Despite their hippy, back to nature reputations, festivals often wreak havoc on the environment. In addition to mountains of landfill-destined waste left behind by revellers and damage to green field sites, travel to and from festival sites produces thousands of tonnes of CO2.
However the tide is now turning, with established festivals greening up their acts (see article on Glastonbury’s Camp for Climate Action) and a new wave of eco-conscious festivals being recognised by the increasingly coveted ‘Greener Festival Award’ introduced in 2007.
Here is a guide to ten top festivals at the green end of the spectrum.
The Big Tent Festival
Scotland’s largest eco-festival set against the beautiful backdrop of Falkland Palace and East Lomond Hill. Initially launched as part of the grassroots protests during the G8 summit held at Gleneagles in 2005, the festival is dedicated to promoting ecological long term thinking and educating festival-goers about climate change. Eco-activities include the Climate Champions Zone, Earth Action Talks with WWF, the One Planet Food Village and environmental workshops.
When: 25 – 26 July
Where: Falkland estate, Fife
Price: £40 (adult weekend camping tickets)
The Big Green Gathering
Providing ‘entertainment and education for sustainability’ and ‘powered by the Sun, the Wind and the People,' the Big Green Gathering was born out of Glastonbury’s legendary Green Fields. It now boasts musical acts powered by renewable energy, solar showers and fields dedicated to renewable energy, green enterprise, green craft, sustainable homes and more.
When: 29 July - 2 August
Where: Cheddar, Somerset
Price: £125 (adult five day camping pass)
Named after an East Anglian skiffle band whose members eventually formed a touring Green roadshow, the Croissant Neuf festival champions the ideal of living a low impact lifestyle whilst having the 'maximum amount of fun.' The festival’s attempts to reduce its environmental impacts encompass all areas from administration to waste management and promoting environmental awareness. All the electricity on site is generated by solar panels and wind generators, nearly everything is recycled, and the food and drink is organic, locally sourced and fairly traded where possible. Eco-activities include talks on renewable energy and sustainability, three trees planted on site for every car, Ode to Woodstock.
When: 14-16 August
Where: Usk, Monmouthshire
With a whole ‘green’ section on their website, the Latitude festival aims to get festival-goers to think about their environmental impact before they even get there. Initiatives include promoting ‘eco-travel,’ dissuading people from bringing, buying and leaving behind too many things, installing compost toilets, employing biodegradable packaging and shower products and using reusable beer cups.
When: 16-19 July
Where: Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk
As a winner of the 2008 ‘Greener Festival Award,’ Waveform’s claim to fame is as the only sustainable dance music festival in the UK. It is gradually replacing biodiesel with pedal, solar and wind power generators. Its Green Village provides solar powered cinema viewing, healing sessions and organic local produce. In the Earth Dance Stage revelers partake in a day dedicated to humanitarian and environmental causes. Car sharing and recycling are also strongly encouraged and the event raises money for EcoShelter.
When: 11-13 September
Where: Liddington Warren Farm, Wiltshire
Summer Sundae Weekender
The festival claims its carbon emissions are offset by initiatives that range from the use of compostable cups and plates and giving away energy saving light bulbs. 85% of media is printed on recycled paper and used vegetable oil is recycled into power sources.
When: August 14 -16
Where: De Monfort Hall and Gardens, Leicester
York Green Festival
A celebration of sustainable living, the festival campaigns for change and a better way of living. A day of green workshops, campaign stalls, ethical traders, music and food, this year’s festival is still in the planning so keep an eye out in our calendar for updates.
When: 6 September
Where: Rowntree Park, York
Price: Free entry
Winner of the Best New Festival 2008 award, Camp Bestival aims to recreate the intimacy of the first Bestival where ‘magic moments were shared between special people, creating memories that last forever.’ This year British chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall brings a taste of the River Cottage to the camp. There will be children’s food workshops covering sausage making, seed planting and bread making, a full seasonal organic menu, including the famous River Cottage ice cream and River Cottage Stinger (locally brewed organic nettle beer) and organic fruit drinks.
When: 24-26 July
Where: Lulworth Castle, Dorset
Price: £120 weekend ticket
2000 Trees Festival
This small, intimate music festival in the Cotswolds has done much to green its act. The 2000 Trees Festival joined the likes of Glastonbury and Latitude festivals in 2008 by winning a ‘Greener Festival’ award in recognition of its efforts in promoting environmentally friendly music festivals. At the ‘TreeHouse’ main stage, the Leaf Lounge and the GreenHouse, the music will range from rock, pop and indie to folk, metal and the ‘downright strange.’
When: 17-18 July
Where: Upcote Farm, Withington, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Price: £47 weekend ticket
The Big Chill
The Big Chill, which describes itself as ‘a multimedia festival, bar, club and record label dedicated to transforming the spirit of our times’ is not an eco-festival in its own right but it maintains a ‘leave no trace’ policy with a heavy emphasis on recycling. It hands out recycling bags, and has teams of volunteers that keep the site clean.
When: 6 -9 August
Where: Eastnor Castle Deer Park, Malvern Hills, Herefordshire
Price: £145 for adults, £110 for students