The best UK festivals

We’ve cherry-picked this year’s best UK music 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 in London and the rest of the country 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 2018. See you down the front!

Bluedot Festival
Bluedot
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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.
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© Mike Hale
Nozstock: The Hidden Valley
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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).
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Kendal Calling
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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.


Camp Bestival
Victor Frankowski
Camp Bestival
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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)
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© Trevor Eales
Womad
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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).
standon calling festival
Standon Calling
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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.
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Wilderness festival
Andrew Whitton
Music, Music festivals
Wilderness
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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.
 
Neverworld
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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.
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Bestival
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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.

 
 
Boomtown Fair
Ian Taylor
Boomtown
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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.
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Ben Nicholson
Cropredy
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Fairport Convention’s folky bash takes over the village
The 38th annual Cropredy is headlined – as ever – by folk veterans Fairport Convention, who also curate the line-up. Keeping things cosy, there’s just one stage, although there’s also a ‘fringe’ taking place at pubs in the Oxfordshire village. 
Line-up includes Fairport Convention, Brian Wilson presents Pet Sounds, The Levellers, Oysterband, Kate Rusby, Afro Celt Sound System. 
Cropredy, Oxfordshire. Aug 9-11. £135 (weekend), £120 (two-day), £75 (one-day). 
RiZE Festival
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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).
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Green Man music festival
Green Man
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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
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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).
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Leeds Festival
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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
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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.
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End of the Road
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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
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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. 
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Sundown Festival
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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).
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Festival No 6
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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.
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Music, Music festivals
The best music festivals in London
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You lucky Londoner: you don’t need a tent or even a pair of wellies to get the full festival experience this summer. You’ve got some of the world’s biggest acts and a whole world of fun a tube ride away, thanks to these incredible festivals in London.