Luxury Vacations: If the word ‘festival’ conjures images of muddy fields, rain, queues for toilets and standing around for hours waiting to see your favorite band, let England’s finest festivals change your mind.
In a bid to appeal to a wider, more refined audience, music events are now enticing the more elite with a range of luxurious offerings – gone are the days of drinking warm beer from a plastic cup. Think five-star boutique accommodations, glasses of chilled Cristal champagne, VIP access and watching your favorite operatic singer while dining on a traditional English picnic.
Below are six top festivals and what they have to offer to add a touch of glamor to your summer.
Hampton Court Palace Festival: London; 8 – 19 June 2010
To observe world-class performers, it doesn’t get more regal than this magical 16th century palace and with capacity for 2,700, performances truly remain intimate.
Choose from Jackson Browne, Gipsy Kings, Van Morrison, Jools Holland with Alison Moyet, Nicola Benedetti and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Simply Red, Michael Bolton, Katherine Jenkins and Michael Ball who will all take to the stage for this stunning 10-day festival.
Luxuries include picnic hampers from French cuisine specialists Villandry (from £60) or dine inside the palace (from £249) then wander and take in the renowned Royal Art Collection. Bring your own or quaff the Veuve Clicquot champagne from the bar. Book tickets starting from £45.
Cornbury Festival: Charlbury, Oxfordshire 3 – 4 July 2010
Dubbed ‘Poshstock’, this is one of the UK’s most glamorous festivals, which attracts high-profile politicians and celebrities alike. Celebrating English eccentricity, the event is similar to a traditional fare with Morris Dancers and cake baking, but with a firm modern twist where Pimms drinking is the order of the day.
VIP revellers can book on to the exclusive ‘glampsite’ and stay in a luxurious Tipi equipped with furnishings including rugs and cushions which will make it feel like a home-from-home. Enjoy buggy shuttle service to and from the car park and relax in the VIP area – often frequented by the likes of prime minister David Cameron - where you’ll be treated to first-class cuisine and champagne bars.
With performers including David Gray, Noisettes, Imelda May, Candi Staton, Newton Faulkner and The Feeling, this year’s chic-boutique festival offers a civilized alternative to larger events. To book tickets, priced from £150, visit them online.
Mercedes-Benz World Summer Concert Series: Weybridge, Surrey; 3 –4 July 2010
If you like a dash of opera with your pop, this eclectic festival will quench your musical thirst. Held outdoors over two evenings, you can make a day of it with an exclusive dinner package with platinum seating, hospitality parking and a three-course dinner (£140). If the sun is shining, order a picnic for two made up with fresh, homemade delights.
The concerts kick off with Will Young, The Saturdays and Scouting for Girls and also see Russell Watson, Myleene Klass, Blake and Camilla Kerslake take to the stage. If you fancy watching world-class performances from a glamorous sun terrace, book a Panoramic Suite at the Brooklands Hotel where you and up to 30 friends can enjoy cocktails and canapes while overlooking the concerts. Tickets begin starting at £40.
This quintessentially English summer festival is as stylish as it is glamorous – there’s a black tie code and an eclectic mix of entertainment, from big name headliners to colorful street theater. Set in the picturesque town of Henley along the banks of the Thames, the festival’s famous floating stage will host the likes of Ronan Keating, Will Young, Bryn Terfel, Nigel Kennedy and the West End performers of We Will Rock You with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, performing over the water.
Sip champagne and enjoy an alfresco picnic for two (£45) while watching the fireworks finale or dine on outstanding dishes prepared by legendary French cuisine master Albert Roux at Europe’s largest a la carte restaurant, Roux at the Riverside.Or choose Heston Blumenthal’s award winning gastro-pub, the Hind’s Head, which will also be making its debut at the not-for-profit festival. For tickets, starting from £35, visit online.
Secret Garden Party, Cambridgeshire; 22 – 25 July 2010
If you long to experience the hayday of the Seventies and unleash your inner hippy, look no further. This original and creative festival is all about letting your hair down and having innocent fun. Set on 200 acres of countryside and boarding a river and a lake, the event boasts renowned headline acts such as Gorillaz Sound System, Marina And The Diamonds and Mercury Rev.
This year’s festival is themed ‘Fact Or Fiction’, drawing inspiration from Blake, Dalri and Da Vinci which you can spot as you wander around the diverse entertainment. Indulge your senses at the Soulfire Restaurant with an exquisite choice of indulgent dishes – or book a yurt (luxury cabin) for your own private party for up to 30. Very Important Gardeners can sip champagne and gorge on fountains overflowing with chocolate while lazing in a hot tub in the sun.
Book boutique camping where you’ll enjoy your own private road to the campsite and exclusive entrance to the festival. Allow yourself to be pampered with facials and pedicures and let the butlers wait on you while the bellboys take your luggage from your car to your Kabin which has underfloor heating and a flat-screen TV. Tickets for the event start from £142 for the weekend.
Serenata Festival, The Smedmore Estate, Kimmeridge, Dorset; 26 – 28 August 2010
Set against the backdrop of the Jurassic Coast, Serenata brings together classical artists from every level. Taking place on the Isle of Purbeck, the main stage drops away to reveal the stunning ocean where festival goers will be able to watch the sunset as they are serenaded by sweet sound of arias and sonatas from performers such as Katherine Jenkins, Russell Watson, Blake, Geoff Sewell and Faryl Smith.
Book to stay in a Bell Tent with room service or in the Serenata Boutique camp where guests have their own butler. If you have children, leave them in the capable hands of Boutique Babysitting where they’ll have their own luxurious experience. The festival promises to be a gastronomic delight with catering from five-star restaurants, champagne and oysters to organic hog roasts, afternoon tea with a string quartet and a mad hatter’s tea party for the children.
Then take a wander around the ‘Serenata Boutique Art Fair’ showcasing rarely seen prints from world-known names. Tickets may be purchased online.
Carol Driver is a journalist with more than 13 years' experience writing, subbing and editing at national and regional publications and websites in the UK. Carol is currently the group editor at TNT Multimedia, which has magazines in London, Australia and New Zealand. She previously worked at national newspaper website the Mail Online well as writing for a host of other publications. She has also ...(Read More)