Ten festivals to be surprised by art at this summer

By Ben Miller | 31 July 2015

From walking mechanical installations to international comic artists, here are ten festivals to find great art at between now and October

A photo of Phill Jupitus posing in front of a portrait at the Scottish National Galleries
Phill Jupitus hosts Sketch Comic at the National Galleries of Scotland until August 27© Neil Hanna
Edinburgh festivals, until August 31
Visitors to the International and Fringe festivals are spoilt for art. The brimming Edinburgh Art Festival programme includes a show by Turner Prize nominee Marvin Gaye Chetwynd and performances by Phill Jupitus (at the Royal Botanic Garden’s Inverleith House) and Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy (Talbot Rice Gallery). Jupitus will also sketch some of his favourite artworks from the National Galleries of Scotland on his iPad in the free Sketch Comic exhibition, taking place as part of the Fringe.

An image of an artwork showing people climbing stairs as part of the Southbank Centre's Festival of Love
Wot? No Fish!! is part of the Southbank Centre's Festival of Love© bread&circus' Wot? No fish!!
Festival of Love, Southbank Centre, London, until August 31
Aiming to transform its 21-acre site, this festival of playful installations includes a jewel-coloured pavilion outside the Royal Festival Hall, a newly commissioned artwork by Turner Prize nominee Mark Titchner, the first display of actor Jim Broadbent’s sculptures and a mirrored maze based on the chemicals produced by those in love. Free exhibitions include a set of 40 neon signs by designer Chris Bracey, a set of illustrated wake packets – the inspiration for theatre production bread&circuses – and One Nation Under a Groove, a selection of more than 100 images from the Photographic Youth Music and Culture Archive.

A photo of a piece of red, black, blue and white digital art as part of Progress Bar at Lighthouse in Brighton
Talks, screenings, workshops and live music at Lighthouse© Courtesy Lighthouse
The Long Progress Bar, Lighthouse, Brighton, September 3-4
The idea of improving reality is one most would happily subscribe to, and Lighthouse’s inventive festival of “radical imagination” aims to do that through collective action, technology and art. The line-up is excitingly lengthy and eclectic: rap-loving satirist David Blandy’s futuristic video on capitalism is a must-see, while Katrina Burch and Diann Bauer – the authors of the xenofeminist manifesto – work in multidisciplinary art, philosophy, electro, archaeology and sound.

A photo of people with computers as part of The National Museum of Computing's Summer Bytes festival 2015
Digital creativity at The National Museum of Computing© TNMOC
Summer Bytes, The National Museum of Computing, Bletchley, August 1-30
Vintage 1970s surveillance equipment, the BBC’s beautifully retro the MicroBit, app building, insights into Apple’s machinations and an addictive LEGO room are among the highlights amid the stirring surroundings of Bletchley Park. Tickets include family readmission throughout the summer.

An image of an illustration showing various people dancing as part of Tribes Festival 2015 in Margate
Kent County Council, Turner Contemporary and Dreamland have collaborated for Margate Festival© Turner Contemporary
Margate Festival of Colour: Tribes, Margate, August 13 – September 13
Building on last year’s Summer of Colour, Turner Contemporary is again helping to create an interdisciplinary festival across Tracey Emin’s hometown, inspired by the subcultural tone of Grayson Perry’s current exhibition at the gallery.

A photo of a man surrounded by red balloons at Bestival 2014 as part of a Martin Creed work
Martin Creed's work entertained Bestival last year© Bestival
Bestival, Robin Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight, September 10-13
Bestival adds even more to its visual spectacle of glittery partiers: look out for the special Carnivale area this year – the Arts Council are involved in the festival’s central carnival – as well as rave knitting and much more.

A photo of a sign above forest trees for Abandon Normal Devices Festival 2015 in Cumbria
Grizedale Forest hosts Abandon Normal Devices© Forestry Commission - Abandon
Abandon Normal Devices, Grizedale Forest, Lake District, September 18-20
Resisting any work by Marshmallow Laser Feast, one of the artists taking part in this meeting of art, digital play and new cinema across the Lake District’s Grizedale Forest, would surely be churlish. A “living” exhibition in the forest is based around plants, while the treks and trails include a trip to a Love Motel.

A photo of artist Conrad Shawcross standing in front of a piece of angular dark brown sculpture at Chatsworth House
Conrad Shawcross is one of 25 artists, curators and writers appearing at Chatsworth© Benedict Johnson
Art Out Loud, Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, September 18-20
Chatsworth is steeped in literary history – the Duke of Devonshire, who takes the 16th century mansion as his seat, still owns an antiquarian bookshop in Mayfair where his author aunt worked during World War II. It’s a fitting setting, then, for this festival of words dedicated to art, with a programme comprising a series of talks featuring the likes of youngest living Academician Conrad Shawcross, who will discuss his work with the RA’s Tim Marlow, and Grayson Perry, whose talk on September 20 has just had more tickets made available.

A photo of two people sitting in a Wheel House by the sea as part of Ramsbottom Festival 2015
Acrojou's The Wheel House is part of the art-devoted fifth stage at this year's Ramsbottom Festival© Steve Edwin
Ramsbottom Festival, Greater Manchester, September 18-20
The fifth stage at the fifth outing of this Lancashire festival is dedicated to family arts, and it doesn’t hold back in its scope. The Marie Celestial, a walking mechanical art installation and street theatre show, was commissioned alongside Glastonbury Festival, and a circus theatre performance unfolds with the audience walking alongside it. Stone Balancing also teaches kids how to create the impossible by applying science to natural materials.

A photo of an illustration of the Lake District for the Lakes international comic art festival
This postcard is part of a series called Wish You Were Here - Postcards from the Edge of Reality© 2015 Bill Morrison. All Rights Reserved
Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Kendal, October 16-18
If the ultra-cool postcards produced to promote this festival are any measure, including one by comic laureate and The Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons, the weekend itself should be a dream for illustration fans in an area where Beatrix Potter and Wordsworth were once inspired. Acerbic Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell opens the show.

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