Last weekend marked the start of festival season, with the quintessential annual british mud-bath we all like to call Glastonbury. Although you may still be recovering from four days of too much warm cider and Jeremy Corbyn’s rousing speech, there remains a whole host of thrilling music festivals ahead of us this summer, and the five we’re spotlighting in this article (see last year's selection here) stand out from the crowd for their unique and spectacular locations. Have you ever wanted to dance the night away in a limestone quarry that once housed a prison? Or perhaps you’d rather find somewhere closer to home that still manages to impress with its rural seclusion? In either case, we’ve got you covered.
Træna is Norway’s oldest fishing village, and the location of an annual music festival. The local residents host the secluded event on an island 65 kilometres into the Atlantic Ocean, the first edition of which was held in 2004. The likes of Damien Rice have played at Træna (in a cave, no less) and yoga classes are held each morning, which we can imagine is nothing short of lovely on the rocky island. “You can eat gourmet food from the sea, feel the magic of the ocean, watch sea eagles, feel the love and enjoy the fabulous concerts,” the festival tempts. This is by no means your average camping weekend – take at least two extra jumpers in your rucksack – but one to add to the bucket list nonetheless.
Rummu, Estonia is home to Into the Valley, an electronic music festival music set against the backdrop of what was once a limestone quarry; the ruins amongst the rocks were once prisons. The valley is submerged in turquoise waters, at the bottom of which sit the gates and walls of the Soviet jail, forming an entirely unconventional but nonetheless awe-inspiring beach. There’s a dystopian vibe here, accentuated by the relatively small size of the festival, now in its third year, that pairs well with the house, techno and disco music. Food on offer is Estonian and local, as are the arts and culture activities.
At Houghton, a new music and arts event set in the grounds of Houghton Hall in Norfolk, “spontaneous back-to-back sets will be encouraged and longer DJ sets will be the norm,” we’re told. Unsurprisingly so, as the festival is curated by Fabric resident Craig Richards, who promises the very best in electronic music, and produced by the team behind Gottwood festival. Houghton is unique in that it is located within two hours of London and yet seems to exist in a secluded world of its own, one that centres around the Hall’s vast lake and surrounding thick woodlands. As well as an impressive line-up of big names in electronic music, art and sculpture are central to the festival, with artists such as Richard Long, Rachel Whiteread and James Turrell exhibiting in the art and sculpture park.
Nestled amongst the Inner Hebrides is the Isle of Eigg, home to Lost Map Records, an independent micro-label and collective which hosts Howlin’ Fling festival every other year. Access the island by boat and revel in the pared-back nature of this event: the website boasts of a “capacity of only a few hundred, it has no security, no police, no sponsorship and no backstage area”, just plenty of fun in an unforgettable location. This year is set to be an especially poignant two days, as 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the Isle of Eigg’s community ownership, and Howlin’ Fling’s fifth festival. The line-up has not yet been revealed, but past performers include Jon Hopkins, Cate Le Bon and Slow Club. It's intimate in scale – expect to meet the organisers and acts alike amongst the crowds around the campfire or the Eigg Ceilidh Hall.
Fuji Rock festival is so named because it was first held at the base of Mount Fuji in 1997. Since 1999 the Japanese festival has taken place at Naeba Ski Resort, and has become renowned worldwide for its stunning mountainous location. This year sees Gorillaz, Aphex Twin and Björk, amongst many other world class artists and bands, grace the stages. With its surroundings of dense valley woodlands, through which a clear pebbled river runs and above which you can travel in cable cars, Fuji Rock’s singular placement is one of its most seductive features. You’ll wish you never had to leave.