Glasto might be taking this year off, but that doesn’t mean you can’t impress your funnest clients in 2018. We’ve picked a sextet of big hitters to kick our four-part festival guide off in style

Download, 8-10 June, Donington Park
New VIP offerings make this hospitality favourite even more hardcore

SquareMeal Festival hospitality The big six download credit ross silcocks

We felt our black hearts sink when we heard that the notorious RIP camping experience at the UK’s biggest rock festival had sold out last year. Thank the dark overlords then that this time round, Download has added brand new areas to its VIP offering (although we hear they’re running out fast too). The Metal Forest package is our pick: canvas ridge tents for two cost £837.50pp and come with beds and bedding, a power supply, outdoor chairs and a metal locker box for valuables. Guests will also get the usual commemorative tshirt, RIP ‘doggie’ bag and bells and whistles (aka clean loo and shower facilities) that make a weekend in the mud more bearable. Plus they’ll be staying as close to the action as it gets – their ears will be bleeding from their proximity to Marilyn Manson, Ozzy Osbourne and Guns ‘n’ Roses.


Isle of Wight Festival, 21-24 June, Isle of Wight
Be part of the island festi’s 50th celebrations in some serious – and expensive – style

SquareMeal Festival hospitality The big six isle of wight

Remember when Kimye landed private helicopter-style at Glasto and we all thought, ‘what a couple of berks’? And yet, somehow, the prospect of sending your boss and their clients to this year’s IoW festival via propeller sounds, well, pretty rad. It’s not part of the £8,500-for-two price tag of the Camp Kerala ticket, but helicopter (and private rib) arrivals can be added on to this VIP offering. What is included? All food, luxury shikar tents (each with 2,000 hand-sewn gold stars inside), a bar, a restaurant and pamper rooms. If it’s something a little kinder on the company card you’re after, VIP tickets from agent Mark Butler Associates include a private lounge, bar and food stalls, and boutique camping comes in the form of Kushti Cabins and Eve’s Tipis. The lineup will please a melting pot of music tastes too: Rita Ora and Chic meets The Killers and Liam Gallagher.


Latitude Festival, 12-15 July, Suffolk
More champers than shots, this one’s for calm clients

SquareMeal Festival hospitality The big six latitude credit jen o'neill

One for the ‘I like festivals but Christ, I can’t party like I used to’ crowd, Latitude is a pro at providing wholesome hospitality. After an midday lake swim, an afternoon in the Music & Film Arena and a bit of Solange, Latitude Luxury guests can retire to their luxury cabin, tipi or summer lodge (complimentary glass of champers in hand, obvs) with the knowledge that come morning, free breakfast, clean loos and showers, and spa sessions will rid them of even the most existential hangovers. They can even dine à la carte in the on-camp restaurant or, for those already in the field, take advantage of the Secret Arena Bar where cocktails can be supped in the chill out lounge or fire pit-side.


Wilderness, 2-5 August, Oxfordshire
No packages means that you can create an experience to perfectly suit your crowd

SquareMeal Festival hospitality The big six wilderness credit fanatic live andrew whitton

What Wilderness lacks in official hospitality packages, it makes up for in fine dining. Angela Hartnett’s turn on the stove last year was nothing short of on point, so we’re glad to hear she’s back rattling the pasta pans this year too. Middle East maverick Yottam Ottolenghi is also making a welcome return with his take on long table dining, but the hot ticket is The Chef’s Table: six courses à la James Lowe of Lyle’s, nomadic Mexican chef Santiago Lastra and L’Enclume alumni Sam Buckley. Groups can sleep their food off in the boutique camping area (details are yet to be announced) or burn off the excess while dancing to a DJ set from Groove Armada, partaking in a spot of fly fishing or even trying their hand at deer butchery.


Bestival, 2-5 August, Dorset
A younger crowd means milllenial clients will be RSVPing quick


Yes, there may be more teenagers than you’d perhaps want to surround your clients with but take the right crowd and, trust us, they’ll have a hoot. Bestival’s hospitality offering is also huge but make a note that this year will the first that The Pop-Up Hotel will be making an appearance. Part of the Hospitality Camping package upgrade, prices start at £1,695 for up to four guests and come with framed beds (what?), fully carpeted flooring and rugs (surely not) and furnished dining and living areas (shut up). A whopping six other options are available and all of them include access to the VIP Lucky Cat Bar – this where they can safely dance to Plan B, London Grammar and M.I.A away from their slightly younger – maybe cooler – peers. 


Festival No. 6, 6-9 September, Portmeirion
The last festival of the season is well worth the wait

SquareMeal Festival hospitality The big six festival no6 portmeirion

Rain. Mud. More rain. If you’re heading to North Wales this summer, pack your sou’wester. It may get a bit sodden but by God, it’s worth it. We’d send an important group of clients to the seriously Instagrammable Italiante-style village of Portmeirion for the setting alone. This year’s new VIP bar will add to the already impressive booze offering, and complimentary Park & Ride and express lanes for coach shuttles means less time drenched, more time quenched on arrival. If you wanted to stay in the village, you’re too late, but boutique camping is still an option – if you’re quick. Yet to be announced is this year’s fine-dining Dinner at Clough’s offering. Last year saw the lads behind Som Saa serving up their famous Thai dishes on white tablecloths so we’re expecting some serious names this year. And don’t forget the spa – if you’re going to get wet, do it in style.