The Best “First” Festivals – where to lose your festival cherry

It’s a new year and the days are getting longer… this means the UK festival season is almost upon  us again! For a veteran like me, I get so excited knowing what’s to come and planning my season with my friends. But for someone who’s never been to a festival before, there are so many to choose from, it must be daunting to decide which will be your first festival! In my experience some festivals are better for newbies because they have a more welcoming and friendly atmosphere, are easier to get to, have better amenities, and have camping/not camping options. I’ve put together this list of what I believe to be the best options for those who have seen photos and heard stories about festivals, but want to ease themselves in gently. I’ve even asked fellow festival blogger Dulcie of That Festival Life for her suggestions too!

My recommendations for those new to festivals:

Bestival – 2-5 August – Dorset

My friends and I in front of the Bestival sign in the beautiful sunshine. This could be your first festival

Renowned for its sense of fun and frolics; Bestival is the perfect “all-rounder” festival. With big names on the line up from a wide range of genres, there’s bound to be something for everyone. Set in the grounds of Lulworth Castle in Dorset, this fest is great for first timers because of it’s easy access by road or rail, perfect size (big enough to get the full experience without being overwhelmed), range of extra-musicular activities, and just general glittery fun atmosphere. Get up early and do a rave spin class, enjoy a tasting session at the Feast Collective, or dance to house music till 3am in the Bollywood tent. There’s so much choice at Besti!


Download – 8-10 June – Derbyshire

Aerial shot of the Download festival main stage Donington rock festival

For the rock lovers, Download is a fantastic festival with a real family feel. From my experience and what others have said too, the people of Download are some of the friendliest festival-goers out there, despite their sometimes scary appearance 😉 The biggest names in rock play in the hallowed grounds of Donington every year, with 5 stages showcasing newcomers to legends. My only qualm with Download is that the campsite area is quite a walk from the Arena, and there isn’t as much on offer other than the music than there is at other festivals (although the Mexican wrestling that has been there the past few years has been an amazing watch!). However the atmosphere in the campsites is fantastic, everyone out making friends and drinking long into the early hours after the headliners (this year Avenged Sevenfold, Guns N Roses, Ozzy Osbourne) have finished! A perfect first festival to make new friends and mosh!


WeAreFstvl – 25-27 May – Upminster

The Terminal 1 stage at WeAreFstvl c- view from the stage DJ decks

If you’re into EDM then this is the festival for you. It’s really easy to get to from London and has the option to camp if you desire. WeAre features 225 artists over 20 stages from all corners of the electronic dance universe, and some of those stages are just epic! Terminal 1 looks especially amazing – a huge aeroplane hangar. 2018 sees headliners Andy C and Eric Prydz take to the main stage, and also features Gorgon City, Hannah Wants, Jackmaster, Kölsch… see the full line up here. It’s in quite an urban area so there are accommodation options if you don’t fancy camping.


2000Trees – 12-14 July – Cheltenham

The Forest Sessions area at 2000 Trees Festival with lots of bunting between the trees

This medium-sized alternative & indie festival is a hidden gem, located in the Cotswolds. Previous artists include Frank Turner, Mallory Knox, Twin Atlantic, Wolf Alice and Deaf Havana. This festival is all about the music, even the campsites are named after three artists who played over the years: Camp Reuben, Camp Turner and Camp Marwood, and each campsite has it’s own special guests playing. You will make friends here, that’s a guarantee, that’s why it would be a great first festival. My tip would be to check out the Forest Sessions, a gorgeous amphitheatre stage in the woods that hosts some amazing acoustic sets!


Beat-Herder – 13-15 July – Lancaster

One of the late night party areas of Beat-Herder festival

The ethos of Beat-Herder is all about the love and cooperation. This is the one if you are less about line up and more interested in how a festival feels,  you’re more intrigued about the little experiences that make fests magical. With an abundance of fancy dress and over 20 different themed areas to explore, you will not get bored here! The best way to get a feel of BH is to watch the 2017 after movie. Even as a first-timer, at Beat-Herder they will make you feel like family. Herd em up!


Boardmasters – 8-12 August – Newquay

The view of Fistral Beach from Boardmasters beach surfing festival

A festival with a twist! The USP of Boardmasters is definitely it’s location… Based by the beach in Cornwall, you can spend your days surfing, swimming, or just hanging at the beach bar and sessions stage. The main arena and camping is just up the road at Watergate Bay, and there are free shuttle buses running between for those with festival wristbands.  Boardmasters has a super friendly surfer vibe, and can be as chilled or as party-hectic as you want it to be. The Chemical Brothers and Annie Mac have already been announced.


Nozstock – 20-22 July – Herefordshire

Festival goer making heart hands in the lights of the main stage at Nozstock the Hidden Valley

A true old school authentic festival experience. Noz is the name of the farmer who started this festival 20 years ago with his family and friends. Nozstock’s ethos is to bring play to everyone, a hedonistic world for all ages with music, theatre, and participation. For the festival newbie, this is a great place to start if you want a classic hoe down: those garden party vibes with some pretty big names on the line up, lots of chances to get involved, and family friendly too.


Common People – 27 & 28 May – Oxford/Southampton

My friends and I in front of the Common People main stage in Southampton (day music festival)

This festival runs over two days but isn’t camping, and in both locations is set in an urban area, so is perfect for those wanting to dip their toe into festivalling before committing to sleeping in a tent. Get a hotel or AirBnb and you’ll be set. The organisers are the same team that run Bestival & Camp Bestival, so the same attention to detail goes into Common People. They’re fantastic for the price and usually have a good line up. There’s a number of stages, and a kids area too. The cocktail bars are fabulous and so is the food. A brilliant all rounder for those not wanting to camp. You can buy a day ticket or a weekend ticket, meaning you can give it a try without committing too much money incase you decide festivals aren’t for you.


Love Saves the Day – 26 & 27 May –  Bristol

Love Saves the Day festival glittery festival fashion main stage

Another brilliant two day non-camping festival, this time in the South West. Springing up from Bristol’s incredible underground music scene, LSTD is now in it’s 7th year and is more eclectic than ever. A wonderfully vibrant fest that focuses on reggae, dub, and electronic music, and is located in the centre of Bristol with amazing after parties in some of the biggest clubs.


Dulcie of That Festival Life gives her top two suggestions for the best “first festival” –

Three photos of the beautiful Dulcie of That Festival Life in very sparkly festival outfits! Festival fashion

As you all know, I love asking other bloggers for their opinions on topics like these. I don’t like to pretend that I am the omnipotent festival guru, I like to provide varied wisdom from lots of sources for you! So this time I consulted my awesome friend Dulcie who blogs at ThatFestivalLife.com for her opinion on what would be the best first festival… She narrowed it down to two! Here’s her choices:

Larmer Tree – 20-22 July – Wiltshire

Larmer Tree festival - awesome mobile DJ in front of "The Larmer Tree" actual tree

“From watching incredible world music on the lawn stage to world class comedy in one of the many entertainment tents Larmer Tree festival, set in the exquisite Larmer Tree Gardens, has a little bit of something for everyone. It’s definitely on the tamer side as festivals go – I’ve always said it’s like proper festival mixed with a posh garden party! They’ve won the best festival toilets several times in a row and it possesses a friendliness about it that’s a bit different to anything I’ve experienced anywhere else…
It caters for every age from babies to oldies, and my favourite thing about it is that the majority of the incredible workshops are included in the ticket price… the programme really is jam packed! I went ten years in a row and hope I can make it back there some day… they had a year off last year so this year is looking to be fresh and exciting!”

.

Beautiful Days – 17-19 August – Devon

The Beautiful Days festival sign with my friends and I. South West Exeter festival

“The rolling hills of Escot park in Devon are a wonderful setting for this wee gem at the perfect medium size of 17,000 people. Beautiful Days is The Leveller’s own festival and in my experience very badly named – there’s been a lot of rain over the years!  There’s loads of fantastic live music and street theatre throughout the day spanning heaps of genres as well as some wonderful little dance music venues at night time. Like all my favourite festivals you can choose to camp right up in the action if you want to. Another wonderfully family friendly festival but there’s also plenty to do for the ravers amongst you! “

– Thanks Dulcie! xx


Do you have any other suggestions for great first festivals?

What was your first festival?

Let me know your stories & suggestions in the comments!

 Pinterest share image: The view over the crowd at 2000Trees festival, the best first festival

All images are my own or taken from the official festival websites gallery pages.

17 thoughts on “The Best “First” Festivals – where to lose your festival cherry

  1. Nicola says:

    What a great idea for a post! I’d like to go to a festival but never have and figured I was way too old to get started haha, so this will be a good way to find some.

    • wheresmytent says:

      You are never too old for a festival! I’d choose Nozstock or BeatHerder from this list for the real authentic feeling! You’ll have a grand time. Let me know if you try it!

  2. Abbeylouisarose says:

    I’m a 22 year old festival virgin haha! Latitude is a festival that’s really popular in my part of the country, although I’ve still never been! Common People sounds like a lot of fun to me, I used to live near Oxford so it’d be a fab opportunity to return to my old stomping ground!

    Abbey ❤️

  3. Linda says:

    I’m not a festival person and can’t bear loud noise because of my tinnitus but I am amazed how many festivals there are these days. It used to be just Glasto and Reading when I was growing up!

  4. Sheri - A Busy Bee's Life says:

    I used to love going to festivals with friends and just enjoying the whole weekend of awesome fun and music, lately I haven’t been going because the noise from the last one was too much. I might consider going to one over my birthday weekend.

    • wheresmytent says:

      I’m sorry you had a bad experience 🙁 I know that festivals are super intense sensory wise! Maybe try a day festival just to see if it’s something you still want to do, like Common People or Love Saves the Day I suggested above. I hope you have a fabulous birthday weekend whatever you get up to!

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