All About Alternative

Written by  Lucinda Day

Music festivals, in theory, are one of the greatest modern inventions. The sun comes out, and so do the masses - including this year's biggest musicians. Drinks flow, friends gather, and a whole hog of comedy events are usually thrown in just in case spirits begin to flag. Yet, why is it for every one festival lover, there are five who seem to detest the word itself?

The empty plastic cups, filled with suspicious liquids, that fly through the air and hit unsuspecting fans on the head may have something to do with it; as might the rowdy teenagers that tent trample – and the rain of course. Either way, overcrowded or commercial festivals tend to put people off, and give music festivals a bad name in the process. It's all rather lucky then, that a wide range of wacky and wondrous, alternative festivals have sprung up all over the world, and resurrected the idea of the truly mind-blowing summer festival experience.

The very nature of an 'alternative' festival suggests diversity and encompasses a range of themes. If you're a folk fan, then the Cambridge Folk Festival is the biggest event on the British calendar, playing host to the shining stars of folk in the beautiful British countryside. In terms of dance, then Exit festival, held in the grounds of a spectacular fortress in Serbia, features every possible DJ set you could dream of.

Alternative festivals do not have to be alternative merely in terms of their musical style. Amsterdam's Lowlands, held in the Dutch countryside, and Germany's Haldern Pop Festival, attract tweed indie-pop outfits who regularly tour Europe in their own right – it's the stunning European countryside, the refreshing range of local beer, and most importantly the intimacy of these events that make them different.

Some festivals take the idea of 'alternative' to a new level altogether; and subvert festival ethos from the inside. Roskilde is Denmark's answer to Glastonbury. Bands such as Radiohead flock to the stage, at this non – profit knees - up; and all proceeds go to humanitarian causes, instead of the big sponsors. If you're looking to make a more individual stand then dirty little techno festivals, Czech-Tech, Italia-Tech and Bulgaria-Tech are becoming better known. Roll up to the respective country, follow the baseline (wherever that might be) and you may just stumble upon the greatest free party of your life. This may be a little too loud if you've got little ones, but ditch the excuses as plenty of alternative festivals provide magical entertainment for children too, such as the Isle of White's fancy dress showdown, Bestival.

Whether it's unusual music, location, or festival set-up that you're seeking, alternative can mean what you want it too right now; so head out on tour this summer- just like your favourite band.

Top Alternative Festivals to visit

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