In our third bitesized guide to the UK's summer festivals, we visit the Hop Farm Festival, where top quality music is washed down with real ale. Musical talent will descend on Kent this July for a festival with a difference. We've got tickets up for grabs too.

Don't expect any special treatment here - the aim of the Hop Farm Festival is to make the experience the same for everyone who buys a ticket. Gone are the VIP areas, sponsorship and branding that come with most festivals. In their place is a back-to-basics musical experience sure to satisfy the festival purists and anyone who enjoys a pint of real ale.

For a chance to win tickets, click here.

When is it?

Saturday 4 to Sunday 5 July 2009.

Where is it?

The Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, Kent TN12 6PY.

Who's playing?

The Fratellis
Pigeon Detectives
The View
Echo and the Bunnymen
Florence and the Machine
Noah and the Whale
Howling Bells
Bell X1
The Twilight Sad
Johnny Foreigner
Dr Lektroluv
Let's Wrestle
The Good The Bad

Paul Weller
2 Many DJs
Super Furry Animals
The Twang
Mystery Jets
The Rifles
Cage The Elephant
65 Days of Static
Fight Like Apes
Scratch Perverts
Alex Gopher
That Petrol Emotion
Burn the Negative
British Sea Power
The Chapman Family
Eight Legs

Additional attractions

As with all good festivals the organisers promise there will be a range of fairground attractions to keep you entertained between performances. Anyone suffering from the absence of football during the summer will struggle to keep away from the five-a-side celebrity football tournament, where an assortment of stars will be battling it out for the trophy.


This year, the Hop Farm Festival is affiliated with Cradle, an NGO that works with children and community development programmes.

The essentials

Tickets: Weekend tickets including camping and parking cost £125. A day ticket is priced at £65. Paying separately for one night's camping costs £16. Taking your own campervan is £25 for the weekend. Follow the links on the festival's website.
Opening times: The arena gates officially open at 12pm on 4 July and close at 2am on 6 July, although bands finish at 11pm each night. The campsite opens at 12pm on Friday 3 July and closes Monday 6 July at 12pm.
Wristbands: Once you're in, swap your ticket for a wristband at one of the exchange points. If you don't you won't be allowed back into the festival or the campsite if you leave. Don't test them, they sound deadly serious.
Leave the cool box at home: No alcohol, cans or glass bottles can be taken into the festival.
Wellies and raincoat: It's an English summer festival. The rest should be self explanatory.
Don't pack matches: Although there will be a communal bonfire at the festival, no one is allowed to start their own.
SOS: In the likely event you have left something crucial behind, there's a 24-hour camping shop on site.
Disabled access: The festival has a range of services for people with mobility problems and other difficulties. There's a disabled parking area, along with a dedicated disabled campsite in a relatively flat area with easy access for wheelchair users. There will also be viewing platforms in the main entertainment areas.

Getting there:

Bus: Return tickets to Paddock Wood from London and Brighton can be bought from the Hop Farm Festival website for £30. From both destinations buses leave on Friday at 12pm and return on Monday morning. Tickets can also be bought to and from Tonbridge Wells and Maidstone.

Rail: The closest station to the festival is Paddock Wood with Beltring also nearby. There will be a free shuttle service from Paddock Wood to the Hop Farm Festival leaving every 30 minutes, starting on the hour. Additional late trains will be running to London Charing Cross and Ashford International. Visit the festival's website for specific times.

Car: The Hop Farm Festival is on the A228 near Paddock Wood, Kent. There are permanent brown tourist signs to the Hop Farm and there will be additional signs for the festival itself. They'll be visible from junction 4 of the M20 or junction 5 of the M25 towards the A21 south.

For more information on other UK summer festivals, take a look at WTG's guides to Glastonbury Festival and Liverpool SoundCity. Our bitesized guide to The Big Chill will be here next week. 

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