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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

Boomtown

Boomtown

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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Bestival

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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Blissfields

Blissfields

Blissfields started life as a one­off party in 2001, and has snowballed into a pretty comprehensive three-day fest. Acts run from pop and rap to indie and D&B, and tickets hovver just under the very reasonable £100 mark: bonkers. FYI, this year's theme is 'the bizarre'. New for 2017 is the very real luxury of actual toilets across the entire site.

Line­-up includes: Metronomy, Lady Leshurr, Sundara Karma, The Japanese House, S4U. 

Vicarage Farm, Winchester. July 6-8.

 

Love Supreme

Love Supreme

A very civilised weekend of jazz and more

Love Supreme specialises in jazz, funk, blues and soul, with a bit of extra pop power when it comes to the headliners. The lush and laid-back setting in the grounds of an Elizabethan manor house sets the tone at this genteel weekender, but if you’re after a late-evening pick-me-up then look out for the electronic artists that also pepper the line-up.

Line-up includes: The Jacksons – A Celebration of 50 Years, Herbie Hancock, George Benson, Gregory Porter, Laura Mvula, Badbadnotgood, Nao, Robert Glasper Experiment, Yussef Kamaal.

Glynde Place, East Sussex. June 30-July 2. £145.

Festival No 6

Festival No 6

A cultured party in the eccentric village of Portmeirion

Now in its fourth year, Festival No 6 invites weekend warriors to get absorbed in the surreal Mediterranean-style seaside resort of Portmeirion, made famous by the TV show ‘The Prisoner’. The festival lives up to its unusual setting with an equal focus on music, arts, poetry, spoken word, and other cultural tidbits. It’s decidedly family-friendly, and flower garlands and dress-up fun are strongly encouraged.

Line-up includes: Flaming Lips, Mogwai, Bloc Party, Rag’n’Bone Man, The Cinematic Orchestra, Wild Beasts, Laura Mvula.

Portmeirion, Wales. September 7-10.

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Lovebox

Recommended

Consistently one of the finest festivals in London, catering for cool kids and party monsters, Lovebox packs as much fun into two days as many festivals manage in three. The sublime, but elusive, Frank Ocean is the first headliner to be announced and his only London date on a European tour. It’s one of the highlights of the London summer thanks to a storming, genre-blurring line-up of DJs electronic acts and live bands, plus all sorts of weird fun on the side (performance, art, dance, and mysterious mischief) and a full range of banging afterparties. 

Line-up includes: Frank Ocean, Chase & Status, Jamie xx, Solange, Sampha, Kaytranada. Rag ’n’ Bone Man, Mac Miller.

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Friday July 14 2017 - Saturday July 15 2017

Citadel Festival

Recommended

If we’re being honest, Sundays at a festival are usually a bit of a damp squib. After days of abuse, both your inflatable mattress and soul are dangerously deflated. Going to a festival on a Sunday all fresh and rested, on the other hand, sounds a lot more appealing, especially if it’s tailor-made for the day of rest. On top of the class music line up – mighty Foals are headlining this year – there’ll also be various arts-driven distractions and entertainment throughout the day, plus top food and booze offerings. Welcome back, Citadel, the Sunday festival that packs enough fun, food and artsy goodness to give Friday and Saturday a run for their money.

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Sunday July 16 2017

Latitude

Engage your brain and your funny bone at this laid­back music and arts festival

Latitude is back for its twelfth instalment of adventurous pop and alt rock in an idyllic setting. We’ve come to expect a stellar line­up including world­class comedians, poets and theatre as well as thought­provoking debates. Latitude is family ­friendly and full of brain food, but there’s more to it than just indie and chin­ scratching. DJs are hidden in the woods after hours, colourful sheep roam through the fields, dance troupes parade around the site and ale lovers won’t be short of fuel.

Line-­up TBA

Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk. July 13-16. £197 (weekend).

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Reading Festival

A rocking festival stalwart for hardcore music fans

The August Bank Holiday weekend may be a breath of fresh air for many, but for Reading festival­goers it's overshadowed by the sound of exam results being ripped from their packets. No sooner than the tears of joy/sadness have dried up, flocks of teenagers are swilling warm cider in celebration, soundtracked by some indie and rock veterans and their new-­blood heirs. Though it doesn’t look like they’ve done much for the gender imbalance that got some bad press last year.

Line­-up includes: Muse, Major Lazer, At The Drive In, Bastille, Andy C, Danny Brown.

Richfield Avenue, Reading. August 26–28. £205 (weekend).

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The best live music venues in Leeds

The best live music venues in Leeds

When it comes to live music, Leeds is up there with the best of 'em, with a diverse and very credible selection of musical goodies ranging from hip hop and house to rock, reggae, rockabilly and everything in between. But with such a wide choice on offer, it can be difficult to pin down where it is you should be heading. 

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