British Summer Time Hyde Park: The Festival Alternative

Glastonbury heroes Arcade Fire, princes of darkness Black Sabbath and a reformed Libertines will all be present for seven days of al fresco music and comedy 

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Rocking out al fresco has become a national fixation. Every weekend at this time of year, the calendar is rammed with dozens of opportunities to lug a tent and backpack full of liquor to some rural idyll and revel to the point of exhaustion for three days of outdoor abandon.

For London residents and visitors, however, festival fun can be had much closer to home without all that muddy camping and wet sleeping bag nonsense. Claiming its own majestic open-air setting, British Summer Time Hyde Park opens this Thursday, 3 July, with six more epic one-day events to follow. No schlepping for miles from a distant car park, just take the Tube or bus to the capital’s pumping green heart, which will be transformed into a temporary concert site decked out with all the full spectrum of festival drink and food (in that order), with entertainment bills packed with international stars.

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Whatever music shakes your tree, the main stage offers a sprawling array of talent daily: from the anthemic art-disco extravaganza of opening night stars Arcade Fire to the metallic onslaught of Black Sabbath (their BST night is darkly renamed “Black Sabbath Time”), and the classic rock/blues of Neil Young & Crazy Horse to the ageless, leather-lunged Welsh belter Tom Jones. Even skittish indie wastrels The Libertines have reformed for a headlining slot on Saturday 5 July.

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Impressive supporting artists across the seven nights include Wild Beasts, The Pogues, Spiritualized, Motörhead, Jake Bugg, Faith No More, Soundgarden and The National. For a break from all those decibels, Thursday 10 July is dedicated to comedy performances headlined by Tim Minchin. Three other stages sited around the park offer even more choice of live entertainment from bands and solo performers.

And the beauty of it all – aside from the regal splendour of the Royal Park itself – is that the West End is just a few minutes’ stroll away. You can be there for a civilized aftershow nightcap almost before the final chords and cheers have faded into the night. Beats stumbling around in the dark looking for your collapsed tent.

For dates, full line-ups and ticket info: hydepark.com/home

 

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