Away from the cultural hubbub that is Nottingham for the holidays? Never fear! We present the best arty festivals on offer this summer…

Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts (23rd May-2nd June)

The Hay Festival, now in its 26th year, gathers writers from all over the world in the beautiful Brecon Beacons for ten days.  Its goal? To celebrate “great writing from poets and scientists, lyricists and comedians, novelists and environmentalists, and the power of great ideas to transform our way of thinking”. To name but a few of the events on offer, there are talks by Quentin Blake, Melvyn Bragg, and Astronomer Royal Martin Rees; conversations with Will Self and Rowan Williams; a symposium on education led by Simon Schama; and music from Christy Moore, Seth Lakeman and KT Tunstall. Described by Bill Clinton as “the Woodstock of the mind”, Hay always promises to inspire.

Regents Park Open Air Theatre (16th May-7th September)

If you live anywhere near the London area, Regents Park Open Air Theatre is a must for your summer holidays. The location is stunning, with views of the entire park from some of the higher seats in the open-air amphitheatre. With prices starting at £25, there is an abundance of shows on offer throughout the holiday, including productions such as TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, THE WINTER’S TALE, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and SOUND OF MUSIC, comedy acts including Jimmy Carr, and film viewings including SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE and Alfred Hitchcock’s THE BIRDS. Picnics are encouraged, but there is also a charming BBQ lawn on site, complete with a bar stocked with plenty of Pimms! The atmosphere of the entire setting is wonderful; think fairy lights, wine, picnics, English sun (if you’re lucky!), and the buzz created by great theatre in an intimate and beautiful location. Don’t miss out, tickets are already on sale!

Latitude Festival (18th-21st July)

Latitude is a festival that combines all elements of the arts. This year, the music side has attracted names such as Bloc Party, Alt-J and Foals, but Latitude is much more than just music. An extensive comedy stage is one of the additions, featuring panel-show favourite Sean Lock, as well as massive line-ups dedicated to spoken word, theatre, film, dance, live art and all things literary. Some notable names this year include poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, feminist voice Germaine Greer, and National Theatre Wales.  You can try to fit all these activities into one day with a day ticket for £84.50 or splash out and buy a weekend/family ticket  for £190.50. In the 2012 Festival Awards, Latitude won Best Family Festival, making it a good all-rounder keeping everyone happy.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival (2nd-26th August)

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is a quirky, fantastic, stupendous festival where your day will roller coaster from stand-up to dance to live music to original theatre (student and otherwise) to Shakespeare raps. The atmosphere is noisy, busy and wonderfully friendly – talk to as many people as possible; word of mouth is the best form of recommendations for what to see. If you want something home-grown, check out the Nottingham New Theatre’s two productions of PARADISE and THE PROJECT! The best experience of the Fringe is to cram events in from morning to midnight; there is always something on and you can fit up to about 8 events per day (before you collapse with emotional drainage). In terms of cost, events can be between £5 – £20, but there is a Free Fringe which runs alongside which can hold hidden gems of comic genius (or not!)

Joel Davie, Alice Child, Zoe Ashton, Eve Wersocki Morris

Image by James Cridland via Flickr

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