Festivals in England range from charming, old-fashioned village fêtes all the way to enormous events lasting several days and attracting over 100,000 people. There is something quintessentially English about the wonderfully timeless fêtes held on playing fields, village greens or rectory gardens, with prizes awarded for cake baking and flower arranging and competitions to guess the number of sweets in a jar. But England is also the home of some of the grandest and most prestigious festivals in Europe. Glastonbury, of course and the Notting Hill Carnival are acknowledged as not just being amongst the largest festivals of their type – they’re also amongst the best.
For hundreds of thousands of people, the English summer is all about music festivals, which seem to take place every weekend from May through to September and take place in locations as varied as fields in the middle of nowhere, in the grounds of imposing stately homes or perhaps even on a race course. More and more of the best music festivals now cater for families as well as for the younger enthusiasts or the hardcore festival aficionados. This expansion of this target audience has correspondingly led to the development of more eclectic or all-encompassing festivals, so that those such as the increasingly popular Latitude, in the beautiful Suffolk countryside, are now a well-established part of the English festival circuit.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that the enormous mainstream English festivals have lost any of their appeal – far from it. Reading, Leeds, V and Glastonbury continue to attract big name performers and phenomenal crowds of people.
Although not pulling in the same kinds of attendances, England also has its fair share of eccentric festivals that help make the country that little bit more interesting. Many of these are associated with particular times of the year – November 5th, Easter or the beginning of spring, for example. So, if you aspire to chase rolling cheeses down a hill in Gloucestershire, evade flaming barrels in the streets of East Devon or fly like a bird off the end of a pier in Bognor Regis, then idiosyncratic England can give you the opportunity to do just that.
England is also world famous for its sporting occasions, many of which have developed their own festive atmospheres. As well as being ‘national institutions’, events such as the Grand National at Liverpool’s Aintree Race Course, the Oxford versus Cambridge Boat Race and, in recent times, the London Marathon have become fabulous social occasions as well as top quality sport.
As befits a country of such cultural diversity, Festivals in England can cater for every possible taste. From prestigious arts festivals to grand flower shows and from the Caribbean carnival atmosphere of Notting Hill to the refinement of Royal Ascot – England has something for everyone.