The Big Ones: Looking Forward to 2023 for Local Festivals and Large Events

What better time than when the temperature drops like a sack of potatoes on official potato sack dropping day, to think about next year and all the fun you can have without having to trek over mountainous landscapes or oceans? Sometimes even with your clothes on!

So, without further ado, let’s take a sneaky peek at some of the many festivals and large events happening around these supposed “cultureless backwaters” in 2023, and I think it’ll put any critics on their ass……

It should be noted this list in far from comprehensive, and many other events will surely come to our attention, ensure you’ve message us with your events we may’ve missed. Meanwhile, some of our favourite regular events have yet to secure a date. As soon as they do, we will add them to our event calendar, and slot them into place on this here article too.

No dates set yet for Trowbridge Festival, Devizes Arts Festival, and Swindon Pride, among others, but we suspect they’ll announce soon; watch this space. But what we do know is this……

Now, before we headlong into the summer months, some folks are like polar bears and do not allow winter to spoil their party, so let’s kick this off in January. Don’t let me sound like your mum, but take a warm coat!

January


21st January: Bradford Roots Music Festival

A stable and reliable indoor multi-day event at the ever-busy Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford-on-Avon, where you can find a series of events, showcasing the very best of local talent. Expect folk, jazz, indie and, of course, roots music, combined with crafty local beverages and delicious food offerings for the ultimate celebration of this iconic community festival. Last year the festivities were broadcasted online too for the first time, and we assume this will happen again this time. Details are HERE.


28th January: Winterfest Clevedon

Perhaps a little early for a trip to the seaside, but WinterFest in Clevedon offers sixteen bands over two stages at The Salthouse. Line-up is a who’s-who of local Bristol-based talent: Adam & The Hellcats, The Shucks, Mr Zippy, Louis Stone Band, Captain Zero, Mireille Mathlener, Eddie Mole Band, Ragz, The Black Museum, Sophie & The Sticks, Magpie 22, Telhalla, Billy Driscoll, MJ Reynolds, and Drew Bryant.

Bowled over by boasting all this, they however neglected to give any tickets details! But we know previous years hasn’t cost much over a fiver, habitually on the door, and is usually charity fundraising. Info HERE.


February


 3rd-5th February: Incider Festival (Weston-Super-Mare)

Staying west coast, this one is dangerously entertaining, and fuelled by cider! A trio of days indoors at Sand Bay Holiday Village near Weston-Super-Mare. Starting at £159 per person with no booking fees, your ticket includes chalet accommodation, meals, live music, entertainment, and leisure facilities; all you need to bring is a towel, a big smile and money for the bar!

To put things into perspective, the festival states these strict rules: No tribute bands. No X-Factor. No Carling lager. No tossers! Which should give you a vauge indication of what to expect! Tickets on sale now.


18th February: Festival of Winter Ales (Devizes)

DOCA in association with Stealth Brewery kick off 2023’s Devizes event calendar with this regular beauty. The Festival of Winter Ales is essential fundraising for DOCA, but what is more, it’s a whole lot of drinking fun with entertainment and a more types of beer and cider than you could sensibly test them all; but who said anything about sensible, you can least try! Our roving reporter Andy might be able to shed some light on the line-up, he has leaked that Alex Roberts will be present for the afternoon, and the fantastic Dr Zebo’s Wheezy Club for the evening session, and that’s all I got for now!

Two sessions running on the Saturday, first from 11am-5pm, and later from 5:30-11pm, at The Corn Exchange, Devizes. Tickets on sale now.  


March

I’ve got nothing yet for March, what the heck is wrong with March?! But I will be celebrating my 50th at the Three Crowns, Devizes on March 4th and hope you can come to that? Talk in Code, Ruzz Guitar Trio, Ben Borrill and hopefully and few other special guests will be coming, they might even give us a tune or two! It’s free but I plan to have a whip round for a chosen charity, so bring your purse; yes, the pink one.


April


15th April: Swindon Jazz & Soul Festival

The Jazz Knights return for their 3rd year of the Swindon Jazz & Soul Festival at the Christ Church in Old Town, the venue with undoubtedly the best acoustics in Swindon. Not much more to go on this for now, other than there maybe some extra days around the weekend added, but for now, it’s the Saturday only. More info to follow, here’s the Jazz Knights website.


May


1st-7th May: Swindon Festival of Literature

At thirty years strong, plans are now underway for the next live in-person Swindon Festival of Literature. If you have any authors or speakers you would like to recommend, please get in touch with them HERE.


12th-21st May: Bath Festival

From books to music, Bath Festival is the city’s long-established gem. Sign up for their newsletter to find out more, HERE.


25th-28th May: Shindig Festival (Ilminster)

The dance music Mecca, Shindig is set in the posh grounds of the Dillington Estate in Somerset and while looks too good to be true, is well-established and known for its reliability. As well as camping and glamping, you can, at a price, stay in the plush hotel, and Shindig has an inspiring children’s program. Tickets are on sale, hurry, HERE. 


26th-29th May: Chippenham Folk Festival

Early bird tickets are on sale for Chippenham’s gem in folk music. The High Street is engulfed in a sea of colour and sound. Dance Sides, representing traditional styles from the UK and beyond, perform at key points around the high street and the main festival site at Island Park. Sides can also be found dancing and singing in the local pubs, as well as showcases on three public stages around Island Park. Open to the Public is a craft tent showcasing traditional crafts, hand produced wares and tasty treats from fudge to mead, also a music fair and many varied food stalls.

Those wanting a more participative festival experience can immerse themselves in tune and song sessions, both programmed and spontaneous, across the towns pubs. Beside the towns historic Butter Cross an outdoor ceilidh takes place each lunch time.

Inside more formal festival venues there are over 200 events. These allow ticket holders to plan a weekend to suit their own tastes. To soak in the sounds at the concerts, perform in club style events, develop skills in a vast array of workshops or stomp, twirl, and swing into the night with a choice of ceilidh, contra, and folk-dance events…. sound good? It’s just up the road! HERE.


27th-28th May: Devizes International Street Festival

The best day in Devizes, fact! DOCA’s International Street Festival is a double-day of music, street theatre, food, and drink, and it’s all free! The Market Place and all around it becomes a colourful festival; be rude not to…. go HERE


June


17th June: Test Fest (Taunton)

Taunton Rugby Club plays host to a one-day music festival, fundraising for It’s in the Bag Testicular Cancer Support, and offers great music, good food, beer, children’s activities and a silent disco. Details HERE.


21st-25th June: Glastonbury Festival

Elton John headlines the Saturday night at unarguably the world’s most historic festival, only across the county border. Need I say more about this one?!


24th June: Melksham Pride

Plans still underway for Melksham’s second Pride, but to mark it your diary will be good enough for now. HERE.


30th June-2nd July: Minety Music Festival (nr Malmesbury)

This renowed festival continues to go from strength-to-strength. Tickets are up for grabs already, and they’re boasting Owen Paul, Reef, Dodgy, EMF and locally based legends such as Gaz Brookfield, The Dirty Smooth, Rave Against the Regime, Talk in Code, Will Lawton & The Alchemists and too many more to list. Not been myself, but everything I hear about Minety tells me to make the effort! Tickets out now, HERE.


July


1st July: Mantonfest (Marlborough)

This is one which should be on everyone’s agenda, it’s quaint and simple but effective and fun. If Marlborough was a festival, this would be it! A friendly vibe with a vast demographic, it is the gem on Marlborough’s event calendar. Rolling Stones Now tribute headline, with James Oliver, Madness tribute Badness and of course, the constant jewel of MantonFest, Barrelhouse. I love it there, and I say, do this one if nothing else!! Tickets and Info HERE.


1st July: Devizes Beer & Cider Festival

In its 22nd year, The Devizes Beer & Cider Festival is the stable must-do for everyone in Devizes, because they all love beer! Spoiled for choice, hundreds of brands of real ale and cider, and the dependable music program which supports our local scene; I’m there already in my mind! HERE.


6th-9th July: Nass Festival (Shepton Mallet)

If Shepton Mallet was never a hip hop capital, it is now. Nass is all about high energy stuff; skating, BMX, street art and an urban musical line-up, including the Wu-Tang Clan, there to celebrate their 30th anniversary. There’s camping, and tickets are up for grabs now, HERE.


8th July: CrownFest (Bishops Cannings)

Terrible poster, great event! To list here every local pub which puts a man with a guitar in a gazebo, flogs some manky hotdogs and tries passing it off as a festival would be insanely unfair on those who really makes an effort, and last year’s inaugural CrownFest was one of them, one of the best of them; it was top notch. With proper-job stage and pyrotechnics, lots of food choices and kids’ entertainment, camping and generally all-round good vibes, this has bags of potential for a second year.  

8th July sets the date for 2023, at thirty quid, tickets will go on sale from 3rd January, and camping is £15 extra. It’s all rather tribute top-heavy with Bob Marley & The Wailers, Abba and Tina Turner tributes, with Cap’n Rasty’s Skiffle City Rockers, Junkyard Dogs, and The Leon Daye Band. There’s me contemplating a few more original local acts would better suit, but that’s just my personal preference, it’s a good day out nonetheless.  


8th & 9th July: Chippenham Food & Drink Festival

Double-day food and drink festival at Monkton Park, Chippenham, bringing some of the best chefs, wine tasting and talks, craft beer and cider, live music, children’s entertainment (kids go free,) and cheese masterclasses; tickets are going like hot cakes, HERE!


15th-16th July: Market Lavington Vintage Meet

This ever-popular family fun event in aid of Wiltshire Air Ambulance and local community projects will have displays of vintage and classic cars/vans/motorcycles/commercial and tractors, military vehicles, stationary engines, miniature & full-size steam engines and miniature train for kids to ride on.

Several car clubs will be having club stands. Wiltshire Air Ambulance fund raising team will be there as well as Wiltshire Police and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. There’s a static display of birds of prey from K&H Falconry, who will also be doing a flying demonstration in the arena on both days. There will be gun dog demonstrations in the arena from BASC.  A fun dog show will take place in the arena on Sunday followed by the popular tug of war competition. There will be numerous trade and craft stalls as well as demonstrations & collectables. Several catering outlets will provide a delicious range of food and Botanico bars will be providing beer, wines and spirits from their converted classic 1976 VW bay window camper van. Children’s entertainment will be a bouncy castle, swing carousel, fun house. Organisers have again applied to the RAF for a flypast by aircraft from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the Red Arrows.

Tickets available now: HERE


22nd July: My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad (Swindon)

The inaugural Swindon Shuffle organised one day music festival at the Old Town Bowl, in tribute to Swindon’s premier music promoter, Dave Young, and raising money for Swindon’s Prospect Hospice was heralded legendary last year, and though few details have been released to-date for 2023, I’ll guarantee you right now, this one will be very worthy or your attention. Backing the very best of our local music scene, My Dad’s Bigger Than Your Dad’s tickets are up for grabs now, HERE.


22nd July: Marlborough Festival

If Marlborough has scrambled somewhat in the dark since the closure of its historic Jazz Festival, Marlborough Rising set to replace it but phased out, this year we see a new kid on the block, simply titled “Marlborough Festival;” why not?!

This inaugural one dayer takes place at Marlborough Town Hall, where they outline the plans for a community Music & Arts festival in 2023 and beyond. Suggestions welcome, but it already offers guest speakers, live music from Romeo Stodart of The Magic Numbers, a champagne reception with food from Rick Stein, Tipi Tapa and Pie’s Pies. Tickets are £30 each, available from Sound Knowledge, The Lamb, and HERE.


27th-30th July: Womad (Malmesbury)

Pricey, but you get what you pay for, and this is nothing short of legendary. This most diverse, world music extravaganza is on our doorstep, and attracts people worldwide. How they are coping with post Brexit visa issues will no doubt add to the ticket stub, but this magical festival really speaks for itself. If you can, do it, and report back to me, if nothing more than to make me jealous! Tickets not on sale yet, but HERE is the link where you can add your name to the mailing list.


27th-30th July: Camp Bestival (Lulworth, Dorset)

Se in two locations, the other in Shropshire, the Jurassic Dorset coast is within reach for us, and this one also speaks for itself. Tickets up for grabs now, HERE.


28th-29th July: Mfor Festival, Lydiard Park (Swindon)

Postponed from last year’s cancelled festival, this pop-based festival at Lydiard Park has been cancelled again, claiming the next one will be July 2024. Unless you apply for a refund your ticket will automatically be transferred to the 2024 date…. this is including the already transferred tickets from this year! With this track record I’d be asking for a refund if I was you, rather than hope and pray your 2022 tickets will see you into a festival two years too late. It is a shame, but it also sticks as a warning to festival-goers; be vigilant in where you splash your festival budget. The other side of the coin says advance ticket buyers are essential for organisers to make ends meet, and without them it risks the future of the event; a double-edged sword. All enquiries should be directed to info@mforfestival.co.uk


28th-30th July: Devizes Scooter Rally

If Mfor was the only local large event we currently know of clashing with Devizes Scooter Rally, its cancellation might be Devizes Scooter Club’s advantage, not that the clientele rests in similar genres. The Devizes Scooter Rally is nuts and bolts modest, retrospective goodness of the mod, skinhead and scooterist variety. Though for some it’s a niche they’re prepared to trek the country to attend, on their hairdryers, one thing which separates this from other scooter rallies is its continued devotion to attracting and catering for locals with only a passing interest too. That is why I will sing its praises, plus for two other simple facts; it’s affordable and won’t leave you feeling ripped off, and after two previous years it is surprisingly reliable, for a bunch of skins!

Look, see what I mean, early bird weekend passes include camping, and that’s a snip at £25.00, but a weekend pass anyway is only £30. There are also day passes for half-price, and a Saturday day pass is only a fiver. Live music from ska legends Orange Street, who were the highlight of their inaugural rally in 2019, Sharp Class, The Butterfly Collective, and local ska covers from Killertones. DJs also play a large part of the scene, and Fenton, Big Phil and Phil Seymour spin the tunes ahead of Northern Soul legendary DJ Terry Hendrick. The Devizes Scooter Club work tirelessly to bring us this annual event, and it’s worth every penny. Tickets HERE.


August


3rd-7th August: Wilderness Festival (Chipping Norton)

Complete change of scene now from our Devizes mods, Wilderness is a four-day boutique festival spanning music, the arts, food, and wellbeing, all set amidst the idyllic surroundings of Cornbury Park, near Chipping Norton. The Chemical Brothers, Christine and The Queens, Fatboy Slim, Sugababes, Confidence Man and Pip Millett are amoung the hefty line-up. I’m in dark on this one, but it looks rather special, in a hippy-love freakout kinda fashion; have I got time to grow and beard and buy a straw hat? Tickets on sale now, HERE.


25th-27th August: Reading Festival

Reading festival, the younger man with tighter jeans and high-tops’ Glasto! Say no more, it’s fairly local, it’s grounded in historic legend, perhaps only overshadowed by Glastonbury itself. I could research the line-up but being honest, I think you’re like me, and too old to know any of them!

Okay, just in case you’re not, Billie Eilish, Sam Fender, Foals, The Killers, Imagine Dragons and Lewis Capaldi headline; lucky tickets HERE.


26th-27th August: FullTone Festival (Devizes)

Not much to go on yet, but early bird tickets are up for grabs for Devizes’ third orchestral merges with pop extravaganza. On the Green, as usual, The Full Tone Orchestra’s homecoming plans to serve up six amazing sets from Proms to Iconic Themes from TV and Film, Huge Dance Anthems, Big Band, Massive Great Big Musical Theatre and The Absolute Best of Elton John. Plus, of course guests which are to be confirmed. Though I know a secret which Jemma might tell me off for breaking, so I’ll keep it under my hat, for now, but it will be something to look forward to, trust me!

Early Bird tickets on sale HERE.


27th August: Potterne CC Festival

Sunday of the bank holiday is also the regular date of another great shindig which sells out faster than it takes to drive there from Devizes, just down the road in Potterne. The Potterne Festival, not called “PotFest,” or it might have different connotations, organised by Potterne Cricket Club, is a regular mini-festival which punches above its weight. Details to follow on this, but see HERE for updates.


31st August-3rd September: End of the Road Festival (Blandford)

End of The Road Festival is located at Larmer Tree Gardens, near Blandford, in Dorset. Line-up yet to be announced, but it offers as much alternative shows as well as music, from comedy, talks and films to literature and healing workshops. Seems like a great all-rounder. Get in quick though, this sells out fast. HERE.


September


10th-17th September: Pewsey Carnival

We’d surely be here all night if I was to list every local town and village carnival, but Pewsey’s is different, for a week it is Wiltshire’s Rio de Janeiro! Okay, usually a chilly Rio de Janeiro, but a Rio de Janeiro all the same. The marvellous things about it is the simple notion that everyone comes out to enjoy it, and truly is historically our county’s most widely renowned carnival, so put it in your diary and I’ll see you feeling sorry for yourself in the Cooper’s field come September! HERE.


14th-17th September: Swindon Shuffle (Swindon)

Swindon is the place to head this weekend, if you wish to worship our local music scene. The Shuffle is free, supplies multiple gigs in all of Old Town’s pub venues, and raises vital funds for Prospect House. No details yet, though it offers no headliners, no hierarchy, just the very best of local live music; just another to stick firmly in your diary. HERE.


23rd September -1st October: Devizes Food & Drink Festival

Always with a packed program to fill your bellies, Devizes Food & Drink Festival is a stalwart for foodies. Details of this year’s festival are yet to be announced, stay in touch with them by signing up for their newsletter HERE.


23rd September- 2nd October: Bath Children’s Literature Festival

From Bath Festival comes a second event, just for your little bookworms. This is grounded in absolute top-notch guest authors, and no doubt will be no different this time. More info HERE.


28th September- 1st November: Marlborough Literature Festival

Pam Ayres has been rescheduled from the pandemic year, and goes to show just how prestigious the Marlborough Literature Festival has become. Check the link for info and the brochure, and where to get some tickets.


October


14th October: Swindon Ska Fest

A new one from last year, I believe, though The Moonrakers Inn in Swindon has always hosted the best local ska bands. This sees The Killertones, The Corsairs UK, The Bee-Skas, Ska’d For Life, and Sister Sister, an Amy Winehouse tribute from Caroline Lowe and DJ Dave Clark. This is a Specialized project, fundraising for various charities, including the Teenage Cancer Trust, and wait for it, tickets, on sale soon, are only a fiver; pick em up, pick em up, HERE.


Do not take this list as exhaustive, though it might make for exhausting reading! But for now, that’s all folks! Updates will be added, when details of more large events are released, so bookmark the page, or pay attention to our event calendar. Let’s make 2023 a real belter!


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