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Festivals for the over-50s

06 February 2019

We bring you our selection of fantastic festivals to add to your diary, from across the UK plus a few other festivals within easy reach of our shores.

A view of the stage at the Fairport's Cropredy Convention. Photo by Ben Nich/Icon Music
A view of the stage at the Fairport's Cropredy Convention. Photo by Ben Nich/Icon Music

Folk music festivals

Cambridge Folk Festival, Cherry Hinton Hall, August 1-4

Held in a lovely parkland setting, the Cambridge Folk Festival is one of the most prestigious folk festivals in the world. 

The 2019 line-up will include Fisherman's Friends, Ralph McTell, Richard Thompson, Lucinda Williams and many more.

Broadstairs Folk Week, Broadstairs, Kent, August 9-16

This folk festival enters its 54th year in the delightful little Kent coastal town of Broadstairs and showcases hundreds of different events.  

Headline acts include Truckstop Honeymoon, Kitty McFarlane, Kabantu, Moonrakers and Hot Rock Pilgrims among others.

Fairport's Cropredy Convention, near Banbury, Oxford, August 8-10

Ideal for baby-boomers and their families, this three-day jamboree is renowned not only for its music but its real ales too. You can even take dogs to the festival and arrive by narrowboat. The 2019 line-up includes Caravan, The Waterboys, Seth Lakeman, Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls and, of course, Fairport Convention.

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Jazz festivals

Rye International Jazz and Blues Festival

May 3 - August 26 Rye, Sussex.

The festival offers world class headline concerts, free street music, an outdoor performance stage and many fringe music events, making the town come alive with music, fun and vibrancy. 

Headline concerts take place at the stunning and intimate setting of St Mary’s Church throughout the festival and include Madeleine Peyroux, Sergio Mendes, Beverley Knight, Richard Thompson, and more. Plus, this year, a number of concerts at Hever Castle, include Courtney Pine, Milos Karagaglic and Mica Paris.

Find out more and book tickets at

Contemporary music festivals

Cornbury Festival

Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire, July 5-7

A laid-back, civilised gathering, with a focus on families and decent accommodation, such as glamping and a pop-up hotel. It’s almost a country fair, with added rock music, including The Beach Boys, The Specials, Keane, and many more acts yet to be announced.

Latitude Festival 

Southwold, Suffolk, July 19-21

Latitude's music highlights this year include George Ezra, Snow Patrol, Primal Scream, Lana Del Rey, Underworld, Neneh Cherry and as well as a gaggle (or a giggle?) of comedians. You can also go swimming in the lake.

Festival No 6, Gwynedd

This award-winning music/literary festival gets its name from The Prisoner at Portmeirion and provides an eclectic mix of music and culture, hosting everything from intimate performances from iconic bands to amazing installations, surreal street theatre and impromptu interactive happenings. 

Festival No 6 is taking a year off in 2019

Henley Festival, Oxfordshire, July 10-14

This year's line-up includes Boy George, Jessie J, Tom Odell, a Jo Whiley DJ Set, Björn Again, Classic FM’s Saturday Night at the Movies, presented by Aled Jones with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The comic line-up includes Julian Clary, Ed Byrne and Jan Ravens, and an extensive foodie festival provides sustenance.

Rewind Festivals - Scone Palace, Perth (July 19-21), Capesthorne Hall, Cheshire (August 2-4) and Temple Island Meadows, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire (August 16-18)

This '80s pop nostalgia fest is always a whole lot of fun and it's now spun out in high summer across three different venues, in Scotland, the north and south of England. 

Join in the 80s singalong fest with some of the biggest names from the era.

80s popstars appearing at Scone this year include OMD, Status Quo, The Gipsy Kings, UB40, The Boomtown Rats, Midge Ure, Roland Gift, Howard Jones, Bonnie Tyler, Heaven 17 and many more. So dig out the legwarmers, ‘Frankie Says Relax’ t-shirts and acid wash jeans – and party like it was the 80s!

Classical music festivals

Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, Harrogate Royal Hall, August 7-18

Now in its 26th year, the 2019 programme includes operas such as The Gondoliers and The Mikado, among many other G&S classics.

Food festivals

'Big Feastival', near Kingham, Oxfordshire, August 23-25

Rock music and food combine very successfully at the beautiful Cotswold farm of Alex James’s (ex-bassist of Blur, now a Big Cheese in, er cheese).

This year's line-up hasn't been announced yet, but to get a flavour of the type of acts, last year's line-up included Basement Jaxx, Craig David, Paloma Faith and Professor Green.

Dundee Flower and Food Festival, Dundee, Scotland, September 6-8

Look out for mouth-watering produce and star chefs doing their thing at this three-day show.

Frome Agricultural & Cheese Show, Frome, Somerset, September 14

If you're a cheese lover, then Frome's the place to be one Saturday in September. The grandly-named - and rightly so - Cheese Pavilion is where cheese lovers can pay homage to 1,200 different entries from around the world, vying for prizes in the show's Global Cheese Awards.

Melton Mowbray Food Festival, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, October 5-6

Melton Mowbray is known as the UK's rural capital of food thanks to its pork pies and Stilton cheese. Expect exhibitors galore and the chance to sample exceptional quality food from the East Midlands and further afield. 

Literary festivals

Gibraltar Literary Festival, November 14-17

A long weekend of winter sun on the Rock with a literary roll-call of international novelists. Now in its fourth year, it’s still small enough (but big quality) to be intimate and sociable for writers and readers alike. Previous programme have included appearances from the Rt Hon Lord Paddy Ashdown, Dr Bettany Hughes and Pam Ayres, among others.

Folkestone Book Festival, Folkestone, November 

Literary luminaries who have appeared at the coastal town's literary festival have included Alan Bennett, Beryl Bainbridge, Jonathan Coe, William Dalrymple and many others. Innovative children's events give the young ones in your life a chance to bring their favourite stories to life too.

City festivals in 2017

Grande Braderie de Lille, Lille, France, August 31 - September 1

Lille is easy to get to on Eurostar from London St Pancras International, or by taking the car across the Channel on a Dover to Calais ferry. And when you get there, Europe's largest flea market is a sight to behold. With 62 miles - yes, miles! - of vendors across the streets and squares of the Flemish city, this braderie takes bargain hunting to a whole new level.

Flower and garden festivals in 2019

Chelsea Flower Show, London, May 21-25

The granddaddy of them all - and the highlight of the horticulturist's diary - is set in the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. The RHS's flagship flower show is dwarfed in size by much larger shows like the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. However, Chelsea's trendsetting show gardens set the pace for the year ahead. What's happening in Chelsea this year will be popping up in a garden near you very soon.

Other festivals

Port Elliot Festival

St Germans, Cornwall, July 25-28

Is it a musical festival? Foodie delight? Craft fair? This burgeoning gathering in beautiful south-east Cornwall is very hard to pin down. In recent years, it's been possible to find everything from classes in pottery and bee-keeping to music from the likes of Gaz Coombes and Chris Difford. Then there’s talks and comedy from writers and performers such as Arthur Smith, Shappi Khorsandi, Billy Bragg, Robert Webb and Brett Anderson. Plus, wellbeing workshops, science displays, and a wide range of upmarket food and drink stalls.

Chalke Valley History Festival

Dorset, June 24 – 30

Step back in time with a festival that has a rather different focus: history. Previous years have included talks from Dan Snow, Max Hastings, Ken Clarke and Harriet Harman, as well as living history displays such as Celtic wheat grinding, Roman camp recreations, traditional Anglo Saxon craft making and a First World War trench. There’s also an airshow, featuring some of the most iconic planes from the Second World War – particularly Britain’s only flying Lancaster.

Compiled by Andy Stevens and other contributors.

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