There’s more than one way to festival. Leave the glow sticks behind and duck into local pubs, concert halls and parking lots to hear the sounds that in–crowds love. You’ve got to be in the know to know, so now you know.
The Arran Malt & Music Festival | Scotland
Held in July on the Isle of Arran, a pretty island 40 miles southwest of Glasgow, this festival combines Gaelic folk music and ceilidh (line dancing) sessions with whisky–tasting master classes to loosen up those limbs! It’s sponsored by the Arran Distillery.
Orkney Pub Sessions | Scottish Isles
Up in the far–flung Orkney Islands – 80 minutes’ flight from Edinburgh or Glasgow – a key component of May’s Orkney Folk Festival are its pub sessions. Held in local pubs and cozy inns, these are where bands and locals meet shoulder to shoulder, with audiences singing along and suggesting tunes.
Aurora Orchestra Immersive Concerts | London
Aspiring to be the world’s most creative orchestra, the London–based Aurora Orchestra specializes in “intimate, handcrafted works of ‘orchestral theater.’” One example: blending chamber arrangements of Debussy’s piano music with storytelling and dance.
Sofar Sounds | Multiple locations in England, Scotland and Wales
Now found in 281 cities worldwide, Sofar Sounds began in Britain in 2009 when its founders invited three musicians to perform in their tiny flat. They’re still staging concerts in intimate, memorable spots. Locations are kept secret until a day before, but Leeds and Sheffield in northern England, Birmingham in the center and the south–coast seaside town of Brighton are frequent hosts.
Sonorities | Belfast, Northern Ireland
This annual festival is carefully curated and known for innovative and unexpected performances spanning digital music, sound art, video and installations. Held at Queen’s University’s Sonic Arts Research Centre, and various venues around the city of Belfast, most events at this nonprofit festival are free.
Ensemble Perpetua | Theatres, museums & cafes
This dynamic collective of musicians formed in 2013 to perform traditional and contemporary chamber music in new and often unusual settings. In The Secret Garden, a pop–up concert held inside a wildlife sanctuary, visitors happened upon performances inspired by the scenery. See how they’re taking music to new and surprising places across Britain.
The Ukoholix | South Wales
Live karaUke is the meeting of ukulele–based bands, rowdy audiences and famous tracks from Frank Sinatra to Bon Jovi. One of South Wales’s premier troupes is the Ukoholix, appearing regularly at festivals and pubs like the raucous Kinsale Irish Tavern in the beautiful town of Mumbles, where they simply have to be seen – and sung along with.
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