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

Wilderness festival
Andrew Whitton
Music, Music festivals


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.


RiZE Festival

V Festival is dead! Long live RiZE!

After 21 years in the game, V Festival finally closed its doors for the final time last year. Now, from its ashes, rises er... RiZE – a confusingly-punctuated newbie to fill the pop/rock-shaped hole (in Chelmsford, at least). Continuing V’s policy of booking basically anyone famous, regardless of their demographic or genre, RiZE has nabbed an undoubtedly big albeit slightly random selection for its inaugural year. But hey, if you wanna watch both the Manics and Rita Ora while slurping on a Blue WKD, then you go Glen Coco.

Line-­up includes Liam Gallagher, Stereophonics, Manic Street Preachers, James Bay, Bastille, Rita Ora, Craig David’s TS5, Years & Years, Circa Waves.

Hylands Park, Chelmsford. Aug 17-18. £165 (camping), £115 (ticket only) £59.50 (day).

Green Man music festival

Green Man

Tasteful indie for civilised folk, with added scenic plus-points

Too old for Reading and Leeds but still want to get a bit squiffy in a field this August? Well, look no further than Green Man: the thinking person’s weekender of choice, complete with a line up plucked straight out of a BBC 6Music wet dream. Set in the lush surrounds of the Brecon Beacons, this one’s as much a treat for the eyes as it is for the ears. And while Green Man definitely falls on the calmer end of the festie spectrum, you can still merrily chug on box wine into the wee small hours.

Line-­up includes The War on Drugs, Fleet Foxes, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, John Grant, Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors, Anna Calvi, Cate Le Bon.

Brecon Beacons, Wales. Aug 16-19. £180.

Reading Festival

Former rock mainstay takes a genre-diverse new turn

For decades now, Reading and Leeds have been the UK’s flag-bearing rock weekender. A rite of passage for GCSE students popping their festival cherry, its booking policy has always been largely that if it ain’t got six strings, it don’t count. Recently, however, it’s started broadening those genre horizons. And this year, proving once and for all that the tastes of the youth truly are a-changing, the bank holiday event is a smorgasbord of grime, hip hop, pop and dance. From Brockhampton to Dua Lipa to the coronation of King Kendrick, Reading’s had a thoroughly modern makeover.

Line­-up includes Kendrick Lamar, Kings of Leon, Fall Out Boy, The Vaccines, Skepta, Dua Lipa, Wolf Alice, Post Malone, Travis Scott, Panic! At The Disco, Brockhampton.

Richfield Avenue, Reading. Aug 24-26. £205 (weekend) £69.50 (day).


Leeds Festival

The Northern leg of the legendary weekender

While the booking policy at this year’s Reading and Leeds might have thrown some curveballs at the usually trad rock event, rest assured that the vibe at Bramham Park will remain as familiar as ever. Like a PG13 version of Lord of the Flies, only with more mud and blue vodka slushies, Leeds Festival continues to be a reliably no-nonsense affair: sod the artisan food stalls, here you get burgers and chips, one type of lager and an absolutely enormous amount of music. A festival with its priorities in the right place, albeit with a shedload of tipsy teenagers shoved in there too.

Line­-up includes Kendrick Lamar, Kings of Leon, Fall Out Boy, The Vaccines, Skepta, Dua Lipa, Wolf Alice, Post Malone, Travis Scott, Panic! At The Disco, Brockhampton.

Bramham Park, Leeds. Aug 24-26. £205 (weekend) £69.50 (day).

Lost Village festival, 2017
© Max Miechowski

Lost Village

Get back to nature with this fest in the woods

This small but perfectly formed dance festival in the woods outside Lincoln offers more than just tons of excellent DJs and live acts. There’ll be high-quality street food, craft beer, cocktails, comedy and a ‘lake of tranquillity’, where you zen the heck out after all the dancing. Plus you’ve got a wild woodland setting to roam around in.

Line-up includes DJ Harvey, Four Tet, The Black Madonna, Friendly Fires, Everything Everything, Ben UFO, Helena Hauff, Gilles Peterson, Eclair Fifi, Move D.

Lincolnshire. Aug 23-26. From £150.

End of the Road_2010_press.jpg

End of the Road

Uber-credible picks from indie’s weirder corners 

Landing in the sacred crossover point between namedrop-friendly muso faves and bands that are actually, y’know, fun, Dorset season-closer End of the Road has been excelling itself on the line-up front in recent years. From high-shine leftfield pop to grizzled post-punk, they’ve got all the bases covered. Add to that a solid programme of arts and literature, plus an increasing nod to late-night larks, and you’ve got a veritable playground for the more discerning 20-something.

Line­-up includes Vampire Weekend, St Vincent, Feist, Ezra Furman, Fat White Family, John Cale, Yo La Tengo, Oh Sees, Ariel Pink, Idles.

Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset. Aug 30-Sep 2. £195.

Field Maneuvers
Jonny Pénzes-Underhill

Field Maneuvers

Tiny dance music festival keeps it underground at a secret location

With only 700 tickets on sale, Field Maneuvers harks back to a free party vibe – a far cry from many of today’s sprawling, branded festivals. The location is kept under wraps, but will be within an hour of London. Get your rave on to a cutting-edge line-up. 

Line-up includes K-Hand, Dr Rubin, Ben Sims, Shanti Celeste, Ryan Elliott. 

Location on booking. Aug 31-Sep 2. £119. 


Sundown Festival

Head over to Norfolk for the eighth annual Sundown fest

Previously known as ‘Norfolk Spectacular’, this urban pop-leaning fest in East Anglia is a teenage daydream. Look out for site-based afterparties too.

Line-up includes Chase & Status, Shawn Mendes, Clean Bandit, Zara Larsson, Kojo Funds, Andy C. 

Norfolk Showground, Norwich. Aug 31-Sep 2. £121 (weekend), £88 (without camping), £42 (day).

Festival number 6 Arch.jpg

Festival No 6

Weird and wonderful weekender in eccentric Portmeirion

These days, with every summer Saturday filled to the brim with entertainment options jostling for attention, festivals need a USP to really stand out. And boy, does Festival No 6 deliver on that front. Situated in the strange town of Portmeirion – a village in North Wales designed to emulate the Mediterranean and made famous on ‘60s cop show ‘The Prisoner’ – it’s worth going to purely for a holiday. Throw in a suitably quirky music and arts bill, and you’re golden (even without the actual Med sun).

Line-up includes Franz Ferdinand, Friendly Fires, The The, Everything Everything, Jessie Ware, The Charlatans, Hurts, Django Django.

Portmeirion, Wales. Sep 6-9. £180.

The best live music venues in Leeds

Music, Music venues

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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