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    Stiff Competition For Summer's Hot Tickets

    glastonbury1.jpgThere may be no Glastonbury this year, but it will still be difficult to avoid an outdoor festival. Up to 250 festival organisers are hoping to attract the crowds in the next few months - and some fear that the summer is already saturated.


    Six years ago Neil Greenway set up efestivals.co.uk, a website packed with information and festival discussion forums. He said the market was overserved. "It was always a bit of an underground thing and now it's gone overground. And there are an awful lot of festivals - we've got 200 listed and another 40 waiting to be listed. There will be some casualties this year."


    For the big ones, invariably backed by mobile phone companies, selling tickets is not a problem. No sooner do they go on sale than they are sold out. The lineups are strong, with Coldplay headlining on the Isle of Wight, Radiohead at V and The Who at Leeds.Equally, some events serve such special interests that they are guaranteed an enthusiastic, if small, audience. If your idea of heaven is listening to boogie woogie piano for three nights, then you should head to Fontwell Magna in Dorset on July 21. Alternatively, didgeridoo enthusiasts should go to Escot country park, Ottery St Mary, Devon, on the first weekend of August for Didjefest.


    This year John Shearlaw, a long-time spokesman for Glastonbury, is involved in what is billed as the largest outdoor green event in Europe, the Big Green Gathering in the Mendip Hills from August 2. It will have the biggest solar-powered sound system in the world, and cinemagoers will be encouraged to pedal to generate a movie.


    Other festivals will have a harder time. Aerosolics 2006, the first aerosol art and music festival, hopes to attract 5,000 people on June 30 to a secret location in Surrey. Press officer Lucy Wilson said competition was tough. "We're up against things like Global Gathering and V Festival, who can afford to saturate all the magazines with full page ads. The graffiti community is much bigger than you think and this is trying to raise the profile even more. It's normally considered a menace or a lower art form. We're trying to show that it's not." Bands signed up include Gogol Bordello, who invented gypsy punk, the Young Knives and The Departure.


    There are other festivals with no advertising, particularly smaller ones trying to stay faithful to their hippy roots. "Some festivals don't actually want the publicity because if too many people come along it will just cost more in terms of security and other things," said Mr Greenway.


    But not everyone is saying bring it on. Deeply Vale was the biggest free festival in Britain before it was banned by the local council in 1979. This year was meant to see its triumphant free-loving return, but Manchester city council has ruled that bars will have to close at 9.30pm and music turned off an hour later. The organisers hope to have another go in 2007. Vince Power, the music industry entrepreneur who sold his live music and festival business Mean Fiddler last year, has a different solution to oversupply in the British festival market. He recently bought a majority stake in the Benicassim festival in Spain. Among the bands performing over four days from July 21 will be Depeche Mode, Morrissey, Echo & The Bunnymen and Scissor Sisters.


    Another overseas venue is the Sziget festival in Hungary (August 9-16), with a weighty line up, including Radiohead, Franz Ferdinand and Robert Plant.


    But there will be no escape for those who stay at home. More festivals than ever are scheduled for TV, with BBC3 due to broadcast Leeds, Reading and T in the Park. Where and when:


    Hi-fi North, May 27

    Location Matfen estate, near Newcastle. Born out of Global Gathering, this is a new venue in the Northumberland national park

    Acts Ian Brown headlines with other names including Editors, Maximo Park, The Subways and Audio Bullys

    Tickets £58 - £94.50


    Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, August 11-12

    Location Belladrum estate, Invernesshire. A beautiful setting promising everything from rock to country to Celtic

    Acts Arlo Guthrie confirmed

    Tickets £60


    O2 Wireless Festival, June 21-25 and 24-25

    Location Hyde Park, London June 21-25. Leeds on 24-25

    In London The Strokes, David Gray, Massive Attack, James Blunt and Depeche Mode headline while The Who are in Leeds

    Tickets £37.50-£152.50


    Carling Weekend, August 25-27

    Location Leeds and Reading. Mean Fiddler organised biggie

    Acts Pearl Jam, Franz Ferdinand, Muse, Placebo, Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys and The Streets

    Tickets £60-£135


    Green Man Festival, August 18-20

    Location Glanusk Park, Brecon Beacons. A mellow weekend in beautiful location

    Acts An eclectic lineup that includes the old - Bert Jansch - and the new - José González

    Tickets £98


    V Festival, August 19-20

    Locations Weston Park, Staffordshire, and Hylands Park, Chelmsford

    Acts A combined total of more than 135,000 will see an extremely strong lineup including Radiohead, Morrissey, Faithless, Sugababes and Rufus Wainwright

    Tickets £58.50-£120


    Escape into the Park, June 17

    Location Singleton Park, Swansea

    Acts Goldie Lookin' Chain are the headliners in a lineup that includes Fabio & Grooverider

    Tickets £34.50


    Nokia Isle of Wight Festival, June 9-11

    Location Isle of Wight

    Acts More than 30,000 people are expected to watch Coldplay headline along with Lou Reed, Foo Fighters, The Prodigy, Placebo and Primal Scream

    Tickets £85.00-£105.00


    Big Green Gathering, August 2-6

    Location Mendip Hills, Somerset

    Acts No big names yet but achingly green with all venues renewably powered. Some people plan to walk from London but there are buses from Weston-super-Mare.

    Tickets £20.00-£95


    Hi-fi South, May 27-28

    Location Matterley Bowl, Winchester

    Acts This southern partner to the northern festival will feature Hard-Fi, Super Furry Animals and The Go! Team as well as Ian Brown and The Subways

    Tickets £54.50-£150


    Aerosolics, June 30 - July 2

    Location So far undisclosed, but in Surrey. Organisers hope 5,000 aerosol art-loving swingers will gather for a weekend of music and graffiti.

    Acts Include Gogol Bordello, The Feeling, The Young Knives and The Departure

    Tickets £75.

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