How to get to our favourite UK festivals by train this summer. Book now to get train fares that rock too.
If you have stayed up all night to grab the first tickets to be released for a favourite festival, rest assured that you don’t have to do the same to get your train tickets. It is worth booking them well in advance, however. Festival tickets don’t come cheap these days, but train fares can definitely rock if you get in quick. Think about booking a group ticket too, just to get your party going early, and also to get some good fares using, for example, railcard discounts that come with 16-25, 26-30 or Two Together railcards. Here are the UK festivals where the sun always shines in our view, because they are easily accessible by train. Many of them also embrace sustainable and eco principles, so we give them a green heart for that too. Without the glitter.
Isle of Wight Festival, June
This is the early bird of the festival season, and if you haven’t been to the Isle of Wight before, this is one great reason to go. A real ‘60s pioneer of festivals, the island has seen the likes of The Who, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen and Amy Winehouse tread its boards. It has seriously hip heritage, taking place on a seriously handsome island. Read more in our blog about the Isle of Wight.
How to get to Isle of Wight Festival by train: If you want to travel to the Isle of Wight on a ticket that includes the ferry to the island town of Ryde, then book all the way to Ryde such as on this London to Ryde route which takes approximately two hours. You can also do a sail rail combo from Lymington - Yarmouth. Another option is to take the train to Portsmouth, Southampton or Lymington and then choose from hovercrafts, catamarans and even rib boats which you can book separately. When you get to the island, there will be buses to transfer you to the Festival site, which is just 20 mins away outside Newport, in the centre of the island.from East Cowes and Ryde
Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, June
The UK’s most famous festival and daddy of them all really, Glastonbury, in Somerset, hosts over 100,000 revellers each year in the heart of rural Somerset, for five days of fun. Started in the 1970s, it has taken on icon status with musicians coming from all over the world to claim their place on the Pyramid stage, as well as many other areas within this massive machine of musical magic.
How to get to Glastonbury by train: The nearest station to Glastonbury is Castle Cary (on the London Paddington to Plymouth line). Transport to the festival site, on Worthy Farm, is only a short taxi ride, costing no more than £10. There is also a free Glasto shuttle from the station, which is one magic bus. At the close of the festival, on Sunday and Monday, there is also a bus from the festival to Bristol Temple Meads train station. This one costs £15 one-way. So you can take that into account when booking your ticket. You can also take the train from Bristol Temple Meads to Castle Cary en route to the festival.
Transmt, Glasgow, July
Although only launched in 2017, Transmt went somewhat stratospheric, with prestigious headline acts and huge crowds gathering on Glasgow Green to party, Glaswegian style. You can’t stay on the festival site, but Glasgow has no shortage of accommodation.
How to get to Transmt by train: Glasgow Green is 15 mins walk from Glasgow Central station.
Cambridge Folk Festival, Cambridge, July-August
This world renowned folk festival has been going since 1965 and people come back year after year to hear some of the finest folk artists from around the world. Don’t judge folk though. Take a look at the line-up and you’ll see that this is a real musicians’ festival, taking place in the grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall, within walking distance of the historic city centre. Family friendly and eco-friendly, you can camp, glamp or just stay in town and get day tickets.
How to get to Cambridge Folk Festival by train: Cherry Hinton Hall is 2.8km from Cambridge train station. With no shortage of cycling routes to the site either in this wonderful bike-friendly city. Cambridge can be reached in under an hour from London.
We Out Here, Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire, August
This is a newbie but curated by a stalwart of the music scene, Gilles Peterson, DJ and record producer. Billed as a 'family worldwide gathering', in the heart of Cambridgeshire, expect an eclectic line-up Peterson style, as well as some seriously impressive DJ sessions. Stay on site in boutique camping accommodation or on family pitches.
How to get to We Out There by train: Take a train to Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, just 1.5 hrs from London. The festival site in Abbots Ripton, 3km from Huntingdon.
Green Man Festival, Crickhowell, Wales, August
This festival has grown from a small folk to a music event that is booming not only in terms of numbers but also literally, throughout the Brecon Beacons. As well as its impressive line-up, they have impressive sustainability credentials, one of the best being that they encourage visitors to spend the whole week there. Therefore bringing plenty of festival spend into the local, rural economy. That way you can take in the beauty of the Beacons properly, not just land into planet festival and ignore the mountains, lakes, rivers and valleys all around. This is definitely an outward-looking festival.
How to get to Green Man Festival by train: Abergavenny is the nearest station, and there are free shuttle buses from here to the festival site, a journey that can take 1.5 hrs. So, don’t forget to bring snacks for this journey. Even better, Abergavenny is the slow and sumptuous food centre of Wales, so seek out some delis or cafes when you arrive to stock up. The trains that go via Newport are the busiest. You can also travel via Hereford which isn’t as busy.
Shambala, Northamptonshire, August
As eco-friendly as it is family-friendly, this four day festival, in a secret location in Northamptonshire (they tell you when you book the ticket), is worldly, wise and way out there. It is also innovative with SUP yoga, stunning ‘shire’ huts to stay in, recycled vintage tents and 100% renewable energy sources. All music to our ears, as is their banning of plastic water bottles, meat and fish-free food all served in compostable food-ware and, controversial for some, their ban on glitter. But then again, compost loos upset people not that long ago. Live, learn and party.
How to get to Shambala by train: The location may be a secret, but the train station isn’t thankfully. Book your ticket to Market Harborough station, where there is a shuttle bus service once an hour to take you to the site. Don’t miss it though, the last one being at 9pm, so book your trains accordingly. The buses also get busy, so it is good to arrive early so that you can get the next bus if the first one is packed.
The Good Life Experience, Flintshire, September
In terms of eco-cool, this is definitely a case of saving the best for last. The Good Life Experience is the baby of iconic musician, author and broadcaster Cerys Matthews. Welsh born Cerys set up this festival of culture and the great outdoors in Flintshire in 2014, with farmers and authors Charlie and Caroline Gladstone. A boutique festival, with Cymru culture at its heart and a love of international music, literature and dance beating through it, make this your September swansong on the summer festival scene. With wild swimming thrown into the magical mix. If you are already a fan of Cerys’ eclectic music selections on her BBC radio shows, you will definitely love her line-ups.
How to get to The Good Life Experience by train: Located on Hawarden Estate, the closest train station is Hawarden and the estate is 1.7km from the station. Another option is to take the train to Chester, which is 11km from the festival, or a 20 mins taxi ride. There are also buses from the station to the festival. So basically, it’s all good.
Top festival tips for travel
Don’t forget to bring all your relevant railcards with you. Even better, use a digital version if possible. You don’t want your festival fever to hit a downer with some cranky inspector demanding to see the railcard and it is lying in a field somewhere. Also, print out a copy of your train ticket, even if you have it on mobile. All that video footage will eat up your battery over the weekend. Charging phones is not always the easiest at festivals.
Photo credits top to bottom: Mirror ball in forest iStock ©GeorgeClerk, Festival crowd iStock ©gilaxia, close-up of musicians iStock ©desifoto, DJ iStock ©Skyther5, Festival tents iStock ©Jaym-Z, Good Life Experience musician ©Nenad Obradovic Good Life Experience outdoor cooking ©Nenad Obradovic
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