With summer here, there are plenty of festivals and outdoor events to look forward to. As well as the usual music festivals that have an exciting line-up of artists, from Glastonbury to Download, there are others up and down the country you may have overlooked when making your summer plans.
Whether you want to get outdoors, learn more about British history, or are just looking for a family-friendly day out, these seven events are well worth exploring.
1. Alice’s Day, Oxford, 2 July
If you’re a fan of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, this family-friendly event could make a perfect day trip.
Venues across Oxford are involved in the event, providing an excellent way to see the city, from visiting bookshops to exploring the Oxford Botanic Garden. This year the theme is kings and queens. The full programme hasn’t been revealed yet, but last year’s schedule gives you a hint of what to expect. It included giant puppet performances, draw-along sessions, and a chance to recreate a Victorian stage trick.
2. National Eisteddfod Festival, Tregaron, 30 July – 6 August
Held in the first week of August every year, the National Eisteddfod Festival is a celebration of the culture and language of Wales. It’s held in a different location each year, and this year it will be in Tregaron, a market town in the foothills of the Cambrian Mountains.
The history of the festival goes back to 1176 when it was a competition-based festival. Today, it attracts around 150,000 visitors and boasts a great line-up of Welsh performances, from visual arts to dance, and activities for the whole family.
3. Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Edinburgh, 5 – 29 August
The Edinburgh Fringe has become a world-leading celebration of arts and culture. If you’ve yet to visit the historical city while the Fringe is on, you could plan a trip this year to celebrate the event’s 75th anniversary.
Over the three weeks, visitors will be able to enjoy everything from comedy and theatre to circus and opera performances across hundreds of stages scattered throughout the city. There’s something for everyone to enjoy at the Fringe thanks to its eclectic mix.
Highlights this year include the Olivier award-winning Showstopper! The Improvised Musical, comedian Fern Brady, and Hotel Paradiso, a family-friendly show that mixes circus, theatre and storytelling skills.
4. Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Bristol, 11 – 14 August
The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta began in 1979 when 27 balloonists made flights throughout a weekend to the delight of spectators. It now attracts more than 100 hot air balloons over the weekend, as well as other activities to enjoy.
The first hot air balloon lifts start early in the morning, but they’re well worth getting up for and enjoying the views with a cup of coffee. As well as ascents throughout the days, there’s live music, a funfair, arena displays, and trade stalls to explore.
5. Birmingham Mela, Birmingham, 27 – 28 August
The Birmingham Mela is the biggest South Asian music festival in Europe, and it’s a fabulous opportunity to experience another culture and spend a weekend.
There will be more than 50,000 people attending and 150 artists to enjoy, so it can still provide the traditional festival vibes while being a little bit different. As well as the music performances, you can find dance, food, and arts and crafts that take you to South Asia.
6. Kynren, County Durham, every Saturday from 6 August to 10 September
Taking in an outdoor performance is a great way to spend an evening in the summer months. Kynren is an award-winning show that will take you through 2,000 years of British history.
From Boudicca’s uprising to King Charles I’s final journey to the execution block, the talented cast will showcase some of the most important events in Britain and bring to life legends. The show combines choreography, theatre, horse skills, and special effects to immerse you in the story.
7. Jane Austen Festival, Bath, 9 – 18 September
If you’re a fan of Jane Austen, visiting this festival is a must. For 10 whole days, you can explore the works of the author, learn more about her life, and even take in 18th-century costumes by watching the Grand Regency Promenade.
The full festival programme isn’t available yet, but last year’s shows you what to expect. The packed schedule included theatrical performances, talks, workshops, walking tours, and so much more. You must purchase tickets for some of the events and they may sell out, so be sure to book if there’s something that catches your eye.