Festivals for the over-50s

21 March 2018

We bring you our selection of fantastic festivals to add to your 2018 diary, from across the UK plus a few other festivals within easy reach of our shores.

Folk music festivals

Cambridge Folk Festival, Cherry Hinton Hall, August 2-5

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

The 2018 line-up will include Patti Smith, First Aid Kit,  John Prine, Janis Ian, Rosanne Cash and many more.


Broadstairs Folk Week, Broadstairs, Kent, August 10-17

This folk festival enters its 53rd year in the delightful little Kent coastal town of Broadstairs and showcases hundreds of different events.  

Headline acts include Blowzabella, Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri, Sharon Shannon Band and The Gigspanner Big Band , among others.


Fairport's Cropredy Convention, near Banbury, Oxford, August 9-11

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 2018 line-up includes Brian Wilson presenting Pet Sounds, Police Dog Hogan, The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican, Smith & Brewer and, of course, Fairport Convention.


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Jazz festivals

Rye International Jazz and Blues Festival

May 3-7, 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 Russell Watson, Avery Sunshine, Kyle Eastwood Quintet, The Christians, Milos Karadaglic and more . 

Find out more and book tickets at ryejazz.com

Contemporary music festivals

Cornbury Festival

Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire, July 13-15

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 UB40, Alanis Morissette, Squeeze, Caro Emerald, Mavis Staples, Deacon Blue and many more.


Latitude Festival 

Southwold, Suffolk, July 12-15

Latitude's music highlights this year include The Killers, Solange, alt-J, The Vaccines, Wolf Alice Ran'n'Bone Man. A stellar comedy line-up features Bridget Christie, Harry Hill, Jonathan Pie. You can also go swimming in the lake.


Festival No 6, Gwynedd, September 6-9,

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. 

Headliners at this year's festival include The The, Friendly Fires, Franz Ferdinand and Hot Chip among others.


Henley Festival, Oxfordshire, July 11-15

This year's line-up includes Rita Ora, Grace Jones, Nile Rodgers and Chic. While the comic line-up include Paul Merton's Impro Chums, Mark Watson and Lucy Porter, and an extensive foodie festival provides sustenance. 


Rewind Festivals - Scone Palace, Perth (July 20-22), Capesthorne Hall, Cheshire (August 3-5) and Temple Island Meadows, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire (August 17-19)

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, Gipsy Kings, UB40, Midge Ure, Howard Jones 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 8-27

Now in its 25th year, the 2018 programme includes operas such as The Gondoliers and The Mikado, among many other G&S classics.


Food festivals

'Big Feastival', near Kingham, Oxfordshire, August 24-26

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 includes Basement Jaxx, Craig David, Paloma Faith and Professor Green.

Food-wise, obviously Jamie usually makes an appearance at his own festival. But other superstar chefs join him on the bill. Last year, Raymond Blanc,Tom Kerridge, Thomasina Miers, and Gizzi Erskine appeared at Feastival.

And as the Big Feastival is a family affair, children’s entertainment comes from Peppa Pig, Justin Fletcher (CBeebies' Mr Tumble) and The Gruffalo. 


Dundee Flower and Food Festival, Dundee, Scotland, August 31- September 2

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


Frome Agricultural & Cheese Show, Frome, Somerset, September 8

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. 


Great Cornish Food Festival, Truro, Cornwall, September 8

Chefs and assorted foodies are on hand to share their expertise in this showcase of Cornwall's abundant and fine produce, which goes way beyond hackneyed old notions of pasties and clotted cream. 


Melton Mowbray Food Festival, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, October 6-7

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 15-18

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 and Pam Ayres, among others.


Folkestone Book Festival, Folkestone, November 16-25

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, September 1-2

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 2017

Chelsea Flower Show, London, May 22-26

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 26-29

Is it a musical festival? Foodie delight? Craft fair? This burgeoning gathering in beautiful south-east Cornwall is very hard to pin down. You can 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 25 – July 1

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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