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The best non-music festivals in the UK this summer

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Countryfile Live has its own Wildlife Zone

Festivals are taking place around the country over the coming months, celebrating food, motoring and watersports, wellbeing and fitness, literature and video games

Discover something new this summer with these unusual festivals – take a weekend away indulging in your favourite hobby, with fun for all the family.

1. Conwy River Festival, Conwy, North Wales

20-21 and 26-28 July

The Conwy River Festival starts with two days of racing on the quayside at Conwy Castle, plus Quay Day on Saturday 20 July where you can enjoy jet ski rides and family events ­– and entry is free. Then from 26 to 28 July there’s the LA-LA rally sailing from Conwy to Caernarfon, past the stunning North Wales scenery.


2. CarFest, Cheshire and Hampshire

Carfest North

26-28 July, Bolesworth, Cheshire; 23-25 August, Laverstoke Park Farm, Hampshire

The brainchild of former Top Gear presenter Chris Evans, CarFest is a family-friendly weekend of music, cars and activities. Music acts at the first weekend in Cheshire include the Kaiser Chiefs and Tony Christie, and Rick Astley and Boy George at Hampshire, while both events include performances from Jools Holland, Beverley Knight and Sister Sledge and many more. There’ll be car demos from modern and classic vehicles, plus a circus and a fun fair, food stalls, a relaxation tent and a kids’ zone.

Kids’ tickets start from £16, adults’ tickets from £69, and camping tickets are also available; all profits go to BBC Children in Need and four other UK children’s charities.


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3. Arundel Festival

16-26 August, Arundel, Sussex

Arundel Festival is a town-wide event that starts with two Shakespeare plays performed outdoors in the grounds of Arundel Castle. There’s also a duck race and a dragon boat race down the river, walking tours, a gallery trail, eight circus shows over the weekend of 17 and 18 August, and a burlesque show on Sunday 25 August.

Ticket prices vary for each event.


4. Countryfile Live

Countryfile Live involves lots of waterside activities

1-4 August, Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire; 15-18 August, Castle Howard, Yorkshire

Enjoy the best of the British countyside at Countryfile Live with the team behind BBC Countryfile; meet the TV show’s presenters, discover the latest in farming and get up close to animals, and explore the Wildlife Zone. There’s also delicious food to taste, the ‘Craven Arms’ pub garden, waterside activities and music and performers on the Village Green.

Tickets cost from £31.90 for adults and £15.95 for children.


5. Insomnia Gaming Festival

23-26 August, Birmingham, West Midlands

Fans of gaming will enjoy the Insomnia Gaming Festival at Birmingham’s NEC, with the chance to try out the latest games and watch the best players do battle. You can also try out the latest virtual reality technology, and join live Q&A sessions.

Tickets start from £21.50.


6. Bath Children’s Literature Festival

Literature festivals for kids Bath Children’s Literature Festival

27 September to 6 October, Bath

The Bath Children’s Literature Festival takes place around the city, with talks from authors including Cressida Cowell of How To Train Your Dragon (the current Waterstones’ Children’s Laureate), comedian David Baddiel and ex-SAS soldier Chris Ryan, plus modelling workshops from Aardman Animations.

Ticket prices vary.


7. BBC Summer Social

3 and 4 August, Croxteth Country Park, Liverpool

Fans of the BBC’s CBBC and CBeebies channels will love the BBC Summer Social in Liverpool, with CBBC shows including a Horrible Histories movie screening, dancers from The Next Step and Donel, a finalist from The Voice on the Saturday, plus a performance from Strictly Come Dancing stars Janette Manrara and Dr Ranj, . CBeebies takes over on the Sunday with Mr Tumble, Andy and the Odd Socks, and pirate games from the Swashbuckle gang.

Day tickets cost £25 and under-twos are free.


8. Happy Place Festival

Two people sat in yoga poses

3 and 4 August, Chiswick House and Gardens; 7 and 8 September, Tatton Park, Cheshire

Fearne Cotton is the famous face behind the new Happy Place Festival, focusing on mental and physical wellbeing. Join in the schedule of yoga sessions and creative crafting workshops, enjoy a massage or therapy treatment, and listen to talks from personal trainer Joe Wicks, Russell Brand, and more, plus live podcast sessions. Sunday’s activities are focused on family events, with workshops and food aimed at kids.

Children’s tickets are £16.50, and adults are £35.75.


9. Vintage By The Sea

31 August-1 September, Morecambe, Lancashire

The Vintage By The Sea festival is free to enter, celebrating the best of 20th century culture. Take part in dance lessons, ride a retro fairground, have a makeover in hair and beauty salons and admire a gorgeous collection of classic cars. There’s lots of live music too, encompassing soul, funk, swing, rockabilly and disco.


10. Abergavenny Food Festival

Half term events food festival

21 and 22 September, Abergavenny

The Abergavenny Food Festival is one of the biggest in Wales, with tasting workshops, masterclass sessions and special sessions aimed at kids. There’s also food markets, a simultaneous Fringe Festival, and in the evenings there’s entertainment too – music, dancing and fireworks at Abergavenny Castle.

Tickets cost from £6, and children get in free.

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