While South West England is known for its natural, rugged beauty, the region also hosts a whole variety of events and festivals throughout the summer. Although your mind may immediately consider the world-famous Glastonbury Festival or the Eden Project, the world’s largest indoor rainforest, there are plenty of offbeat, cool festivals that make the southwest the place to be this year. From balloon festivals, to discovering the next Banksy at a street art festival, right through to an award-winning music festival in the pretty Cotswold Hills, it is an area of Great Britain that may really surprise you.
Bristol Balloon Festival
Bristol, Thu 9th – Sun 12th August
Attracting spectators from all over the world, the Bristol Balloon Fiesta is Europe’s largest meeting of hot air balloons. A free annual event, it kicks off with the Afternoon Lift where you can watch the hot air balloons take flight, before it ends with a spectacular scene of glowing balloons and a fireworks finale.
Ötillö Swimrun World Qualifiers
Isles of Scilly, Sat 9th June
Home to a mere 2,200 people, the Isles of Scilly are made up of five main islands, plus another hundred-or-so uninhabited ones. Each year, the islands play host to a fantastic range of activities and events, such as art and folk festivals, as well as an exciting swimming challenge. On Saturday 9th June, more than 100 teams will compete in the Ötillö Swimrun World Qualifiers, a 45-kilometre endurance race consisting of open-water swimming, trail running and scrambling. Participants will compete for eight spots in the World Championships held later in the year.
Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival
Dorset, Sat 14th – Sun 15th July
Historic Weymouth harbour is the place to be in July when over 100 stalls open to showcase some of the most delicious, responsibly sourced seafood in the world at the Pommery Dorset Seafood Festival. Alongside demonstrations by such culinary legends as the ‘Broil King’, chef Dave Hunter, there will be plenty of opportunities to dine on cockles, mussels and more, accompanied by a chilled glass of Pommery Champagne.
Upfest – The Urban Paint Festival
Bristol, Sat 28th – Mon 30th July
Upfest, Europe’s largest street art and graffiti festival, is held annually and attracts around 50,000 art-loving visitors to Bristol, home of the celebrated, but elusive street artist Banksy. 2018 marks the festival’s tenth anniversary with 1,000 applicants hoping to showcase their unique street art at the event.
2,000 Trees Festival
Cotswolds, Thu 12th – Sun 14th July
A magical music festival for those seeking something a little unusual, the 2,000 Trees Festval pitches up every July at beautiful Upcote Farm in the Cotswold Hills, Gloucestershire. It’s the brainchild of a group of friends who wanted to offer festivalgoers affordable tickets to see their favourite bands – weekend tickets cost £115. The organisers have won countless awards for creating a diverse, exciting event, which features over 80 musical acts in an ethereal woodland music setting. Click here to discover this year’s line-up.