The UK's best festivals
One-day multi-venue fest returns to the northern hub
This alt-rock and indie-driven festival has become something of a fixture in the Leeds calendar over the past few years thanks to rosters teeming with buzzy up-and-comers, plus a few big names. It’s a multi-venue affair, taking place at various spots around the city, and is a bit of a bargain price-wise.
Line-up includes Sundara Karma, Tom Grennan, Metronomy, Drenge, Kate Tempest, Sam Fender, The Sherlocks.
Various venues across Leeds. May 4. £38.
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 Kwengface, Mathilda Homer, Walt Disco, SKYND, Wooze, Self Esteem, Lewis Capaldi.
Various venues, Brighton. May 9-11. £TBC (day tickets and two-day passes), £70 (three-day ticket).
House, techno and D&B in Bristol
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 offers a tasty spread. 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 taken care of.
Line-up includes Lily Allen, Chase & Status, IAMDBB, Maribou State, Jimothy Lacoste, Little Simz, Bonobo (DJ set), Slowthai, Sub Focus (DJ set), DJ Hype.
Eastville Park, Bristol. May 25-26. £85 weekend, £45 (Sat), £39.50 (Sun).
The pop-punk and hardcore festival that travels the country
Taking place at two different venues over two days, Slam Dunk lets you mosh in Leeds or Hatfield, where it’s outgrown the university and moves to a new site at Hatfield Park. Really keen? You can purchase a ‘megaticket’ to smash both of them.
Line-up includes All Time Low, Bullet For My Valentine, NOFX, New Found Glory, Neck Deep, Bad Religion, glassjaw, Less Than Jake, Simple Plan.
Various venues, Leeds, May 25. Hatfield Park, May 26. From £59.
Electronic music showcase turned banging warehouse party
Officially titled the Audio Visual Arts Festival and Conference, and created in 2015 to celebrate and promote Northern Ireland’s electronic music scene, AVA has turned into a two-day festival famous for also showcasing just how hard locals can party. Last year's warehouse spot is on the agenda again, and is suitable for the international names it attracts – although it’s local acts that really whip up the crowd.
Line-up includes Ben UFO, The Black Madonna, Daniel Avery, Horse Meat Disco, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Mall Grab.
S13 Warehouse, Belfast. May 31-Jun 1. £75.
Mad fer it, inner-city Manchester party: no tents required
This Manchester weekender may sound like a Britpop nostalgia fest, but it actually has a super-contemporary, genre-blending bill to rival the best of them. (Plus a bit of a coup in the form of The Streets' first UK festival appearance in six years.) And, as is the beauty of city festivals, you can have a good night’s kip in your own bed (or at least a mid-range Airbnb) before heading back for Day Two.
Line-up includes Solange, Cardi B, Migos, The Streets, Khalid, Disclosure, Mark Ronson, George Ezra, Nas, Christine and the Queens
Heaton Park, Manchester. June 8-9. £69.50 (Sunday), £95 (Saturday), £125 (weekend).
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.
Line-up includes Def Leppard, Slipknot, Tool, Slash, The Smashing Pumpkins, Trivium, Slayer, Rob Zombie, Halestorm.
Donington Park, Donington. June 14-16. £210 (camping), £185 (ticket only).
Welsh woodland dance fest goes from strength to strength
Now in its tenth year, this boutique festival 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 Andrew Weatherall B2B Manfredas, Craig Richards, Hunee, dBridge, Kink (live), Palms Trax.
Carreglwyd Estate, Wales. Jun 6-9. £180.
Huge headliners at one of the UK’s biggest rock festivals
Now in its 51st year, the modern-day Isle of Wight festival is a far cry from the hippy love-in that landed back in 1968. Nowadays, big-name headliners and commercial rock and pop favourites are the order of the day, with a hefty dose of nostalgia thrown in for good measure. They may not be trying to push the envelope, but after five decades in the game, Isle of Wight knows how to please a crowd.
Line-up includes Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Fatboy Slim, Biffy Clyro, George Ezra, Anne-Marie, Madness, James, Lily Allen, Bastille.
Newport, Isle of Wight. June 21-24. £175 (weekend), £60 (Fri), £70 (Sat/Sun).
All-out Americana (in Kent)
Fire up the BBQ and don your cowboy boots for this festival of Americana and western music. Back (in black) for its second year, you can expect more country bands than you can shake a slide guitar at, and some great smoked meat to tuck into while you watch.
Line-up includes Band of Horses, John Butler Trio, The Staves, Kris Kristofferson & The Strangers, The Mavericks, Neko Case, The Dead South.
Eridge Park, Kent. Jun 21-23. From £125 (weekend), from £105 (excludes camping).
Birmingham's best live 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.