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 2017. See you down the front!
The UK's best festivals
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, and the roster of activities (which has matured in recent years) includes banqueting, craft and healing areas as well as Boomtown’s traditional mutated ‘art vehicles’. By day it’s fairly family-friendly, but after dark the caners come out to soak up enough beats, dub, ska and reggae to see them through until daybreak.
Line-up includes: Cypress Hill, MIA, Sugar Hill Gang, Dawn Penn, The Specials, Loyle Carner, Soweto Kinch, Toddla T, Booka Shade, Amy Becker, AJ Tracey.
August 10-13. £202 (weekend), £177 (discounted for coach travellers).
A hedonistic wooded wonderland in the Cambridgeshire countryside Nestled in plush green surroundings, Secret Garden Party is the undisputed home of hippy hedonism on the UK festival scene. ‘Spectacular’ comes as standard: bands, DJs and artists are tucked into every playable space around the site including treehouses, floating islands and yurts. SGP is known for being a woodland fairytale, but this year’s theme – a tongue-in-cheek celebration of all things celebrity – should see SGP's always up-for-it dressers take things to new heights of tacky and LOL.
Line-up includes: Metronomy, Toots & The Maytals, Honne, Jagwar Ma, Akala, Rejjie Snow, Ray BLK, Let's Eat Grandma.
Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire. July 20-23. £102-£197.
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 mighty System of a Down, Biffy Clyro and Aerosmith.
Line-up includes: System of a Down, Biffy Clyro, Aerosmith, Slayer, Sum 41, Good Charlotte.
Donnington Park, Donnington. June 9-11. £75 (day), £205 (weekend).
Hidden away in the lush Welsh woodlands, this boutique dance effort continues to go from strength-to-strength. Now in year eight, it 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: Erol Alkan, Horse Meat Disco, Levon Vincent, The Black Madonna, Matthew Herbert, Helena Hauff.
Huge headliners at one of the UK’s biggest rock festivals
A distant descendant of the enormous festival which brought around 600,000 people (almost six times the island's population) to the Isle of Wight in 1970, nowadays the IOW Festival is a firm favourite in the UK calendar. It’s a four-day, family-friendly, music-focused affair with the booking muscle to attract big acts, meaning there really is something here for everyone.
Line-up includes: Arcade Fire, Rod Stewart, David Guetta, Run DMC, George Ezra, Bastille, Jack Savoretti. Newport, Isle of Wight.
Newport, Isle of Wight. June 8-11. £80 (day), £195 (weekend).
Big names make a habit of leading the charge of Rob da Bank’s band of misfits
The big news for this year is that the annual trips on the Isle of Wight ferry are no more – say goodbye to the island, say hello to Dorset! Bestival is moving to the mainland this year (to the very beautiful site of Camp Bestival, in fact). Tacked onto the tail end of the festival season, Bestival will still offer four days of live music and premier league DJs, plus lots of fancy dress thanks to their yearly changing theme. Punters can also enjoy some anarchic fun at the carnival of small stages, or visit the inflatable church for a quickie festival marriage (not legally binding, gladly).
Line-up includes: The xx, A Tribe Called Quest, Dizzee Rascal, Pet Shop Boys, Jamie T, DJ Shadow, Rag'n'Bone Man, Soul II Soul, Annie Mac, Ray BLK, Toddla T, Nadia Rose, Andy C.
Lulworth Cove, Dorset. September 7-10.
Big names are destined for Heaton Park in Manchester
No, it’s not a Blur fan festival: Parklife is Manchester’s flagship music event, presented by local dance music mega-promoters The Warehouse Project. In recent years Parklife has expanded its horizons from dance to incorporate indie rock, hip hop, and alternative acts, so if you’re looking to make your money go further, Parklife promises a diverse line-up for those on a budget. Finally: what better place is there to dance all day than the city that gave the world the Haçienda?
Line-up includes: Frank Ocean, 1975, Boy Better Know, A Tribe Called Quest, Sampha, Carl Cox.
Heaton Park, Manchester. June 10-11.
Disclosure and Rudimental curate a line-up of their famous friends
Brighton City Airport isn’t the lush green space the festival’s earthy name might suggest, but don’t let that stop you going wild. Disclosure and Rudimental headline alongside a host of chart-topping pop, hip hop, grime, and dance acts, with day and weekend ticket options available.
Line-up includes: Fatboy Slim, Jess Glynne, Eric Prydz, George Ezra, Rag'n'Bone Man, Elrow's Sombodromo de Brasil.
Brighton City Airport, Brighton. June 9-10.
Musical legends, mud, and more mud at the UK’s biggest music festival
For the final time before its fallow year, the big daddy of the UK festival scene is back. The legendary site at Worthy Farm will boast a population bigger than Reykjavik, with all eyes pointed at the Pyramid Stage. As ever Emily Eavis (head honcho and daughter of the festival’s founder Michael) remains tightlipped about who will be leading proceedings, but after Kanye’s ‘meh’ inducing performance, we’re hoping for better. But face it, if you haven’t already bagged yourself a ticket for this year (complete with mugshot) then it’s not likely you’re getting in this time around. Put your wellies down and get your game plan together for next time.
Worthy Farm, Somerset. June 21-25. Sold Out.
Blissfields started life as a oneoff party in 2001, and has snowballed into a pretty comprehensive three-day fest. Acts run from pop and rap to indie and D&B, and tickets hovver just under the very reasonable £100 mark: bonkers. FYI, this year's theme is 'the bizarre'. New for 2017 is the very real luxury of actual toilets across the entire site.
Line-up includes: Metronomy, Lady Leshurr, Sundara Karma, The Japanese House, S4U.
Vicarage Farm, Winchester. July 6-8.