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Photograph: Wireless Festival

The best UK festivals of 2022

Here are the UK music festivals to get excited about in summer 2022

Written by
Nick Levine
&
Alice Saville
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After a muted return for the UK's festival scene in 2021, this is the summer where festivals are coming roaring back with a vengeance. And thank goodness for that: summer's not summer without the chance to go crazy in a field, accompanied by bands, pals, and plastic cups of your favourite bevvy. This year, all the usual big players are present and correct, from student bacchanal Reading and Leeds to rock-fest Download to glitter explosion Mighty Hoopla.

Whether you want to wallow in mud like a hippo or be safely tucked in bed by 10pm, there's a festival for you. Read on for your guide to summer festival fun, full of bands, culture, and all-round wild times. 

The UK’s best festivals in 2022

Download Festival

Take a walk on the dark side at this weekend of epic riffs and serious headbanging. The line-up is a living rock ’n’ roll hall of fame, with classic acts from the ’70s and ’80s rubbing shoulders with relative newcomers from the worlds of nu-metal, hardcore and emo. It’s hosted by Leicestershire motorsport circuit Donington Park, a venue whose biker heritage works perfectly. You won’t find fripperies like gourmet food options here: this fest is all about getting down and dirty.

Big names: Kiss, Iron Maiden, Biffy Clyro, Korn,
Electric Wizard.

Why we’re going: One word: Megadeth.

Required apparel: Vintage Slayer T-shirt, ideally sleeveless.

Don’t say: ‘Any female acts?’

Donington Park. Jun 10-12. 

Parklife

Since it launched in 2013, this Manchester festival has established itself as a major player by booking massive names from across the genre spectrum. This year’s event features a huge UK festival exclusive from 50 Cent, plus sets from artists as varied as Megan Thee Stallion, Lewis Capaldi and Eric Prydz. There’s no camping, so you’ll need to book accommodation nearby.

Big names: Tyler, The Creator, 50 Cent, Megan Thee Stallion, Chase & Status, PinkPantheress.

Why we’re going: Sets from Loyle Carner, Arlo Parks and Jessie Ware.

Required apparel: ‘IHeart MCR’ T-shirt.

Don’t say: ‘Why’s a Manchester fest named after a Blur song?’

Heaton Park, Manchester. Jun 11-12.

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It was revived back in 2002 and this legendary festival has since built itself a fresh reputation for properly crowd-pleasing line-ups packed with huge household names. This year’s event is no exception, with everyone from Madness to Nile Rodgers & Chic taking the ferry across the Solent. With tickets for kids aged five-to-12 priced at just £7.50, and under-fours going free, it’s easy to see why it’s become a truly multi-generational affair.

Big names: Muse, Lewis Capaldi, Kasabian, Rudimental, Craig David, Jessie Ware.

Why we’re going: To see Shaggy, The Proclaimers and Pete Tong all on the same day (Saturday, FYI). I mean, wow.

Required apparel: Hat. If it’s sunny on the Isle of Wight, it’s really sunny.

Don’t say: ‘When’s Jimi Hendrix coming on, anyway?’

Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight. Jun 16-19. 

Strawberries & Creem festival
Photograph: Garry Jones

Strawberries & Creem festival

This relative newcomer to the summer live-music season describes itself as ‘the UK’s tastiest festival for music and youth culture’, and it’s hard to disagree. Spread over three days in a pretty Cambridge park, its stacked line-up includes superstars from the worlds of hip hop, grime, R&B, soul, reggae, house, drum ’n’ bass and dancehall. At a time when many festivals are still struggling to improve the gender balance of their acts, Strawberries & Creem has succeeded in assembling a bill that’s 60 percent female. Respect.

Big names: Tems, Mabel, Ella Mai, Tion Wayne, Ms Banks, Katy B.

Why we’re going: Lil Wayne’s first UK performance in 14 years.

Required apparel: Dancing shoes.

Don’t say: ‘Is the tennis going to start soon?’

Childerley Orchard, Cambridge. Jun 17-19.

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Leisure Festival
Photograph: Dreamland

Leisure Festival

Held at Dreamland Margate, the UK’s oldest surviving amusement park, this cute festival newbie bills itself as ‘a day of music and rides by the British seaside’, which sounds pretty flipping dandy to us. It’s an intimate one-day affair, but the line-up, led by indie queens Mitski and Soccer Mommy, definitely packs a punch. You’ll also want to check out sets from Brooklyn experimentalist L’Rain, ace London indie duo Sorry and Melbourne goth-poppers HighSchool.

Big names: Mitski, Soccer Mommy, Nilüfer Yanya, Sorry.

Why we’re going: For an all-bangers-no-clangers day out with fish ’n’ chips for supper.

Required apparel: ‘Kiss Me Quick’ hat or knotted hankie.

Don’t say: ‘Anyone else fancy going house-hunting tomorrow?’

Dreamland Margate. Jun 24.

Kelburn Garden Party

Half an hour outside Glasgow is a Scottish castle that’s like something from a very twenty-first century fairytale: its twelfth-century exterior is covered with swirling murals by a legendary group of Brazilian graffiti artists. Kelburn Garden Party fills its grounds with a technicolour celebration of creativity. There’s music from genre-spanning artists from the techno, disco, funk and folk worlds. And there’s also tons of unexpected and lovely goings-on, including a comedy bus, shisha cave, steam room and a wild-swimming spot.

Big names: Max Cooper, Henge, Niteworks, Nova.

Why we’re going: To see art installations in the Neverending Glen.

Required apparel: Mirrored coat.

Don’t say: ‘I prefer my fortresses au naturel.’

Kelburn Castle, Fairlie, Scotland. Jul 1-4.

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Wireless Festival
Photograph: Wireless

Wireless Festival

In 2022, this destination fest is more epic than ever with seven huge headliners over three locations: two in London, one in Birmingham. As ever, the line-up leans heavily into hip hop, grime and R&B, and boasts more A-list talent than the Met Gala. Just double-check exactly which headliners you’re getting at each site before you book your tickets.

Big names: Cardi B, A$AP Rocky, Nicki Minaj, Dave, J Cole, SZA.

Why we’re going: For Doja Cat’s first London show in three years.

Required apparel: Anything that will help your mates find you in an absolutely massive crowd.

Don’t say: ‘Okurrr!’ (unless you really can roll your Rs like Cardi).

Crystal Palace Park, Jul 1-3. Finsbury Park, Jul 8-10. Outdoor at NEC, Birmingham, Jul 8-10.

Supersonic Festival

Birmingham’s small experimental festival has gained a cult following (and rave reviews from the indie press) for its leftfield programming and intimate atmosphere. This year’s line-up is an intriguing mix of alt-folk, DIY and metal, plus a workshops where you can make friends and weird art at the same time. This year sees Supersonic move to a new location in the industrial heartland of Digbeth.

Big names: June Of 44, Folkazoid, Richard Dawson & Circle, Jerusalem In My Heart, Divide And Dissolve, Bismuth, Big Brave.

Why we’re going: Apparently, the new venue boasts a rooftop terrace.

Required apparel: T-shirt with something disturbing on it.
Don’t say ‘Play a tune!’

The Mill, Birmingham. Jul 8-10.

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Last year, Latitude went ahead as part of the government’s live event pilot scheme, becoming the UK’s first full-capacity festival since 2019. It was a fitting comeback for a weekender that’s blazed a well-heeled a trail by blending a classy line-up of music with comedy (Russell Howard headlines this year), poetry, theatre, literature, podcasts, engaging family activities and wellness. This summer, it’s surely the only festival out there to offer a kids’ model-making class from ‘Wallace & Gromit’ creators Aardman and a talk from Dame Sheila Hancock.


Big names: Lewis Capaldi, Foals, Fontaines DC, Snow Patrol, Manic Street Preachers, Little Simz, Maggie Rogers, Groove Armada.

Why we’re going: To see former Time Out cover star Rina Sawayama in a forest glade.


Required apparel: Rains jacket and a  tote from your local independent bookshop.

Don’t say: ‘Um, what the hell is an Independent Publishers’ Symposium and why’s it on a festival line-up?’


Henham Park, Suffolk. Jul 21-24. 

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  • Music festivals

When it comes to boutique festivals, Wilderness sets the bar high. This year’s line-up is paradise for the discerning dance fan, with everyone from Peggy Gou to David Morales bringing the rave to a genteel Oxfordshire estate. But as ever, Wilderness isn’t just about great beats. You’ll also feast on delicious food from Skye Gyngell and Robin Gill, attend talks and debates, and take a dip in the famous lake. It’s a fest to nourish the soul.


Big names: Underworld, Jungle, Years & Years, Peggy Gou, Róisín Murphy, Jordan Rakei.


Why we’re going: So we can dance until the early hours, then recover at the Lakeside Spa.


Required apparel: Your chic-est swimsuit.

Don’t say: ‘I could murder a Big Mac.’

Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire. Aug 4-7.

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Boardmasters

Cornwall’s most suntanned and beach-honed denizens flock to Boardmasters every year: it’s a festival of surfing and music set against Newquay’s gorgeous coastline. Alongside a laidback line-up of indie you can catch surfing stars competing for titles down on Fistral Beach, while a beach bar hosts DJ sets and parties each day. Plus, there’s a strong focus on sustainability and wellbeing, with yoga classes, reiki and a pop-up ‘eco spa’ where you can chill out with sea views.

Big names: George Ezra, Disclosure, Bastille, Kings Of Leon.

Why we’re going: For bands underscored by crashing waves.

Required apparel: Hawaiian shirt and salt-tousled locks.

Don’t say: ‘“Gnarly” is a stupid word.’

Newquay, Cornwall. Aug 10-14.

Bloodstock Open Air
Photograph: Jade G

Bloodstock Open Air

After launching in 2001 as a one-day indoor event, this metal fest has grown into a mighty outdoor weekender. It retains the intimacy and character of an independent festival, though, and books bands from all metal sub-genres: death to drone, sludge to stoner. Basically, if you have a penchant for anything heavy, you’ll find plenty to rock out to at Bloodstock.

Big names: Behemoth, Mercyful Fate, Lamb Of God, Exodus, Dimmu Borgir, Killing Joke.

Why we’re going: GWAR are always good for a laugh.

Required apparel: Hopefully it will be too hot for a leather jacket, so dig out your best studded belt instead.

Don’t say: ‘I love Michael Bublé.’

Catton Park, Derbyshire. Aug 11-14. 

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Houghton Festival
Photograph: Jake Davis

Houghton Festival

Actually dance round the clock at this Norfolk weekender, which is unique among homegrown festivals for its 24-hour licence. It’s curated by Fabric leading light Craig Richards, who’s called on his enviable dance music connections to muster a top line-up of DJs from big names to more esoteric and emerging choices, who’ll play across a series of atmospheric stages set amongst ancient woodland or in a cavernous disused quarry. In a lot of ways, Houghton harks back to an older era of festivals, with its lack of mobile phone signal, light-touch security and absence of big-name corporate sponsorship. Turn up and get properly lost in music.

Big names: Calibre, Ben UFO, Hunee, Jane Fitz, Joy Orbison, Ricardo Villalobos, Powder, Object Blue.

Why we’re going: For Horse Meat Disco near some actual horses.

Required apparel: Craig Richards-style leaf-patterned shirt. Large bottle of water.

Don’t say: ‘Where can I get a signal? I need to update my Insta Stories.’

Houghton Hall, Norfolk. Aug 11-14.

Otherlands Festival

Held in the grounds of historic Scone Palace, this Scottish newcomer is a boutique affair. Organisers promise a wellness area, artworks by local creators and gourmet street food. There’s even something called an ‘amazing multi-sensory dining experience’. Still, with six stages of very well-curated electronic music, the tunes are no afterthought.

Big names: Bicep, Jamie xx, Honey Dijon, Maverick Sabre, Tom Misch, Folamour, Yung Singh.

Why we’re going: For a proper escape from London soundtracked by pristine beats.

Required apparel: Honey Dijon ‘Honey Says Relax’ tee.

Don’t say: ‘Two hotdogs, mate.’

Scone Palace, Perth, Scotland. Aug 19-21.

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We Out Here
Photograph: Rob Jones

We Out Here

Curated by Gilles Peterson in collaboration with Worldwide FM and Brownswood Recordings, this Cambridgeshire festival’s aim is to showcase ‘some of the world’s best record collections and celebrate club culture’s far-reaching influences’, which, we’re sure you will agree, is a very laudable one.  This year’s line-up is a mouthwatering blend of artists and selectors specialising in soul, hip hop, house, afrobeats, electronica, jazz and more – and there’s even an independent record fair on site. Of course there is. It’s not just some kind of giant vinyl-junkie support group, though. The site is blessed with beautiful lakes, cute wooded bits and a dedicated kids’ area and wellness zone. Plus, its late-August dates mean that the British weather stands a reasonable chance of being okay for once.

Big names: Pharoah Sanders, Kokoroko, Jamz Supernova, Sherelle, Fabio & Grooverider.

Why we’re going: To dance to absolute house legend Maurice Fulton in the open air.

Required apparel: Anything that has good sweat-wicking characteristics.

Don’t say: ‘I’ve got Spotify Premium. I consider it an investment.’

Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire. Aug 25-28. 

Because they always take place on the long weekend after GCSE results day, these sister fests have become a rite of passage for British teenagers looking to finally let off steam. But even if your schooldays were quite literally in another century, there’s always lots to enjoy here, not least a varied line-up of proper big-hitters. Reading and Leeds may have been synonymous with rawk and indie back in the day, but they’re now gloriously multi-genre affairs.


Big names: Arctic Monkeys, Dave, Run The Jewels, Rage Against  The Machine, Bring Me The Horizon, Halsey, Pa Salieu, Wolf Alice.

Why we’re going: For the sure-to-be ‘Savage’ set from Megan Thee Stallion.

Required apparel: Oh, you know, whatever. Jeans, probably. Maybe a hoodie or something. It’s about
the music, see?

Don’t say: ‘Yotam Ottolenghi is just
a genius, isn’t he?’ 

Richfield Avenue, Reading and Bramham Park, Leeds. Aug 26-28. 

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Fancy getting your tarot done while bopping along to the mesmerising croons of soul titans Gabriels, all while gorging on a platter of fine dining? Well, here’s the festival for you. Birch Arising is a brand new festival for 2022 and is designed to see wellness (like yoga, tarot reading etc) and cookery combine with live music and DJs. Safe to say, it’s a little more of a laid-back affair than most UK fests.

Big names: Gabriels, Sophie Lloyd, Steve Mason, Greg Wilson, Amateurism Collective.

Why we’re going: For the late-night DJ sessions from Nadia Ksaiba, Harrison Atlee, Sean Grannum and Chewy in Birch’s lido

Required apparel: Pref not a druid’s cloak… unless, y’know, you really want to. 

Don’t say: ‘All that mystical summery pagan stuff is just a load of bollocks really, isn’t it?’ 

Lietuenant Ellis Way, Cheshunt. Jun 17-19.

Find a music festival in London

The best music festivals in London
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  • Music festivals

You lucky Londoner: you don’t need a tent or even a pair of wellies to get the full festival experience this summer. You’ve got some of the world’s biggest acts and a whole world of fun a tube ride away, thanks to these incredible festivals in London.

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