Festivals are awful: A gaudy caligulan swirl of overpriced booze, overhyped bands and overenthusiastic punters. For those of us staring 30 in the face, festivals are glum reminders that our best years are behind us as we slowly dissociate from popular culture. Many of us, however, are still not quite ready to give up on socialising outdoors and want to enjoy all the benefits of sunlight and fruit ciders, but we don’t want to listen to George Ezra. That’s why we’ve put together this list of weird and wonderful festivals taking place this Summer: A sanctuary of strange without a dreadlock or portaloo in sight.

Whit Friday Brass Band Contests | Saddleworth | Fri 29 May | Free
Early in the Summer calendar is this one-day festival staging a series of brass band contests all over Saddleworth. This might not seem all that unique, but when you consider that last year’s festival featured over 100 brass bands and couple that with the fact that Saddleworth isn’t very big, you get a picture of a town bursting at the seams with horns, trumpets and tubas. Saddleworth take Whit Friday and their brass bands pretty seriously, and given the nonexistent cover charge, it’s definitely worth finding out why.

Lakes Chilli Fest | Dalemain House | Sat 18 Jul – Sun 19 Jul | £7
It may take place in a stately home, but this festival is less Downton, more down-a-pint-of-water. Featuring stalls from nearly 70 different vendors, there’s plenty of opportunity to tuck in to all manner of street snacks and confectionaries and not just the legendary chilli that gives this foodie festival its name. Between sloppy mouthfuls, be sure to take in the breathtaking vistas that surround this gastronomic gathering

Rushbearing Festival | Littleborough | Thu 23 Jul – Sun 26 Jul | Free
Saddleworth have Whit Friday, but Littleborough have another obscure Christian celebration locked down. Starting with the tradition of lining church floors floors with rushes, this festival has expanded into an all-encompassing celebration of traditional folkcraft with clogging and decoration of the rushcart. An excellent weekend for a family, as well as a folksy window into the past.

SpoonFest (pictured) | Edale | Fri 31 Jul – Sun 2 Aug | £85
Spoons are very much the workhorse of the cutlery world, being able to take on the role of virtually any other type of cutlery at a push. It’s perhaps no surprise then that this implement warrants its own annual festival in the frankly awe-inspiring Derbyshire Dales. This festival focuses in particular on wooden spoons and the time-honoured techniques that go into their production. Camping’s available from the Thursday night, so if you’re feeling crafty or you’re just loony for spoons, this should be right up your street.

World Gravy Wrestling Championships | Stacksteads| Mon 31 Aug | Free
Every August bank holiday the Rose n Bowl pub in Stacksteads, Lancashire run this event: Pitting toned titans against one another in a battle of wits and strength – all in a child’s paddling pool filled with gravy. With 20+ gladiators taking to the ring, it’s bound to get messy. Check out the video below for a taste of what’s in stock.

Fri 29 May - Mon 31 Aug
Jon Whiteley
Published on:
Fri 28 Aug 2015