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People sitting down at a festival
Photograph: Rob Jones

The best UK festivals of 2023

Here are the UK music festivals to get excited about in 2023

Chiara Wilkinson
Written by
Chiara Wilkinson
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Nothing beats festival season. In our opinion, the UK does it better than anywhere else – because come rain or come sun, you just know you’ll end up in the middle of a field, belting your lungs out to some banging tunes with a luke-warm can of lager in hand. And after such a gleeful return to the full festival calendar in 2022, you can bet that we’re already planning our hit-list for 2023. 

One of the best things about the UK festival season is just how much variety is on offer. You can glamp to your heart’s content at a boutique indie festival, get some guaranteed moshpit action at rock-fest Download, or rave until the early hours at a 24/7 dance marathon. Keen to join in the fun? Check out Time Out’s guide to the best UK music festivals of 2023. 

We’ll be updating this page with more events as they are announced. 

The best UK festivals in 2023

We Out Here
Photograph: Rob Jones

1. We Out Here

Curated by Gilles Peterson in collaboration with Brownswood Recordings, this 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. The line-up is traditionally 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 cute wooded bits and a dedicated kids’ area and wellness zone. Plus, its August dates mean that the British weather stands a reasonable chance of being okay for once.

Big names: Black Midi, Nubya Garcia, Cymande, Goldie. 

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

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

Wimborne St Giles, Dorset. Aug 10-14. 

  • Music
  • Music

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. 2023’s event is no exception, with everyone from George Ezra to Pulp 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: Pulp, The Chemical Brothers, Sugababes, Anne-Marie, Blondie, Robbie Williams. 

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 15-18. 

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Houghton Festival
Photograph: Jake Davis

3. 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: TBC.

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 10-13.

Wireless Festival
Photograph: Wireless

4. Wireless Festival

This destination fest gets more epic by the year. As ever, the line-up leans heavily into hip hop, grime and R&B, and boasts more A-list talent than the Met Gala: last year saw names like Cardi B, A$AP Rocky, Nicki Minaj, Dave, J Cole, and SZA take to the stage. 

Big names: TBC.

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).

 Finsbury Park, Jul 7-9. 

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5. 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. Last year’s event featured 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: TBC.

Required apparel: ‘I Heart MCR’ T-shirt.

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

Heaton Park, Manchester. Jun 10-11.

  • Music
  • Music festivals

When it comes to boutique festivals, Wilderness sets the bar high. Last year’s line-up was a 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, attend talks and debates, and take a dip in the famous lake. It’s a fest to nourish the soul.

Big names: TBC.

Required apparel: Your chic-est swimsuit.

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

Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire. Aug 3-6.

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7. 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: Bring Me The Horizon, Slipknot, and Metallica.

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

Don’t say: ‘Any female acts?’

Donington Park, Leicestershire. Jun 7-11. 

Bloodstock Open Air
Photograph: Jade G

8. 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: Megadeath, Anthrax, Devil Driver, Sepultura. 

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 10-13. 

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Vowed never to go to another camping festival again after witnessing the horrors of Woodstock ’99? This city festival up north could be for you. A load of great venues across Manchester – from Gorilla to the Albert Hall to YES – will be playing host to the best psych rock and pop acts from around the world. Pick up your ticket early, bag some street food for lunch (a selection of vans will be parked up outside venues) then plan a full day of live music in a city that does it like no other.

Big names: TBC.

Required apparel: Your tote bag of choice.

Don’t say: ‘Why is this song so... long?’

Various venues, Manchester. Sep 2.

Latitude is a weekender that’s blazed a well-heeled trail by blending a classy line-up of music with comedy, poetry, theatre, literature, podcasts, engaging family activities and wellness. Last summer, it even offered a kids’ model-making class from ‘Wallace & Gromit’ creators Aardman and a talk from Dame Sheila Hancock. 

Big names: Pulp, Paolo Nutini, George Ezra, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Black Midi. 

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 20-23. 

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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: TBC.

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 25-27. 

12. 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: TBC.

Required apparel: Hawaiian shirt and salt-tousled locks.

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

Newquay, Cornwall. Aug 9-13.

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13. 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: TBC. 

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

Don’t say: ‘Two hotdogs, mate.’

Scone Palace, Perth, Scotland. Aug 11-13. 

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