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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

By James Manning and Alexandra Gerrity

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

Latitude Festival
© Rob Whitworth


When is it? July 22-25.

What is it? An artsy bash in Suffolk’s Henman Park, as known for its theatre, literary talks and family fun as it is for its line up of musicians. Expect bunting.

Who's playing? Lewis Capaldi, First Aid Kit, Bastille and something called Snow Patrol… Reworked.

Why go? To inject a year’s worth of culture into your fun-starved veins in just one weekend.

Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk. 

Reading and Leeds Festival

When is it? Aug 26-29.

What is it? Zipping into the calendar just after GCSE results day, it's probably best known as a hotspot for teenagers letting off steam. (I mean… if you didn’t piss in a bottle watching a landfill indie bad at Leeds 2007 were you even 16 then?)

Who's playing? The headliners are Stormzy, Post Malone and Liam Gallagher.

Why go? 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.

Bramham Park, Leeds. 


End of the Road

When is it? Sept 2 - 5.

What is it? A super friendly party in Larmer Tree Gardens with loads of guitars on the line up and proper end-of-summer vibes. Also one of the first places to push for a gender-balanced line up.

Who’s playing? Pixies, King Krule, Big Thief, Bright Eyes, Little Simz, Perfume Genius and loads more.

Why go? 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 for 15 years now.

Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset. 

Andrew Whitton


Music Music festivals

When is it? Aug 5-8. 

What is it? Wilderness isn’t just about spot-on sounds. It has a beautiful swimming lake. It plays host to Letters Live, the cult performance strand where unanounced actors like Olivia Colman and Benedict Cumberbatch read out epistles by distinguished cultural and political figures. It also holds famous long-table banquets from top chefs.

Who’s playing? The line up's TBC but last year they had Loyle Carner, Foals and Supergrass set to headline the mainstage, with Richard Corrigan, Skye Gyngell and Fergus Henderson topping the bill of chefs. 

Why go? Wilderness is consistently one of the UK’s best festivals, but even if you just went for the beautiful lake alone, you'd have a good time. 

Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire. 

Photograph: Luke Dyson
Photograph: Luke Dyson

Mighty Hoopla

When is it? Sept 4.

What is it? A Brockwell Park one-dayer that brings together the biggest acts in pop and performances from the best names on London’s LGBTQ+ club scene.

Who’s playing? They’re currently keeping shtum about who is on the revised bill, but acts that were previously set to take to the stage in 2020 included power anthem royalty Anastacia.

Why go? The festival itself was established by the creative minds behind queer troupe Sink the Pink, no less. They call it ‘the UK’s best pop festival’ (and we’re not arguing!).

Brockwell Park. 

Photograph: Callum Baker |
Callum Baker

Isle of Wight festival

News Music

When is it? Sep 16-19

What is it? A family-friendly, four-day festival on one of the UK’s favourite off-mainland destinations. 

Who's playing? 2021’s line up is full of big noughties acts like Razorlight, All Saints, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Kaiser Chiefs, plus headline sets from Liam Gallagher and Duran Duran. 

Why go? Four whole days of escapism and you get there BY BOAT. Sounds ideal. 

Newport, Isle of Wight. 

Photograph: Cross The Tracks
Photograph: Cross The Tracks

Cross The Tracks

When is it? Sept 5.

What is it? A feast of jazz, funk and soul featuring loads of dancing, London’s best street food, a craft market and fancy beer. And it’s all in Brockwell park for one day only.

Who's playing? 2021’s line up will contain all of the artists from 2020 that are available for the September date – and that line up included Sister bloody Sledge. Full details are due to be released soon.

Why go? Err… for Sister Sledge? Do we need to say it again?

Brockwell Park. 

Davido at Afro Nation
Photograph: Davido at Afro Nation

Yam Carnival

News Music

When is it? Aug 28. 

What is it? Yam Carnival is a brand new festival from the team behind Afro Nation featuring acts from London, America and Nigeria. It was meant to take place for the first time in 2020, but will now debut in Clapham Common on the August Bank Holiday weekend. 

Who’s playing? The headliners are Davido, Kehlani, Femi Kuti and DJ Honey Dijon. The wonderful Princess Nokia is also on the bill. 

Why go? If you’ve never experienced the ecstasy of Princess Nokia’s 2017 banger ‘Tomboy’ bursting your eardrums on an outrageously hot summer afternoon, you have not lived.

Clapham Common, London. 


The best live music venues in Leeds

The best live music venues in Leeds

Music Music venues

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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