Summer fun guide
With diamond jubilee and sports festivities galore, alongside the usual great festivals and outdoor events, summer 2012 is shaping up to be the UK's most fun ever. So it's time to get out and enjoy - even our notoriously fickle weather is unlikely to spoil this party.
Whether you're a foodie after some mouth-watering pickings or a family on the hunt for a fun-filled day out, there's a summer event to suit every whim and fancy. Find out what events and activities to mark on your calendar with our guide.
The UK is a smorgasbord of gastronomic delights this summer. The Taste Festivals in London (21-24 June) and Edinburgh (6-8 July) offer the chance to sample food from some of the country's top restaurants and meet some of our best-loved celebrity chefs.
Meanwhile, the BBC Good Food Show Summer comes to Birmingham (13-17 June) with a celebration of British food, and EAT! NewcastleGateshead(13 - 29 July) returns this year with a host of mini food festivals, workshops and tasting events around town.
If you're after something a little different, the Isle of Wight Garlic Festival(18 - 19 August), will play host to over 250 traders hawking great local bites, produce, and of course, garlic. Or you could turn up the heat at the Chilli Fiesta(27 - 29 July) at West Dean Gardens near Chichester. There'll be live music, salsa dancing and flaming food from chilli sauces to chilli chocolate to chilli ice cream.
The deliciousness continues into early September with the Ludlow Food Festival(7-9 September), which will see over 160 independent food and drink producers from the region take over Ludlow Castle, alongside events such as the Ludlow Sausage Trail and the Real Ale Trail.
Music festivalsfor all
Contrary to popular belief, music festivals don't have to mean mud, loud music and all-night partying. An increasing number offer a fun environment for all ages and tastes.
Leading the way is Camp Bestival (26 - 29 July), Bestival's family-oriented younger sibling. Like Bestival, each year has a theme (this year's is 'The Silly Olympics'), with fancy dress heavily encouraged. A huge slate of kids' entertainment and activities keep little ones occupied, while the grownups get comedy, theatre and one of the best live music lineups going (including headliners Happy Mondays, Hot Chip and Kool & The Gang).
Equally cool and inclusive is the Green Man Festival (17-19 August), which boasts a family camping area and kids' activities along with Einstein's Garden - 'a fusion of science, art and nature' - and a killer lineup including Van Morrison, Feist and The Walkmen.
If you fancy a smaller festival, try the Larmer Tree Festival (11-15 July) - recent winner of the UK festival award for 'Best Family Festival'. The lineup includes headliner Paloma Faith, comedy, theatre and over 150 workshops for all ages.
Shambala (23-27 August) also boasts one of the most vibrant kids' scenes on the festival circuit, with art tents, circus workshops and music making for little ones, alongside music, workshops, wellness and art for everyone.
Want more ideas? Festival Kidz has a handy interactive map and calendar of family-friendly music festivals all across the UK - along with top tips on making festival weekends fun and easy.
Summer Nights Film Festival at Calke Abbey
What better way to enjoy those balmy summer evenings than with a spot of open-air theatre or cinema? Despite our unpredictable weather there are outdoor performances all over the country.
If you're in the capital then the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, now in its 80th season, is a real institution. Performances run from late-May to early-September, and their Shakespeare productions are particularly special. Meanwhile, Shakespeare's Globe begins its main theatre season on 7 June with Henry V.
Elsewhere, Stamford Shakespeare Company begins its summer Shakespeare season in June at Rutland Open Air theatre in Lincolnshire, and Cornwall's open-air Minack Theatre is presenting theatre classics from The Sound of Music to Twelfth Night to David Copperfield until September.
The Everyman Open Air Theatre Festival (3 July - 4 August) will bring al fresco plays including Fawlty Tower and Pinocchio to Cardiff, while a number of outdoor productions are happening at stately homes around Scotland through the summer.
If the cinema's more your thing, then try the Summer Nights Film Festival. Running from early May to mid-September with 20 screenings at 10 venues across Derbyshire, it's got a film for everyone, from classics like Grease and Casablanca to new releases like Warhorse and The Adventures of Tintin.
City-dwellers can experience al fresco cinema too. Screenfields outdoor cinema in Manchester has a film on each Thursday through to September, while Londoners can enjoy open-air film including Pop Up Screens and The Rooftop Film Club.
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