Alternative festival activities to try this summer

Spoon carving, axe-throwing and the art of seduction: rounding up the most unexpected things you can do at a festival in 2023

If you’re heading off for a festival weekend this summer, it’s a safe assumption that you’re primarily there for the music. Or so you’d think. 2023 festivals such as Wilderness and Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place have become known for their eclectic roster of activities, offering guests so much else to do that live music might not even get a look in.

Fancy a spot of yoga? Want to climb a tree, attend a poetry reading, or throw an axe? Curious about what your hug style is or how many different ways there are to blow bubbles? You’ve come to the right place, if the place you’ve come to is any of the eight festivals on this list. Here’s where you can find some of the most interesting activities this festival season.

Kaleidoscope: beatboxing and bubbles


The one day-er at Alexandra Palace may be brief, but there’s still time to enjoy the zanier end of its line-up. Whilst the crowds enjoy the music and comedy, you’ll be able to enroll in a beatboxing class with UK championship beatboxer Danny Ladwa, who brings his School Of Beatboxing to the festival site. If that’s not your thing, why not check out the World’s Tallest Bubbleologist? We know you’re curious.

London, 15 July

Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place Festival: arts, crafts and really good massages

Fearne Cotton

Honestly, is there ever a time when a massage is more needed than in the middle of a festival weekend? Happy Place offer spa treatments including massages and facials at their Massage Sanctuary for those feeling like a little self care. Music and literature co-exist at Fearne Cotton’s wellness extravaganza, with poetry readings at the Creative Arts Tent and even on-site book signings.

London, 15 – 16 July | Knutsford, 2 – 3 September

Latitude: trees of life and theatres of food


Are we 100% sure what an interactive healing session under the Tree of Life consists of? No, but we’re hooked. This and plenty else is on offer at Latitude. Some of their other more unusual festival activities include paddleboard yoga – the uncoordinated should attempt at their own risk – and the Theatre of Food, offering classes and demonstrations all weekend. This is one festival you may actually return from feeling nourished.

Suffolk, 20 – 23 July

Camp Bestival Dorset: win stuff with your beard

Camp Bestival Dorset

The main aim of Camp Bestival seems to be ensuring that your whole family is too tired to move come bedtime. There’s plenty of fun family entertainment on offer, such as a fancy dress parade and circus skills class. However, dig a little deeper into the line-up and you’ll find some unusual gems. Looking to acquire some practical skills? Attend a bushcraft class, or join Woodland Tribe’s Big Build in constructing a play area. Feeling more destructive than productive? The whole family can go throw some axes together. There’s even a beard and moustache competition for those still grooming their lockdown facial hair.

Dorset, 27 – 30 July

Wilderness: get better at hugging (and at carving avocado stones)


What can’t you do at Wilderness? The answer is: fit it all in. Dream bigger than the festival’s extensive program of yoga, meditation, dance, pilates and wild swimming. Have you ever envisioned making your own wooden spoon, natural soap, or carved avocado stone? Whatever it is, there’s a class for that. The experts at Wilderness can teach you roof shingling, smithery, and the Art of Seduction. There’s even a workshop called ‘What’s your hug style?’ Any question you’ve ever had about yourself and your abilities will be answered in Oxfordshire this August.

Oxfordshire, 3 – 6 August

Camp Bestival Shropshire: get high the wholesome way

Camp Bestival Shropshire
© Leora Bermeister Farelight Productions

The second installment of Camp Bestival offers a similarly broad range of activities to its Dorset twin. There’s plenty of opportunity to get creative, with workshops teaching everything from animation to lantern making. One of the most exciting events exclusive to the Shropshire location is a session with the Great Big Tree Climbing Company, in case you’re in search of some better views. Or an escape from the kids.

Shropshire, 17 – 20 August

Rewind South: get in the Thames

Rewind Festival

Whilst all three installments of Rewind Festival (Scotland, North, South) are looking to be fantastic weekends of live music, Rewind South is offering a fairly unique experience for those looking for a break from the main stage. They’re teaming up with Hobbs of Henley to transport guests up the Thames on their picturesque river taxis. Your festival commute has never been so relaxing.

Henley-On-Thames, 18 – 20 August

Connect: do yoga in a kilt

Connect festival

The Edinburgh festival already offers a wide range of comedy, spoken word, poetry and art experiences, but their wellness retreat looks like such an intriguing time that you might not make it to any of them. Guests can enjoy massages and trips to the sauna, as well as kilted yoga classes, sound healing sessions, transformational coaching and cold water therapy. You can even have your tarot cards read. They’ll likely tell you that you’re at peace. And that you’re missing Franz Ferdinand.

Edinburgh, 25 – 27 August

Find more festivals this summer with our guide.

Photo credit: Giles Smith