As we head closer to the summer, many of us already have our plans set in stone as to what we’re going to do – enjoy the summer sunshine with the soundtracks of some great music. The UK festival calendar is always an exciting mix of music from all genres covered. Of course, there’s the big hitters like Glastonbury (returning after a break), Wireless, Latitude, Download and Creamfields to name a few, but the UK has so much to offer with many smaller events up and down the country.
If you’ve yet to secure tickets for any of the festivals happening throughout the summer or the rest of the year or are just looking to try something new, you’ve come to the right place. The team here at UK Festival Guides has put this guide together to highlight some of the great UK festivals. Rather than just covering one specific genre, age group or part of the country, we have tried to include something for everyone, so you’ll find some great FREE events too.
There’s a reason why people from up and down the country and from further afield flock to the best of the best in British music festivals. Let’s look at some of the best.
All Points East, Victoria Park, London – 24th to 26th May & 31st May to 2nd June
One of the earliest of the bigger music festivals on the calendar and one you don’t want to miss if possible is All Points East, held at the magnificent Victoria Park in London. Held across two weekends. Simply put, great and iconic backdrop for six days of amazing music from a diverse range of artists and bands.
Headliners The Chemical Brothers, The Strokes, Christina and the Queens, Bring Me The Horizon, Mumford & Sons and Bon Iver will be joined by an outstanding selection including First Aid Kit, The Vaccines, Idles, Run The Jewels, Leon Bridges, Mac DeMarco, Jade Bird, James Blake, The Raconteurs, Interpol, Primal Scream, Hot Chip, Jon Hopkins and Spiritualized among many many more.
What includes the two weekends of music is a whole 10-day extravaganza, so make sure you check out all that’s on offer.
TRNSMT Festival, Glasgow Green – 12th to 14th July
Originally TRNSMT Festival was staged as an interim event by the organisers of the world-famous T in the Park, while that was currently being moved to a new location. However, as there was rather surprisingly not a big music festival in such a huge cultural hotspot as Glasgow is, it has now become a yearly event in its own right. For the third year running, there will be three days of great music within the grounds of Glasgow Green.
Headliners Stormzy, Catfish and the Bottlemen and George Ezra will be joined by Snow Patrol, Bastille, Gerry Cinnamon (local favourites), Richard Ashcroft, The Hunna, Circa Waves, Jess Glynne, Tom Grennan, The Amazons and whole lot more.
Glastonbury Festival, Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset – 26th to 30th June
No list of the best UK music festivals would be complete without mentioning Glastonbury. Held at Worthy Farm and run by the owner of the farm and the land Michael Eavis and his daughter Emily, who now takes care of the line-up. Glastonbury is a five-day festival that manages to encapsulate everything that’s great about British summertime festivals.
Renowned for the quality of the acts and artists it attracts and for the easy-going atmosphere, many of the biggest bands and performers have taken to one of the hallowed stages. In the past, The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Ritchie, Neil Young, Dolly Parton, Florence and the Machine, Foo Fighters, Radiohead, and Beyoncé among many others have all closed one of the three main days of music. After a break in 2018 for a fallow year, it returns for the 36th time.
There’s plenty to see and do over the weekend at Glasto, where the farm becomes like a miniature town and community for that time. Circus performers, areas to relax and unwind with massage and a whole lot of food and drink to enjoy.
The headliners for 2019 are The Cure (who were recently inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and have been touring as part of a reunion with the promise of new material too), The Killers (returning for what should be another magical performance) and Stormzy (after Jay-Z and Kanye West, the London grime star will be the third Hip-Hop act to headline Glasto). Liam Gallagher, Tame Impala, Miley Cyrus, George Ezra, Janet Jackson and The Chemical Brothers are just a few of the many others taking to the stages.
Sadly, the tickets sold out in 36 minutes when they went on sale in 2018. However, if you’d still like to try and go here’s a guide to some ways you could do it, possibly even for free.
End of the Road Festival, Larmer Tree Gardens, Tollard Royal in South Wiltshire – 29th August to 1st September
End of the Road Festival is an event that if you haven’t already heard of it, you should have as it sells out every year and offers a diverse range of independent folk and rock acts. The first End of the Road Festival took place back in 2006 and it’s been a firm favourite among music lovers ever since. Celebrated for its location, at Larmer Tree Gardens in Wiltshire.
Held over four days and featuring four main stages, it’s known for attracting interesting performers from up and down Britain and further afield too. Jeff Tweedy (of Wilco), Vampire Weekend and Feist were three of the headliners of the event in 2018. This year, sees Spiritualized, Michael Kiwanuka, Metronomy, Beirut and Jarvis Cocker appearing.
Boomtown Chapter 11: A Radical City, Winchester – 7th to 11th August
Boomtown Fair is quite unlike any other city festival in the UK. Held in Winchester, Hampshire, it is thriving hub of unconventional and fiercely non-commercialised musical movements. Rather than just being a folk festival or a rock and heavy metal festival or even a dance music festival, Boomtown Fair has it all. The action is split into nine very distinct districts – so you could be enjoying some melodic and wholesome folk in one area before heading to the pit to enjoy some heavy and uncompromising music the next.
To highlight just how diverse this festival is the line-up for 2019 includes Ms Lauryn Hill (of the Fugees), Slaves, UB40, Godflesh, Cancer Bats, Prophets of Rage (with members of Public Enemy, Rage Against the Machine and Cypress Hill), The Streets and Chase & Status.
Download Festival, Donington Park, Castle Donington, Derby – 14th to 16th June
Download Festival was established after the Monsters of Rock Festival was laid to rest. Taking place at the site of that original acclaimed festival, Donington Park in Derby. Download has become one of the biggest hard rock and heavy metal festivals, not just in Europe, but, the world.
Across the three days, music comes from all areas of rock and metal, including the many, many subgenres from the 60s and 70s right through to the present day. Interestingly, among more obvious bands and artists as Metallica, Slayer, Tool and Black Sabbath, interesting fusion and crossover acts such as The Prodigy, Die Antwoord and Chase & Status have also appeared.
This year, Slash, Slayer (in one of their last live appearances), Whitesnake, Die Antwoord, Trivium, Rob Zombie, Tool, Slipknot and Def Leppard will take to the stage.
Reading & Leeds Festivals, Richfield Avenue, Reading, Bramham Park, Leeds – 23rd to 25th August
The Reading and Leeds Festivals, the expanded version of the iconic Reading Festival is up there with some of the best events in the musical calendar, not just in the UK, but throughout the world. Seriously, people flock to Reading and Leeds like they do Glasto, Coachella, Rock AM Ring, Roskilde Festival and Tomorrowland.
Two iconic venues are the setting for August Bank Holiday weekends of music and excitement. In following the trend of Glastonbury, what really was started as a rock and indie festival has become so much more and features bands and performers from the world of dance music, hip-hop and metal joining the cream of the crop in the world of indie and rock.
This year Post Malone, Twenty-One Pilots, Anderson Paak & The Free Nationals, Royal Blood, Mura Masa, Bastille, The 1975 and Foo Fighters are among the big names bringing the music to the masses. Each line-up for each day plays at one or the other cities and venues, so by the end of the weekend everyone gets to see everyone.
Creamfields, Daresbury, Cheshire – 22nd to 25th August
The club and dance music event brand Cream are one of the most widely recognised names in the world of electronic dance music. What began as a club in Liverpool, became a worldwide phenomenon with them putting on events around the globe.
Although they put on many offshoot events, even in the UK, the main festival that everyone who loves dance music takes not of is Creamfields. It’s changed locations a number of times, but now has a home at the Daresbury Estate in Cheshire and every year it sees crowds of thousands and thousands gather together to dance and party into the small hours with a soundtrack put together by some of the biggest DJs and artists in the varied world of dance music.
Attendees can expect amazing pyrotechnics, lighting and visuals along with the awesome music. For 2019, Tiesto, Carl Cox, Calvin Harris, Martin Garrix, The Chemical Brothers, Cirez D & Adam Beyer, Swedish House Mafia and deadmau5 will all be blasting the tunes!
Isle of Wight Festival – 13th to 16th June
One of the most iconic festivals ever was also one of the first of its kind in the country. Although a lot has changed over the years, a lot of what made the Isle of Wight Festival so great in the past, has remained intact in its modern incarnation. It’s amazing to think that an event that had its first breath of life in 1968 is still relevant today.
Held, as if it wasn’t obvious, on the idyllic Isle of Wight off the coast of England, the festival commands a lot of respect and every year has a stellar cast of the best singers, songwriters, bands and even some superstar DJs too. In 2019, Jess Glynne, Lily Allen, Richard Ashcroft, Fatboy Slim, Courteeners, Biffy Clyro, George Ezra and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds will all take to the stage along with a whole lot more too.
Green Man Festival, Brecon Beacons – 15th to 18th August
One of the most striking of locations for a festival is in the Brecon Beacons with the Black Mountains casting its majestic and intimidating shadow over the proceedings. That’s exactly the case with Green Man Festival. The line-up is folk and alternative-led, which suits the surroundings perfectly.
Maribou State, Amadou & Mariam, Stereolab, Broken Social Scene, Sharon Van Etten, Idles, Father John Misty and Four Tet will be entertaining the gathered masses among the hills and trees.
Latitude Festival, Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk – 18th to 21st July
Latitude Festival has always claimed to be so much more than just a music festival and its true, it really is. There’s a lot to do there, lots to see. However, what really brings the crowds is the diverse and varied line-up covering a wide range of different genres.
Take for instance, this year’s bill which includes Anna Calvi, Loyle Carner, Slaves, Primal Scream, Underworld, Lana Del Rey, Snow Patrol and George Ezra to name a handful. If that’s not eclectic, we really don’t know what is.
Lovebox Festival, Gunnersbury Park, London – 12th to 13th July
Founded and organised by the dance music duo Groove Armada, Lovebox Festival has been incredibly popular since its first year in 2002. Originally it was hosted at Victoria Park, but has since moved to Gunnersby Park. This a place for the cool and hip of London, the freaks and beat lovers to come and party for two days of solid tunes and fun.
Kaytranada, Action Bronson, H.E.R., Loyle Carner, Brockhampton, Four Tet, Solange and Chance the Rapper are just a few of the names who are signed up to perform. Expect a very summery and laidback vibe. What else do you want from something called Lovebox?
ArcTanGent Festival, Fernhill Farm, Bristol – 15th to 17th August
One of the most popular small festivals in the country, ArcTanGent Festival is an event that plays host to some of the most diverse and intriguing bands in modern rock music. Taking place over three days at the beautiful Fernhill Farm near Bristol, the 2019 line-up includes 65DaysofStatic, Zeal & Ardor, Battles, Cult of Luna and the mighty Meshuggah blasting everyone away.
Parklife Festival, Heaton Park, Manchester – 8th to 9th June
Any festival that takes its name from the classic Britpop track Parklife by Blur deserves to be as popular as this awesome weekend of music has become over the years. Held at the illustrious venue of Heaton Park in Manchester, Parklife Festival always seems to feature a bill of all that’s good and great in popular music right now.
The ever-relevant festival in 2019 plays host to a variety of pop, indie and hip-hop heroes including Eric Prydz, Christine and the Queens, Khalid, The Streets, Migos, Solange, George Ezra and Cardi B.
Wilderness Festival, Cornbury Park, Charlbury, Oxfordshire – 1st to 4th August
The UK has an interesting collection of so-called boutique festivals. These little gatherings tend to be more select, more intimate and even more enjoyable for it. One of the prettiest and poshest is undeniably Wilderness Festival. This is the place to be to see some legendary performances, take in a science lecture or enjoy a performance of a Shakespearean classic featuring just one performer. There’s so much to see and do and it feels like a special little retreat.
Honey Dijon, Eats Everything, Tom Grennan, Caravan Palace, Tom Odell, Groove Armada, Bombay Bicycle Club and Robyn are all signed up to make you dance, groove and have a good time.
Fusion Festival, Otterspool Promenade, Liverpool – 1st August to 1st September
Another great pop event, the Fusion Festival has been held annually since 2013. Originally the music and entertainment took place at Cofton Park in Birmingham. Now though, it’s from the Otterspool Promenade in one of the country’s iconic cities for its musical output, Liverpool.
It may not be to everyone’s taste, but those who love pop or a good singalong without having to think too much will always have a good time at Fusion Festival. Such is its reputation, the biggest names in the genre always seem to appear.2019 is no different as Sigala, Zara Larsson, James Arthur, Clean Bandit, Years & Years, Jess Glynne, Shawn Mendes and David Guetta.
Boardmasters Festival, Newquay – 7th to 11th August
A heady mix of all the best boarders in the world, both surfers and skaters along with the kings and queens of BMX and eclectic soundtrack that covers various genres, is what you essentially get with the Newquay-based Boardmasters Festival.
As well as having all the action and mayhem, it’s also set in one of the most beautiful coastal parts of the country. This year, DJ EZ, Giggs, The Wombats, Wu-Tang Clan, Jorja Smith, Dizzee Rascal, Foals and Florence + The Machine are providing the sun and sea-soaked masses with incredible live music.
Wireless Festival, Finsbury Park – 5th to 7th July
Wireless Festival is one of, if not, the biggest urban, hip-hop and rap music festival in the UK. Held at the stunning Finsbury Park, its popularity has steadily increased over the years, with more and more of the biggest rap stars and R’n’B performers coming to perform there. This year, Lil Uzi Vert, Rae Sremmurd, Tory Lanez, Migos, Tyga, Bugzy Malone, Future, A$AP Rocky, Stefflon Don, Young Thug, Denzel Curry, Travis Scott and Cardi B will perform with a whole host of other big names and faces.
Folk on the Quay, Poole – 30th June
To show we aren’t playing favourites and only featuring the mainstream and huge events that come with high ticket prices, Folk on the Quay is worth discussing. It has always had a line-up that includes the best of the best from folk and this year that includes 3 Daft Monkeys Threepenny Bit and Bird in the Belly among others. What’s more, there’s Morris Dancing and a lot of local pubs and great eateries to have your fill of something refreshing. If you’re a folk fan and in the area, it’s also worth noting that it’s completely FREE!
Youth Beatz, Park Farm Showfield, Dumfries – 22nd to 23rd June
Another FREE music festival, this time aimed directly at the kids, is Youth Beatz which takes place at the lovely site of Park Farm Showfield in the Scottish Borders town of Dumfries. It’s the biggest of its kind and this features performances from Professor Green, Louisa and Sigma (DJ Set). There’s lots of other attractions besides the main Oasis-sponsored stage action.
Upton Blues Festival, Upton, Worcestershire – 20th to 22nd July
Another great free music festival is the insanely popular Upton Blues Festival held in and around the town of Upton-upon-Severn in Worcestershire. It features the full spectrum of the blues, from gospel, soul and acoustic to New Orleans through to country blues, bluegrass and good ol’ blues rock.
Victorious Festival, Portsmouth – 23rd to 25th August
While the Victorious Festival may not be entirely free, for children a kid’s ticket costs £1 per day. Even the adult tickets are only £35 a day, which by today’s standards is not too much at all. Not when you consider the setting and the spectacular line-up. Two Door Cinema Club, Rudimental and New Order headline, with The Special, Doves, Bloc Party (performing Silent Alarm in full), James Bay, Clean Bandit, The Vaccines and Plan B. Plus, a whole host of others too numerous to mention here. Fans of all kinds of music will find something they can bop, jump around or just sit and enjoy watching.
Published on 16 April 2019 by Paul Stewart