6 Music Festivals to Experience in The Cotswolds

George Clinton Parliament Funkadelic perform at WOMAD Festival
George Clinton Parliament Funkadelic perform at WOMAD Festival | © Adam Gasson / Alamy Stock Photo

When it comes to places with vibrant, lively music scenes, the Cotswolds might not spring to mind. But look again and you’ll find a wealth of amazing, individual and welcoming music festivals, calling out to be explored. Here are six of the best festivals in and around the Costwolds for 2020.

WOMAD Festival is a celebration of music, dance and the arts | © Steve Speller / Alamy Stock Photo

The Big Feastival

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Big Feastival, Oxfordshire.
Big Feastival is about great food and even better music | © Andrew Walmsley / Alamy Stock Photo
This family-friendly festival, set on Alex James of Blur’s Cotswolds farm – just a stone’s throw from Kingham – brings together music and food in a unique three-day celebration. Enjoy live music from top UK and international acts, watch some of the world’s best chefs demonstrate their cooking talents on The NEFF Big Kitchen Stage, hone your own skills in one of the cookery classes, then fill up at one of the many incredible street food stands. Welcome to foodie heaven, with an unbeatable soundtrack.

Wilderness Festival

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Boating at the Wilderness Festival Oxfordshire, UK.
Go boating on the lake at Wilderness Festival | © Adrian Sherratt / Alamy Stock Photo
Leave your inhibitions at that door and prepare for a festival experience like no other. Embracing all the arts, Wilderness in Oxfordshire is an intimate and inclusive outdoor wonderland that is all about good vibes. Explore the different musical stages covering an eclectic mix of musical genres, be blown away by some crazy late-night cabaret revelry, watch the Wilderness cricket match or go all-out and join in the infamous naked swim in the crystal-clear lake. Wilderness is the kind of party you wish you’d been invited to – so best not miss out.

WOMAD Festival

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WOMAD music festival
WOMAD music festival is set in the grounds of Charlton Park | © Malcolm McDougall Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
Set in the stunning grounds of Charlton Park, WOMAD is a global celebration of music, arts and dance – offering visitors the chance to see performances by incredible talent from all around the world. The diverse line-up (anything from a Ghanaian tribal drumming group to an Estonian fiddle player) helps to create a laid-back, summer vibe, made even better by the sunshine, if you’re lucky enough to get it. One of the friendliest festivals around – and perfect for discovering quirky, under-the-radar artists.

Cheltenham Jazz Festival

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Jazz festival, Cheltenham
Head to Cheltenham for one of the best jazz festivals in the country | © David Lloyd / Alamy Stock Photo
Every year, jazz fans flock to Cheltenham for this annual celebration, where this elegant town near the Cotswolds comes alive with the sound of music. With its trademark mix of legendary icons and up-and-coming artists, Cheltenham is one of the UK’s most prestigious jazz festivals – and the perfect place to fall in love with this musical genre. Catch one of the free performances at the chilled-out main festival site, then venture further-afield and take your pick from one of the many free gigs or ticketed shows held across town.

Forest Live

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Imagine watching your favourite band deep in the heart of one of the UK’s stunning forest locations. Sounds too good to be true, right? Forest Live makes this a reality. Each summer, Westonbirt Arboretum (as well as six other forest venues) is transformed into a unique concert arena and plays host to some of the hottest acts in the world. The line-up changes each year, but has already welcomed such eclectic acts as James Bay, Massive Attack, Simply Red and UB40. Music venues don’t get much better than this!

Cornbury Music Festival

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Cornbury Festival, Oxfordshire.
Cornbury Festival is a family-friendly affair in Oxfordshire | © Rosemary Harris / Alamy Stock Photo
There is something so quintessentially English about the Cornbury Music Festival. Family-friendly, full of character and with bags of charm, the festival is a real one-off. Likening itself to ‘a country fair with a rock ‘n’ roll twist; a farmers’ market with a dancefloor’, it’s a place to let your hair down, make friends and dance to feel-good music. With a Comedy Emporium, fairground and magical kids’ area all on-site, the focus here is on unpretentious fun – so turn up and let yourself be entertained.
These recommendations were updated on December 20, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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