Because festivals don't need to be massive to be great
The old cliché says variety is the spice of life, and if you only went to enormous festivals all summer long you’d be missing out on some of the spiciest treats festy season has to offer. Small festivals offer lots that the big names can’t – more intimate performances, shorter queues for the bar/loos/food stand, (slightly) easier to find your tent when stumbling to bed after one too many. But minimising size doesn’t mean minimising on entertainment quality, as the nominees for Best Small Festival at the VO5 NME Awards 2018 prove. Look at them! So much greatness to choose from, and choose you must when casting your vote. Reacquaint yourself with the nominees below and get selecting.
The VO5 NME Awards 2018 will take place at London’s O2 Academy Brixton on February 14.
Where: Portmeirion, North Wales.
When: September 7-10, 2017.
Headliners: Mogwai, Bloc Party, The Flaming Lips.
Other highlights: Wild Beasts, Superfood, The Cribs, Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon, Jagwar Ma, and a special performance by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the Bootleg Beatles celebrating 50 years of ‘Sgt. Pepper’s…’ and the summer of love.
Why you need to go: The location is stunning – it’s where The Prisoner was filmed – and the line-up is always bursting with culture beyond the live music, from comedy and film screenings to masterclasses in photography, dance, creative writing, and more.
Where: Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire.
When: August 3-6, 2017.
Headliners: Two Door Cinema Club, Grace Jones, Bonobo.
Other highlights: First Aid Kit, Toots & The Maytals, Ray BLK, Michael Kiwanuka, and newcomers Ten Fé.
Why you need to go: If you like food as much as you like live music then you should get to Wilderness. Last year there were nine restaurants on site, with top chow for you to enjoy before taking in talks and debates, theatre, and dance.
Where: Victoria Park, London.
When: June 3, 2017.
Headliners: Run The Jewels.
Other highlights: Whitney, Lady Leshurr, HMLTD, Death Grips, Slowdive, Aphex Twin, Kevin Morby, and tons more of the best alternative acts.
Why you need to go: It’s one of the best festivals for new artists as well as forward-thinking, boundary-pushing innovators.
Where: Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset.
When: August 31-September 3.
Headliners: Father John Misty, Mac DeMarco, Band Of Horses.
Other highlights: The Jesus & Mary Chain, Parquet Courts, Perfume Genius, Foxygen, Car Seat Headrest, Kelly Lee Owens, and rising stars like Shame and Goat Girl.
Why you need to go: It’s indie-rock heaven – EOTR is especially good at bringing the genre’s stars from the US to this side of the pond, making it basically unmissable.
Where: Lowther Deer Park, Kendal.
When: July 27-30, 2017.
Headliners: Stereophonics, Manic Street Preachers, Franz Ferdinand, Brian Wilson, Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, Tinie Tempah.
Other highlights: Jake Bugg, The Coral, Circa Waves, Honeyblood, Fickle Friends, Kate Nash, Blaenavon, and the London African Gospel Choir doing a special performance of ‘Graceland’.
Why you need to go: It packs a lot into its small package – tons of great bands, comedy, an array of real ale for the hopheads, and a cinema.
Where: Newquay, Cornwall.
When: August 9-13, 2017.
Headliners: Two Door Cinema Club, Jamiroquai, Alt-J.
Other highlights: The Flaming Lips, The Vaccines, Stormzy, Slaves, Giggs, and VO5 NME Awards 2018 double nominee himself, Loyle Carner.
Why you need to go: Boardmasters makes the most of its beachside location with surf lessons and competitions, as well as an on-site eco spa and wellbeing area to help you feel recharged and relaxed after jumping around to the bands.