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Britain and Europe's poshest music festivals

By Tamara Hinson, for CNN
updated 9:13 AM EDT, Fri August 9, 2013
Known as "poshstock," especially after Eton-educated British PM David Cameron attended this year, Cornbury calls itself a "homespun melting pot where music-lovers share pies and a glass of champagne with superstars, toffs [and] rockers." Known as "poshstock," especially after Eton-educated British PM David Cameron attended this year, Cornbury calls itself a "homespun melting pot where music-lovers share pies and a glass of champagne with superstars, toffs [and] rockers."
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Cornbury Music Festival, Oxfordshire, UK
Henley Festival, Henley, UK
Øya Festival, Oslo, Norway
Aphrodite Festival, Paphos, Cyprus
Festival No 6, Portmeirion, Wales
Verbier Festival, Verbier, Switzerland
Port Eliot Festival, Cornwall, UK
Tomorrow Land, Boom, Belgium
Galtres Festival, North Yorkshire, UK
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Eton-educated British PM David Cameron spotted at "Poshstock" festival
  • Are mud-splattered headbanger fests under threat?
  • Yurts and hempseed smoothies among ingredients of these upscale get-togethers
  • Interval chat might include world's best tax-free havens

(CNN) -- Is the music festival as scene of warm beer, ear-drum-shattering amplification and mud-splattered mayhem under threat?

With Britain's Eton-educated Conservative prime minister, David Cameron, spotted at Cornbury -- aka Poshstock -- this year, Glastonbury tickets costing upward of $300 and yurts and hempseed smoothies present at even the most ordinary events, all the evidence is there.

At these popular upscale music and culture fests in Britain (the country seems to specialize in them) and Europe, guests are as well-bred as the organic cows minced up for the burgers, the music avoids topics of social revolution and the booze may be bubbly, but it also tends to be French.

Britain\'s Eton-educated PM David Cameron was spotted -- behind sunglasses -- at Cornbury this year. Could this be the ultimate sign of a non-divey festival?
Britain's Eton-educated PM David Cameron was spotted -- behind sunglasses -- at Cornbury this year. Could this be the ultimate sign of a non-divey festival?

Cornbury Music Festival, Oxfordshire, UK

"A homespun melting pot where music-lovers share pies and a glass of champagne with superstars, toffs, rockers, crooners [and] Morris dancers."

That's how Cornbury describes itself.

Known as "poshstock," especially since British Prime Minister David Cameron was spotted there this year (albeit apparently hiding behind a pair of fake Ray-Ban sunglasses), the festival places great emphasis on comfort.

With accommodation options including yurts (yes, the surprise accommodation hit of the decade has even made it to this bastion of the British establishment) and fully furnished cabins, you feel as if you're checking into a charming little boutique hotel here, rather than attending a three-day open-air music festival.

Yoga workshops are available, should you suffer any back strain catching a glimpse of acts including Van Morrison and The Proclaimers.

The VIP tent has plush sofas and a hair salon if you get too out of sorts.

Cornbury Music Festival; every July; day tickets from £15 ($23); +44 (0)844 581 0777

Festival No 6, Portmeirion, Wales

"Your weekend will be spent in the most stylish ... setting imaginable," declares Festival No 6 -- without modesty, true, but also without too much exaggeration.

Held in the achingly (literally, to some) quaint Welsh village of Portmeirion, a purpose-built resort modeled on an Italian village, venues include a ballroom and a "piazza."

Accommodation ranges from Portmeirion Castle (now, a castle really isn't Glastonbury 1978) to, inevitably, "luxury yurts."

Among performance highlights at this year's "intimate, bespoke banquet of music, arts and culture," to quote the giddy festival organizers again, are the Brythoniaid Male Voice Choir, travel writer Jan Morris and harpist Georgia Ruth.

Festival No 6; every September (13-15 in 2013); tickets from £170 ($265)

Aphrodite Festival, Paphos, Cyprus

Held in the grounds of the city's medieval castle, Aphrodite is a global highlight on the opera lover's calendar.

Singers might hit the high notes but you shouldn't get carried away by all the extravagant emotion depicted in the opera performances -- the prevailing mood here is genteel, just in the way it isn't at, say, the Bloodstock Open Air heavy metal festival in Derbyshire, UK.

Highlight of this year's Aphrodite lineup is the Donizetti opera L'Elisir D'Amore, performed by the Opera Future Verona.

Pafos Aphrodite Festival; every September (6-8 in 2013); tickets from €25 ($33)

Galtres Festival, North Yorkshire, UK

"We British love our stately homes," says the 45-year-old director of this Yorkshire event, James Houston.

"Give us a fine tune, a glass of something nice to drink and a posh house, and we're the happiest folk in the world."

Thus is the posh-festival ethos perfectly articulated.

Apart from the venue, Duncombe Park stately home, the culinary approach here is about as starkly different from the lukewarm beer and equally lukewarm food of what some would regard as a properly grimy festival.

Everything is resolutely local, seasonal, "artisan" and Fairtrade, from the tea and cakes from the Deliciousness Tea Shop, to the Full of Beans coffee and the really rather annoyingly titled Boogie Breakfasts.

Galtres Festival; every August (23-25 in 2013); tickets from £20 ($31)

Expect a manicured -- and sometimes bubbly -- experience at Oslo\'s Øya music festival.
Expect a manicured -- and sometimes bubbly -- experience at Oslo's Øya music festival.

Øya Festival, Oslo, Norway

The Festival Outlook website calls Øya "boutique," which sounds about right.

You won't find soggy burgers, or even organic ones. All forest herbs and fungi, Scandinavian grub is front of the queue for discerning foodies at the moment, and Øya shows it off with pretentious elan.

Head chef at Oslo's Michelin-starred Maaemo restaurant, Esben Holmboe Bang is one of the culinary crew keeping hungry -- but picky -- festival-goers happy.

The festival venue is a historic Oslo park containing the ruins of a medieval church.

True, there's a camping ground -- but it has a pool and Wi-Fi.

With a nod to pre-organic-certified festivals of old, this year's lineup included graying rockers Blur and Kraftwerk.

Øya Festival; every August; day tickets from 725 kroner ($130)

Tomorrow Land, Boom, Belgium

Held in the aptly named Belgian town of Boom, Tomorrow Land is a three-day dance festival with a difference.

No doubt other substances will be consumed to augment the electronic beats, but the food is hugely different from the greasy takeaways that so often accompany a clubbing night out.

The pop-up onsite restaurant Maison Bru serves food by the eponymous Michelin-starred Belgian chef Wout Bru; there's a festival bakery; and gluten-free food can be ordered in advance for those sensitive types.

Tomorrow Land; every July; tickets from €82 ($110)

Henley Festival, Henley, UK

"Black ties. Sharp suits. Designer dresses. Generous servings of decadence, garnished with sophistication."

Thus the Henley Festival sets the scene for festival-goers "in the know."

Or, to put it another way, well off festival-goers.

This posh Oxfordshire bash completes the Henley Royal Regatta every year, a rowing race whose entrants and spectators share a good concentration of blue blood.

You can spear moules frites and other French delicacies prepared by celebrated father and son chefs Albert and Michel Roux while listening to Madness and the Beach Boys, among other acts.

Henley Festival; every July; tickets from £52 ($80)

Verbier Festival, Verbier, Switzerland

All pretty evening gowns and penguin suits, this elite classical music event takes place every summer in a little Alpine town in that home of all things pricey, Switzerland.

Big ticket performers have included Julian Lloyd Webber, Bryn Terfel and the young Russian classical star Evgeny Kissin.

Tapas on slate platters are among the superior servings at two pop-up restaurants.

Interval chat could cover limited-edition time pieces and travel -- to other tax havens around the world, that is.

You won't find many camping enthusiasts here -- where would one hang one's designer gown? -- but there are plenty of upscale chalets to rent in the village and around.

Verbier Festival; from July to August each year; tickets from 50 francs ($55)

Port Eliot Festival, Cornwall, UK

The word "twee" inevitably suggests itself when describing this festival of music and the arts set in and around yet another stately home.

A sample of the non-headbanging performances on show include the poet Luke Wright, gentle satirist of yummy mummies and inbred aristocratic politicians, and a capella versions of pop songs from the 50 Degrees Choir.

Exhibits, when you tire of all that noise, have included a collection of dolls owned by various legendary fashion designers.

Metallica, watch out!

Port Eliot Festival; every July; tickets from £20 ($31)

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