The UK’s best festivals in 2019
Beats aplenty in a picturesque Somerset setting
This increasingly popular gathering set deep in Somerset’s rolling hills offers the perfect start to festival season. With an assortment of stages dotted about the beautiful site, the bass and break-heavy soundtrack is sure to sound pretty blissful. Add a super-friendly crowd and you have all you need for a weekend of wholesome misadventure.
Line-up includes Estelle, Kenny Dope, Huey Morgan’s NYC Block Party, Benjamin Zephaniah, Don Letts, Audio Bullys.
Gilcombe Park, Somerset. May 23-27.
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 Lily Allen, Chase & Status, IAMDBB, Maribou State, Jimothy Lacoste, Little Simz, Bonobo (DJ set), Slowthai, Sub Focus (DJ set), DJ Hype.
Eastville Park, Bristol. May 25-26. £85 weekend, £49.50 (Sat), £45 (Sun).
The pop-punk and hardcore festival that travels the country
Taking place at two different venues over two days, Slam Dunk lets you mosh in Leeds 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 both of them.
Line-up includes All Time Low, Bullet For My Valentine, NOFX, New Found Glory, Neck Deep, Bad Religion, glassjaw, Less Than Jake, Simple Plan.
Various venues, Leeds, May 25. Hatfield Park, May 26. From £59.
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. Last year’s warehouse spot is on the agenda again, and it attracts international names – although it’s local acts that really whip up the crowd.
Line-up includes Ben UFO, The Black Madonna, Daniel Avery, Horse Meat Disco, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Mall Grab.
S13 Warehouse, Belfast. May 31-Jun 1. £75.
Mad fer it, inner-city Manc party: no tents required
This weekender may sound like a Britpop nostalgia fest, but it actually has a super-contemporary, genre-blending bill to rival the best of them. (Plus a bit of a coup in the form of The Streets’ first UK festival appearance in six years.) And, 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.
Line-up includes Solange, Cardi B, Migos, The Streets, Khalid, Disclosure, Mark Ronson, George Ezra, Nas, Christine and the Queens
Heaton Park, Manchester. Jun 8-9. £69.50 (Sunday), £95 (Saturday), £125 (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.
Line-up includes Def Leppard, Slipknot, Tool, Slash, The Smashing Pumpkins, Trivium, Slayer, Rob Zombie, Halestorm.
Donington Park, Donington. June 14-16. £210 (camping), £185 (ticket only).
Welsh woodland dance fest goes from strength to strength
Now in its tenth 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 Andrew Weatherall b2b Manfredas, Craig Richards, Hunee, dBridge, Kink (live), Palms Trax.
Carreglwyd Estate, Wales. Jun 6-9. £180.
Huge headliners at one of the UK’s biggest rock festivals
Now in its fifty-first 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 Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Fatboy Slim, Biffy Clyro, George Ezra, Anne-Marie, Madness, James, Lily Allen, Bastille.
Newport, Isle of Wight. Jun 13-16. £175 (weekend), £60 (Fri), £70 (Sat/Sun).
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 second 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 Band of Horses, John Butler Trio, The Staves, Kris Kristofferson & The Strangers, The Mavericks, Neko Case, The Dead South.
Eridge Park, Kent. Jun 21-23. From £125 (weekend), from £105 (excludes camping).
An intimate, indie-leaning July weekender
Since launching in 1998, this Oxfordshire weekender has established itself as one of the UK’s best-loved small festivals. The picturesque location near Chipping Norton is a winner, and the line-up delivers ace after an ace if you’re an indie fan.
Line-up includes Wolf Alice, Slaves, Foals, Two Door Cinema Club, Kate Nash, The Futureheads, Sea Girls, Slaves, Idles, You Me At Six.
Hill Farm, Oxfordshire. Jul 26-28. £120.
A very civilised weekend of jazz and more
This fest specialises in jazz, funk, blues and soul, with a bit of extra pop power when it comes to the headliners. The lush and laidback 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 Ms Lauryn Hill, Gladys Knight, Chick Corea, Snarky Puppy, Jamie Cullum, Madeleine Peyroux, Kamaal Williams.
Glynde Place, East Sussex. Jul 5-7. £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 marking its fourth year in style. The intimate event is bringing together all strands of dance music – from disco to DnB – for a proper weekend-long knees-up in a beautiful country park. Expect UK exclusives and three solid days of dancing.
Line-up includes Kool & The Gang, Andy C, Todd Terje (DJ set), Romare (live), Mall Grab, Artwork, Detroit Swindle, Shy FX, DJ Zinc, Joey Negro, Mr Scruff.
Eastnor Castle Deer Park, Herefordshire. Jul 5-7. £146.25.
Family-friendly weekender with a focus on food and foot-stomping tunes
Now in its sixteenth year, this Oxfordshire weekender is aimed at those looking for a festival they can take the kids along to. The music looks pretty serious – The Specials and the Beach Boys are the stand-out names – while food comes courtesy of The Hairy Bikers.
Line-up includes The Specials, Echo & The Bunnymen, Keane, KT Tunstall, The Beach Boys, Beverley Knight.
The Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire. Jul 5-7. £191, 13-16 £105, three-12 £30 (weekend); £84, 13-16 £45, three-12 £15 (Fri), £94, 13-16 £50, three-12 £20 (Sat/Sun).
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 George Ezra, Lana Del Rey and Snow Patrol headlining, and Loyle Carner, Neneh Cherry and Sigrid on the bill too, Latitude has pulled off another cool, crowd-pleasing mix.
Line-up includes Lana Del Rey, George Ezra, Snow Patrol, Loyle Carner, Neneh Cherry, Sigrid, Primal Scream, Slaves, Tom Grennan
Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk. Jul 18-21. £202.50 (weekend) £77.50 (day).
Head up to Cheshire for a spacey weekend under the stars with Kraftwerk and New Order
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 Kraftwerk 3D, New Order, Hot Chip, Anna Calvi, Kate Tempest, The Go! Team.
Jodrell Bank, Cheshire. Jul 18-21. £169 (weekend).
A music-focused festival nestled in the Lake District
Kendal Calling has quickly grown from humble beginnings into a destination fest for big-name acts, and this year’s bill peppers the usual pop and rock acts with a sprinkling of disco, dance and soul artists. 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 Courteeners, Doves, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Manic Street Preachers, Orbital, Years & Years, Mahalia, Tom Jones, Miles Kane, Slowthai, The Fratellis.
Lowther Deer Park, Lake District. Jul 25-28. £139 (with £30 add-on for Thursday access too).
The sole Bestival left on the festival calendar
Sure, there are plenty of festivals these days that provide designated kid-friendly areas. But there are few that actively encourage you to bring the young ’uns. Praise be, then, to Camp Bestival: Rob da Bank’s only summer event of 2019 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 Nile Rodgers & Chic, Jess Glynne, Annie Mac, The Human League, Grandmaster Flash, DJ Yoda, Mr Tumble.
Lulworth Cove, Dorset. Jul 25-28. £180 (weekend), £11-£114 child.
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 fourteenth 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 Rag'N'Bone Man, Wolf Alice, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Echo & The Bunnymen, Idles, Kate Nash, The Go! Team.
Standon Lordship, Hertfordshire. Jul 25-28. £169.
Peak indie in the, well, Peaks
What started out as a house party in 2005 has snowballed into one of the best fests in the UK. The line-up has a focus on live music, with guitar-based bands at the forefront. What’s more, in 2019 it’s doing its bit for the environment, and will be banning traders from bringing single-use plastic on site. Nice.
Line-up includes Elbow, Two Door Cinema Club, Foals, Franz Ferdinand, You Me At Six, Wolf Alice, Happy Mondays, Echo &
Pikehall, Derbyshire. Jul 25-28. £129.50.
A vibrant and varied Oxfordshire weekender
The ever-magical August getaway returns for its ninth year in Oxfordshire. Wilderness’s music bills have got better and better over the years, and its 2019 line-up is led by headliners Robyn, Groove Armada and Bombay Bicycle Club. But as ever, Wilderness isn't just about great sounds: from outdoor theatre to talks and debates, horse riding to yurt-building, a lakeside spa and even long table banquets with leading chefs, this is much more than a music festival.
Line-up includes Robyn, Bombay Bicycle Club, Groove Armada, Tom Odell, George FitzGerald, Eats Everything, Erol Alkan, Ata Kak.
Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire. Aug 1-4. £179.50 (weekend).
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 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, ska and reggae to see them through until daybreak. And this year's event is especially intriguing because it includes the launch of Area 404, ‘an industrial post-apocalyptic themed district’ whose main stage is headlined by Carl Cox, Four Tet and Amelie Lens.
Line-up includes Lauryn Hill, Prophets of Rage, The Streets, Groove Armada, Slaves, Salt-N-Pepa, Asian Dub Foundation, Kate Tempest, Carl Cox, Four Tet, Amelie Lens
Matterley Estate, Hampshire. Aug 7-11. Four-day tickets from £236.50
Enjoy the surf and the sounds at this Newquay stalwart
Boardmasters has grown from its humble surfing beginnings to a true behemoth of the UK festival scene. This year, the arena will house 12 stages, and features a seriously impressive line-up. Hip hop legends Wu-Tang Clan, indie queen Florence + The Machine, and stadium fillers Foals headline the 2019 edition, but it hasn't forgotten its roots either, with world surf league competitions also taking place.
Line-up includes Wu-Tang Clan, Florence + The Machine, Foals, DJ EZ, Dizzee Rascal, Mabel, Jorja Smith, Plan B
Trebelsue Farm, Watergate Bay, Cornwall. Aug 7-11. £174 (weekend), £69 (day).
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. Now in its third year, Craig Richards and Gottwood Festival's baby is set to be better than ever, although the line-up is still yet to be announced.
Houghton Hall, Norfolk. Aug 8-11. £187.
Gilles Peterson brings his worldwide vibes to a UK location
Liked the idea of Worldwide Festival in the south of France never quite got round to going? You’re in luck. DJ and all-round great guy Gilles Peterson is bringing his blend of electronica, jazz, dance and world music to the old Secret Garden Party site in Cambridgeshire. This year is the first edition, but it’s bound to be a good’un.
Line-up includes Gary Bartz, Matthew Herbert, Tirzah, The Comet is Coming, Sons of Kemet, Nubya Garcia, Theo Parrish, Joe Armon-Jones, Gilles Peterson.
Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire. Aug 15-18. £167.
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 Four Tet, Father John Misty, Idles, Sharon Van Etten, Amadou & Mariam, Broken Social Scene, Whitney
Brecon Beacons, Wales. Aug 15-18. £189.
The beats don’t stop at the UK’s most iconic dance festival
Definitely the most prolific and voluminous dance music festival in the UK, this three-day event sees stadium DJs mix it up with cooler underground spin-masters. Expect a relentless mix of radio-friendly house anthems, fist-pumping trance, stadium techno and a hint of gut-wrenching drum ’n’ bass. With so much to bop to, making it through till last thing on Sunday will give you ‘hardcore caner’ status for eternity – a badge of honour which many of the loyal Creamfields crowd already carry.
Line-up includes Swedish House Mafia, Deadmau5, Chemical Brothers, Martin Garrix, Faithless, Annie Mac, Helena Hauff, Pete Tong, Hannah Wants, The Black Madonna, Gorgon City
Daresbury, Cheshire. Aug 22-25. £175 (weekend), £85 (Sat), £90 (Sun).
Get back to nature with this fest in the woods
Imagine the Wilderness of the Midlands, and you’re along the right lines at a festival that puts music, food, theatre and wellness on an even billing. Electronic artists dominate – mop-headed Jaymo and Andy George are the festival’s founders – and you can get lost to their beats in an abandoned chapel or on one of several stages hidden in the Lincolnshire woodlands. Immersive performances litter the festival site with a narrative building to a Sunday finale, but you can just as easily avoid all that nonsense at a boozy banquet or an orgasm workshop.
Line-up includes Maribou State, Bicep, Little Dragon, Norman Jay, Hunee, Jayda G, Richie Hawtin, Modeselektor
Norton Disney, Lincolnshire. Aug 22-25. £182.50.
Former rock mainstay continues last year’s genre-diverse 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 Post Malone, Dave and Juice WRLD, Reading’s had a thoroughly modern makeover.
Line-up includes The 1975, Royal Blood, Post Malone, Twenty One Pilots, Blossoms, Foo Fighters, A Day To Remember, Dave, Mura Masa, Bastille.
Richfield Avenue, Reading. Aug 23-25. £205 (weekend) £69.50 (Fri/Sat). Sun tickets sold out.
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 The 1975, Royal Blood, Post Malone, Twenty One Pilots, Blossoms, Food Fighters, A Day To Remember, Dave, Mura Masa, Bastille.
Bramham Park, Leeds. Aug 23-25. £205 (weekend), £74.50 (Fri), £69.50 (Sat/Sun).
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-, 30- and 40-something.
Line-up includes Metronomy, Beirut, Michael Kiwanuka, Spiritualized, Courtney Barnett, Mitski, Sleaford Mods, Jarvis Cocker, Low, Deerhunter, Wire
Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset. Aug 29-Sep 1. £192.
Tiny dance music festival keeps it underground at a secret location
With only 800 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 The Black Madonna, Ben UFO, Luke Slater, DJ Stingray, Avalon Emerson, Ben Sims, Ryan Elliot, Nick Höppner (UKG set), Shanti Celeste, Auntie Flo.
Location on booking. Aug 30-Sep 1. £139.
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