If the sight of Lizzo and Elton performing at Glasto has left you with serious festival FOMO, there’s still time to get your fix. Beyond the epic music line-ups, spa and wellness has been gently elbowing its way to centre stage - the calming ying to the festival’s hedonistic yang - and we’re all for it. Who wouldn’t want to bubble away in a wood-fired hot tub after raving the night away in a field? GSG festival lover, Scarlet Spy, rounds up the best festivals to get your spa on this summer.
Set in sleepy Suffolk, the central lake at multi-award-winning Latitude isn’t just there to look pretty: it hosts floating ballet performances in the evening – when the entire site is magically lit up – and wild swimming during the day. But it’s the pastel-hued sheep and enchanted woods that really charm, with little huts selling Adman’s cider (the brewery is down the road), make-shift stages for those yet-to-be-discovered folksie bands, and trees adorned with festoon lights and lampshades.
It’s not just about the music at Latitude either (although with Pulp headlining this year, they don’t do too badly for ear candy); there’s as much comedy and literary stuff here as there is performance art. Families are de rigueur, too, with an entire field dedicated to kids, recognisable by a stripy helter-skelter that they will whiz down with glee.
When festival flag sinks in, head to The Retreat, Latitude’s luxury spa with reception area, several treatment rooms in beautifully-decorated bell tents, a wood-fired sauna and an ice plunge pool.
Run by The Zen Project, treatments include 50-minute massages (Ayurvedic, holistic, Indian head, deep tissue, Shamanic and Thai), as well as sound therapy. For something shorter, opt for a 30-minute crystal healing, reflexology or Reiki session; there’s also astrology reading and ear candles.
If a treatment isn’t your thing, pre-book a 20-minute Woodfire Sauna & Ice Plunge Pool combo to be released back into the throngs with a spring in your step.
WOMAD is a cultural Smorgasbord of music, art, food, dance and wellness set deep in the Wiltshire countryside. The biggest International music festival on the planet hosts bands from more than 50 countries - from Japanese Ajate to Zimbabwean Makoomba – creating an eclectic musical wonderland. It’s family friendly, too, and children 13 years and under free.
You’ll find the World of Wellbeing in the cool shade of the Arboretum, with its ancient oaks. Sip tea, try laughter yoga, join a gong bath or sign up for butterfly life coaching and inversion therapy (that’s hanging upside down to you and me). Mass Yoga, Tai-Chi and Capoeira take place beneath the 150-foot trees, along with traditional and non-traditional treatments to relax, cure and revitalise.
The WOMAD Spa is housed in a giant white yurt on the outskirts of the festival, with fairy lights and a cocktail bar that spills out into the outdoor greenery. Surrounded by trees, and strewn with giant dream catchers, you’ll find the Spa gardens. Sink into a Jacuzzi or wood-fired hot tub, toast in the Finnish barrel sauna or cool off in the refreshing plunge pool. Then get horizontal in a hammock and listen to the quiet hum of the festival as the wind rustles through the trees.
Don’t forget to take full advantage of the spa luxuries while you’re here; enjoy a hot shower - stocked with shampoo, conditioner and body wash – with fluffy white biodegradable towels.
Glitter-encrusted families flock to Lulworth Castle on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast for Camp Bestival, for quirky Glasto-esque areas, eclectic music and heaps to keep the kids entertained, from Cosmic Kids Yoga to the first family roller disco.
For spa-lovers and wellness-seekers there’s Slow Motion: a tranquil corner of the Lulworth Estate dedicated to restoring your mojo and wellbeing. And, let’s face it, if you’re brave enough to bring your brood to a festival, a little spa-time is the least you deserve. With its own entrance, not far from the main stage, the Slow Motion area really does change the tempo. The crowds seem to evaporate as you wander into the woodland area beneath the sun dappled trees.
Expect all the Yoga classes - Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Himalayan Hatha – to stress-zapping Rapid Tapping, breathwork and inspirational talks from Fearne Cotton and Richie Norton. There’s also sound healing sessions, ice baths and even a (pre-bookable) fest-within-a-fest, the All You Need Is Love Retreat for some major soul healing.
The festival weary can book a range of heavenly massages: deep tissue, Thai, aromatherapy and Indian Head, or bubble away in the Scandi woodfired hot tubs at Water & Flame Wild Spa. If it all gets too much, make a beeline for the Sleep Retreat; brainchild of Bestival organisers, Rob & Josie da Bank for some much-needed meditation, yoga or just a place to lie down and take a nap.
Wilderness, Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire When: 3 - 6 August 2023
Spend four sun-drenched days in a 5,000-acre Deer Park, amongst ancient forest and glistening lakes. This bougie, mid-summer festival has earned a rep for upmarket experiences: pop-up Michelin star restaurants, lake-side Champagne Bars and morning cricket come as standard. The music line-up is impressive too: The Chemical Brothers, Christine and the Queens, and Fatboy Slim are all on the bill, plus an eclectic range of health and wellness offerings.
Sitting calmly amidst the revelry you’ll find The Sanctuary: a place to retreat, recharge and reenergize before the next dance floor session. With four distinct spaces -The Studio, The Shala, Mindful Space and Wellbeing in the Wild – you can unravel at a gong bath, find your Zen at candlelit sound meditations, or flex those core muscles with a Stand Up Paddleboarding Yoga session on the lake. A guided morning swim with Blur Blind Men Cold Water Swim Club should awaken the senses; the sleep deprived can sign up for a Sleep Bootcamp with coach Tom Middleton.
Located in a hidden glade, beside the crystal-clear Lake Superior, you’ll find the Lakeside Spa; book two hours of bliss and bubble away in one of the wood-fired hot tubs, sweat out any impurities in the red Cedar sauna or simply sit and watch the sun set between the trees, glass of Champagne in hand. Now that’s what we’re talking about…
Brainchild of Radio DJ and Presenter Chris Evans, CarFest is the UKs largest fundraising festival with 15% of each ticket price being donated to UK children’s charities. We love the fact you can pitch your chairs and picnic blankets at the main stage and wander off and explore all that the festival has to offer, returning to your pre-claimed space ready for headliners which, this year, include McFly, Craig David and Texas.
Not just for petrolheads, this family-friendly festival is, in fact, seven festivals in one; CarFest, KidsFest, AdventureFest, FoodFest, RetroFest, StarFest and, our GSG favourite, SpaFest.
The curated line-up of celebs and wellness gurus include our favourite Instagram Soul Guide and Sunday Times Best Selling Author of Lunar Living, Kirsty Gallagher; personal development coach Simon Alexander Ong and Dr Rangan Chatterjee – whose podcast Feel Better, Live More is the no. 1 health podcast in the UK and Europe. Dr Louise Newman and Dr Kathryn Patrick take the heat out of the Menopause, while leading men’s mental health advocate Tom Chapman, along with The Lions Barber Collective, offer a safe space to chat whilst getting a fresh trim.
Pre-book the ice bath experience for a combo of cold water immersion and breathing techniques to leave you feeling Zen-like, or join meditation, yoga and daily stretching sessions at The Studio. The Soul Stretch Spa promises nourishing and reenergising massages from the comfort of a sumptuously furnished bell tent, natch.