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A Day at the Races becomes a festival

Lauren Strain takes a look at an alternative series of festivals starting in Manchester

Published on July 1st 2008.

A Day at the Races becomes a festival

Confidential gets bored of the traditional stuff occasionally, so this year we're going all Tom Bombadill on you. This is our subversive selection of odd festivals across the country his summer. We start with a real winner in Manchester.

A Day At The Races

Manchester, New Century House, 2 August

If you’re after a day out rather than a full-blown weekend spent skirting mudslides and puddles, then A Day At The Races counts as a date for your diary. Bringing together intriguing acts from around the globe, this event – in its very first year – prides itself on quality and quantity (that’s fifteen acts, working out at practically a pound fifty each!). A Day At The Races promises some exclusive sets – including a rare appearance from Calvin Johnson, whose American label, K Records, helped spurn the Riot Grrrl movement of the 1980s. Household names such as Four Tet, Jeffrey Lewis and Nina Nastasia will play alongside some of Britain’s hotly tipped raw talent (check out Johnny Foreigner and The Mae Shi for starters), while Iceland’s Ólafur Arnalds will offset the indie-pop with his glacial soundscapes.

Tickets are available for the humble sum of £23 from www.ticketline.co.uk

An Evening With Daniel Johnston & Friends

Glasgow, Old Fruit Market, 23 July
Manchester, New Century House, 24 July
London, Indig02, 25 July

Texas’ Daniel Johnston a the living legend these days. Perhaps, when he began recording home-made tapes on an old Boombox back in the late ‘70s – and illustrating their sleeves with his felt-tip cartoons – he didn’t realise just how big an influence on twenty first century music he would become. Or perhaps he did. Either way, his status as an emblem of ‘outsider art’ – through both his songs and his pictures – is undeniable. This string of dates sees Daniel supported and backed by a cast of superb musicians, all of whom cite Johnston as an inspiration and are influential artists in their own right. They are (drumroll please): Mark Linkous, of Sparklehorse; Norman Blake, of Teenage Fanclub; James McNew, of Yo La Tengo; Jad Fair, of Half Japanese, and, last but not least, the feisty Scout Niblett.

Highly sought-after tickets are available from www.ticketline.co.uk

Daniel Johnson

The Green Man Festival

South Wales, Glanusk Park, 15-17 August

Green Man is an institution among folk fans young and old. Now in its fifth year, this laid-back, eco-friendly affair takes in the idyllic landscape of Glanusk Park, South Wales. Once you’ve nestled yourself into your chosen glade, venture out of your teepee and sample the therapeutic Healing Garden or experience enlightenment in the Literature or Science tents. If you’re a nocturnal beast, shuffle over to the all-night cinema, where you’ll be able to feast those eyes on some of the globe’s best cult shorts and animations. While there are, of course, established musical talents galore – including Pentangle, Spiritualized, Iron and Wine and those Super Furry Animals – you can jam with friends late into the night on the Rumpus Room’s piano. Crucially, Green Man is family friendly: the Children’s Area is to be found in the Victorian Walled Gardens, where kids can take part in musical workshops and puppet shows.

Weekend camping tickets are available from www.thegreenmanfestival.co.uk


Isle of Wight, Robin Hill Country Park, 5-7 September

Curated by BBC Radio One’s Rob Da Bank, Bestival lives up to its name this year. From old-time favourites like My Bloody Valentine and The Breeders to the cream of the new breed – Foals, Lykke Li and Santogold – via Akron/Family’s deranged folk and Lethal Bizzle’s confrontational hip hop, Bestival’s got all grounds covered. When you’re not feasting on the world’s hottest noise merchants, get twisting to the rhythms in the retro-style Hidden Disco (complete with mirror balls) or relax with a cup of Earl Gray at the Loose Tea Party.


End Of The Road Festival

Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset, 12-14 September

Fancy rubbing shoulders with peacocks and parrots? Then get set for this year’s End Of The Road festival, a snug delight with a capacity of only 5,000 people declared “a festival of otherworldly perfection” by the Independent last year. This weekender shares Green Man’s environmentally-aware ethos, and is an enchanted setting for the likes of Richard Hawley, Mercury Rev, the Dirty Three and a special appearance from Conor Oberst with his Mystic Valley Band. Vegans and vegetarians are catered for, and the discerning connoisseur can enjoy both a wide range of real ales and the Somerset Cider Bus. Keep a look out for a fairylit piano hidden in the forests for surprise performances from the festival’s stars. To keep the youngsters happy there’s a playground and an activity tent.

Tickets are available from www.endoftheroadfestival.com

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