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 2020. See you down the front!
The UK’s best festivals in 2020
Upcoming darlings overrun Brighton
Often hailed as ‘the UK’s SXSW’ (with half the sunshine), The Great Escape is a yearly pilgrimage for new music obsessives. Almost every pub, bar or venue with a bit of clear space is coopted by the festival for artists from all over the globe. Primarily an event for the music industry to ‘network’ (read: drink together), it’s also a great excuse to catch bucketloads of upcoming bands and DJs. The headliners (or ‘Spotlight Shows’) are ticketed separately: wristband holders for the wider festival can top up their passes to get in.
Line-up includes Aitch, Phoebe Green, Teks Sinatra, Baker Boy, Angelica Garcia, Hana Vu, Wargasm, Sons of Raphael, The Cool Greenhouse, Somebody's Child.
Various venues, Brighton. May 14-16. £70 (three-day ticket).
Ultimate party weekender lands in Margate for the first time
The Funk & Soul Weekender is back for another three days of brass and bopping. This year, the event will be taking place at Dreamland in Margate, which means revellers get to enjoy the vintage fairground rides, as well as some of the biggest names in jazz, world music, and obviously funk and soul.
Line-up includes Sister Sledge, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Gilles Peterson, Ezra Collective, Craig Charles, Norman Jay, Roy Ayers, Trojan Soundsystem.
Dreamland Margate. May 29-31. £125 (full weekend pass).
Ragley Hall. Jun 19-21.
Street food and surprisingly crunchy tunes in Warwickshire
This boutique weekender places a big emphasis on food and drink: 15 restaurants will be dishing up delicacies, and you can wash it all down with libations from more than 50 craft breweries, natural winemakers and artisanal spirit producers. The music is much more than an afterthought, though, with Fat White Family, Little Dragon and some revered DJs supplying the surprisingly crunchy tunes.
Line-up includes Fat White Family, Little Dragon, Hot Chip Megamix, George Fitzgerald, Erol Alkan, Maribou State (DJ set).
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, 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 Orbital, Kano, Little Simz, Peggy Gou, Goldie, Krept & Konan, Fisher, DJ EZ, Gorgon City, Andy C, Helena Hauff, Shy FX.
Eastville Park, Bristol. May 23-24. £94.35 (weekend), £54.94 (Sat), £43.84 (Sun).
Innovative design and dance music unite at this trendy-looking new festival
This new Leicestershire fest from the team behind Peckham Rye event GALA says it wants to 'explore the boundaries between sound, space, music, and architecture'. The line-up includes big names from the clubbing world including Horse Meat Disco, Maurice Fulton and Secretsundaze, and the organisers are promising 'experimental stages, captivating pavilions and unique banqueting experiences'. Sign us up ASAP.
Line-up includes Kokoroko, Awesome Tapes From Africa, Charlotte Dos Santos, Daniel Avery, Dan Beaumont, Horse Meat Disco, Maurice Fulton, Midlan, Nightmares on Wax DJ, Secretsundaze, Susanna Raiend, Zakia, Yu Su.
Belvoir Castle, Grantham. June 24-27.
The new(ish) Scottish fest continues to deliver
Now in its fourth year, this replacement for another big Scottish festival, T In The Park, isn’t messing about in 2020. Liam Gallagher, Courteeners and local lad Lewis Capaldi are headlining, and the bill also includes Rita Ora, Little Simz and Keane.
Fri Jul 10: Courteeners, Ian Brown, Sam Fender, Little Simz, Aitch, Blossoms.
Sat Jul 11: Liam Gallagher, Foals, Keane, Twin Atlantic.
Sun Jul 12: Lewis Capaldi, Snow Patrol, Rita Ora.
Glasgow Green. July 10-12.
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.
Line-up includes Kiss, Iron Maiden, System of a Down, Deftones, Korn, The Offspring, Gojira, Disturbed, Alestorm, Black Veil Brides, Daughtry, Of Mice & Men
Donington Park, Donington. June 12-14.
Welsh woodland dance fest goes from strength to strength
Now in its 11th year, 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 and disco to afrobeat and electronica). Those who want a little luxury can even shell out for boutique camping.
Line-up includes Channel One, Willow, Helena Hauff, Move D, Young Marco, Saoirse, Craig Richards, Anz, GiGi FM, Call Super.
Carreglwyd Estate, Wales. Jun 11-14 £165.
Huge headliners at one of the UK’s biggest rock festivals
Now in its 52nd 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, the IOW fest knows how to please a crowd.
Line-up includes Lionel Ritchie, Lewis Capaldi, Duran Duran, The Chemical Brothers Happy Mondays, Snow Patrol, Stone Roses, Dido, Kaiser Chiefs, Pete Tong, Becky Hill, Example, Maisie Peters.
Newport, Isle of Wight. Jun 11-14.
All-out Americana (in Kent)
Fire up the BBQ and don your cowboy boots for this festival of Americana and western music. Back (in black) for its third year, you can expect more country bands than you can shake a slide guitar at, and some great smoked meat to tuck into while you watch.
Line-up includes Wi
Eridge Park, Kent. Jun 19-21. From £140 (weekend), from £120 (excludes camping).
The Big One.
The UK’s most iconic music festival is back, taking over a chunk of Somerset with music, mischief, hippies, healing and a lot of cider. It’s difficult to convey quite how vast Glasto is, with whole worlds of activity taking place outside the arena as well as an awe-inspiring musical line-up ranging from pop to reggae to rock to dubstep to metal to folk to techno. Two of the three headliners have already been announced, Taylor Swift and Paul McCartney, and Diana Ross is playing the Sunday afternoon legend slot. But if you’re lucky enough to have bagged a ticket then bring an open mind and a sense of humour, and prepare for the usual transcendent dose of mayhem, madness and (did we mention already?) mud.
Line-up includes Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney, Diana Ross,
Worthy Farm, Pilton. June 26-28.
A very civilised weekend of jazz, soul and more
This genteel weekender in the grounds of an Elizabethan Manor House specialises in jazz, funk, blues, disco, and soul, with a bit of extra pop power this year courtesy of iconic girl-group TLC. There’s also an 80th birthday set from the legendary Candi Staton and a sweet (love) coup in the form of the last ever UK performance from Anita Baker.
Line-up includes Anita Baker, Candi Staton, TLC, The Roots, The Isley Brothers, Sergio Mendes, Brand New Heavies, Sister Sledge, Nubya Garcia, Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes, Kokoroko.
Glynde Place, East Sussex. Jul 3-5. £169.40 (camping), £143 (without camping), £59.40 (day).
A weekend of disco and dance returns to Herefordshire
Organised by party specialists Cirque du Soul, El Dorado is celebrating its fifth anniversary in style. As ever, this intimate event is bringing together all strands of dance music – from disco to DnB, via Abba tribute act Björn Again – for a proper weekend-long knees-up in a beautiful country park. Bring your best dancing shoes – you’ll need ’em.
Line-up includes Earth, Wind & Fire Experience, Groove Armada, D Double E, David Rodigan, Crazy P Soundsystem, Skream, Sherelle, Greentea Peng, Derrick Carter.
Eastnor Castle Deer Park, Herefordshire. Jul 2-5. £176.45.
Big hitters and rising stars combine at this family-friendly Suffolk shindig
Check your Insta feeds over Latitude weekend and you’ll see one overriding star of the show: a troupe of pastel-coloured sheep. The bleating residents of Henham Park will be returning for another year of laid-back, family-friendly fun, with children’s theatre, stand-up comedy, woodland activities and lake swimming intermingling among the musical treats. With Liam Gallagher, Haim and The Chemical Brothers, headlining, and Charli XCX, Girl Ray and Joy Crookes on the bill too, Latitude has pulled off another winning mix of cool and crowd-pleasing music.
Line-up includes Liam Gallagher, Haim, The Chemical Brothers, Michael Kiwanuka, Snow Patrol, Charli XCX, La Roux, Keane, Purity Ring, Banks, Joy Crookes, Girl Ray, Ibibio Sound Machine, Kawala, Nadia Rose, Marika Hackman.
Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk. Jul 16-19. £210 (weekend).
Head up to Cheshire for a spacey weekend under the stars with Björk and Groove Armada
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 Cheshire festival that combines music, science and tech. This year’s edition has a UK exclusive from Björk, who’ll perform with Manchester’s Halle Orchestra while projections illuminate the vast Lovell Telescope. Groove Armada and Metronomy also headline.
Line-up includes Björk, Groove Armada, Metronomy, Róisín Murphy, Spiritualized, Pussy Riot, Tangerine Dream, Ride, Tourist.
Jodrell Bank, Cheshire. Jul 23-26. £169 (weekend).
A vibrant and varied Oxfordshire weekender
Wilderness is consistently one of the UK’s best festivals, and the Oxfordshire weekender has announced a tasty line-up for its tenth anniversary year. Loyle Carner, Foals and Supergrass will be headlining at Cornbury Park this summer, joined by genre-hopping ‘Milkshake’ purveyor Kelis, neo-soul queen Joy Crookes, mesmerising electro trio Elder Island and fast-rising Irish pop-rock band Picture This.
But as ever, Wilderness isn’t just about spot-on sounds. Letters Live, the cult performance strand where unanounced actors like Olivia Colman and Benedict Cumberbatch read out epistles by distinguished cultural and political figures, will be returning to Wilderness, as will the festival’s famous long-table banquets. Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver of St John, Richard Corrigan and Skye Gyngell will be hosting those this year, so you won’t leave the three-dayer hungry.
Line-up includes Loyle Carner, Foals, Supergrass, Kelis, Picture This, Joy Crookes, Elder Island, Bicep, David Rodigan & The Outlook Orchestra, Gayzpacho featuring Jonny Woo
Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire. Jul 30-Aug 2. £185 (weekend).
The temporary town pops back up for another carnival weekend
Now in its 12th year, 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 largely 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, drum 'n' bass, ska and reggae to see them through until daybreak.
Line-up includes Kano, Flogging Molly, Caravan Palace, Tank & the Bangas, Noisia, Psychedelic Parties
Matterley Estate, Hampshire. Aug 12-16. Four-day tickets from £239.
Electronic essential curated by Fabric's Craig Richards
The Norfolk estate of Houghton Hall might not seem the obvious place to host an electronic music festival, but the spot offers up an amazing setting for four days of house and techno appreciation. Bouncing back after last year’s last minute cancellation due to extreme weather warnings, the 2020 line-up is absolutely stacked with world-class DJ talent.
Line-up includes Ricardo Villalobos, Helena Hauff, Ben UFO, Hunee, Jane Fitz, Powder, Midland, Four Tet, Bruce, DJ Stingray, Lena Wilikens, Josh Cheon, D. Tiffany, Craig Richards.
Houghton Hall, Norfolk. Aug 6-9. £187.
Fairport Convention’s folky bash takes over the village
The 41st annual Cropredy is headlined – as ever – by folk veterans Fairport Convention, who will play two sets this year and also curate the line-up. Keeping things cosy, there’s just one stage, although there’s also the usual ‘fringe’ taking place at pubs in the Oxfordshire village.
Line-up includes Fairport Convention, Richard Thompson, Thumping Tommys, Clannad, Trevor Horn Band, Maddie Morris, Emily Barker, Turin Brakes, Rosalie Cunningham.
Cropredy, Oxfordshire. Aug 13-15. £155 (weekend).
Tasteful alternative music 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 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 Michael Kiwanuka, Caribou, Little Dragon, Mac DeMarco, Goldfrapp, Thundercat, Agnes Obel, Black Midi, Lucinda Williams, Nadine Shah, Kokoroko.
Brecon Beacons, Wales. Aug 20-23. £195.
Rave and stay in an actual mansion at this cute boutique fest
This cute boutique festival doesn’t go in for booking the absolute hugest names, which means it’s surprisingly decent value to stay in an actual mansion (with cooked breakfast) for the whole weekend. That brekkie should keep you sustained as you take part in yoga classes and other outdoor activities before you get your rave on come nightfall.
Line-up includes tbc
Baskerville Hall, Hay on Wye. Aug 21-24. From £75 for full weekend pass with camping.
Former rock mainstay continues its genre-diverse turn
Though synonymous with rock, metal, punk and all manner of black-clad guitar antics, Reading and its sister festival Leeds have branched out in recent years with megawatt US rap headliners like Kendrick Lamar, Eminem and Post Malone. This year sees Stormzy share top billing with Liam Gallagher and Rage Against The Machine, leading a line-up that includes lashings of UK rap, dance, soul and even a sprinkling of pop. Viva la difference!
Line-up includes Stormzy, Liam Gallagher, Rage Against The Machine, Migos, Idles, Mabel, AJ Tracey, M Huncho, Slowthai, Aitch, D-Block Europe, Mahalia.
Richfield Avenue, Reading. Aug 28-30. Prices tbc.
The northern leg of the legendary weekender
While the booking policy continues to evolve from rock-all-the-way to a more modern, multi-genre approach, 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 Stormzy, Liam Gallagher, Rage Against The Machine, Migos, Idles, Mabel, AJ Tracey, M Huncho, Slowthai, Aitch, D-Block Europe, Mahalia.
Bramham Park, Leeds. Aug 28-30 tbc.
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 for 15 years now. From high-shine leftfield pop to grizzled post-punk, they’ve got all the bases covered: this year’s fest features a headline set from Pixies, the first UK show in nine years from Bright Eyes, and performances from rising stars Arlo Parks and Girl Ray. 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-, 30- and 40-something.
Line-up includes Pixies, King Krule, Angel Olsen, Bright Eyes, Big Thief, Richard Hawley, Little Simz, Aldous Harling, Whitney, Girl Band, Arlo Parks, Girl Ray.
Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset. Sep 3-6. £199.