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
Head up to Cheshire for a spacey weekend under the stars with the Chemical Bros and Flaming Lips
How does partying for a weekend in a deep space observatory sound? Not too shabby, right? So do yourself a favour and check out this mind-opening festival that combines music, science and tech, all with the vast Lovell Telescope in the background. Held at Jodrell Bank in Cheshire, Bluedot offers punters a chance to get intergalactic, alongside alternative bands, live science experiments, talks and ‘cosmic culture’ events. Truly far out.
Line-up includes The Chemical Brothers, The Flaming Lips, Future Islands, Public Service Broadcasting, Gary Numan, Little Dragon.
Jodrell Bank, Cheshire. Jul 20-22. £169.
Nozstock: The Hidden Valley
Chase & Status and Goldfrapp headline this boutique West Mids festival
This intimate festival has a big emphasis on a hippy-ish feelgood atmosphere and rollicking country fun vibes bouncing around everywhere. The programme is chock-full of arts, workshops, theatre and cinema, and as far as music goes, it’s a gently eclectic mix with something for pretty much everyone, from drum ’n’ bass to folk.
Line-up includes: Chase & Status, Goldfrapp, Grandmaster Flash, The Selecter, Dub Pistols.
Rowden Paddocks, Herefordshire. Jul 20-22. £125 (Fri-Sun), £135 (Thu-Sun).
A music-focused festival nestled in the Lake District
Kendal Calling has quickly grown from humble beginnings into a destination fest for big pop, rock and (this year, distinctly nostalgic) indie outfits. Music is the mainstay, but if you’re after some boutique touches there are plenty of those too, such as workshops, craft booze and film screenings.
Line-up includes The Libertines, Catfish & The Bottlemen, Run DMC, Ocean Colour Scene, James, Shed Seven.
Lowther Deer Park, Lake District. Jul 26-29. Sold out but there’ll be a June resale.
Child-friendly fun, that's also palatable for grown-ups
Sure, there are plenty of festivals these days that provide designated kid-friendly areas. But, with Glastonbury out for a year, there are few that actively encourage you to bring the young ’uns. Praise be, then, to Camp Bestival: the little sibling to Rob da Bank’s main summer event that attempts to serve up a weekend of guilt-free festival parenting. Rather than simply whacking a pair of those oversized headphones on your tot and dragging them reluctantly to see Sleaford Mods, here you can both enjoy your time, with equal emphasis placed on activities and music for big and little ones alike.
Line up includes Clean Bandit, Basement Jaxx, Rick Astley, Simple Minds, Shed Seven, Dick and Dom, Mr Tumble.
Lulworth Cove, Dorset. Jul 26-29. £187.50 (weekend)
The UK branch of the international world music extravaganza
Since Womad’s first event back in 1982, it’s expanded from a celebration of world music to a celebration of music literally across the world, with events now hosted in New Zealand, Chile, the Canary Islands and more. The ethos remains the same though: a chilled out and celebratory party of sonic exploration, good vibes and inclusivity.
Line up includes Amadou & Mariam, Django Django, Camille, Ken Boothe, Sharon Shannon, Ezra Collective, Aeham Ahmed.
Charlton Park, Wiltshire. Jul 26-29. £225, £185 (three-day).
Charming villagey event in the depths of Hertfordshire
Continuing the trend for festivals that started in someone’s back garden and then got huge, Standon Calling returns for its thirteenth year of boutique fun. As well as solid, genre-straddling line-ups, there’ll be all kinds of kooky fun to engage in too: from a swimming pool and a celebrated dog show (bring your pooch) to after-hours clubbing and a comedy programme.
Line-up includes Bryan Ferry, Paloma Faith, George Ezra, Goldfrapp, Django Django, The Horrors.
Standon Lordship, Hertfordshire. Jul 26-29. £169.
Escapist hedonism for grown-ups – kids also welcome
It would be easy to write off Wilderness as a posh playground, but the reality is much more magical. The thoughtfully programmed roster of acts from around the world has grown in calibre and breadth year-on-year, with Björk headlining in 2015. But it’s the awe-inspiring performance art, debates and mouthwatering feasts that have firmly positioned Wilderness as a carnival for the senses, and much more than just a music festival. Just be aware that few of the luxurious activities are included in the basic ticket price, and add-ons can quickly add up.
Line-up includes Nile Rodgers & Chic, Bastille, Jon Hopkins, Kamasi Washington, Baxter Dury.
Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire. Aug 2-5. From £179.50.
An unpretentious party in the Kent countryside
Formerly known as LeeFest, this award-winning indie festival was started by Lee Denny in 2006 in his parents' back garden. It's grown a bit since then, but retains its warm and welcoming vibe and a keen sense of fun. Camping is free and there's plenty to check out when you're not watching bands or dancing to DJs, including a temporary beach made from 100 tonnes of sand and Mermaid's Lagoon, a Miami-beach style nightclub.
Line-up includes Clean Bandit, Bastille, Tom Grennan, GIRLI, Sub Focus.
Hever Park, Kent. Aug 2-5. From £135.
New time, new(ish) location, same party vibe
Bestival had an absolute stinker of it last year. Having relocated from its original Isle of Wight home to the picturesque Lulworth Cove, what should have been a celebration turned into a total apocalyptic washout. That might be why Rob da Bank and co have decided to bring things forward to early August, but either way we’re hoping the festival’s usual hedonistic party vibes will make a welcome return. With a focus on fancy dress, late-night partying and all manner of quirky extras (you can even get faux-married in a wedding tent), Bestival’s spirit may be down but it’s not out.
Line-up includes MIA, Silk City (Diplo and Mark Ronson), London Grammar, Grace Jones, Plan B, Chaka Khan, Thundercat, Jimmy Cliff.
Lulworth Estate, Dorset. Aug 2-5. £172.
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 – with a few big-name (but still very much alternative) acts and DJs – plus the roster of activities (which has matured in recent years), including banqueting, craft and healing areas as well as Boomtown’s traditional mutated ‘art vehicles’. After dark, the hordes of party-heads come out to soak up enough beats, dub, ska and reggae to see them through until daybreak.
Line-up includes Gorillaz, Die Antwood, Limp Bizkit, Jimmy Cliff, Lady Leshurr, Foreign Beggars, Amadou & Mariam.
Matterley Estate, Hampshire. Aug 9-12. Sold out.
The best clubs in Glasgow
With a reputation as good as Glasgow's, it's easy to see why so many clubbers make the pilgrimage from far and wide to sample one of the UK's best clubbing cities. We've picked our best clubs from Glasgow's many, so all you need to do is take your pick and prepare to party - aural treats for your ears and feet await.