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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, Lana Dey 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, Charli XCX, Joy Crookes, Girl Ray, Ibibio Sound Machine, Kawala, Marika Hackman.
Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk. Jul 16-19. £210 (weekend).
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 Robyn, Bombay Bicycle Club and Groove Armada headlining in 2019. 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 mount up.
Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire. Jul 30-Aug 2.
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.
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).