Georgina Wilson-Powell from Pebble Magazine gives us a rundown of the eco-festival lineup you’re not going to want to miss this summer!
Welcome, roll up, step this way. Whether you’re in real wellies in the forest or in a feather boa hanging from the trees, these eco escape valves go above and beyond to make sure your enjoyment doesn’t hurt the environment. We trawled through the quite frankly thousands of festivals to bring you our curated list of magical, sustainable weekends. Carve wood, go wild swimming, feast together, dance together, dream and do good.
Fancy seeing the sunrise from the top of a mountain in Bulgaria? Course you do. Meadows in the Mountains has been attracting those festival goers in the know for the last six years with a mix of hedonistic treats, an uber-friendly vibe and respect for one of the most beautiful festival sites on earth. It’s you, 900 other people and a traditional village that’s turned into an ethereal utopia for three days.
Keep it green: All structures and installations are made using local, sustainably sourced wood. Disposable cups are banned (so bring a reusable one), showers are solar and loos are the composting type. The festival is also supporting local food growing and eco technology projects and working with local creatives to keep some of the magic going all year round.
9-11 June: Rhodopes mountains, Bulgaria
Taking what a festival is to the next level is Obonjon, the Croatian island that opened last year. For three months, guests can come and go and stay as long as they like to take advantage of what’s going on – from nightly raves under the stars and lectures from TED talk gurus to nine yoga classes a day, natural running tracks and a range of healers and therapists – the island is somewhere between a party, a retreat and paradise.
Keep it green: The island has invested in a far reaching environmental management plan and aim to use it as a research initiative into environmentally sensitive tourism development. The island is working with WasteAidUK and the Carbon Free Group amongst others.
23 June-3 September: Sibenik, Croatia
With more nominations for awards than any other festival last year, Nozstock celebrates its 19th year of decadence in style this year – the theme is Keepin’ It Surreal. The first wave of acts to be announced includes Seasick Steve, Krafty Kuts and Beans on Toast but they’re just part of the story. Expect street art, circus and cabaret, pop ups…an insane amount of things to do really for only 5,000 people. Nozstock acts like it’s a mega festival but it’s small enough not to be overwhelming and perfect for families dipping a toe back into the festival scene.
Keep it green: Nozstock won the Improvers Award at A Greener Festival award last year. There’s an eco-bond that is returned when you hand in a bag full of rubbish. Anything left that’s usable goes to People in Motion, a charity that helps refugees, and there’s also car-sharing programmes, green workshops and tree planting every year.
21-23 July: Bromyard, Herefordshire
Taking the posh-o-metre up a few levels has been Wilderness, which brings Michelin star chefs to the muddy fields. Dramatic, decadent and endlessly entertaining, Wilderness is like living in an interactive theatre production of a festival in a festival. Fine dining feasts, hot tubs by the lake, performances and world class DJs where everything is delivered with panache, passion and plenty of dressing up. It’s a forest fantasy-land for a few days.
Keep it green: Wilderness is committed to lowering its carbon footprint this year. Food waste will be compacted or sent to Oxford Food Bank, and 80% of all drinks vessels are biodegradable or recyclable. As much waste is recycled as possible and more eco friendly lights, cabins and more efficient generators will be used this year to bring down emissions.
3-6 August: Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire
Three years in and Luke Hasell’s tribute to his farmer parents has become a summer staple for Bristol’s festival goers and foodies. The Community Farm where it’s held is a social enterprise in its own right, but for one weekend it becomes a small but mighty festival where you can enjoy DJs in the yard, midnight feast picnics provided by the farm and kids will love workshops in everything from looking after farm animals to DJing. Very much a family friendly vibe, Valleyfest proves what you can do with a field, some friends and some inspired programming. The 500 people who own and operate the farm are guaranteed to give you a huge West Country welcome.
Keep it green The whole festival has emerged out of a working organic farm so expect the food to be super fresh and healthy. This year it’s 100% organic.The festival uses only biodegradable containers, reusable glasses and they sort, crush and recycle all the waste onsite. There will also be a bus from Bristol to encourage public transport and the festival is also working with Sustrans to get more cyclists to the event.
4-6 August: Chew Magna, Bristol
Half festival, half adventure weekend, Fforest Gather is a two-week event that’s full of culture, creating and crafts. Learn something new while exploring the 500 acres this hip glamping location has on its doorstep. Gather is limited to 300 places per week and is perfect for families looking for a cool, back to nature break – there will be talks and tree climbing, workshops and wood whittling and by the end of it – everyone is family. Oh and there’s a tiny pub for lock ins.
Keeping it green: Fforest is a lesson in what ethical country living can look like. From food grown metres away, cooked on charcoal and made by the family. Waste is sustainably managed and there’s a wildlife reserve. We could go on. Simply it’s about community and being a friend to the land.
14-27 August: Cwmplysgog, Cilgerran, Wales
The Green Man has brought bounty to the Brecon Beacons for years. It’s holistic, shamanic, insightful and decadent. Listen to lectures under the trees in Einstein’s Garden, discover a Gothic stable block come bar and a wooded valley full of art installations. Meet a mad cap burlesque troops in the Far Out area, lose an afternoon in the mystical walled garden or hole up Nature Nuture for hot-tub high jinks and yoga for the morning after.
Keeping it green: All food is Fairtrade and comes with compostable containers and cutlery. All the beer and cider comes from twenty local Welsh breweries. Revellers are encouraged to recycle their rubbish for a small prize and the festival supports local creative projects in Wales and develops training opportunities for artists.
15-20 August: Brecon Beacons, Wales
Equally balanced between music, art and spoken word the eleventh incarnation of Into The Woods promises to be the best yet. The festival’s managed to stay relatively under the radar and under the branches in Kent and combines a magical mystery tour of live musical experiences with yoga classes and poetry battles. Discover tomorrow’s big acts on a tiny stage in the woods and come across moonlit cinema screenings and silent discos in the forest. There’s only space for 1,000 revellers and the line up is only announced a week before the event which only adds to the magic.
Keep it green: This tiny festival packs a big eco punch – it’s made all eating containers and cups on site biodegradable, all the toilets are compost jobbies and all waste is recycled. The organisers also help with the woodland management of the site and all the food is super local – some literally from the field opposite the festival.
1-2 September: Somewhere secret in Kent
Proving that you can go all out carnival and still be a conscious consumer, Shambala has been having green parties for donkeys years. Its laidback and less pretentious than newer gatherings, and has never shaken off the truly hippy heartbeat at its core. Go wild with the Cloud Cuckoo Land theme, disco-trip in the woods, learn permaculture skills, dine at supper clubs and dance to cutting edge beats at Chai Wallahs.
Keep it green: Pioneering Shambala has won awards for its eco-approach and the festival has reigned in its carbon footprint by a whopping 81%. It’s all renewably powered and as of last year all vegan. No plastic water bottles (or straws, cutlery or containers) are allowed and last year’s food waste dropped by over 60%. Finally, they’ll subsidise your transport if it’s public. This is a lesson in how you get things right.
24- 27 August: Market Harborugh, Leicestershire
Cerys Matthews brings her brand of creativity to life with a festival that focuses as much on doing and making as it does dancing and music. From axe throwing and book-binding to a free vintage fairground and pottery classes, guests might just find a new passion in life as well as getting pissed and partying in a field. It’s an all round good for the soul weekend. And with Matthews involved, the line up ain’t half bad either.
Keep it green: Almost all of the waste at Good Life Experience is reused or recycled. Food and drink are sourced locally and the campsite lights are powered by a solar powered fire engine. The festival leaves no trace on the land, with campers handing in bags of rubbish.
15-17 September: Hawarden, Flintshire