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How Can Festivals Be More Sustainable?

Published on 5 min read

How can we make festivals in the UK more sustainable?

5 UK Festivals that are taking sustainability seriously

How can festivals be more sustainable? The best way is to lead by example. From cutting-edge, cow poo power to fabulous carnival costumes, we share 5 inspiring outdoor events that challenge the climate catastrophe. These sustainable festivals also model more gentle, mindful ways of being outdoors and caring for the natural world. 

And if you want to explore the outdoors before or after the festivals, we’ve included some nearby routes to try using OS Maps, Ordnance Survey’s mapping and route planner for walking, running, riding, and paddling, which is available online or as a mobile app.  

Five of the Best Sustainable Festivals in the UK this Summer — Plus Routes to Try When You Go 

Glastonbury Festival - sustainable festivals, girl on shoulders in sunset

1. Glastonbury Festival 

Wednesday 26th – Sunday 30th June 2024. Worthy Farm, Glastonbury, Somerset 

Home to the great, the good and the goddesses — oh, hi there Beyoncé — the grandaddy of sustainable festivals has spearheaded climate activism for four decades. Fossil, wind, and pedal power has fuelled its beloved Green Fields since 1984. It has also been a long-term supporter of Oxfam, Greenpeace and WaterAid (female Glasto-lovers will have fond memories of the shee-wee).  

The sale of single-use plastic drinks bottles and disposable vapes are banned on site. The green travel initiatives are impressive too with thousands arriving by bike or train. Last year the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl took the 11am from London Paddington to play at the festival. He even posted selfies with rail staff members!  

Elsewhere, the slurry created by Worthy Farm’s herd of cows is converted to clean hydrogen and graphene. That’s a cutting edge ‘super material’ used to make everything from tyres to battery technologies.  

Solar panels and wind turbines also power large swathes of the festival, alongside generators run on fuel made from cooking oil.  

All crockery and plates are either reused or compostable. Inedible food waste is turned into fertile compost or sent to anaerobic digestion. It’s all quite a feat, bearing in mind that Glastonbury is home to 200,000 people. This would make it the seventh largest city in southern England! 

Walk up to the iconic Glastonbury Tor with our route guide:

Saxophone player at festival - Timber Sustainable festival

2. Timber Festival 

Friday 5th – Sunday 7th July 2024. Feanedock, The National Forest, Leicestershire 

An incredible weekend festival of celebration, debate and reflection in the National Forest. Timber invites visitors to rethink their relationship with trees and forests and consider what it means to live sustainably. Expect music, wellness, installations, talks and much more.  

The festival really does put its money where its mouth is. Anyone arriving by sustainable travel (car share, bike, walking or running) is handed a green wristband giving them 10% off festival food and drinks.  

Power-wise, Timber has eliminated diesel from generators and site vehicles. It only uses treated vegetable oil, known as HVO, along with battery storage and isolated solar and wind systems.  

Crew, staff and volunteers eat fully vegetarian during the festival to reduce carbon emissions. Finally, food sold on site is organic, fair trade and free range. 

Here’s our suggestion for a great nearby walk!

Green Man sustainable festival drinks stand

3. Green Man Festival 

Thursday 15th – Sunday 18th August 2024. Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park, Wales 

Green Man has a strong music line-up plus comedy, literature, science and performing arts. But unsurprisingly, sustainability is at the core of this festival’s USP.  

It’s a founding member of the network of outdoor events tackling climate change, known as Vision 25. This means it has pledged to reduce its environmental impact by 2025. Unwanted food and camping equipment is collected and sent to both local food charities and refugees around the world. 

Elsewhere, Green Man’s 2023 climate investment helped plant nearly 2000 trees in northern Malawi. Plastic straws have never been used since the festival began in 2007, saving around 250,000 items sent to landfill.  

Finally, like Glastonbury, disposable plastics are a no-no at Green Man, plus all food packaging and cutlery is certified compostable. 

4. Shambala Festival 

Thursday 22nd – Sunday 25th August 2024. Secret Country Estate, Northamptonshire 

‘Shambala is completely and utterly committed to being sustainable, circular, regenerative, net positive, earth & life respecting and future thinking too – it’s in our DNA!’.  

It’s a bold statement., but one backed by data. The festival has reduced its carbon footprint by 90% and is fuelled by 100% renewable electricity. It has eradicated single-use plastics and is meat and fish free.  

But don’t think this means Shambala is a place of dull minimalism. In fact, it’s famous for the fabulous carnival costumes worn by visitors. They’re challenged to create weird and wild outfits from second hand, recycled or reusable materials. 

We’ve picked a great route for you to try when you’re at Shambala:

5. Latitude Festival 


Thursday 25th – Sunday 28th July 2024. Henham Park, Suffolk 

With headliners including Duran Duran, Kasabian and London Grammar, plus big-name sponsors, Latitude is a huge, commercial festival. However, it still proudly flies the sustainability flag. It has committed to halving its carbon emissions by 2030.  

Initiatives range from free shuttle buses from local stations and generators fuelled by biofuel; to recyclable, compostable food. 

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