For when you’ve done Copenhagen and Stockholm…
It’s no secret I bloody love festivals. Day drinking, living like a nomad, dancing to DJs, sleeping in tents, washing in lakes… I love it. Last summer Ed and I did a good chunk of the festival circuit, and this summer is set to be no different. In fact, we kicked things off this weekend with two days at Field Day! I had the enviable gig of writing the Grazia festival guide again, a task I don’t take lightly, so I’m feeling not only extra GIDDY with excitement, but also clued up on the line ups and the best weekends of the summer. In case you missed the issue a couple of weeks back, here’s the unedited copy that will hopefully inspire how and where you spend the rest of your summer. Whether you want luxury teepees, gourmet feasts, wild swimming or dancing ‘til the morning, the perfect festival for you is out there. Chances are, I'll see you there.
(Ps. scroll right to the bottom to see the Grazia spread)
Free and wild
Let loose, embrace nature and unleash your inner hippy at these stunning free and wild festivals. Sleep in a tipi, wild swim your hangover away, and party in the wilderness well into the night.
Farr Festival, Hertfordshire — 14-16th July
What started a few friends gathering in the woods has fast turned into one of the UK’s leading electronic music festivals. This year’s line up is a banger: John Talabot, Midland, Move D, Gilles Peterson, Joy Orbison… it goes on. Pack your tent and your sleeping bag (though we’re not sure how much sleep you’ll get) and dance yourself silly.
Wilderness, Oxfordshire — 4-7th August
From the live music to the contemporary arts, unique dining experiences, wild swimming and craftsmanship, Wilderness is probably the most wholesome weekend of the year. Whether you want to wake up early for a trail run, zen out for a yoga session, indulge in a banquet feast, or dance to DJs until the morning, here, in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside, you’ve got options.
Festival No. 6, Portmerion, Wales — 1st-4th September
Like something out of a fairytale, Festival No.6 is truly remote and beautiful. Held in the picturesque village of Portmerion, Wales, it has people travelling from miles and miles away so to be part of the enchanting weekend, comprised of performance art, installations, intimate talks, live music, conversations, and plenty more. Music genres span rock and roll, folk, house, techno and dance with acts this year including Hot Chip, Noel Gallagher, Bastille, Andrew Weatherall, Leon Vynehall and Maribou State. As for accommodation options, Festival No.6 does them well. Choose between a castle, a cottage, a boutique tipi, or your own tent.
London day festivals
London really comes alive in the summer, especially with the myriad of great day festivals over the summer. Party all day, then sleep in your own bed at night. The dream!
Sunfall, Brockwell Park — 9th July
Brand new for this year, Sunfall is day festival brought to South London’s Brockwell Park from the guys behind Dimensions festival. Reflecting the eclectic sounds of London, festival goers can anticipate a big ol’ mix, from jazz to electronica, house, disco and drum & bass, and a lineup that includes Jamie XX, Joy Orbison, and Fatima Yamaha. Come nightfall the party continues and the crowds splits to a handful of different venues. It’ll be a sorry Saturday to miss.
Citadel Festival, Victoria Park — 17th July
And if Lovebox isn’t your scene, there’s Citadel. Victoria Park transforms overnight into a more chilled out, hippy-loving atmosphere with yoga classes, relaxation sessions, feasts and banquets, live theatre, and workshops. ‘Course, there’s music too. Caribou is playing a London exclusive, along with Sigur Ros, Lianne La Havas and Maribou State to name just a few.
Don’t fancy camping? Mix a summer city break with a little festival action at one of these awesome European festivals (with not a tent in sight!).
Sónar, Barcelona — 16-18th June
If you’re in to your electro music, you should have booked your tickets to Sónar yesterday! The 3-day city festival embraces music, creativity and technology, and boasts a seriously strong line-up with pretty much every DJ you’ve ever listened to here, keeping the crowd happy all day and all night. To rattle off just a few names, Fourtet, Jackmaster, DJ EZ, Ben Klock, Club Cheval, and Kölsch will be helping you get your groove on. Pick between day passes or night passes, or if you’re really game, both.
Dekmantel, Amsterdam — 4-7th August
International DJs flock from far and wide to be here at Dekmantel, not just to play but to join the party too. And if your kind of night involves streaming Boilerroom mixes (or better yet, being at them yourself), then you need to be here too. The dance floors reliably burst with energy, thanks to a line up that draws a die-hard crowd. Book your flights and your Airbnb now so you can get involved.
Way Out West, Gothenburg — 11-13th August
Sun, city, and beautiful people is the vibe of Way Out West, the much celebrated city festival in Sweden’s music capital, Gothenburg. Whilst still relatively small as far as European festivals go, the lineup is stellar, boasting the likes of Sia, PJ Harvey, Jamie XX, The Kills, Skepta, Haim and Chvrches. It’s got a good time vibe; a young, Scandi crowd enjoy picnics on the grass outside before heading in for a dance in the afternoon. And if you’re a night owl, you can chose to party into the night with Stay Out West too.
Lollapalooza, Berlin — 10-11th September
America’s most colourful and energetic festival is back on European ground! Yep, Lollapalooza returns to Berlin this summer, following its successful debut last year. There’s no camping here (so book your hotel now!), and pick between the two days. Saturday has the likes of Kings of Leon, New Order and Catfish and the Bottlemen, whilst Sunday has Radiohead, Major Lazer and MNEK.
Good for the food
Can’t hack the cold beans and tuna out of the tin for the 3rd day in a row? Check out one of these great UK foodie festivals.
Summer Days, Clitheroe Castle — 6-9th July
If you’re kind of summer festival involves eating well, sipping cava sophisticatedly out of the glasses you cleverly packed (rather than straight out of the bottle) and listening to a little laid-back tunes, you need to be at Summer Days Festival, a brand new boutique food and music festival in the grounds of Clitheroe Castle. Music-wise, there’s some golden oldies like Simply Red and Jools Holland, along with Mystery Jets, Everything Everything, and a selection of lesser known acts. Then when it comes to food, you can rest assured you’ll eat well thanks to an array of proudly local food and drink vendors. Sounds too good to miss.
The Good Life Experience, Wales — 16-18th September
For a hefty dose of culture, food and the great outdoors, head to Flintshire in Wales for The Good Life Experience. Cerys Matthews, one of the founders of the festival will lead a few sing-a-alongs; Bill Granger and Thomasina Miers will be among those cooking up a storm over a campfire; and Ben Fogle will be singing the praises of adventure and the great outdoors. There’ll also be axe throwing, archery, tree climbing, leather-working, bushcraft, live music, and dancing to get involved with, so don’t expect a lazy weekend. We’ll also add that there’s no VIP or backstage areas here, everyone is on the same level, making friends.
Wow factor festivals
Like your festivals with a little wow factor? Try one of these...
Secret Solstice, Iceland — 16-19th June
It’s dubbed the Midnight Sun festival because the sun never goes down. At Secret Solstice the party runs all day and all night, so if you take all nighters on the chin, this one is for you. Two years in and 2016’s line up is BADASS with Radiohead as the headliner. Along with the main festival in Reykjavik centre, there’ll be a handful of unique off-location parties too, including one inside a glacier and another in a volcano?! Still not sold? Go for the green card: this year it just got even better having earned its CarbonNeutral credentials.
Blue Dot, Cheshire — 22-24th July
Jodrell Bank is best known for being Brian Cox’s stomping ground, but this July, it’s playing host to a few extra visitors. Bluedot is a brand new “festival of discovery”, but before you get turned off, a boring science lesson it ain’t. Guests can expect music from Caribou, Floating Points, Everything Everything, Underworld and more; along with workshops, live experiments, great food and comedy. Pack your sleeping bag ‘cos you’ll be camping out under the stars.
Stockholm has got to be the most picturesque city in Scandinavia. From every angle, it’s just beautiful and at you’re constantly met with pretty…
I had not one but four pages in this week’s Grazia, including this beautiful looking 2016 travel spread. When I was writing this piece back…
Following a week of passport drama, Ed and I made it to Copenhagen by the skin of our teeth. We left our passports on the plane on the way back from Reykjavik the week before and instead of being allowed back on the plane to get them, we had to declare them lost and go through the rigmarole of applying for new ones, which meant multiple trips to the passport office, a lot of tears, a week of stress and "will we make it to Copenhagen", and crazy high costs. We got our new passports the day before we flew to Copenhagen. Then, I very nearly missed my flight due to cancelled trains to the airport, and Ed did miss the flight as he had to work and would fly out the following morning.The moral of the story is DON'T leave your passport on a plane. It was only when we were both—finally— in Copenhagen together, in the queue at Coffee Collective, that we could relax and think "we made it". Missing out on our holiday, hotel and flights would have been bad enough but the half marathon was the main reason of trip, and it would have been so upsetting to miss out on that too. Anyway, we made it—rejoice—and Copenhagen was awesome. It's such a great city to walk around as all the neighbourhoods are different, scattered with cool bars, trendy restaurants, and great Scandi boutiques.We stayed at Hotel Kong Arthur, a boutique hotel just on the edge of Nørrebro—the city's now hipster neighbourhood (Copenhagen's Hackney Wick, if you will). The hotel was gorgeous. We had a huge room on the top floor, all white-washed walls and minimalist black and white, with sloping ceilings, a giant bed, and a nice, large wet room. The hotel feels sophisticated; there's a really beautiful spa that's open to the public too (which annoyingly means guests are only permitted one visit per stay), a small but good gym, a loungey-bar area and a big airy breakfast room, where we enjoyed a million types of cheese, delicious scrambled eggs, yoghurt and granola—you name it. I would definitely check it out if you're going to Copenhagen; it's modern and clean, and in a great part of town too.
One of our first discoveries in the city was Torvehallerne, which we went back to a handful of times, and was probably my favourite spot in the city. It's an undercover food and drink market, which has wine bars, charcuterie stands, florists, salad bars, a pizza place, great coffee, and our favourite, a smørrebrød stall, which always had a queue. We both got smørrebrød the first time we visited, and learnt it was so, so, so good. It's a Scandinavian delicacy which is ultimately an open sandwich, with all sorts piled high on a piece of rye bread. They often use pickled or raw fish, but really it can be anything, from fried herring to sliced egg, or beef. I got the most amazing one, with tuna, capers and avocado. It was incredible! Ed got a beef one, which he also really raved about.The second time we went (the day before the run) I tried a salad bar, which was also great! I filled it to the brim with all sorts of delicious goodness. Every time we went, we got a coffee from Coffee Collective, because they were too good not to, plus I loved the graphic prints on the cups!Nyhaven is probably Copenhagen's most photographed district, and the shot you instantly recognise. It is as good in reality as it looks on Instagram(!) and definitely worth a wander. On our first day in the city, we met Ed's friend Ali, and we all took the boat over to Copenhagen Street Food. It's basically Copenhagen's version of Street Feast. The difference is you get there on a boat, there are a lot more (giant) seagulls but the shipping containers and street food concept is much the same. I got a delicious tofu curry, Ali got the spiciest pad thai, and Ed went for falafel and mezze.From here, we wandered around Christianshavn, Copenhagen's "free" neighbourhood, which has similar 'open-minded' rules like Amsterdam. We were expecting to see all sorts of craziness and to be overwhelmed by the smell of weed but I don't think we saw it right because we really didn't see much of that at all! My sister says it was totally wacky when she went last year, so I think we might have missed the centre! If you're into all that though, make a pilgrimage!Though Copenhagen, like the rest of Scandinavia, is expensive, loads of its bars do great, long happy hours. The Bird & Churchkey deserves a mention; it's a great little gin bar between Nyhavn and Køvenhavn, that offers a daily happy hour. A gin happy hour is my kind of happy hour, and the three of us got through at least 6 G&Ts. Great half marathon prep...Kødbyen, Copenhagen's Meatpacking District, is another awesome neighbourhood for foodies. We went a couple of times — once to a cool Mexican bar I can't remember the name of, and another time for local beer flights at WarPigs. There are so many great eateries down here (I didn't get chance to try Mother pizza but I've heard great things!!), so it's a good shout for dinner if you're on the hunt!Tivoli Gardens is another of Copenhagen's quintessential sights. When I first saw pictures of it, I thought it was just crazy architecture in a wacky part of town, I hadn't realised it was a theme park! That makes a lot more sense. It's not just any theme park but in fact the second oldest in the world! Don't let that put you off the rides. After a few drinks (probably a mistake!) we went on Vertigo—the fastest, wildest ride in the whole of Tivoli Gardens. It was mad! I think I screamed from the moment my feet left the floor to the moment they were back on it, but it was so much fun! Go at night as it's all lit up so beautifully!The next morning, after breakfast we wandered to Fælledparken to pick up our race packs and bibs. There were some cool shops we stopped as as we wandered from the hotel through Nørrebro, and then I genuinely thought Ed and Ali were going to cry when they saw the skatepark and didn't have their boards. I have it on good authority that this is one of the the best skateparks in Europe, so if your partner is a skateboarder like mine, either don't let them see it(!) or make sure they've got their board!! Luckily, Ed was back in this element when we found the Norse Projects flagship back in København!! There are some great shops around here so it's worth setting aside some time.Sunday was race day. The Half Marathon was so much fun! I got a PB of 2:03, and knocked 9 minutes off my previous time. The weather was terrible! Our shoes and socks were soaked through before we'd even got to the start line and I thought the run was going to be a total washout. Luckily the weather cleared up a little whilst we were running, and it was on and off throughout the course. At least it kept us cool! The route took us all around the city which was fantastic seeing all the sights and going through the neighbourhoods, and it was pretty much all flat most of the way. I only really felt myself struggle around the 16/17km mark— when you know the end is near but it's still so far! Ed and I both used those squeezy energy gels for the first time on this race, and we both commented on how they did seem to work. The first one at least; I took one at 10km and I really felt the difference, but I think I'd overestimated the power of the second one which I took at 16km and expected it to zoom me effortlessly to the end!!After the race, we walked back to our hotel and jumped straight in the spa. I can't even begin to explain how nice it felt sitting in that jacuzzi after running 21km with wet feet, but it's definitely what's missing from the end of other races. We zoned out in the sauna, before heading to our favourite spot, Torvenhallerne, for a glass of celebratory champagne. We spent the rest of the day drinking beer in København, and got the most gigantic burgers and fries at The Bronx Burger Bar. It was just what we need to replenish our energy levels, but also great value and such good sweet potato fries!We reluctantly caught our flight home on Sunday night (keeping our passports in a firm grip the whole way!) after an amazing weekend. Copenhagen is an amazing city that's definitely worth visiting if you haven't already been.I've got this thing with running now whereby I won't change up my music throughout my training, and will listen to that same mix for the race itself. By the time I'm doing the race, I can literally recite everything, including the spoken intro and convos in the mix! It's not cool but it's kind of become my routine now! For Copenhagen Half and the training, it was this mix below...I'm still kind of obsessed with it.
In the middle of August, Ed and I had four sun-flooded days in Gothenburg for Way Out West festival. It was the first of our several trips to Scandinavia this summer and we just had the best time. The weather was perfect. The city is awesome and totally walkable. The people are seriously stylish and inspiring. Our hotel was glorious. And Way Out West was spot on— Caribou, Axel Boman and Daphni all so much fun!
In between the tunes and endless Aperol Spritz, we loved walking around the city, stopping at the cool interiors shops and chic Scandi boutiques, all with Acne Studios in plentiful supply! Magasinsgatan was the neighbourhood we kept going back to, you could easily spend a whole day around there. We joined the crowds in the courtyard on Saturday morning to queue up for Strömmingslucken— the locals' favourite street food trader who dishes up fried herring with creamy mash and logenberry sauce. The simple dish is...incredible. Unbelievably tasty. We stupidly shared a portion then planned to go back the next day for one each, only to find he's not there on Sundays!! Don't make the same mistake if you're in Gothenburg. Get one whole portion — maybe even two and save one for later. Big, big regrets there, and Ed hasn't let me forget it.
We also found a great al fresco Mexican spot on our way up to Slottsskogen (the park where Way Out West is held). I can't remember what it's called but it's in a sunny courtyard just off Tredje Langgatan in the Haga neighbourhood, and does great margs and fish tacos!
We stayed at Hotel Pigalle and honestly couldn't have chosen anything better. It's one of coolest and quirkiest hotels I've stayed at in while. Garish Moulin Rouge-esque artworks cover the walls of the central staircase, and contrast hugely to the elegant, chinoiserie-style wallpaper in the light and airy guestrooms. The juxtaposition is fun! The bathrooms are also Pinterest-worthy with their rainfall-head showers, copper taps, and pristine ceramic white tiles. If you stay there, you'll get to experience the fantastic breakfast room and restaurant on the rooftop, but even if you're not, head up there for a cocktail - it feels so secret but not pretentious at all, and on a hot day it's a sun trap!