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The best UK festivals

We’ve cherry-picked this year’s best UK festivals – find your favourite and get out there this summer

Don’t believe the naysayers: it’s boom time for UK festivals. Every summer brings a new crop of innovative summer music festivals to join the long-established big beasts of festival season. So no matter what you’re looking for – rock ’n’ roll headliners, folk festivals, boutique festival frolics, house and techno bangers – there’s something for you happening in a field this summer. Here’s our round-up of the very biggest and best UK music festivals taking place in 2016. See you down the front!


The UK's best festivals

Love Saves The Day

Love Saves The Day

Back for a sixth year, Love Saves The Day hits Bristol's Eastville Park with another massive line-up of DJs and live acts. From house and techno to grime, reggae and D&B, with a sprinkling of live acts, LSTD's musical menu is second to none. And with the guys behind Glastonbury's Wow Stage and Croatia's Love International festival at the helm, you know all those little other details that make a festival great will be well taken care of.

Line­-up includes: Little Dragon, Mura Masa, Nao, Kate Tempest, Kano, Bicep, Shy FX, Richard Villalobos, Andrew Weatherall, Novelist.

Eastville Park, Bristol BS5 6QL. May 27-28. £39-£75.



The temporary town pops back up for another carnival weekend

This annual shindig is a pop-­up cathedral short of being a full­-blown city. Every year the Matterley Bowl estate becomes a magical town full of hypnotic basslines and mind­bending installations. Music ranges from the underground to outer space, and the roster of activities (which has matured in recent years) includes banqueting, craft and healing areas as well as Boomtown’s traditional mutated ‘art vehicles’. By day it’s fairly family­-friendly, but after dark the caners come out to soak up enough beats, dub, ska and reggae to see them through until daybreak.

Line­-up includes: Cypress Hill, MIA, Sugar Hill Gang, Dawn Penn, The Specials, Loyle Carner, Soweto Kinch, Toddla T, Booka Shade, Amy Becker, AJ Tracey.

August 10-13. £202 (weekend), £177 (discounted for coach travellers).

Secret Garden Party

A hedonistic wooded wonderland in the Cambridgeshire countryside Nestled in plush green surroundings, Secret Garden Party is the undisputed home of hippy hedonism on the UK festival scene. ‘Spectacular’ comes as standard: bands, DJs and artists are tucked into every playable space around the site including treehouses, floating islands and yurts. SGP is known for being a woodland fairytale, but this year’s theme – a tongue-in-cheek celebration of all things celebrity – should see SGP's always up-for-it dressers take things to new heights of tacky and LOL.

Line­-up includes: Metronomy, Toots & The Maytals, Honne, Jagwar Ma, Akala, Rejjie Snow, Ray BLK, Let's Eat Grandma.

Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire. July 20-23. £102-£197.


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The Great Escape

The Great Escape

Upcoming 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: Rag 'n' Bone Man, Ray BLK, LA Salami, Cabbage, The Japanese House, Dream Wife, Stefflon Don, Avelino, Cosima.

Various venues, Brighton. May 18-20. £60 (3-day ticket).

Download Festival

Download Festival

Rock behemoths, gather. 

The UK’s undisputed number one metal festival, Download always promises a stellar line-­up that doesn’t get lost in the noise. Every band with a heavy riff makes the journey each year, including many thrash, crust, screamo and emo outfits: dedicated headbangers had better warm up to avoid whiplash. This year’s decade­-spanning headline acts include the mighty System of a Down, Biffy Clyro and Aerosmith.

Line­-up includes: System of a Down, Biffy Clyro, Aerosmith, Slayer, Sum 41, Good Charlotte.

Donnington Park, Donnington. June 9-11. £75 (day), £205 (weekend).



Hidden away in the lush Welsh woodlands, this boutique dance effort continues to go from strength-to-strength. Now in year eight, it continues to offer a stellar mix of DJs and artists for anyone who likes their beats and bass to be strictly alternative. Get ready to roam through the forest and dance long into the night, accompanied by a delightfully eclectic soundtrack (anything from deep house to disco to Afrobeat to electronica). Those who want a little luxury can even shell out for boutique camping.

Line-up includes: Erol Alkan, Horse Meat Disco, Levon Vincent, The Black Madonna, Matthew Herbert, Helena Hauff. 

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Thu Jun 8 - Sun Jun 11

Isle of Wight

Huge headliners at one of the UK’s biggest rock festivals

A distant descendant of the enormous festival which brought around 600,000 people (almost six times the island's population) to the Isle of Wight in 1970, nowadays the IOW Festival is a firm favourite in the UK calendar. It’s a four-­day, family-­friendly, music-­focused affair with the booking muscle to attract big acts, meaning there really is something here for everyone.

Line­-up includes: Arcade Fire, Rod Stewart, David Guetta, Run DMC, George Ezra, Bastille, Jack Savoretti. Newport, Isle of Wight. 

Newport, Isle of Wight. June 8-11. £80 (day), £195 (weekend).

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Big names make a habit of leading the charge of Rob da Bank’s band of misfits

The big news for this year is that the annual trips on the Isle of Wight ferry are no more – say goodbye to the island, say hello to Dorset! Bestival is moving to the mainland this year (to the very beautiful site of Camp Bestival, in fact). Tacked onto the tail end of the festival season, Bestival will still offer four days of live music and premier­ league DJs, plus lots of fancy dress thanks to their yearly changing theme. Punters can also enjoy some anarchic fun at the carnival of small stages, or visit the inflatable church for a quickie festival marriage (not legally binding, gladly).

Line­-up includes: The xx, A Tribe Called Quest, Dizzee Rascal, Pet Shop Boys, Jamie T, DJ Shadow, Rag'n'Bone Man, Soul II Soul, Annie Mac, Ray BLK, Toddla T, Nadia Rose, Andy C.  

Lulworth Cove, Dorset. September 7-10.



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Big names are destined for Heaton Park in Manchester

No, it’s not a Blur fan­ festival: Parklife is Manchester’s flagship music event, presented by local dance music mega-­promoters The Warehouse Project. In recent years Parklife has expanded its horizons from dance to incorporate indie rock, hip hop, and alternative acts, so if you’re looking to make your money go further, Parklife promises a diverse line-­up for those on a budget. Finally: what better place is there to dance all day than the city that gave the world the Haçienda?

Line­-up includes: Frank Ocean, 1975, Boy Better Know, A Tribe Called Quest, Sampha, Carl Cox.

Heaton Park, Manchester. June 10-11.

Wild Life

Wild Life

Disclosure and Rudimental curate a line-up of their famous friends

Brighton City Airport isn’t the lush green space the festival’s earthy name might suggest, but don’t let that stop you going wild. Disclosure and Rudimental headline alongside a host of chart-topping pop, hip hop, grime, and dance acts, with day and weekend ticket options available.

Line-up includes: Fatboy Slim, Jess Glynne, Eric Prydz, George Ezra, Rag'n'Bone Man, Elrow's Sombodromo de Brasil.

Brighton City Airport, Brighton. June 9-10.


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Birmingham's best live venues

Birmingham's best live music venues

From the very biggest names touring at the big venues and clubs to those up and coming artists on the cusp of greatness honing their craft at awesome little independent venues and bars, Birmingham has some seriously good live music on offer. We've picked what we think are Birmingham's best places for doing just that, so take a look and cock an ear. 

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