Festivals: Five for 2014

Head hurts. With so many festivals cropping up right across these tiny islands, we thought we'd take some of the pain out of deciding which one to attend with a handy guide to a few of the most intriguing line-ups. You've got your wellies and babywipes, but where's your sat nav gonna take ya?

The 'Same name, different festival' festival

Once upon a time Hop Farm Festival was run by the granddaddy of festival promoters, Vince Power. The lineup was headlined by some of the world’s biggest heritage acts: Eagles, Prince, Neil Young, and last time round Bob Dylan and Peter Gabriel. And now into 2014, after a cancellation in 2013, it's back. Only it isn't. Kinda. Confusingly, and although it’s called Hop Farm Festival and is on the same site, Hop Farm, this isn’t the Vince Power festival, it’s something totally new.

And if you can get past that then there’s a pretty good lineup in place for 2014, if a bit more middle of the road than the A-list acts that the site has seen before. Ray Davies and Brian Wilson are two big names and they’re backed up by a smorgasbord of Radio 2 friendly acts - James Blunt, Caro Emerald, 10CC, Chas & Dave, Bellowhead, Scouting For Girls, the list goes on. It seems certain the promoters know their audience - and some festivals would love to be in that position.

The 'Not-just-music' festival

If you’re looking for a high brow but still mainstream festival then Latitude is the place for you, as alongside the usual trappings of a British music festival there are a myriad of arts, film, poetry and book stages with guests from all those worlds. And their comedy tent is almost as star-studded as the music with Dara O’Brien and Kevin Bridges among the headliners.

But we’re all about the music right? The other thing Latitude is known for is giving bands a chance as a headline act. At times it’s touched on future monsters - Glastonbury main men Arcade Fire in 2007 - but it has always given new bands their break. This year it’s the turn of Two Door Cinema Club and The Black Keys alongside a solo Damon Albarn. Further down the bill is a winning mix of the new (Haim, Temples, Clean Bandit), the trendy (Mogwai, Future Islands, Lykke Li) and the old (Slowdive, The Jayhawks, Billy Bragg). Best line up of the year? Possibly.

The 'Comeback kid' festival

It's not often that a festival gets cancelled, then misses a year and you see it again, but Sonisphere has bucked that trend. A below par line-up and ticket sales in 2012 saw the festival cancelled, while the promoters didn't even try in 2013. This year though, the Knebworth based hard rock weekend is back with a bang: solid gold headliners in The Prodigy, Iron Maiden, and Metallica mean that it's a serious contender to Download again.

A solid undercard with well established acts (Anthrax, Slayer, The Sisters Of Mercy) mixing with some newish (The Cadillac Three, Bo Ningen, The Winery Dogs) and left field (Chas and Dave?) names give us a fuller feel and something for metalheads to properly shake their hair to.

The 'Bring your newly grown beard' festival

Dorset’s End Of The Road festival continues its move away from an Americana-based roots bill into a slightly more varied festival. While 2013 had some mega-headliners (David Byrne, Sigur Ros) this year sees a unique performance from The Gene Clark No Other Band (made up of various members of beardy folk bands), alongside the returning Wild Beasts and psychedelic The Flaming Lips.

With a much smaller crowd at Larmer Tree Gardens, the stages are more intimate and there will be no doubt delightful performances from the likes of Marissa Nadler, John Grant and Cate Le Bon. Then there’s the more rock stuff: White Denim, The Horrors, Temples. And returning is half of last year’s Friday headline act, St Vincent, the wonderful Tune-Yards, and Yo La Tengo.

The “I am not a number” festival

The newest festival on the block, Festival No. 6, is still going strong in year three with Beck and Pet Shop Boys as two headliners with youngsters London Grammar taking the final top slot. The rest of the bill is quite low key, with The Rails, Arthur Beatrice, TOY jumping out.

But like so many festivals in 2014 Festival No. 6 adds more than just music. Amongst the other attractions is has the main one is probably its unique setting, the Welsh seaside town of Portmeirion. Selling out each year is a great start for the newbie on this list and if they can keep improving the line-up side of things, we predict they'll be around for many years to come.

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