Oh come all ye merry revellers for the sun is finally shining and a summer of festivals is about to arrive. The next few months are jam-packed with cultural events happening all across the country and whether you’re looking for music, food or art, there’s something for everyone.
We’ve rounded up the best festivals to book before tickets sell out. Discover one-of-a-kind artworks at the Masterpiece art fair, sample some of London’s best street food at Taste of London, spend a weekend off-grid listening to music at Houghton or unleash your inner wine critic at The Real Wine Fair. But whatever you choose to do, don’t miss out on England’s cultural scene at its very finest.
Glyndebourne Opera Festival
When: 21 May – 28 August
Where: Lewes, East Sussex
Get tickets here: https://www.glyndebourne.com/festival/
There is nowhere better to enjoy opera than at the Glyndebourne Opera Festival. The flagship summer programme begins at the end of May and continues throughout the summer, offering six productions including Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Puccini’s La bohème and a Poulenc double bill.
Performances are held in the indoor auditorium but guests are encouraged to enjoy a picnic in the gardens or dine out at one of Glyndebourne’s three restaurants during the 90 minute interval. Formal dress is encouraged at the festival, creating the perfect opportunity to dress up and enjoy the sunshine.
The Real Wine Fair
When: 22 May
Where: Tobacco Docks, East London
Get tickets here: http://therealwinefair.com/
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A celebration of independent vine-growers, The Real Wine Fair showcases over 160 artisan vignerons specialising in naturally-made wines. The perfect festival for oenophiles, the fair will introduce you to hundreds of biodynamic and organic winemakers, with wine tasting samples to go around. Why not try a masterclass or watch a seminar whilst you’re there, then enjoy the bustling street food stalls to soak up all the wine. Just make sure you’re not driving home afterwards.
RHS Chelsea Flower Show
When: 24 – 28 May
Where: Royal Hospital Chelsea, South West London
Get tickets here: rhs.org.uk
The Chelsea Flower Show has been a landmark event in London since its first show in 1913. People from all around the world flock to the Royal Hospital in Chelsea to see cutting edge garden design, be the first to set eyes on new plants from specialist nurseries and find inspiration for gardens back home. From floral displays to gardens and even a houseplants studio, the flower show is jam-packed with floral feasts for the eyes and nostrils.
Best enjoyed with a glass of champagne in hand, you might brush shoulders with this year’s special guests Dame Judi Dench and Sally Phillips whilst taking in the extraordinary horticultural displays.
BST HYDE PARK
When: 2 – 4 June; 1-3, 8-10 July
Where: Hyde Park, London
Get tickets here: bst-hydepark.com
Set over three weekends, BST Hyde Park is an inaugural summertime celebration of the world’s most recognisable artists in London’s most famed park.
This year’s lineup includes Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Pearl Jam, Duran Duran, Eagles and Adele’s first UK performance (other than the Brits) since 2017. The festival also promises a delectable mix of food and drink vendors, much-needed after a long day of dancing.
When: 10-12 June
Where: Kirtlington Park, Oxfordshire
Get tickets here: kitefestival.co.uk/tickets/
Kite is a brand new festival taking place at Kirtlington Park, the Grade I-listed Palladian house set in 3,000 acres of rolling parkland overlooking the Chiltern Hills in Oxfordshire. The three-day event will braid together “music with ideas”, featuring bands and musicians and a line-up of world-renowned thinkers, global personalities, and activists to inspire “curious, inquisitive, and cultural minds.” Having previously announced sets by musical legends such as Grace Jones and Mavis Staples, the organisers have recently unveiled yet more stars from across the field, including Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, actor Russell Tovey, journalist Andrew Neil, cookery writer Delia Smith, politician Ed Miliband and Professor Richard Dawkins.
“Kite will offer room to dance and space to think,” a spokesperson for the festival said. “In an age defined by the ubiquity of the internet and social media, there is a growing public appetite for knowledge, debate and discussion.”
Taste of London
When: 15-19 June
Where: Regent’s Park, London
Get tickets here: https://london.tastefestivals.com/tickets/
Discover a merry-go-round of chefs and some of the city’s hottest restaurants in Regent’s Park this June. With more than 120 dishes to choose from, visitors to Taste of London will be spoiled for choice. Fan favourites returning this year include the award-winning Sri Lankan restaurant Hoppers, the dim sum hotspot Dumplings Legend, and Savile Row’s stylish Italian Sartoria. Visitors can also expect new debuts from Rohit Ghai with curries from his new restaurant Manthan, and James Cochran will also be debuting his Around-the-Cluck buttermilk Jamaican jerk chicken.
Ticket holders can also visit the Fire Pit stage for flame-filled cooking demonstrations from industry heavyweights, watch live entertainment, and even partake in masterclasses in everything from street food to the art of making the perfect espresso. Unfortunately, a gastric band is not included in the ticket price.
Masterpiece Art Fair
When: 29 June – 6 July
Where: Royal Hospital Chelsea, London
Get tickets here: masterpiecefair.com/buy-tickets/
Dubbed the “unmissable art fair”, Masterpiece Art Fair returns to the South Grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. Running in partnership with the Royal Bank of Canada, Masterpiece is one of the world’s leading multidisciplinary art fairs that threads together the finest works of art, design, furniture and jewellery. Attracting established collectors, exhibitors and art hounds alike, Masterpiece introduces visitors to objects from antiquity to the present day. The fair offers the public the unparalleled chance to encounter — and purchase — exceptional works of art.
When: 11 – 14 August
Where: King’s Lynn, Norfolk
Get tickets here: https://www.houghtonfestival.co.uk/
Houghton music festival was only able to run for two years before bad weather forced it to cancel in 2019 and the pandemic put a stop to all festivals in 2020 and 2021. Finally, the doors are being flung open for four days of incredible electronic music from over 150 DJs and artists, much to the relief of its patient organisers. Music will be performed day and night to the backdrop of a countryside utopia surrounded by Norfolk’s most picturesque woodland and lakes.
Houghton is the ultimate festival for anyone looking to get off the grid and truly enjoy the music and despite being in its infancy, the festival has already drummed up a loyal following. Guests can bring their own tent or opt for the more sophisticated pre-pitched glamping option with a range of Yurts and Bell Tents on offer. “None of us could have imagined such a suspenseful and prolonged journey to the summit. But get there we shall,” says the festival’s founder Craig Richards.