Forget Glastonbury: the festivals that Britain really deserves

From wellness islands to digital detoxes, read our predictions for the bleak future of boutique festivals that cater for every bizarre niche


Cleanfest is a clear poke in the eye for traditional festivals, with their mud: it’s targeted at those with an aversion to getting crusted-up soil on the only pair of jeans they packed for the weekend just 40 minutes into the first day. Sponsored by Domestos, it takes place in an abandoned car park, jetwashed of all dust and residue and lined entirely by a white, wipe-clean tarpaulin. Guests – and performers, including Catfish and the Bottlemen – are asked to wear those little blue bags over their shoes and regularly use hand sanitiser. Atmosphere suffers a little, if I’m honest.


Taking cues from cult TV-centric get togethers – The X Files, Twin Peaks, Doctor Who – thousands flock to Scotland’s Strathallan Castle dressed in their finest Evans casualwear in honour of the daytime TV mainstay. Punters enjoy panels chaired by Linda Robson and honorary loosey John Barrowman, and sundries tents do a roaring trade in imported fags and single-serving bottles of Blossom Hill. The queues for the women’s toilets are so long they actually contravene the UN. At the culmination of three days, Catfish and the Bottlemen headline, but don’t play any songs; instead they have a 15-minute natter with Colleen Nolan about pubes.


The organisers of Cashless festival – also known as ‘CA$H I$ GA$H’ – have one simple dream: a festival not motivated by money, instead insisting all guests surrender their dosh at the door and enter into a ungoverned bartering system designed to free them from the yoke of the Royal Mint. Soon, bedlam ensues: a halloumi van is flipped when they stop accepting back massages as a form of payment; a group of nervous boys have hopped the fence and smuggled a load of £50 notes in; and everyone’s cranky because they can’t buy drugs. Catfish and the Bottlemen headline in exchange for a field of cattle and a shop-soiled box of crisps.


The organisers of Remotefest have had about enough of your fast-paced life, with your smartphone and your email, and your access to sufficient parking. And so – in an effort to free us all from the yoke of modern life – they’ve put on a festival at the top of Snowdon, a three-hour hike from the nearest toilet. Logistically, it’s a bit of a nightmare: four lads from Worksop have to be helicoptered to safety after trying to make it to Remotefest in just flip flops and sombreros, and the lack of 4G on the mountain means nobody can actually quite figure out where the festival is, instead clotting together into their own little groups. Catfish and the Bottlemen tour among them all to headline, packing nothing but their trusty instruments and a load of Kendal Mint Cake.


Just a few crucial months behind the curve comes SWEGFEST, a grime and hoverboard festival in south London organised by three trust-fund kids who have absolutely no idea what they are doing. SWEGFEST is, broadly, considered a disaster: attendees eschew the “sweg arena” (a repurposed skatepark where a frail Tim Westwood encourages them to do tricks) to whirr over to Chicken Cottage for a £5 special, and headliners Catfish and the Bottlemen – despite desperate styling from sponsors JD Sports – jar with the roadman vibe. There is no SWEGFEST 2.0.


Joel Golby

The GuardianTramp

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