UK festivals are renowned around the globe for their creativity and their clout in capturing the coolest acts around. They also form one of the most saturated festival markets in the world, so here are 20 of the best festivals every music fan living in or visiting the UK should check out…
Last updated: 7th November 2016
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Boomtown, Winchester: 10-13 Aug 2017
Headliners: The Specials, M.I.A., Cypress Hill
A boiling pot of vibrancy, theatre, fantasy, escapism and camaraderie, Boomtown Fair is a hub of diverse and non-commercialised musical movements whose roots stretch far and wide. Consisting of nine districts with a different emphasis, you may be chilling to some folk one minute, and then travelling at 180 bpm to some drum & bass the next.
Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset: 7-10 Sep 2017
Headliners: The xx, A Tribe Called Quest, Pet Shop Boys
The UK’s much lauded, award-winning boutique fiesta has as many forms of silliness and absurdity as it does musical performers - and there’s around 1,000 of them. With legendary late night mischief, pianos popping up in the woods, lit-up lakesides, mass fancy dress, along with poetry, theatre, comedy and plenty more to discover, the only thing you’ll struggle with is fitting it all in.
Creamfields, Daresbury: 24-27 August 2017
Headliners: deadmau5, Eric Prydz, Tiësto, Martin Garrix
Dance brand Cream has become a global superstar, taking its legendary parties across continents; and yet it all began as an offshoot from Liverpool's Cream nightclub. Now in Daresbury, Creamfields attracts tens of thousands every year seeking to party to the finest names in dance, along with immense visuals, lighting and pyrotechnics. Joined by a devoted following, Creamfields continues to shape the dance scene as we know it.
Boardmasters, Fistral Beach & Watergate Bay, Newquay: 9-13 August 2017
Headliners: Two Door Cinema Club, Jamiroquai, alt-J, Andy C
Hidden amongst the swell and sunshine of the south-west coast of England, Boardmasters mixes the best boarders in the world - whether they’re surfers or skaters - with BMX kings, and soundtracks the action with dance dons, folk stars, and pop favourites. With cliff-top sessions and surf shack shows, it's only a cocktail short of the best weekend of the year. Ready to make your Instagram followers jealous?
Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset: 27-30 Jul 2017
Headliners: Madness, Mark Ronson, Brian Wilson performing Pet Sounds
With all the playful nonsense of its naughty older sister event Bestival, Camp Bestival offers the same novelty of fancy dress and late night silliness, but with a twist: it’s completely family friendly. Taking place in a beautiful English castle, it has everything from medieval jousting to face painting with music, comedy and poets hand-picked by Rob da Bank. The first wave of confirmed acts include Underworld, Clean Bandit and Kaiser Chiefs.
Download Festival, Donington Park, Derby: 9-11 Jun 2017
Headliners: System of a Down, Biffy Clyro, Aerosmith
Probably the most prestigious hard rock and heavy metal festival in the world, Download took over from the legendary Monsters of Rock Festival at Derby's Donington Park. It's three days packed full of the biggest names from the 70s right up to the newest generation, and if the heavier end of the spectrum is your thing then Download will take a heck of a lot of beating.
Glastonbury Festival, Pilton, Somerset: 21-25 Jun 2017
Headliners: Radiohead, Foo Fighters, Ed Sheeran
It may be one of the UK’s oldest festivals, but Glastonbury Festival still kicks stronger than even the youngest of pretenders. In a world of its own, those who enter can expect massive artists, but it's not unusual for some to go the whole week without passing by the infamous Pyramid Stage, and that's because of the immense amount of circus and theatre shows, 24-hour shenanigans, the best food stalls, secret acts and contagious hippydom you'll never shed. It really is one of a kind.
The Great Escape, Brighton, Sussex: 18-20 May 2017
Headliners: Slaves, Rag 'N' Bone Man
Brighton’s music bonanza is a seaside holiday with a difference, as the beachside waves mix with the sound of breaking bands, boasting some 400 of the Next Big Things in 35 venues, with just one wristband getting you into every one. That’s if you can tear yourself away from the sunbathing and offers from local club nights, of course.
Green Man Festival, Brecon Beacons, Wales: 17-20 Aug 2017
Headliners: PJ Harvey, Ryan Adams, Future Islands
As far as festival locations go, Green Man Festival takes in the might of the UK’s landscape with its backdrop of the Brecon Beacons’ Black Mountains in Wales, and the folk-led line-up fits it perfectly. Hidden in the hills are 1,500 performers to discover across the comedy, theatre and literary worlds, complimented by the host local ales and ciders on offer, and the various spas and therapies to nurse away those hangovers.
Isle of Wight Festival, Newport, Isle of Wight: 8-11 June 2017
Headliners: Arcade Fire, Rod Stewart, David Guetta & Run DMC
The reincarnation of one of the UK’s first-ever festivals continues to pull in the world’s biggest guitar slingers and the hottest craftsman and woman from pop and electronic genres. This year the event has managed to bag a UK festival exclusive with headliners Fleetwood Mac, along with The Prodigy, The Black Keys and Pharrell Williams.
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Headliners: The 1975, Mumford & Sons, Fleet Foxes
Taking over the idyllic English countryside, Latitude is, as its tagline proclaims, much more than just a music festival. With DJs hidden in the woods, colourful sheep roaming the tufty fields, opera on the lake, film debuts in its onsite cinema, clowns under canvas, actors treading the boards, local ales, dance troupes and a huge children’s area, there's something to keep whatever age entertained. Oh, and there’s a full programme of music too.
Lovebox, Victoria Park, East London: 14-15 Jul 2017
Headliners: Frank Ocean, Chase & Status, Jamie xx, Jess Glynne
London’s beat lovers, freaks and hipsters convene for an annual party created by Groove Armada. A colourful mix of dance dons, rock gods, vintage markets, bespoke bars and fairground tides, Lovebox is a carousel of creativity.
Reading & Leeds, Little John's Farm & Bramham Park: 25-27 Aug 2017
Headliners: Kasabian, Eminem, Muse
Reading Festival is the type of riotous event that Bank Holiday Mondays are made for, providing a platform for rising and established indie acts, metal groups, next generation dance, hip hop and alternative pop bands. If they ain’t playing here, they ain’t worth seeing.
Secret Garden Party, Mill Hill Field, Cambridgeshire: 20-23 Jul 2017
Headliners: Crystal Fighters, Metronomy, Toots and the Maytals
A 100 acre toy box, Secret Garden Party is set within a landscaped garden bordering a river and lake in Cambridgeshire, and is absolutely bursting with eclectic abundance. Take a dip inside and you could easily pull out a paint fight, a mud wrestle, a dance offs or a debate - it really is that random, but that's why we love it.
Shambala, Secret Country Estate, Northamptonshire: 24-27 Aug 2017
Headliners: 65daysofstatic, Clap! Clap!, Barely Legal
Described as 'heartfelt, purposeful hedonism' Shambala is a four day indulgence of perfectly blended creativity and participation, where revellers can feast upon circus acts, stand-up comedy, debates, and interactive theatre in a selection of beautifully decorated venues. Pioneering, intimate and truly innovative, Shambala is a place to play, revitalise, and make lots of new friends.
South West Four, Clapham Common, South West London: 26-27 Aug 2017
Headliners: Pendulum, deadmau5, Eric Prydz
If London ever needed an extra club, South West Four is it. And what a club it is. Forget those tasteless, champagne with sparklers joints, this is an open-air party palace that sorts out the essentials first: music, music and more music. A coming together of the EDM world, their understudies, and up-and-comings stars, the four stages of house, techno, minimal, trance and electronica will fill your ears for the evening, before you head out to one of the countless after parties.
T in the Park, Strathallan Castle, Perthshire, Scotland: Not taking place in 2017
Headliners (2016): Kasabian, Avicii, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
Scotland’s biggest festival, T in the Park is a festival with a bigger reputation than William Wallace. The Perthshire bash is the type of event that can make a career or add more historical highlights to the legends that grace the stage, as only the finest acts across rock, pop and dance are given the nod to perform at what has been described as a 'rite of passage for young Scots and a ritual for older ones'.
Unfortunately, it has been announced that T in the Park will not be taking place in 2017. They hope to be back in 2018.
Wilderness Festival, Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire: 3-6 Aug 2017
Headliners: Two Door Cinema Club, Grace Jones, Bonobo
If there’s one thing Britain’s festivals do brilliantly, it’s boutique bashes. One of the more posh and pretty gatherings in the event calendar, Oxfordshire’s Wilderness Festival is the type of place where you can watch a bona fide legend on the stage, enjoy a banquet feast, a science lecture, soak in a hot tub, and watch a one man performance of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Wireless Festival, Finsbury Park, London: 7-9 July 2017
Headliners: Chance the Rapper, Skepta, The Weeknd
Wireless is not quite bigger than hip-hop, but it's certainly getting that way. This supafly soiree is the best chance to see a line up of urban legends, leaning heavily on the side of rap, hip hop and R&B. Pair that with fairground rides, chill out areas, bars and artists singing booths to keep days filled, and you'll begin to understand why this is the only UK date these type of urban stars book in advance.
We Are FSTVL, Airfield Of Dreams, Essex: 27-28 May 2017
Headliners: Jamie Jones, Dizzee Rascal, Craig David's TS5, Carl Cox
With its Best Medium-Sized Festival prize still gleaming from its gantries, We Are FSTVL is about to launch into year three with more clout, more colour and more incredible EDM masters than last year even dared get close to. Try its 16 stages, 200 DJs, stylised stages and VIP arena with bubbling hot tubs, spa treatments, gourmet food and champagne bars for a weekend (and hangover) you’re unlikely to forget in a hurry.
Is that about enough to plan a festival-filled summer with? Let us know when you're done...