From international stars, to rising talents, take your pick

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The sun has got to shine at some point - and as we prepare for the summer music festival season to get into full swing, what better way to enjoy it than by attending one of the many open air extravaganzas taking place in Kent?

Competition is fierce once more, but with Glastonbury taking a breather, organisers will be hoping the Glasto faithful consider a jaunt a little closer to home this year.

We take a look at some of the higher-profile events, who is performing and why it could be worth your hard-earned cash.

Hop Farm Festival

When? June 29 - July 1

Where? Hop Farm, Paddock Wood

Who? Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel & the New Blood Orchestra, Suede

Others: Ray Davies, Primal Scream, Damien Rice, Maxim Park, Patti Smith, The Stranglers, Joan Armatrading, Billy Oceon, Psychedelic Furs, My Morning Jacket, Dr John and the Lower 911, The Jezabels, Benjamin Francis Leftwich and many others including, bizarrely, Sir Bruce Forsyth.

Why attend? The biggest festival in Kent now with the clout of pulling in the world’s biggest names, after grabbing Prince last year, the Hop Farm Festival continues to be desperate to impress and establish itself in the market.

History: Promoter Vince Power is desperate to corner the ‘legends’ market and the older music fan with that all important disposable income. Now in its fifth year, the Hop Farm Festival made the headlines last year with Prince, Morrissey and The Eagles. Bob Dylan is no stranger to the event having headlined before, The festival will have four music stages this year including a comedy stage, Camp Acoustic stage and Buskers Boulevard.

How much? It proclaims a no sponsorship, no branding ethos and says the first 10,000 tickets will sell for £150 for the weekend. Children under-12 go free.

Lounge on the Farm

When? July 6-8

Where? Merton Farm, Canterbury

Who? Emeli Sande, The Wombats, The Charlatans, Chic

Others: Dexys, Goldie, Roots Manuva, David Rodigan, Roni Size, Dub Pistols, Fake Blood, Spector, AlunaGeorge, Jess Mills, Jagga, The Milk and many others.

Why attend? What it lacks in big name clout, it makes up for in charm and atmosphere. Lounge continues to attract a wide demographic and its eclectic blend of music on offer provides an intriguing melting pot. Plus it’s without doubt the most Kentish of festivals - with the working farm setting providing the back drop for a big push on local traders and suppliers.

History: From a few hundred people it has grown over the last seven years to establishing itself as a so-called boutique festival - trading very much on its size and atmosphere as much as its music. Having seen its capacity upped last year to nearly 10,000 the calibre of acts went up with Ellie Goulding, The Streets and Echo and the Bunnymen headlining. A few wrangles with the local council over parking and policing have now been resolved.

How much? Weekend - Adults £115, students £105 - family and group rates too,

Sound Island Festival

When? July 28-July 29

Where? Quex Park, Birchington

Who? Saturday - James, Echo & The Bunnymen, Cast, Inspiral Carpets, Space, The Farm. Sunday - Olly Murs, Rizzle Kicks.

Why attend? Two very different days - both separately ticketed. The first is potentially the first of a growing trend of festivals cashing in on the early 1990s indie/Britpop explosion. Manchester’s finest James reunite to headline, assisted by string of bands who once sold as many t-shirts as they did singles. The following day sees a younger audience arrive for the more contemporary diet of X Factor star Olly Murs and the urban chart-friendly Rizzle Kicks.

History: Quex has quietly developed a reputation for putting on surprisingly big names. Madness rocked the venue a couple of years ago, and before that the likes of the Pussycats Dolls performed. It only has one stage so is very much a festival-lite, but if the weather’s good, there’s few nicer places to be.

How much? James and co - £35 (£6 parking) Olly - £32.50 (£6 parking).

One Love Festival

When? August 10-12

Where? Hop Farm, Paddock Wood

Who? Freddie McGregor, Frankie Paul, Cornel Campbell, Dub Syndicate, Michigan and Smiley, Tapper Zukie, Kevin Issacs and many more.

Why attend? Assuming the weather holds up, there can be no better sound of the summer than the sights and sounds of the Caribbean - and One Love aims to deliver just that. From top reggae stars to leading sound systems, the Hop Farm should provide a perfect back drop for a laid-back slice of summer fun.

History: Created five years ago, the One Love Festival comes to Kent in what it hopes will be a regular new home at a venue which the Hop Farm Festival has propelled into the spotlight. The line-up is strong with a range of stages; this could prove to be the county’s surprise hit of the summer.

How much? Limited early bird tickets for the weekend are still available for £100. After they run out its £110. Children 5-15 go free.

Castle Concerts

When? July 18-21

Where? Rochester Castle

Who? Steps (July 19), Billy Ocean and Alexander O’Neal (July 20), Jools Holland (July 18), Royal Philharmonic (July 21).

Why attend? It’s not a camping extravaganza, but the annual Castle Concerts pulls in some big names to appeal to a wide audience of diverse styles. Plus the venue being within the grounds of the castle makes it a little bit special.

History: The annual shows have proved a big hit and attracted a number of big names over the years. Recent years alone have seen the likes of Status Quo, McFly, Will Young, The Wanted, Squeeze, N-Dubz and Peter Andre.

How much? Tickets for each night cost between £30-35.

The best of the rest - the south’s other major festivals all within a car drive’s away:

Latitude, Southwold, Suffolk

When? July 12-15

Who? Paul Weller, Elbow, Bon Iver, Ben Howard

Why? Possibly the most middle-class festival of the lot, it trades as much on its literary, comedy, poetry and film content, as it does its high calibre of music.

Rewind, Henley, Oxford

When? August 18-19

Who? The Bangles, Jimmy Summerville, Adam Ant, OMD, Rick Astley, T’Pau

Why? At some point the 80s revival will run out of steam... but not yet. The hits and act heavy line-up offers considerable bang for your buck.

V Festival, Chelmsford, Essex

When? August 18-19

Who? The Stone Roses, The Killers, Snow Patrol, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

Why? Extremely easy to reach courtesy of the joys of the Dartford Crossing, V’s budget is envied by everyone, and by securing the Roses’ only UK festival show it has real kudos this year.

Reading Festival, Reading, Berks

When? August 24-26

Who? The Cure, Foo Fighters, Kasabian, Florence & The Machine, You Me at Six

Why? Heaven for a teenager with a penchant of wearing black, feeling down and a loud guitar. That’ll be pretty much all of them then.



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