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Our favourite festivals with a difference

Ellen Tout rounds up our favourite festivals offering more than just music this summer

by Ellen Tout

Port Eliot image

HowTheLightGetsIn: Hay-on-Wye, 26 May to 5 June

The world’s largest philosophy and music festival, HowTheLightGetsIn, returns to Hay-on-Wye this summer. A unique festival of music and ideas, the 11-day event features stimulating debates, long-table banquets and a wellness area. Start your day with guided meditation or yoga, and visit the vintage fairground and circus.

Psychologies’ Editor, Suzy Greaves, is among the speakers featured in the debates programme and will be hosting a hands-on confidence workshop at the festival on Sunday 29 May.

Find out more about the speakers here.

Port Eliot: Cornwall, 28 to 31 July

Set among the gardens of an ancient estate on Cornwall’s Rame Peninsula, Port Eliot features an eclectic array of activities. Try wild cocktail-making, join a late-night stargazing walk, learn to surf or enjoy a sunset swim in the neighbouring estuary.

The festival site enjoys picturesque views, while audience numbers are kept to a limit – allowing you to find enough space to comfortably pitch your tent. Their new Healing Field promotes rest with bookable hot tubs, yoga classes and spa treatments. Local beaches are also a short drive away.

On the line-up so far are comedian Noel Fielding, writer Sara Pascoe and wellbeing cook Madeleine Shaw, as well as a host of speakers, comedians and musicians.

 Image: © Fiona-Campbell: Port Eliot

NiddFest: Yorkshire, 5 to 7 August

Following its inaugural year in 2015, NiddFest returns to the picturesque landscape of Nidderdale in Yorkshire. Focusing on celebrating nature through writing, this year’s programme includes an intimate opening night with the festival’s patron - poet Carol Ann Duffy.

The festival aims to capture the unique spirit of the Yorkshire Dales, while providing a platform for world-class authors, poets and experts. The three days include a children's programme, wild swimming, a talk by peace activist Satish Kumar and music from Mercury Prize-nominated Kathryn Williams.

 Image: © NiddFest

Larmer Tree Festival: Wiltshire-Dorset border, 13 to 17 July

Named the Best Family Festival (and the festival with the best toilets) at the UK Festival Awards, Larmer Tree Festival takes place on the beautiful Wiltshire-Dorset border. The five-day event boasts music from Jamie Cullum and Tom Odell, coupled with comedy, theatre, children’s entertainers and literary workshops.

Further highlights include their ‘secret garden’ which offers a soothing array of therapies- from massages to mindfulness workshops. You can also indulge in an early morning yoga class, sample local produce and sleep well with luxury camping with free hot showers.

 Image: © Owen Tetley: Larmer Tree Festival

Yestival: Near London, 21 to 23 October

Inspired by the ethos of ‘SayYesMore’, Yestival celebrates creating small lifestyle choices that add up to bigger changes. The weekend this autumn is an opportunity for like-minded people to come together and enjoy talks, comedy, activities and seminars, covering topics as diverse as adventure, finding work you love and the environment.

This is a festival with an emphasis on discovery, inspiration and discussion, rather than drinking and partying.

Main image: © Port Eliot Festival: Michael Bowles

Words: Ellen Tout