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The World’s Top Festivals

The Young Season’s Pick of the Festival Crop

Stanley May 26

Kimberly June 14

Glade June 22

The Secret Garden July 26?29

St-Tropez, Mykonos, St- Jean-De-Luz July/August

Ibiza (Space Opening Party June 3) August

Lyford Cay August

Burning Man End August

As ladies in hats and dresses examine delphiniums in the Great Pavilion of Chelsea Flower Show, a battle scene will be raging on the grounds of Stanley estate in Shropshire where young people will gather for music to herald the young summer Season.

Gone are the days of debutante balls and daytime social gatherings (bar day club Space, in Ibiza, after any nightclub) as the focus of summer socialising. Unlike traditional pursuits, such as Royal Ascot and Henley Regatta, the highlights of the young season are mainly determined by music?at local festivals and abroad, in all manner of clubbing hubs.

The success of Glastonbury, by far the largest and most famous British festival, held annually in Somerset with an average attendance of 153,000, has encouraged a number of landowners to open their estates to summer partying. The emergence of tiny, exclusive, ‘parties’ in the grounds of grand houses is a notable recent development in the young Season. These are invitation only, and Stanley has pioneered asking for donations, the full suggested amount goes to charity (for the Pegasus Trust), which has raised £75,000 so far. Part of the appeal of Stanley, Glade, Kimberly or The Secret Garden is their size?from just 800 to 5,000 people?which makes them more navigable, so that people can reconnect with friends at the beginning of the summer.

‘A lot of the smaller festivals have gained more momentum as a result of Glastonbury losing its edge,’ says Louis Weymouth, a seasoned Young Seasoner. ‘They’re cheaper for one thing, but also more accessible. You really need to be superhuman or in the media to get a ticket to Glastonbury. Events such as Stanley do cover a certain class bracket ?they are considered “posh” open-air parties, as, to a degree, they are attended by people who can afford to go?you’ll see a certain type of person. Of course, the whole point of Glastonbury was that it took in everyone, but then [troublemakers there] started to get quite violent, so they put up the fences. It’s like Fort Knox, that place! You actually feel as if you can’t get out, which is hardly the spirit. And England’s lovely in the summer. Lots of good bands come and the English do know how to put on a good bash.’

Come August, the hard-core Young Season partygoers move on to top clubbing islands Ibiza and Mykonos. Being both affordable and open-minded, it is filled with people from all walks of life. The streets of San Antonio, teeming with transvestites more beautifully made up than the women, can be as entertaining as any of the club nights hosted by world-famous DJs.

Although as yet less fashionable to young Brits than Ibiza, Mykonos is still a popular choice. ‘The season there starts at the beginning of August and lasts about two weeks,’ says Lema Alireza, a London-born Saudi Arabian. ‘You spend most of the day in your bikini and sometimes party in it at night. The weather’s hot and you never know when you’re going to end up at the beach, even in the middle of the night or early morning. It’s an excuse to tan and party.’

Not that the young do not appreciate the races or traditional places. Goodwood and Ascot are always popular, and it’s nice to be pampered in The Hamptons or St-Tropez on a family holiday. But the trend veers more toward creative venues with crowds, music and art.

For one week only, in the black rock sands of the desert in Nevada, Burning Man draws the hardest-core partiers of all, eager to end the season with a bang. As there is nothing there before it is set up, it requires money, creativity and stamina. Which is what makes it unique and appealing to all kinds of artists and adventurers, who club together in costumes, caravans and collectives and entertain each other.

Clearly, open-air parties can be just as romantic as flower shows and balls. Among other couples, the Earl and Countess of Mornington courted at Space in Ibiza.

Back in England at the end of August, Glyndebourne will have its last opera of the season. As the children of its audience whirl across the desert dressed as psychedelic insects, their parents will no doubt prefer The Turn of the Screw.

Where to go

Stanley (UK)

The Secret Garden (UK)

Glade (UK)

Glastonbury (UK)

Burning Man (Nevada, USA)

Space, Pacha and Manumission (Ibiza)

Mykonos (Greece)

St-Tropez (France)

Lyford Cay, Bahamas

What to wear

Stanley fancy dress

The Secret Garden long skirts, jeans

Burning Man fur coats at night, goggles and masks for sandstorms, costumes

Ibiza string vests, bikinis

Mykonos bikinis, high heels

This article was published in Country Life magazine, May 10, 2007


Stanley estate in Shropshire is the venue for a strictly invitation-only party which beings the Young Season. Guests are invited to make donations to the Pegasus Trust. The event is not ticketed, nor is it a rave. Country Life is happy to clarify these details.