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Music festivals calendar: May

This year’s festival season kicks off with some top-notch springtime parties

© Paul Underhill

It’s May and the summer music festival season is just around the corner, so get your spring 2016 festival hat on with our comprehensive calendar of some of this month’s biggest and best UK and London festivals. Choose from Brighton’s The Great Escape or keep it local with We Are FSTVL. And if you want to be really organised, check out upcoming festivals in June, July, August and September with our full 2016 festival calendar.

RECOMMENDED: More UK and London music festivals

UK music festivals in May 2016

The Soundcrash Funk & Soul Weekender

Three days of soul heaven in Sussex

Top London promoters Soundcrash have started their very own festival, bringing some great acts together for a weekend of juicy funk and blissful soul music. With a line-up of bands and DJs spanning revered veterans and cool newcomers, and a weekend’s chalet accommodation included in the very reasonable ticket price, this looks like a great way to kick off the 2016 festival season.

Line-­up includes: Roy Ayers, Quantic, Afrika Bambaataa, Craig Charles, Tony Allen, Mr Scruff.

Camber Sands Holiday Camp, East Sussex. May 13-15.

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The Great Escape

Alt ­rock darlings overrun Brighton

Often hailed as ‘the UK’s SXSW’ (with half the sunshine), The Great Escape is a yearly pilgrimage for new music obsessives. Almost every pub, bar or venue with a bit of clear space is co­opted by the festival for artists from all over the globe. Primarily an event for the music industry to ‘network’ (read: drink together), it’s also a great excuse to catch bucketloads of upcoming bands and DJs. The headliners (or ‘Spotlight Shows’) are ticketed separately: wristband holders for the wider festival can top up their passes to get in.

Line-­up includes: Oh Wonder, Shura, Mura Masa, Mystery Jets, Declan McKenna, Dagny, Dilly Dally.

Various venues, Brighton. May 19-21.

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Masked Ball

Boutique beats at a weekend-long masquerade ball

Pack the Ferrero Rochers – the Masked Ball is an after-dark party for wannabe-aristocrats, but with ticket prices that won’t break the bank. Started in 2007, this DJ-centric seaside fest takes place in a colossal coastal guesthouse and fully embraces its ‘boutique’ label. The line-up leans towards disco,house and funk, with some big names on hand. Masquerade dress code essential.

Line-up includes: 2ManyDJs, Basement Jaxx, Groove Armada (DJ), B Traits, Ben Pearce, Jungle (DJ), Julio Bashmore, Ms Dynamite.

Porthleven, Cornwall. May 20-22.

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A dance-focused rural retreat for all the family

After a few successful years up north, Alfresco moves to Tunbridge Wells this summer. There’s a line-up of cool DJs and live acts for the parents plus plenty for kids, including a rock ’n’ roller disco and DJing lessons.

Line-up includes: Ivan Smagghe, Ed Mahon, Don Letts, Vox Low, The Emperor Machine, Kate Boss.

Colebrook Lakes, Royal Tunbridge Wells. May 27-29.

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Common People

Bestival spins off into a new twin-city festival

Bestival mastermind Rob Da Bank has turned his sights to the mainland with his new no-camping venture Common People. Taking place in Southampton and Oxford in one weekend, it features a few Bestival-sized headliners alongside tons of grime, hip hop, and dance outfits. Street food, boutique bars and bouncy castles are sprinkled around site for good measure. Cheap as chips and no need for a ferry ride.

Line-up includes: Duran Duran, Public Enemy, Primal
Scream, Katy B, Soul II Soul, Jamie Lawson, Chas & Dave, DJ Zinc.

South Park, Oxford and Southampton Common, Southampton. May 28-29.

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London music festivals in May 2016


Critics' choice

Over the last three years WAF has established itself as one of the big guns among the new generation of dance festivals. Returning to London (well, Essex, but it’s on the tube) for two more days this summer, it boasts another heavyweight line-up of globe-conquering DJs, hot rising talents and respected undergrounders.

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Damyns Hall Aerodrome , Corbets Tey Saturday May 28 2016 - Sunday May 29 2016

Win tickets to your favourite festivals

Music festival competitions

Missed out on tickets to your favourite music festival or maybe you're fed up of forking out for a full weekend away? Be found at the front of the coolest crowds for free by entering one of our top competitions to win tickets to the best music festivals in 2016.

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By: Time Out London Music