Armchair Festival Guide 2011: Part One

How to enjoy an astounding summer of music without leaving your front room


Wellies? Poncho? Portaloos? No, thank you! A weekend of wading through mud, wondering whether that lake used to be the field where I pitched my tent, doesn’t appeal to this music lover. No, the only thing the self-respecting groupie needs to enjoy the festival season is a remote control (and maybe a hairbrush, for those sing-along sessions.)*


Isle of Wight Festival
Tonight, Saturday and Sunday: Sky Arts 1, HD, Sky 3D

An act of Parliament banned the original Isle of Wight Festival in 1970, after half a million rockers piled across the Solent to see Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and The Who. Revived in 2002, this three-day event is a mere nipper by comparison, and it would be interesting to know what Hendrix et al would make of stereoscopic specs for this the first ever music festival to be broadcast in 3D. If you’re one of the fortunate few to own a 3D telly, you’ll even be able to boast you’ve had tonight’s headliners, King of Leon, in your living room.

Also in the line-up: Kaiser Chiefs, The Courteeners (who have clearly taken lessons in bravado from fellow Mancunians Oasis) and US country-rockers Band of Horses. Ladies reign supreme in the Big Top Tent: Imelda May, Eliza Doolittle and Alexandra Burke.

Foo Fighters headline but it’s newly re-formed Pulp who are sure to have the crowd hollering along like the noughties never happened. They might not have, judging by the line-up on day two, which also boasts Iggy and The Stooges (64-year-old frontman James Williamson will no doubt be topless, gyrating, stage-diving and generally showing the kids how rock ‘n’ roll is really done), blues veteran Seasick Steve and Mike and the Mechanics.

Anyone under the age of 30 should tune in on Sunday instead: Pixie Lott, rapper-cum-crooner Plan B and headliners Kasabian. Zoe Ball and Absolute Radio DJ Ben Jones will be bagging interviews backstage.

June 24-26: BBC2, BBC3, BBC4, Radio 2, BBC 6 Music

No longer a bunch of hippies meditating to prog rock, Glastonbury today is an established part of the British summer, pulling in the acts to match its mammoth size. Topping the bill this year are Irish super-group U2, who’ve had plenty of time to rehearse the song they penned especially for their Glasto debut after Bono’s bad back forced them to drop out last year (no, not terribly rock ‘n’ roll). Saturday sees Coldplay trying to convince the crowds they’re not past it and Beyoncé has promised to fill the Pyramid stage with 200 African dancers on Sunday. Beat that, Bono.

A herd of radio DJs – Mark Radcliffe, Lauren Laverne, Jo Whiley, Steve Lamacq, Cerys Matthews, Zane Lowe – will be bringing you the best of Worthy Farm.

Tune in to BBC3 if you’re down with the kids (The Vaccines, Mumford & Sons, Tinie Tempah), BBC4 for a line-up of legends (BB King, Morrissey, Kool & The Gang) and BBC2 for highlights and headliners.

Coming to your sofa soon: check out part two of our armchair festival guide for T in the Park, Latitude, Reading and Leeds, V-Festival, Bestival and more.


*For health and safety reasons, we advise all armchair groupies to refrain from holding aloft a lighter during heart-rending ballads, as is traditional at festivals. Your nearest and dearest won’t be happy when you accidentally torch the curtains.