Andy Richardson: Bring out the fest of summer, yeah Baby!
Dark shades, designer wellies and late night conversations about stuff that seems really important at the time – drug talk.
Ah. It can only mean one thing. Festival season is in full swing.
This weekend is Wilderness, in Oxfordshire: cue Robert 'he's-from-round'ere' Plant and The Flaming Lips at one of the posh and pretty gatherings of 2016. With a bona fide legend on stage, banquet feasts from artisan food sellers; it delivers on all counts. Esoteria lovers – a couplet I was pretty sure I'd never use – can also enjoy a science lecture, soak in a hot tub or a one-man performance of Shakespeare's Hamlet. And, let's face it, when you're three-sheets-to-the-wind on Thatcher's Gold, who doesn't enjoy a bit of The Bard. It kinda makes sense after six pints of loopy juice.
It's time to get farflung the following weekend when The Nutty Boys headline the delightfully-named BoomTown Fair, at Winchester. Madness, Damian Marley and Fat Freddy's Drop will bring phat tunes for the best of uncommercialised music – except for Madness – and roots.
Boardmasters, at Newquay, brings sets from Chase & Status, deadmau5 and the splendid Catfish and the Bottlemen. The event mixes the best boarders in the world – whether they're surfers or skaters – with BMX bandits, folk stars and surf shack shows. It's a cocktail short of one of the best weekends of the year and will cause a minor meltdown on Instagram.
And then it's time for hometown fun. V Festival has gone pop with Justin Bieber, Rhianna, SIA, David Guetta, Faithless and Kaiser Chiefs all lining up at Weston Park. Justin plans to blow us out of the water – quite literally. He's planning the most spectacular show in the festival's 21-year history – one requirement will see 800 gallons of perfectly purified, 40-degree water soak the superstar, front of stage.
His set is perfect timing for organisers, too. Justin has just enjoyed a number one in the Spotify Global Streaming Charts for his track with Major Lazer and singer MØ, knocking Drake off the top spot. V is the most commercial of all events. It is the Black Friday of music festivals, the buy-one-get-one-free-but-we'll-charge-you-a-fortune-for-the-one of musical celebrations.
Six pound – that's money, not weight – burgers and over-priced lager vie for attention as Bastille, Jess Glynne, Little Mix, Years & Years, Jake Bugg, Tinie Tempah and John Newman – who is already Yesterday's Man – compete for attention.
But while V is one of the biggest events of the year – the pop industry's Glastonbury – there are just as many alternative thrills to be had across the border, into Wales. Life moves a little slower at The Green Man, in the picturesque Brecon Beacons. For Justin, think Belle & Sebastian; for Rhianna, think James Blake; for David Guetta, think Wild Beasts.
Instead of fields full of 18-year-olds with flowers in their hair and Bacardi Breezers in their hand, Green Man is all about beards – that's for the women, as well as the men – and an array of 1,500 performers from which to choose. The best of alternative music, comedy, theatre and literature combine with the theatre season's most spectacular backdrop to create an idyllic weekender. Hell, Green Man even has various spas and therapies to nurse away the inevitable hangovers.
By the end of August, most of us will be festival-ed out, but the hardcore will still be going strong.
Reading and Leeds will bring Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foals and Disclosure to its none-more-riotous fields. Indie acts, metal groups and next generation dance will feature alongside hip hop, alt-pop and more. Put simply, if they ain't there, they ain't worth seeing. Shambala, in Northamptonshire, offers heartfelt hedonism with Skrillex, Bonobo, Claude Vonstroke and the opportunity to play, revitalise and feast upon circus acts and interactive theatre.
London doesn't need an extra club, but on the last weekend in August it will get one when South West Four drops at Clapham Common. The Chemical Brothers, Rudimental and Dizzee Rascal will be among the coming together of EDM, house, techno, minimla, trance and electronica. Oh, and if that's not enough, look out for the countless after-parties dotted around our beautiful, 24/7 Capital.
There's something irresistibly cool about saving the best until last and Bestival, on the Isle of Wight, does just that. Needless silliness and absurdity are the order of the day as festival-goers decide whether to talk to the fellow, fancy-dressed festival-goer who's dressed like Alice in Wonderland or go and watch The Cure, Major Lazer and Hot Chip. Bestival is the place for legendary late night mischief, pianos in woods, mass fancy dress and more than 1,000 performers.
So as we head deep into summer, it's time to pack up your glamping pass, secrete the secret stash of spirits and venture into FestivalLand. Just don't stand too close to the front when Justin hits the stage at V – or else you'll get soaked.