Festival foodies: Hot Chip, Chvrches and more reveal their favourite meals to enjoy with the music

Britain’s festival scene is booming, and these days the eating options are every bit as exciting as the acts onstage. Eight musicians describe their favourite bites

Once all was burgers. But now food is as intrinsic to the modern festival as the music itself. This year, Glastonbury alone hosted more than 800 traders. Vegan street food is sold alongside banquets (Raymond Blanc returns to Wilderness this August with a four-course £85 meal) and every taste in between, from cheesy chips to caviar, is catered for. We asked this summer’s top acts about what they loved most about eating in the open.

Joe Goddard, Hot Chip: ‘We had delicious filo tarts’

Chips with everything: Joe Goddard and his fellow band members in Hot Chip.
Chips with everything: Joe Goddard (left) of Hot Chip. Photograph: Tom Oldham/REX

“A few years ago we were at T in the Park, which is an insane festival: people arrive on the Thursday and get off their face within the first three minutes, stripping off in the rain and catching various diseases.

I went on a walk and stumbled upon this place run by a couple of Indian guys who have a meat farm in Lancashire. They had been cooking one lamb dish for about eight hours and it was one of the most delicious curries I’ve ever had.

I had my favourite festival meal of all time in France. There’s this festival in Corsica called Calvi on the Rocks. The festival owner’s mum made us the perfect French picnic – cheese, salami, lentil salad. We ate it at the top of a hill by the bay, drinking chilled rosé with vines hanging around us.

At a tiny electronic festival at the Vasarely Foundation in Aix-en-Provence we had this delicious, very thin filo tart with slices of delicious sweet tomatoes and wholegrain mustard. We were talking about how good it was, but the French chef just shrugged and said: ‘It’s OK for festival catering.’”

Hot Chip headline Festival No6 on 3 September and Bestival on 8 September

Kelis: ‘I’ve never seen so much BBQ’

Cooking: Kelis performs at Glastonbury.
Cooking: Kelis performs at Glastonbury. Photograph: Jim Dyson/Getty Images

“British people are embracing American food more than ever before. I’ve never seen so much BBQ in the UK. Ten years ago American food was made fun of, and now people are craving it, so look who’s laughing. This summer I’m both performing at festivals and cooking at a pop-up stand. Sure, my skills as a Cordon Bleu chef work at a festival. The only difference is that the running water’s not so good in a van. It’s funny, but when people walk up to order, I kind of typecast them, and I totally know what they’re going to want. If I get it right, it’s like a private victory.”

Kelis’s pop-up Kelis x Le Bun will be at Tramlines on 22-24 July and Standon Calling on 31 July

Cerys Mathews: ‘It’s slow cooking... outdoors’

Cerys Matthews beside the campfire.
Cerys Matthews, cookout queen. Photograph: Nenad Obradovic

“It’s best to check out what they do best in that area. Then it will be fresh, environmentally friendly, and they will know what they’re talking about. If you’re at a festival in the West Country, you can’t go wrong with cider. That’s pretty much all I had at Glastonbury this year.

For many years, festival food meant eating a lot of damp sandwiches. It’s getting better as people are travelling more. You can see it even in the fact that you can get a really good coffee at most festivals now.

Having said that about going local, I try not to eat too much meat so my favourite dish is often something from the south of India, like daal and rice.

I set up my own festival in Wales called the Good Life in 2014. In the first year, a lady was selling kotlich cooking pots from Hungary and Serbia, which you hang from a tripod over a fire pit, and then you sit around and cook your own meal.

They were so popular that they’ve now become a mainstay of the festival. There’s something special about slow cooking, outdoors, on an open flame.”

The Good Life Experience is on 16-18 September

Lauren Mayberry, Chvrches: ‘A lot of fancy seafood’

Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches onstage.
Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches: big Mr Whippy fan. Photograph: Rick Kern/WireImage

“The UK might be the only place in the world with Mr Whippy ice cream vans at festivals – all that delicious chemically infused ice cream. I wasn’t an avid festivalgoer in my youth, but the first one I went to was Connect, at Inveraray Castle on the west coast of Scotland. There was a lot of fancy seafood and good vegetarian options. It was exciting compared to other Scottish festivals at the time. When I toured in other bands before Chvrches, we couldn’t afford to eat anything nice or nutritious. So I feel lucky to be able to have vegetables now.”

Chvrches play Latitude on 16 July, Reading on 26 August and Leeds on 27 August

Mikey Goldsworthy, Years and Years: ‘I’m happy with mac ’n’ cheese’

Macaroni man: Mikey Goldsworthy, far right, with Years and Years.
Macaroni man: Mikey Goldsworthy, far right, of Years and Years. Photograph: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

“Food at festivals is so posh these days. I went to the House Festival in Richmond Park and they had lobster, but to be honest, I’m happy with mac and cheese. OK, maybe a nice mac and cheese with chorizo. That works – it fills you up.

Food isn’t everything at a festival. I’d prefer to see a great line-up and then go to a nice restaurant afterwards. But I guess it’s a good bonus if you can get some caviar in between Coldplay and Adele.

I used to work in Italian restaurants in Australia. I got really into it and saved up to go travelling. That’s how I found my way to London, where I got a job as a waiter at the River Café. I started playing in a band and eventually the two swapped over.”

Years and Years play V Festival on 20-21 August

Quick tips

Izzy Bizu: ‘I go for an organic burger. Definitely avoid sag aloo - it’s delicious, but the laxative effects aren’t ideal in a festival situation.’

Alex Robertshaw, Everything Everything: ‘Pick up really nice rotisserie half chickens and share with your mates.’

Mark Chadwick, The Levellers: ‘Cook your own food in a campervan, or go for a pie. Pies are perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner.’


Katie Forster

The GuardianTramp

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