It's not all about the music. Here's our roundup of some of the comedy highlights you can find at UK festivals this summer
Alright, when you first think of a festival the image of Jimi Hendrix burning a guitar or Beyoncé tearing up Glasto is far more likely to come to mind than a comedian standing solo in a spotlight. But comedy has become an integral part of the modern festival experience, and it’s easy to see why.
For festival organisers, these acts are often big draws that add depth to their bill and don’t require much in terms of pyrotechnics. For the punter, it’s the perfect way to fill out the day if there are gaps in their must-see schedule and, let’s be honest, is often a good excuse to sit down for a bit. And for the comic, it’s a great chance to earn new fans who, in their merry and festive state, are often a forgiving audience.
With that in mind, here are some of the best UK festivals to attend this summer if you’re jonesing for laugh or two.
If you’re a music-loving parent, either instalment of Camp Bestival will likely need no introduction for its uniquely family-friendly approach. But the festival have also handpicked an interesting mix of names likely to make all ages laugh. The Dorset half sees the likes of surrealist comic Scott Turnball, RuPaul’s Drag Race finalist Vanity Milan and self-proclaimed comedian and idiot Olaf Falafel join in on the fun. If you’re heading to Shropshire, don’t miss a Comedy Club 4 Kids, Drag Storytime with Raphael Hoe, plus crafts, storytime and drawing with the laugh-out-loud Supertato creator Sue Hendra.
Dorset, 27 – 30 July | Shropshire, 17 – 20 August | Get tickets here
As its name promises, Kaleidoscope festival offers a vibrant view – not only of the capital from the proud perch of Alexandra Palace, but of the arts too, with the likes of Hot Chip, Gaz Coombes and Girls Of The Internet. But there’ll also be a conversation between Shaun Keaveny and the forever funny Joe Lycett to watch out for. And that’s not the only fusion of music and comedy – sing your heart out with Barrioke with none other than Shaun Williamson, AKA Barry from Eastenders. Oh, and don’t miss stand-up from Maisie Adam, who’s going places fast.
Alexandra Palace, London, 15 July | Get tickets here
Latitude lead the way when music festivals began opening their doors to comedians and other performing arts. Bridget Christie even went as far to say that it’s “the best comedy stage of all the festival comedy stages by some margin.” That’s good for Christie, as she tops this year’s comedy bill along with Romesh Ranganathan, Ed Gamble and Sara Pascoe. If you like a laugh then you’ll probably spend most of your time here, with the likes of Thanyia Moore, Fern Brady, Ed Byrne and Rosie Holt appearing throughout the weekend.
Henham Park, Suffolk, 20 – 23 July | Get tickets here
Reading & Leeds
Though many young bucks may be too busy having the time of their lives raving to the likes of Billie Eilish, Sam Fender and Foals, Reading & Leeds festival also pulls in some impressive names from the world of comedy for the Alternative Stage. You’ll have to wait a little longer for this year’s line-up though – they usually announce the comedy bill a couple of weeks before; last year’s edition included Reginald D. Hunter, Russell Howard and Joanne McNally.
Richfield Avenue, Reading & Bramham Park, Leeds, 25 – 27 August | Get tickets here
Compered by Josh Howie, Standon Calling promises to have you howling with their Live At The Lordship programme in what feels like an out-and-out comedy club. Veteran of the UK circuit Mark Watson is joined by Rhys James, Reginald D Hunter and Lou Sanders, to name a few.
Standon Lordship, Hertfordshire, 20–23 July | Get tickets here
Known for its boujie offerings, Wilderness has long defied the idea that the festival experience has to be mucky and messy. It’s not just glamping and gourmet dining, though; you’ll also be able to pamper the mind with some insightful talks and comedic moments from the likes of the very in-demand Sara Pascoe and Lloyd Griffith, who you might recognise from Ted Lasso. Close off the weekend with the Sunday Night Comedy Club too if you know what’s good for you.
Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire, 3 – 6 August | Get tickets here
Photo credit: Joseph Okpako / Getty