Nowadays, music festivals are a big deal come the summer. Indeed, it doesn’t seem to matter where you travel in the world, there’s bound to be one, two or three going on near you at some point between May and September. And nowhere more is this true than in and around the UK capital. So what’s there to look forward to – and book – this month…?
Hampton Court Palace Festival
(Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU/ Tuesday 5th-Saturday 23rd June)
Gentility’s the name of the game at this most relaxed of music festivals just outside London’s city limits in the exquisitely elegant environs of the grounds of Hampton Court Palace. Held in the open-air, of course, to maximise the awesome impact of the beautiful palace’s exterior as its backdrop, this series of concerts offers up a rollicking roster of musical superstars of yesteryear whom, between them, are responsible for some of the greatest chart hits of the last half-century. We’re talking the likes of The Beach Boys, Lionel Richie and Tom Jones, as well as the somewhat more modern pop-tastic music-makers that are Gary Barlow, Paloma Faith, Jools Holland and Joe Bonnamassa. Plus, if you really want to get into the swing of things, why not hire your own waterside gazebo for the evening? Why not, indeed!
Southport Weekender Festival
(Finsbury Park, Seven Sisters Road N4 2NQ/ Saturday 9th June)
Dance music’s the traditional fare at this fast-emerging North London institution and remains so this summer; in fact, the Southport Weekender’s been serving up huge parties for eager festival-goers for nearly three decades now. Now, it might have occurred to the eagle-eyed among you readers out there that Southport is nowhere near London (it’s in the north west of England), but the organisers of this event decided to up-sticks and head down south three years ago – and haven’t look back (northwards) since. Which is great news for visitors to the capital this month (not least if they’re staying centrally at the likes of the Park Grand Paddington Court hotel) because this summer’s event’s set to feature of whole host of world-class DJs, including the likes of David Morales, Hector Romero and Roger Sanchez, as well as – for diversity’s sake – soul legends Sister Sledge and Soul II Soul.
(Blenheim Palace, Woodstock OX20 1PP/ Thursday 14th-Sunday 17th June)
Finally, it may be a few miles outside of London (its location’s actually just outside of Oxford) but the stunning Blenheim Palace – the abode at which the legendary wartime PM Winston Churchill was born, don’t you know – is definitely worth a visit in and especially this month given it’s playing host to this fantastic line-up of evening concerts. Relatively easy to reach then should you have made your base one of the hotels in Paddington London, this venue hasn’t actually played host to Nocturne for more than a decade but, don’t doubt it, it’s back in a big way this summer. Especially as the open-air concert series will be accommodating 7,000 patrons a night and enables a good number of them to make their visit an all-day affair, thanks to a VIP package that includes dining in the palace’s State Rooms. And, most importantly of all, of course, because of the quality of the booked acts:
• Nile Rodgers and Chic, supported by Soul II Soul and jazz-funk duo MF Robots (14th June)
• Noel Gallagher and his High-Flying Birds, supported by The Coral (15th June)
• Elvis Costello & The Imposters, supported by The Waterboys and Nick Lowe (16th June)
• Gary Barlow, supported by Rumer and folk-pop duo Ferris & Sylvester (17th June).