Great British August Festivals

Here’s a selection of five Great British August Festivals whether you’re into art and culture, music, food and drink or aromatherapy. August is a great month to celebrate the end of summer in the UK and the weather can occasionally be good!! Schools is out, tourists are arriving and many British residents are opting for staycations. So what’s to do in the British Isles when you arrive ?

great british august festivals balloons

Festivals and Fairs to suit all Tastes and Budgets

You don’t have to spend loads to enjoy the last month of the British summer in the great outdoors. Once you arrive in the UK (or if you’re here already) taking the train round the United Kingdom is cheap and easy. Many of the Great British August Festvals offer cheap entry, especially if you book early. Here are 5 of the best things to do in the UK to see out the summer!

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival

This annual festival in historical south-eastern Scotland is also known as ‘The Edinburgh Fringe’ of simply ‘The Fringe’. It runs from 2nd-26th August 2019 and attracts amateur performers each year from all genres of entertainment. Launched in 1947, famous UK names to get their big break here are Billy Connolly, Steve Coogan and Frank Skinner.

Anything goes

There’s a theme here; yes they’re all funny men! And it’s true that this Great British August festival is best known for stand-up comedy acts.

edinburgh fringe street performers

Not confined to comedy, other genres of performances include circus acts, cabaret and poetry. The whole show is along the lines of Britain’s Got Talent (or America’s got talent). Only it can be more extreme and some of the acts could be deemed unsuitable for families. After all, here, anything really does go!

Large Scale Festival

Of all the Great British August Festivals this is the largest in terms of acts performing. There is no other annual festival in the UK that showcases over 50,000 performances across 300 venues. As well as larger public venues, acts take stage in cafes, bars and on street corners.

Getting to and around the Fringe Festival

edinburgh town august british festivals

Train journeys to Waverley station in Edinburgh from London take four and a half hours. Rail companies lay on extra and bigger trains during August to accommodate high numbers of visitors to the festival. It’s either a 20 minute walk or a ten minute bus ride to get from the train station to the main festival venues. Edinburgh’s royal mile, St Bristow Square and Cowgate are where performances happen. There are posters all around Edinburgh town and people giving out flyers. So you can hear about up coming performances via word of mouth while you are here. Also you can download the fringe app during the festival to find out about acts.

How to get tickets in advance for Edinburgh Fringe Festival

If you want to be really organised and get tickets in advance, visit the Edinburgh Fringe Box Office Website

Cost of seeing Acts

Street performances and some of the acts in the cafes and bars around Edinburgh are free. It is however the done thing to make a donation of your choice when the hat comes round at the end.
To plan the acts you’re going to see at the Fringe, visit the official Edinburgh fringe box office website.

Performing at The Fringe Festival

If you want to be sure of a performance slot register at the fringe official website

The Firle Vintage Fair

Of the five Great British August Festivals mentioned here, this is the best for good old fashioned outdoor family fun.
It takes place from 10.00-18.00hrs between August 9th and 11th 2019 at Firle Park, Lewis, Sussex BN8 6LP.
Entry is really cheap, around a fiver although rides and extras will cost you once inside.
If you want more information visit the Firle vintage Fair website
It’s easy to get to the Firle vintage fair from Lewes station on the free vintage tour bus.
If you need any further directions or information visit The Firle vintage Fair official website.

Good Vintage Fun

vintage fair classic car display

Running with a retro, traditional village fair theme, there is entertainment here for all ages. On a summer’s day there is no better way to enjoy the British countryside! You can expect to re-live the decades of the 1920’s through to the 1950’s with classic car and fashion shows. Expect activities such as Charleston dance displays ( audience participation optional!) and lawn Crocquet. On a Great British summer’s day the retro outfits that people make the effort to dress up in, look delightful.

Family Fun in the Sussex Countryside

victorian fun fair carasol horse

Children will love the horse arena, the miniature steam train and the Victorian fun-fair. Award winning children’s author Jacqueline Wilson will be available for a chat this year (2019) with a stall displaying her books. Children under 5 get free entry which is a bonus.

Home products and Produce

Local Beers, street food and artisan produce are all on sale as well as retro home and garden exhibits

Notting Hill Carnival

Why not celebrate the end of summer in London at this massive, well-co-ordinated August music festival. It is held annually on the late August bank holiday and is in fact the largest open air street festival in Europe. This exotic carnival began in 1966 to celebrate the Caribbean community in London and their culture and traditions. The dates for the 2019 carnival are Saturday 25th-Monday 27th August.

Extravagant Spectacle of costumes and dance

notting hill carnival dancer

Costumes of rich colours, barefoot dancers in grass skirts with fantastic rhythm make this musical carnival a party to remember. Floats parade the dancers, singers and drummers plus street stalls sell exotic Caribbean food and drink.

Rhythm is a Dancer

This is the most soulful of all the Great British August festivals. You and the dancers can shake and writhe to reggae, calypso and soca rhythms and dub beats. Soak up the carnival atmosphere with the sound of steel bands. Marvel at the most dazzling costumes and exotic head gear you will ever see.
Take a look at the best costumes from previous years.

Getting to The Notting Hill Carnival

notting hill carnival route planner

The carnival takes place in the London Borough of Kensington. The main area as you would expect is Notting Hill. It also extends out to Ladbroke Grove, Westbourne Park and Bayswater covering the London postcodes of W10 and W11.
To get there, take the central line on the London underground and get off at Notting Hill, Queensway or Holland Park. You can also use the Hammersmith and City line and get off at Westbourne Park, Ladbroke Grove or Latimer Road.

Carnival Route

It really depends where you want to be on the carnival route as to which station stop you use. The parade begins on Great Western Road, proceeds along Chepstow road and then onto Westbourne Grove. The final stretch is along Ladbroke grove.
Powis Square is the best place to listen to soca and calypso music on the world music stage.

Notting Hill Festival Schedule

The Notting Hill carnival begins at 6pm on Saturday 25th August. A steel band competition gets the celebrations underway at the Elmslie Horniman’s Pleasance Park. Sunday is the best day for families and children; a children’s parade begins the day at 9pm. Take water, snacks and travel potties where necessary as queues  for toilets and food stalls can be long. This street festival’s main party takes place on the final day (Monday 27th August 2019). This is really the best day to go wild and shake your booty. Bear in mind it can get very loud and crowded on the Monday if you are taking children. It may not be the best day for them.
For further information visit London’s Time-out guide to 2019 Notting Hill Carnival

Somerset Lavender celebration

Rather than a Great British August Festival, this is more a celebration of English Lavender in summertime. The best time to see a Lavender field in England is between June and the middle of August. Lavender grows best in dry, warm conditions.  Norfolk in the East Anglia county of the UK of provides such conditions.

lavender field

Lavender Farm Tour

Caley Mill is in the heart of Norfolk and offers 45 minute long tours of it’s newest lavender field. Learn about the history of Norfolk lavender and how the essential oil for aromatherapy is extracted. You can do this on a trip to the Caley Mill distillery. Tours must be booked either by telephoning 01485 570384. Or email Caley Mill: info@norfolk-loavender.co.uk. Tours are available until August 17th

Family Fun

Caley Mill also has animal gardens, a play park and a gift shop. Peacocks, ducks and other fowl roam freely so strictly no dogs please.
Adult entry is £5.50, children between 2 and 16 years pay £4.50 and it’s free for under 2’s.
You can enjoy the Norfolk sea-side during the same visit to the area.
The nearest British rail station is King’s Lynn which you can reach directly from London’s King’s Cross. To find out more about opening hours and driving directions visit Norfolk Lavender Caley Mill’s website

The Leeds Festival

music festival goers

The Leeds Festival is a 3 day music festival in the county of Yorkshire in Northern England. It runs concurrently with the more Southern Reading Festival and some of the acts fly between each.  While Glastonberry and Isle of Wight are done for the year and Reading festival is sold out, you can see the summer out with a bang at Leeds. This year’s line up includes indie, grunge and hip hop featuring bands such as The 1975, The Foo Fighters and Twenty-One Pilots. As far as staying there goes, you have options to camp and something a little more glamourous. You can even book to use the executive toilet block if you do decide to camp. A special team of cleaners stand outside ready to clean and disinfect the loos at regular intervals.
The Leeds festival runs between 23rd-25th August inclusive at Bramham Park, Leeds, North Yorkshire
For more information and for tickets visit the official Leeds festival website

Make the most of the final month of summer

Hope you have found something here to satisfy your taste buds. All the festivals here are annual events so if you missed them, there’s always next time! Here’s hoping you have a great time at one of these Great British August Festivals either this summer or in the future.