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.
- 10 Classic Festival Looks to Wear This Winter
- What to Wear to a Festival: Ultimate A-Z for 2017
- Top 20 Music Festivals in Europe
- TOP 10: Electronic Music Festivals in the UK
Headliners (2017): 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.
When & where: 9-12 August 2018, Winchester
Headliners (2017): 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.
When & where: 2-5 August 2018, Lulworth Castle
Headliners (2017): 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.
When & where: 23-26 August 2018, Daresbury
Headliners (2017): 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?
When & where: 8-12 August 2018, Newquay
Headliners (2017): 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.
When & where: 12-15 July 2018, Southwold
Headliners (2017): 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.
When & where: 26-29 July 2018, Lulworth Castle
Headliners: Ozzy Osbourne, Avenged Sevenfold, Guns N' Roses
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.
Its 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.
When & where: 8-10 June 2018, Derby
Headliners (2017): 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.
When & where: 26-30 June 2018, Pilton
The Great Escape
Headliners: Hunter & The Bear, The Orielles, Daniel OG
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.
When & where: 17-19 May 2018, Brighton
South West Four
Headliners (2017): 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.
When & where: 25-26 August 2018, London
Green Man Festival
Headliners (2017): 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 lineup 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.
When & where: 16-19 August 2018, Brecon Beacons
Isle of Wight Festival
Headliners (2017): 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.
When & where: 21-24 June 2018, Isle of Wight
- Isle of Wight Festival: A History in Photos
- Isle of Wight Festival: We Look Back at Five Legendary Sets
Headliners (2017): Frank Ocean, Chase & Status, Jamie xx
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.
When & where: 13-14 July 2018, London
Reading & Leeds
Headliners (2017): Kasabian, Eminem, Muse
Reading Festival is the type of riotous event that Bank Holidays 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.
When & where: 24-26 August 2018, Reading & Leeds
We Are FSTVL
Headliners: Andy C, Carl Cox, Eric Prydz
With its Best Medium-Sized Festival prize still gleaming from its gantries, We Are FSTVL continues to go from strength to strength, with even more colour and more incredible EDM masters.
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.
When & where: 25-27 May 2018, London
Secret Garden Party
Headliners (2017): Crystal Fighters, Metronomy, Toots and the Maytals
Secret Garden Party held its last festival in 2017. For the past 15 years, the 100 acre toy box within a landscaped garden bordering a river and lake has been bursting with eclectic abundance.
If you took a dip inside, you could have easily pulled out a paint fight, a mud wrestle, a dance off or a debate – it really was that random, but that's why we loved it.
When & where: Last festival was in 2017 in Abbots Ripton
Headliners (2017): 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.
When & where: 23-26 August 2018
Headliners (2017): Radiohead, Biffy Clyro, The 1975
Started as a replacement for T in the Park, the city centre event includes all the revelry of a traditional music festival, but also gives festival-goers the chance to explore the city's bars, restaurants, nightclubs and cultural attractions.
After a thrilling debut in 2017 that saw sets from Radiohead, Kasabian and Biffy Clyro, the festival has announced it will expand to two weekends in 2018.
When & where: 29 June - 8 July 2018, Glasgow
Headliners (2017): 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.
When & where: 2-5 August 2018
Headliners (2017): 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, grime, 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.
When & where: 6-8 July 2018, London
Is that about enough to plan a festival-filled summer with? Let us know when you're done...
More like this: