Music, comedy, theatre and literature from every genre are represented in the extraordinary array of renowned cultural events and festivals held every year throughout Britain. From the rich history of the traditional to contemporary culture, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Live theatrical and musical performances are about so much more than seeing and hearing artists in the flesh. The shared experience with others is the key, even when that might not be especially comfortable. It is perfectly possible to have a fabulous time when visiting a Great British festival without seeing any show at all, instead becoming immersed in the atmosphere at the bars and eateries, mixing with people from all walks of life, people watching and chilling out. Perhaps it is only the British who are capable of attending a three day festival and spend most of it wandering aimlessly!
There is a contemporary music festival for every taste, from hard rock to indie, and everything in between as well as those that blend it all together with a unique atmosphere and extraordinary creativity. In Wales there is Festival No.6 and Scotland has T in the Park but the Grande Dame of them all is Glastonbury Festival. It has come a long way since the 70s when Pilton Farm in the south west of England first put on a few bands in a field. Such is the cachet of ‘Glasto’ that these days, the 175,000 tickets for this alternate year spectacular sell out in minutes, and that’s without knowing who the performers will be. Whoever the performers at the top or the bottom of the bill, the event is guaranteed to make the news and has also taken credit for numerous career boosts and resurgences over the years.
Later in the summer the urban setting of the City of Edinburgh is home to two of the world’s largest arts festivals simultaneously, where appetites for the controversial and experimental are celebrated alongside the world’s leading performing artists. The International Festival sets the highest of standards with sophisticated productions of the high arts at the best concert venues in the city. The Fringe festival meanwhile is a self-determined programme of 3,000 comedy, theatre and music shows where professionals and amateurs alike can enter their own show in to the mix, with quality definitely not guaranteed. Nevertheless, the performers will find an open-minded audience, and the audience in turn are often rewarded with undiscovered talent ready to break in to the big time and boundary breaking experimental performances.
The BBC Proms
For putting on classical music events that are accessible to all, the BBC Proms has a special claim. With a tradition going back more than a century and these days, boasting the iconic venue of the Royal Albert Hall, it is not difficult to understand the appeal of joining in this informal and popular programme of events. The Last Night of the Proms has a reputation all of its own with a celebration of patriotic favourites and audience participation. For world class classical music and opera in a more rarefied setting however, Glyndebourne Festival in England takes the crown, while the National Eisteddfod of Wales is a national celebration of Welsh culture and language across all the arts.
For the ultimate in combining music and ceremony, the spectacular Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo combines music, dance and precision display with the massed military bands, pipes, drums and singers with troupes from around the world. Such is the appeal of this iconic event at Edinburgh Castle that more than 14 million people have attended it.
Please browse our gallery of selected great British Sporting Events above for inspiration, and click to find useful information and links to help you learn about and enjoy them.