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Festivals: the green guide

Sella Oneko

28th April, 2011

Missed out on Coachella? Don’t despair, says Sella Oneko. Combining great music and green initiatives, this summer’s vintage look set to be the best yet

Whether it’s the Big Chill, Benicàssim or WOMAD; come summer, thousands of us will be gearing up for a weekend packed with great music, a spot of camping and the odd mudslide. Glastonbury and Roskilde, among others, have also made a name for themselves in the green arena thanks to pioneering initiatives aimed at reducing their environmental impact. This year will see new campaigns such as the FRANK Water's FreeFill bottle project at WOMAD, which will actively include visitors in their attempt to green up the party experience. Here’s our pick of the best (and greenest) festivals around.

The ultra green one: Green Man
With its idyllic rural setting and a line-up that features hotly tipped songster, James Blake, as well as Irish folk-pop band, the Villagers, the Green Man festival is perfect for anyone thwarted by the Glastonbury ticket lottery. Located just outside Bradford, other reasons to go include the excellent local beer and the wildlife walks laid on for young attendees. The festival organisers also do their bit for the environment with their extensive litter picking and recycling efforts.
Green Man runs from the 19th to 21st August. For more information, see: www.greenman.net

The one for city slickers: London Green Fair
For Londoners who fancy getting out and about closer to home, the London Green Fair, two-day event in Regents Park, is not to be missed. Along with an eclectic mix of music ranging from Cuban to ska, gypsy, roots and beats, the festival promotes green issues and is entirely free of charge. Highlights include the London BikeFest and an ethical fashion show. There are also plenty of children’s activities and the pick of local produce at the integrated farmers’ market. 
The London Green Fair runs from the 4th to 5th June. For more information, see: www.londongreenfair.org

The literary one: Hay-on-Wye Festival
Celebrating prominent writers, filmmakers and musicians, the Hay-on-Wye Festival is the highlight of the literary calendar. This year’s event includes appearances by Nobel Laureates VS Naipaul and Mohammed ElBaradei, as well as book readings and talks by authors from a range of genres. Green happenings include a wildlife photography display and a screening of eco-documentary, Cool It. The festival’s Greenprint initiative aims to minimise the event’s environmental impact using a variety of means, including banning the use of plastic bags and encouraging exhibitors to reduce the distribution of leaflets. It also raises awareness among festival-goers by encouraging them to travel by public transport and promoting local, Fairtrade and organic food and drink.
The Hay-on-Wye Festival runs from the 26th May to the 5th June. For more information, see: www.hayfestival.com

The international one: Roskilde Festival
If you’re prepared to travel for your music fix, look no further than the granddaddy of European music festivals, Roskilde. Danish music has moved on considerably since Aqua’s heyday, so ditch the preconceptions and expect to be pleasantly surprised by Bottled in England’s sophisticated take on drum n’ bass and the ethereal folky-pop produced by twins, Kirsten and Marie. Headliners include the Arctic Monkeys, M.I.A, Kings of Leon and heavy metal behemoths, Iron Maiden. All profits from the festival go to the Roskilde Festival Charity Society, which supports a variety of humanitarian and cultural projects worldwide. The festival also has not one but two environmental programmes: Green Steps which aims to minimise waste and promote green issues during the festival itself, and Social Lab which encourages people worldwide to take responsibility for the health of the planet.
Roskilde Festival runs from the 30th June to 3rd July. For more information, see: www.roskilde-festival.dk

How to keep it green
 
Glastonbury organiser, Lucy Brooking-Clark, has some top tips for ensuring your festival experience is an eco-friendly one

1. Try to reach your destination by public transport.
2. Don’t leave unwanted items at the festival; take everything home.
3. If you’re driving make sure your tyres are properly inflated. It’s safer, saves petrol and reduces CO2 emissions. Also consider registering with Gocarshare.
4. Use the toilets provided. Peeing elsewhere is neither appealing nor good for the soil.
5. Bring a reusable bottle and fill it up from the taps to help to reduce the plastic mountain.

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