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Festivals in Somerset

Festivals in Somerset

Festivals in Somerset come in all shapes and sizes. At the top end of the scale is the world famous Glastonbury Music Festival  where up to 250,000 music lovers gather at Worthy Farm. 2018 however, is a fallow year for the Glastonbury Festival. Every 5 years or so the land and local residents are given a break. (Festival founder Michael Eavis usually has a herd of dairy cows grazing on the land.)

Festivals in Somerset

Glastonbury Festival is taking a break in 2018

Somerset festival lovers should not despair. The county is home to a huge array of other music, food, art, literary and comedy festivals which take place throughout the year. But before delving into a few favourites, perhaps it’s worth remembering that there is more to a festival than first meets the eye.

the origin of festivals

Throughout history, festivals have usually centred around communities to celebrate religion, traditions or seasons and are often marked by national holidays. (Interestingly, the UK is among the nations with the fewest public holidays in Europe. Finland has 15!) 

The word, ‘festival’ comes from the word feast, first used in the 12th century, while the Spanish  word, ‘fiesta’ is usually associated with a religious feast to honour a patron saint. (Spanish residents enjoy 14 public holidays a year.)

Seasonal festivals are determined by the solar and lunar calendars and by the cycle of the seasons – especially the affect on crops. This has ensured that many festivals centre around and celebrate food.

Somerset is steeped in these traditions. We love festivals in Somerset. It’s an excuse to gather and have some fun.


Beltane is a pagan festival held at the beginning of May. It  promotes abundance and is commonly associated with fertility. (Originally, couples used to frolic in the woods while the Beltaine fire raged.) Glastonbury is the place to be with colourful celebrations taking place in the market square. (Just a word of warning. Don’t frolic too much or you might get arrested…)

The Summer Solstice (celebrated just over the border at Stonehenge in Wiltshire) is world famous and attracts a real mix of people. In 2017, the longest day of the year was celebrated by around 13,000 people at Stonehenge.

Harvest Festival usually occurs around the Autumn equinox and the Harvest Moon. This is an especially important time in rural Somerset when we gather in the crops. This is also the time when the market traders of London don their wonderful Pearly King & Queen outfits and celebrate.

The Winter Solstice also attracts the crowds to Stonehenge. When the sun rises at around 8am on 21 December the shortest day in the northern hemisphere is underway. However, the burning of logs ‘ Yule’ has become better known for that lovely dessert we eat at Christmas.

Nowadays festivals come in many different guises, but the principle of gathering people, celebrating a product or skill, sharing experiences and having fun has not changed. We have many  wonderful festivals in Somerset to enjoy. Some of the coming festivals are just a short distance from The Cross.

Festivals in Somerset

The Bath Festival 11th – 27th May 2018

Wells Comedy Festival 25th – 27th May 2018

Shindig Weekender (Bruton) 25th – 27th May 2018

Priddy Folk Festival 6th – 8th July 2018

Nass Festival (near Bristol) 5th – 8th July 2018

Godney Gathering (Glastonbury) 21st July 2018

Watchet Music Festival 24th – 26th August 2018

Burnham Beach Kite Festival 8th & 9th September 2018

The Jane Austen Festival Bath 14th – 23rd September 2018

Somerset Art Weeks 15th – 30th September 2018

Wells Food Festival 14th October 2018

Wells Festival of Literature 19th – 27th October 2018

Bath Mozartfest 9th – 17th November

Whatever you plan to celebrate – have fun!

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