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
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.
Love Saves The Day
Back for a sixth year, 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 is second to none. 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 well taken care of.
Line-up includes: Little Dragon, Mura Masa, Nao, Kate Tempest, Kano, Bicep, Shy FX, Richard Villalobos, Andrew Weatherall, Novelist.
Eastville Park, Bristol BS5 6QL. May 27-28. £39-£75.
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).
The Great Escape
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: Rag 'n' Bone Man, Ray BLK, LA Salami, Cabbage, The Japanese House, Dream Wife, Stefflon Don, Avelino, Cosima.
Various venues, Brighton. May 18-20. £60 (3-day ticket).
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).
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.
A very civilised weekend of jazz and more
Love Supreme specialises in jazz, funk, blues and soul, with a bit of extra pop power when it comes to the headliners. The lush and laid-back 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: The Jacksons – A Celebration of 50 Years, Herbie Hancock, George Benson, Gregory Porter, Laura Mvula, Badbadnotgood, Nao, Robert Glasper Experiment, Yussef Kamaal.
Glynde Place, East Sussex. June 30-July 2. £145.
Consistently one of the finest festivals in London, catering for cool kids and party monsters, Lovebox packs as much fun into two days as many festivals manage in three. The sublime, but elusive, Frank Ocean is the first headliner to be announced and his only London date on a European tour. It’s one of the highlights of the London summer thanks to a storming, genre-blurring line-up of DJs electronic acts and live bands, plus all sorts of weird fun on the side (performance, art, dance, and mysterious mischief) and a full range of banging afterparties.
Line-up includes: Frank Ocean, Chase & Status, Jamie xx, Solange, Sampha, Kaytranada. Rag ’n’ Bone Man, Mac Miller.