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
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 Sampha, Fat Boy Slim, Loyle Carner, Four Tet, Jackmaster, Bicep, Tom Misch.
Eastville Park, Bristol. May 26-27. £85 weekend, £45 (Sat), £39.50 (Sun)
Slam Dunk Festival
The pop-punk and hardcore festival that travels the country
Taking place at three different venues over three days, Slam Dunk lets you mosh in Leeds, Birmingham 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 all three.
Line-up includes Good Charlotte, Jimmy Eat World, Paris, Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes, Taking Back Sunday
Various venues, Leeds, May 26. Hatfield Park, May 27. Birmingham NEC, May 28. From £49.
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. It’s in a new warehouse venue this year, suitable for the international names it attracts – although it’s local acts that really whip up the crowd.
Line-up includes Bicep, Floorplan, Larry Heard AKA Mr. Fingers, Helena Hauff, KiNK.
S13 Warehouse, Belfast. June 1-2. From £70.
Mad fer it, inner-city Manchester party: no tents required
Like some kind of latent throwback to the Britpop halcyon days of yore, Manchester knees-up Parklife (named after that there Blur hit, oh irony) is hosting King Parka himself Liam Gallagher in top billing this year. The controversy! Well, not really. It’s 2018. And actually, far from a nostalgic ‘90s throwback event, the Heaton Park weekender boasts a bill to rival the best of them. Plus, 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. Supersonic.
Line-up includes Liam Gallagher, The xx, Skepta, N*E*R*D, Lorde, Jamie xx, A$AP Rocky, Chvrches, Giggs, Justice.
Heaton Park, Manchester. June 9-10. £65 (day), £119.50 (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. This year’s decade-spanning headline acts include the one and only Guns N’ Roses, Marilyn Manson, You Me At Six and Baby Metal.
Line-up includes Guns N’ Roses, Marilyn Manson, Volbeat, Bullet For My Valentine, Thunder, Cradle of Filth, Rise Against, You Me At Six and Baby Metal.
Donington Park, Donington. June 8-10. £200-£210 (camping), £175 (ticket only).
Welsh woodland dance fest goes from strength to strength
Now in year nine, 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, Axel Boman, DMX Krew, Jackmaster, Margaret Dygas, Paul Woolford, Mr Scruff.
Carreglwyd Estate, Wales. Jun 7-10. From £165 (weekend).
Huge headliners at one of the UK’s biggest rock festivals
Now celebrating its 50th 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 Kasabian, The Killers, Depeche Mode, Liam Gallagher, Manic Street Preachers, The Script, Nile Rodgers and Chic, James Bay, Van Morrison.
Newport, Isle of Wight. June 21-24. £209 (weekend), £65 (Fri), £75 (Sat/Sun).
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 Earth Wind & Fire, Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Steve Winwood, George Clinton Parliament Funkadelic, Tom Misch.
Glynde Place, East Sussex. Jun 29-Jul 1. £154 (camping), £125 (without camping), £54 (day).
De La Soul and Run DMC headline this Shepton Mallet outing
Billed as ‘the UK’s only action sports and music festival’, NASS features seven stages of largely beat-based music and all kinds of gnarly stuff alongside, including skate and BMX competitions and live street art.
Line-up includes Dizzee Rascal, Run DMC, Sigma, Friction, Flava D, Holy Goof.
Royal Bath and West Showground, Shepton Mallet. Jul 5-8. From £115-£125 (camping), £49 day ticket.
Blissfields goes back to its roots
The Blissfields team are putting on a smaller, more intimate event this year: Blisscamp has a capacity of 2,000, and promises to take things back to their initial friends-around-a-campfire vibe. There’s no division between camping and the festival site, for starters, with music stages, crafts, food and family activities all gloriously mixed in together.
Line-up includes Gold Panda, Baxter Dury, Mr Jukes, Dub Pistols, Slamboree, Norman Jay MBE.
Vicarage Farm, Winchester. Jul 5-8. £110.
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.