Summer's finally here, and it's the perfect time to immerse yourself in the world of arts, music and culture at some of the most exciting festivals across the UK. Yes, it's too late to get Glastonbury tickets, and other popular festivals are already sold out too. But fear not: many festivals still have tickets available, and we share the best ones here, along with some events you should book early for 2024.
Whether you're a music lover, an art enthusiast, or simply seeking a unique and immersive experience, there's something for everyone on our list of festivals, which take place in locations across the UK. We've also listed some 2024 festivals you should consider booking sooner rather than later.
Looking for a last-minute adventure this weekend? Nestled in the Welsh woodlands, Gottwood Festival is an intimate, boutique festival showcasing electronic music and contemporary art in an intimate and picturesque setting. This year's lineup includes Sherelle, DJ Tennis, salute, Laidlaw, Move D, Margaret Dygas and Sonja Moonear.
Held in Kirklington Park, Oxfordshire, this isn't actually a kite-flying event but a new festival of ideas and music. Along with well-known musicians such as Suede, Pretenders, Hot Chip, Candi Statton and Alison Goldfrapp, there'll also be live podcasts from the likes of Simon Sinek, Marina Hyde and Gaia Vince, along with comedy from Talk Art, The Breakup Monologues, Hoaked and more.
Celebrating the best of Americana and country music, Black Deer takes place in the picturesque surroundings of Eridge Park, Kent. With an impressive lineup featuring big names like Bonnie Raitt, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, The Teskey Brothers, Lucinda Williams, Calexico and Allison Russell, alongside emerging talent, this festival is a must-see for country fans.
The Secret Garden Party describes itself as "a four-day hedonistic happening; a garden party unhinged, with no clear line between on and off stage." Taking place in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, its 2023 lineup is bursting with iconic acts, including Underworld, The Libertines, Fat Freddy's Drop, Róisín Murphy, Leftfield, Fabio, Grooverider, De La Soul and Grandmaster Flash.
Nestled in the enchanting grounds of Kelburn Castle, this festival blends music, art installations, workshops, and performances for a truly magical experience. You'll find interactive art installations, living theatre, pop-up parties, glen walks, waterfall plunge pools, poetry, workshops, cabaret, and downright surreal happenings. Headline live music acts include Dr Meaker, K.O.G and MyBaby.
Located in Moseley Park in the heart of Birmingham, this self-explanatory festival offers a vibrant mix of jazz, funk, soul, and blues in a family-friendly environment. Immerse yourself in eclectic sounds and good vibes from Fat Freddy's Drop, Ezra Collective, Goldie and KC & the Sunshine Band, and sets from well-known DJs, including Craig Charles and Norman Jay MBE.
If you're not a fan of endless bands and like to feed your mind, here's one for you. Set in the stunning Warwickshire countryside, Also Festival is a haven for creative minds that combines music, comedy, art, speakers, food, and wellness activities. Unique, diverse and enriching, this isn't your average festival, with talks ranging from 'How Religion Evolved and Why it Endures' to 'Virtual You: How Building Your Digital Twin Will Revolutionize Medicine and Change Your Life'.
Big Love is a small, three-day music and arts festival with a DIY attitude. It's fully independent with no sponsorship, but is homemade by the best crews, creatives, bands and DJs from across Cardiff, Bristol and the south west. It's been going since 2016 and always promises great live music, DJs, woodland raves, yummy street food and lazy downtime, "with a thousand like-minded souls". Located in Usk, Wales – just 20 mins off the M4 – the theme this year is Carnival of Colour and it's set to be a corker. 2023 sees The Orb, The Skints, Nubiyan Twist, DJ Marky, DJ Yoda, A.Skillz, Gene on Earth. Full line-up here.
Tucked away on a working farm in Herefordshire, Nozstock is a hidden gem for music lovers, showcasing a diverse range of genres, including indie, reggae, hip-hop and electronica. In its 25th anniversary year, Nozstock welcomes headliners Fat Freddy's Drop, Shy FX and The Wailers to the farm, along with over 350 acts across ten stages.
A firm favourite among festival-goers, Kendal Calling, combines music, art, comedy, and immersive experiences in the picturesque Lake District. The main stage is packed with well-known names, including Kasabian, Royal Blood, Blossoms, Nile Rodgers and Chic, Kaiser Chiefs, Rick Astley, Example, Happy Mondays, Melanie C and Frank Turner – and all at an exceedingly affordable price.
Wilderness is one of the most civilised festivals around – a haven for music, food, arts, learning, literature and rejuvenation set amongst the lakes, forests and parkland of Oxfordshire's exquisite Cornbury Estate. There are loads of stellar music acts this year, including The Chemical Brothers, Christine And The Queens, Fatboy Slim, Sugababes and Arlo Parks. And we're particularly intrigued by the prospect of Paul Simon's Graceland Re-imagined By The London African Gospel Choir.
Located on a farm in Somerset's Chew Valley, ValleyFest is an intimate festival offering a blend of live music, delicious food, talks and workshops, and family-friendly activities. This year's headliners include Soul II Soul, The Kooks and Bananarama. This family-friendly event is also known for luring Bristol's best-known culinary talent to cook delicious meals made from local produce.
With a unique combination of music, surf, and beachside activities, Boardmasters in Newquay, Cornwall, is a festival not to be missed. This year's musical acts include Lorde, Liam Gallagher, Florence & The Machine, Cypress Hill, Rudimental, Dermot Kennedy, Little Simz and Raye, to name but a few.
Set in the atmospheric Lincolnshire woods, LostVillage transports attendees into a mystical world of music, performance, and interactive experiences. From the Abandoned Chapel to the Lost Theatre, you'll discover the most incredible music, food, comedy, talks, creative workshops and relaxation. This year's lineup includes such diverse names as Ben UFO, Nightmares on Wax and Horse Meat Disco.
Set in a secret location in Northamptonshire, Shambala is a festival institution running since the year 2000. Known for its vibrant, inclusive and innovative community, this small-but-perfectly-formed festival features over 200 musical acts, a cabaret, 12 stages, workshops and inspirational talks. This year's lineup includes CongoNatty, L'Entourloop, Grove, Chali 2na, Fabio, Grooverider and Dutty Moonshine Big Band.
Known for its diverse lineup spanning various genres, Connect Festival in Scotland is a must for serious music fans. This year, headliners Primal Scream, Franz Ferdinand and Young Fathers will be joined by Boygenius, Fred Again, Public Service Broadcasting, Lightning Seeds, Beth Orton and many more.
While plenty of 2023 festivals with tickets remain, who knows whether that'll be the case this time next year? So if you want your pick of the best shows, it's wise to plan ahead.
It's never too early to plan for next year's escapades. Don't miss out on the magic, and start planning your summer adventures today! Here are our personal recommendations for festivals you should consider booking early for 2024.
Set in the epic surroundings of the Black Mountains, Green Man was the first UK festival to sell out for 2023. This doesn't surprise us because, in our experience Wales' largest music, science and arts festival really hits that perfect balance between world-class bands and the visual arts (see our selection of amazing Green Man art for more on that). If you haven't managed to score a ticket for this year, you're missing out on a huge variety of acts, including Self Esteem, Devo, First Aid Kit, Spiritualized, Amyl & The Sniffers, Young Fathers and Slowdive. So don't make the same mistake: keep an eye on Green Man's socials and ensure you get a ticket in time for 2024!
The bands on Glastonbury's big stages might be televised these days, but that's just a tiny fraction of what happens at this mother of all UK festivals. Overnight, Michael Eavis's farm becomes the biggest town in Somerset, filled with theatre, circus, poetry, talks, drum circles and all manner of craziness. Year after year, this festival sells out before a single band is announced, so if you want to be part of it, you need to get on the ball immediately. Because before you even buy a ticket, you need to register, which can be quite a complicated business.
If you like your music loud and heavy, there's nowhere better than Download, held annually at Donington Park in Leicestershire. This year's event was the first in its history to sell out and was also officially the fastest-selling Download Festival of all time. This means it's too late to enjoy bands such as Evanescence, Metallica, Slipknot and Bring Me The Horizon, all on the same bill. Next year will doubtless be the same, so do be quick!
Described as Scotland's best small art and music festival, Jupiter Rising offers "truly memorable nights spent revelling in art, music and nature". And its setting is rather splendid, too, as it takes place within an iconic landscape of Jupiter Artland, the home of world-class sculpture just outside Edinburgh.
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