Our pick of London summer festivals (+ a giveaway)

Some hop on the plane to Barcelona to take in the sea, sex and songs at Sonar, whilst others road-trip it down to Sete for Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival – a jamboree of urban sounds that this year has everyone from The Gaslamp Killer to Gil Scott Heron headlining the cult seaside musical festival. The more eco-conscious and time-constrained of summer festival fiends, however, snake it over the Chanel for the weekend to enjoy London’s burgeoning festival scene. Indeed, with the Eurostar‘s Brussels to London travelling time down to 1h52, you’d be a damn fool not to cross-over and catch some of the acts setting foot on the island this summer. Here’s our pick of those you shouldn’t miss…

(Scroll to the end of this post for your chance to win two pairs of return Eurostar tickets to London).

© Ulrike Biets (www.ulrikebiets.com)

© Ulrike Biets (www.ulrikebiets.com)

Lovebox Festival, 16-18th July, Victoria Park

For the first time in the seven years of the festival’s history, the Lovebox will be held over three days. Alongside wild DJ sets, catch the smaller performances from up and coming acts as well as the big names like British Grime superstar Dizzee Rascal; the aging glam rock dandies of Roxy Music; the fiercer than ever Grace Jones; geeks turned dance-floor killers Hot Chip; synthpop neo-hippies Empire of the Sun; and obviously, Lovebox founders Groove Armada. The festival’s festive yet unthreatening vibe makes it the perfect place to catch your oldies but goodies, invite your mum for her birthday, hear her rave about how hot Brian Ferry was in the day, then ditch her to dance the night away.

The Lovebox 2009 round-up

1234 Festival, 24th July, Shoreditch Park

Keeping track of the plethora of decent acts emerging from the UK is not an easy mission. Fortunately, the edgy 1234 Festival‘s line-up offers a perfect glimpse of all the good names to follow. Other acts you can’t miss include lo-fi 60’s inspired girl bands Dum Dum Girls and Vivian Girls; two-piece fast-paced rockers Comanechi, whose singer/drummer Akiko Matsuura gives Meg White a run for her money; the post-punk darkwave of S.C.U.M; or British superband The Silver Machine, featuring The Sex Pistols‘ Glen MatlockThe Who‘s Zak Starkey, and Primal Scream‘s Bobby GillespieAndrew Innes and Barrie Cadogan. Attention Ian Curtis mourners: this year will see New Order‘s Peter Hook perform Joy Division‘s debut Unknown Pleasures and it will be “the only time and the only place I will be playing it in England”, says Hook. With about a dozen or so after parties scheduled all over Shoreditch, this will be the hipster event of the year. Don’t forget your Clubmasters.

Watch Har Mar Superstar’s sleazy, sweaty, greasy yet hilarious performance at the festival

Field Day Festival, 31st July, Victoria Park

For its fourth year, the six stages of the eclectic Field Day Festival will be gathering more than 80 live acts and DJs in Hackney’s Victoria Park. Headliners include the Grammy-winning Versailles quartet Phoenix; cult post-punk band The Fall, whose charmingly mad frontman Mark E. Smith‘s onstage rants are not to be missed; the pioneering electronic psychedelia of Silver Apples; catchy electro-house duo Simian Mobile Disco; ex-Test Icicles Dev Hynes‘ solo project Lightspeed Champion; the 9-piece brass band Hypnotic Brass Ensemble; and art-rockers These New Puritans. The closest London gets to its very own T in The Park.

The Horrors ripping it at last year’s Field Day

LED Festival, 27-28 August, Victoria Park

The giants of live dance music, Cream, Goldenvoice and Loudsound, join forces to give you the first ever London Electronic Dance Festival with music from the biggest names across the genres of Dance, Electro, House and everything in between. Held over August Bank holiday in London’s Victoria Park the festival is heralded to be the next big thing on the London festival circuit. With a solid line-up to back it up, the LED managed to score one of the very rare live performances by electronica legend Aphex TwinDavid Guetta‘s chart-topping Eurotrash, LeftfieldGoldfrapp‘s sexy synthpop, the Dewaele brothers’ Soulwax, and British dance-punk sensation Friendly Fires. An absolute clubber’s delight, the LED will be the destination of choice for those who can’t make it to Ibiza this year.

Aphex Twin’s mental laser show at this year’s Rockness Festival

Offset Festival, 4-5th September, Hainault Forest Country Park

The festival season ends with the low-key Offset Festival, who has been offering the best alternative line-up since its conception in 2008. Showcasing more than 180 underexposed and emerging bands in two days only, the choice will be difficult, but here are some of the sets we’ll be sure to catch: the long-haired Japanese progressive-punk combo of Bo Ningen, rightfully heralded as London’s best live act of the year; the synth driven mathcore virtuosos of Rolo Tomassi, whose tour bus we invaded for our Breakthrough Issue’s showstoppers; Kap Bambino, that one could describe as France’s answer to Crystal Castles (even though they were around first); indie rockers of Mystery Jets; the incendiary garage of The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster and Guy McKnight’s onstage antics – which include ripping his shirt before diving in the audience or dropping to the floor for a series of push-ups mid-track; and New York based Liquid Liquid‘s post-disco for their second ever UK performance in three decades. Not for the faint-hearted, the Offset promises to be once more the ultimate freak-fest where no matter how trashed you get, no-one will raise an eyebrow.

Bo Ningen’s apocalyptical finale at last year’s Offset


We have two pairs of return tickets to London to giveaway, courtesy of Eurostar. All you need to do is email your answer to the following question to wewrite@thewordmagazine.be to enter the draw:

What is the name of the Eurostar station in London?

Competition closes Thursday 8th July at midnight. Winners will be notified Friday 9th July by email.

[ipad-disclaimer]Apple is in no way the sponsor of, nor is it associated with, the contest and the winning prizes on offer[/ipad-disclaimer]