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Best of the fest: London’s summer parties in the park

PUBLISHED: 17:00 12 July 2017



Giles Smith

Londoners needn’t invest in wellies or a tent, they can enjoy some of the best live music in outdoor settings often just a tube ride from home. Bridget Galton rounds up the festivals around north London

Get the full festival experience an hour from home at Hertfordshire’s Standon Calling. Headliners include dance favourites Orbital, Clean Bandit and Grace Jones with additional sets by Editors, Gary Numan and Laura Mvula.

Like his Libertines bandmates, bassist John Hassall has a solo project, heading up the April Rainers.

Citing “rock pop and psychedelic influences” he plays tracks from debut album Given Time on Sunday 30. Barnsbury-raised Hassall “first heard the Beatles at 13 and immediately knew what I wanted to do.”

“I heard one song and next day my mum bought me a guitar.”

After befriending Razorlight guitarist Johnny Borrell at Highgate School, it was during A levels at Camden School for Girls that he was introduced to Carl Barat and Pete Doherty through a mutual friend.

“We’d moved to Kentish Town. I was out drinking in Camden and wasn’t really turning up to lessons,” he says. “I just wanted to be in a band. You don’t really need A levels to be in a rock and roll band. A friend kept talking about Carl and Pete, saying you’ve got to meet them. Pete came round one day and knocked on our door.”

Later they all shared a flat on Camden Road which he recalls as “amazing time” but these days the dad of two is settled in Denmark: “I’ve changed a lot,” he says. “It’s more about making albums now. My mission is to create something beautiful. You don’t have to get wrecked to do that.”

While The Libertines were “Pete and Carl’s band,” it’s very different being the frontman.

“You can take a lot for granted if you’re not calling the shots but it’s rewarding in a different way. I’m challenging myself to step up and make decisions, even though back seat bass playing probably comes more naturally.”

Having just bought a Margate recording studio The Libertines plan a new album early next year but in the meantime are mutually supportive of each other’s projects. “The timing has worked out quite well,” agrees Hassall. “We’ve had a year off doing our own stuff.” Describing their relationship as “a bit like a marriage” he adds: “There’s something special about it we all value. A band is mostly putting in the hours. You can’t replace the effort and years that have gone into it. I’ve found with my new band there are no short cuts. We had a break for seven years came back and forged that unity. You pick up the guitar and it’s immediately back in place.”

This year’s theme for the family-friendly festival is Tales of the Enchanted. Expect a costume parade of fairytale characters on Saturday. Clubbers can dance in the Cowshed while comedy and debates will stretch your mind and cocktail masterclasses your mixology skills. Kids activities include a dog show, performances by Horrible Histories and Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, a craft zone, campfire readings, and a swimming pool. The wellness area has hot tubs, yoga and meditation. Or enjoy the real ale festival run by Hackney Brewery. Weekend tickets July 27-30 £147pp.

One of the original outdoor London festivals, Lovebox (July 14-15) kicked off 15 years ago as a club night with the line-up planned on the back of a record box with heart-shaped post-it notes. From early parties in a former strip club it evolved into a one day special on Clapham Common, but since 2005 has a permanent home in Victoria Park. The combination of Groove Armada’s musical DNA and a then lack of inner London park festivals proved a successful recipe. This year’s dance-heavy line-up includes Jess Glynne, RagNBone Man, Jamie XX and Frank Ocean, DJ sets from Annie Mac and Norman Jay, food stalls a roller disco, Also in Victoria Park on July 16 Citadel is billed as ‘the ultimate Summer Sunday’. Headliners Foals and Laura Marling provide the grooves for this good value family friendly affair with a kids area, entertainment from Arcola Theatre, art activities, health and wellbeing Street food and bars aplenty. Tickets £49.50

Multi-venue wristband festival Visions is in Hackney on August 5 and combines music acts and indoor venues with outdoor spots within London Fields.

Liars, Frankie Cosmos, Blanck Mass and Jenny Hval top this year’s eclectic music bill, with something for everyone across the genres. But non music events are also on offer, ranging from a screen print class, record and zine fair, a street food and craft beer market, dog show with All Dogs Matter, punk rock karaoke and a cook-off – so a thoroughly Hipster friendly affair that focuses on accessibility and alternative entertainment.

It’s affordably priced at £27.50 and venues include Oval Space, Mangle, London Fields Brewhouse, Space Studios courtyard and Netil House rooftop. And if you haven’t got your festival fill, there’s a choice of after parties to keep the music going.

For tickets, information and a full line up go to:

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