Beautiful Days (festival)

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Beautiful Days
Beautiful Days Logo.gif
Genrerock, alternative rock, folk, punk rock, dance, experimental
Location(s)Escot Park, Ottery St Mary, Devon, England
Years active2003–present

Beautiful Days is a music festival that takes place in August at Escot Park, near Ottery St Mary, Devon. The festival was founded by, and is managed by the band The Levellers and was first held in 2003. The festival has no corporate sponsorship or branding,[1] leading to Virtual Festivals proclaiming it "the festival that sells out ... by not selling out".[2] In 2011 Beautiful Days was pronounced "Best Family Festival" by the UK Festival Awards,[3] later winning the "Grass Roots Festival Award" in 2015,[4] as well as the "Best Medium Festival" award from FestivalKidz the same year.[2] Every festival from 2003 to 2019 sold out in advance;[5] the 2020 festival was cancelled whilst tickets were still on sale, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The current capacity is 17,500.[6]


The Levellers began the festival at Escot Park in 2003, after a previous venture the Green Blade Festival ran into licensing difficulties.[7] The Levellers' singer Mark Chadwick explained the thinking behind the ethos of the new festival in an interview with eFestivals[8]

"The whole reason for doing it is that many festivals are shit. They just haven't got that right element of cultural exchange. We're trying to get that 'weirdness' back into festivals, which is the whole point of doing it ... as soon as the corporate hand sticks its tiniest bit in, they're fucked."

The festival is held on the penultimate weekend of August, which until 2017 was the same weekend as the now defunct V Festival; Chadwick stated that although this was not originally deliberate, he liked it because "the ethos of the festival is (the) antithesis of V."[8]

Musical styles[edit]

Fireworks after The Levellers' set, 2015

Beautiful Days has a more diverse range of musical artists than many other festivals.[7] Headline artists have included reggae (Lee "Scratch" Perry, The Wailers), alternative rock (James, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine), punk (The Stranglers, The Pogues), post-punk (Killing Joke, Public Image Ltd), country rock (Steve Earle), folk rock (Frank Turner), dance (Leftfield), gothic rock (The Sisters of Mercy) and blues (Seasick Steve). A number of acts from outside the US and UK which may be less familiar to festival crowds are booked each year; in recent years these have included Tinariwen (Mali), Seeed (Germany), Katzenjammer (Norway), Dubioza kolektiv (Bosnia) and Hoffmaestro (Sweden).[9] Traditionally, The Levellers open the festival with an acoustic set in the Big Top on Friday afternoon, and close it by headlining the main stage on Sunday, followed by a firework display.[10]


Panorama of the Main Stage in 2011

The first two festivals were held over two days (Saturday and Sunday) and utilised two stages, named the Main Stage and the Big Top. In 2005 it became a three-day festival with the addition of bands playing on the Friday, and has since expanded the number of stages. Between 2012 and 2018 there were six main stages; the two mentioned above, plus the Little Big Top, the Bimble Inn, the Bandstand and the Theatre Tent,[6] the main stage and Big Top hosting the majority of established acts, with the Bimble Inn and Bandstand showcasing lesser known acts. The Little Big Top is primarily dance-oriented, whilst the Theatre tents provides theatre, cabaret, comedy and children's acts. [11][10] In 2019 the Bandstand was removed to make way for a larger Theatre Tent, with some acoustic acts performing in the Fiddler's Arms.[12]


Beautiful Days has the usual range of festival facilities. There are four bars - three with Levellers-related names (Hope Tavern, Fiddler's Arms and Dirty Davey's) plus the Redwoods Bar, which are run by the local Otter Brewery, numerous food stalls, and a shop run by the village shop from nearby Talaton.[13] There is a large children's area with activities and workshops run by the Majical Youth Theatre, along with child-friendly performances in the Theatre Tent.[14] There are camping sections, including a family section and a disabled section, and a large area for camper vans and other live-in vehicles.[15]

Festival details[edit]

Year Date Main Stage Headliners Big Top Headliners Notes/Reference
2003 16-17 August Lee "Scratch" Perry, The Levellers Senser[a], Justin Sullivan [16]
2004 21-22 August The Stranglers, The Levellers System 7, Show of Hands [17]
2005 19-21 August Michael Franti & Spearhead, The Wonder Stuff, The Levellers Chas & Dave, Steeleye Span, Billy Bragg [18]
2006 18-20 August Killing Joke, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Levellers Hayseed Dixie, Julian Cope, Alabama 3 [19]
2007 17-19 August Gogol Bordello, KT Tunstall, The Levellers Skaville UK, Show of Hands, The Damned [20]
2008 15-17 August Squeeze, Supergrass, The Levellers Brakes, Salsa Celtica, Los Albertos [21]
2009 21-23 August Hawkwind, The Pogues, The Levellers Seth Lakeman, Swans in Flight, The Blockheads [22]
2010 20-22 August The Wailers, James, The Levellers Fairport Convention, Bellowhead, Shooglenifty [23]
2011 19-21 August Big Audio Dynamite, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, The Levellers The Low Anthem, Oysterband, Salsa Celtica [24]
2012 17-19 August Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, Public Image Ltd, The Levellers Midlake, Seth Lakeman, Katzenjammer [25]
2013 16-18 August Ocean Colour Scene, Primal Scream, The Levellers Clannad, Headmix Collective, Roy Harper [26]
2014 15-17 August Steve Earle and the Dukes, Seasick Steve, The Levellers Tinariwen, Bellowhead, Devin Townsend [27]
2015 21-23 August Happy Mondays, Dropkick Murphys, The Levellers Freeborn John[b], Wilko Johnson, Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain [28]
2016 19-21 August Leftfield, James, The Levellers Billy Bragg, The Damned[c], Treacherous Orchestra [29]
2017 18-20 August Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott, Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, The Levellers Therapy?, Hayseed Dixie, Alison Moyet [30]
2018 17-19 August The Hives, Manic Street Preachers, The Levellers Suzanne Vega, Calexico, Richard Thompson Electric Trio [31]
2019 16-18 August Skunk Anansie, Ziggy Marley, The Levellers Songhoy Blues, Hothouse Flowers, Steeleye Span [32]
2020 21-23 August Travis, Flogging Molly, The Levellers Hawkwind, Indigo Girls, Show of Hands Cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic[33]
2021 20-22 August Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, James, The Levellers Hawkwind, The Lakeman Family Gathering[d],[34] Van der Graaf Generator [35]
  1. ^ Although Senser were billed as the headliners, Mad Dog Mcrea played in the tent after them.
  2. ^ "Freeborn John" was Rev Hammer's musical story of John Lilburne, performed by Maddy Prior, Sean Lakeman, Kathryn Roberts, Justin Sullivan and members of the Levellers
  3. ^ The Damned were billed as the second band on the Big Top bill, but in the event played a much-extended headline set after Tricky pulled out at the last minute.
  4. ^ The Lakeman Family Gathering consisted of Geoff Lakeman, Seth Lakeman, Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman, Sam Lakeman and Cara Dillon. It was the first time they had all played on stage together in 25 years.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gliddon, Becca (4 March 2016). "Beautiful Days Festival 2016 - Line-up announced". Midweek Herald. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Beautiful Days 2016". Retrieved 29 October 2016.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "and the winners are..." UK Festival Awards. Archived from the original on 31 January 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  4. ^ "Devon's Beautiful Days triumph at the 2015 UK Festival Awards". Exeter Express and Echo. 28 November 2015. Archived from the original on 13 December 2015. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  5. ^ "Beautiful Days". eFestivals. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  6. ^ a b "About the festival". Archived from the original on 10 March 2017. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  7. ^ a b "Beautiful Days". Festival Mag. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Levellers' Mark Chadwick interview". eFestivals. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  9. ^ "Past line-ups". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  10. ^ a b "Beautiful Days". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  11. ^ Prescott, Catherine. "Beautiful Days 2015 review". Festival Kidz. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  12. ^ Prescott, Catherine. "Beautiful Days 2019 review". Festival Kidz. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  13. ^ "Beautiful Days facilities". eFestivals. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  14. ^ "Beautiful Days". Festival Kidz. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  15. ^ "FAQs". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  16. ^ "Beautiful Days 2003 line-up". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  17. ^ "Beautiful Days 2004 line-up". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  18. ^ "Beautiful Days 2005 line-up". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  19. ^ "Beautiful Days 2006 line-up". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  20. ^ "Beautiful Days 2007 line-up". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  21. ^ "Beautiful Days 2008 line-up". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  22. ^ "Beautiful Days 2009 line-up". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  23. ^ "Beautiful Days 2010 line-up". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  24. ^ "Beautiful Days 2011 line-up". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  25. ^ "Beautiful Days 2012 line-up". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  26. ^ "Beautiful Days 2013 line-up". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  27. ^ "Beautiful Days 2014 line-up". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  28. ^ "Beautiful Days 2015 line-up". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  29. ^ "Beautiful Days 2016 line-up". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
  30. ^ "Beautiful Days 2017 line-up". Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  31. ^ "Beautiful Days 2018 line-up". Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  32. ^ "Beautiful Days 2019 line-up". Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  33. ^ "Beautiful Days 2020 line-up". Louder Than War. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  34. ^ "Beautiful Days Festival news: This is going to be very exciting tonight! Headlining the Big Top stage is The Lakeman Family Gathering - Festival Flyer". Festival Flyer. Retrieved 28 Aug 2021.
  35. ^ "Beautiful Days 2021 Line Up". Retrieved 28 Aug 2021.

External links[edit]