourmet food, a beautifully dressed cocktail bar from Fever-Tree, a tea room, a juice bar and a gelateria ice cream parlour.

On the evening of Thursday 16 July, Curious Opera will perform Puccini’s Tosca.  it will be an ‘up close’ experience taking place at dining tables in the grounds of Pylewell Park. (You’ll need a separate ticket for this event.)

You can pitch a tent in the grounds of the Pylewell Park Estate (free for weekend ticket holders). Or choose the glamping option: a luxury tent with beds with a real mattress, white bed linen, lamps and warm duvets, and access to hot showers and good toilets. From £470; see the options and book.

Book tickets for Curious Arts Festival, 17-19 July, or call 08000 882373. Tickets from £30 for an evening to £120 for the whole festival. £300 for an all-family, all-festival ticket.

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Opera at the Curious Arts Festival. Oh, it’s SO grown-up!