There are daffodils out there, it’s slightly less cold and you got through Mothers’ Day with aplomb. Naturally at this time of year, thoughts turn towards failing to sleep in a tent pitched far too close to some deafening dance music. The summer festivals have mostly announced their plans, and as ever there’s plenty to tempt you away from London for a dirty weekend. Men all over the country are already practising hoisting girls onto their shoulders while holding three paper cups of cider. Here’s a selection of this year’s finest weekenders.
THE BIG ONES
June 22-26, Worthy Farm, Somerset (glastonburyfestivals.co.uk)
The daddy. The boss. The Big Kahuna. Glastonbury can rely on its stellar reputation to sell out before it has even announced most of its attractions. Muse, Coldplay, PJ Harvey and ELO in the Sunday afternoon “legend slot” are the only confirmed acts so far. You can still register for a resale of any cancelled or returned tickets, and if you fail to get in, it’s all on telly anyway.
T in the Park
July 8-10, Strathallan Castle, Perthshire (tinthepark.com)
In its second year in a new location, Scotland’s biggest music festival will hopefully have solved the problems that led to huge delays leaving the site last year. The line-up is as big as ever, with The Stone Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers and local hero Calvin Harris headlining, and the reunited LCD Soundsystem and Last Shadow Puppets also high on the bill.
Isle of Wight
June 9-12, Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight (isleofwightfestival.com)
With its psychedelic imagery and impressive history, the Isle of Wight Festival likes its golden oldies, hence the presence of Status Quo, Adam Ant, The Damned and Iggy Pop in its line-up. Queen are headlining with their Freddie substitute Adam Lambert, alongside relative whippersnappers Stereophonics and Faithless.
Aug 20-21, Hylands Park, Chelmsford (vfestival.com)
Generally the best place to see whoever’s big in the top 40 this year, V has hardly bothered with rock bands this time and gone fully pop with its two headliners, Justin Bieber and Rihanna. Chart toppers such as Sia, David Guetta, Bastille and Years & Years will also be providing big tunes, while the dance tent features Annie Mac and Eric Prydz.
July 29-31, Standon House, Standon, Herts (standon-calling.com)
Not far north of the M25, this steadily growing independent festival now holds about 10,000 people who ought to join in with this year’s fancy dress theme: “legend of the lost seas”. There are plenty of hot newcomers on the bill, including Honne, Tiggs Da Author and Loyle Carner, while bigger names such as Suede, Kelis and Jess Glynne will come out after it gets dark.
Aug 26-28, Richfield Avenue, Reading (readingfestival.com)
The organisers of Reading (and its sibling in Leeds) have tried to combat the current dearth of viable major headliners by naming five over its three days this time. Foals, Disclosure, Biffy Clyro and Fall Out Boy are the slightly smaller bands who will share top billing, while the undeniably massive Red Hot Chili Peppers will headline alone on the Saturday.
Aug 18-21, Glanusk Park, Brecon Beacons (greenman.net)
While watching the main stage bands at Green Man, your eye can’t help but be drawn to the stunning hills beyond. A river runs through the site, and the music is suitably bucolic too. Belle and Sebastian, James Blake and Wild Beasts will bring dreamy sounds late at night, with Floating Points, Julia Holter and local hero Cate Le Bon providing more highlights.
July 28-31, Lowther Deer Park, near Penrith, Cumbria (kendalcalling.co.uk)
With the opportunity to see deer wandering about in the Lake District, you hardly need any bands. Disturbing the peace this year will be Rudimental, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Madness and The Charlatans, whose singer Tim Burgess will also bring his Tim Peaks diner area to life once again.
End of the Road
Sept 2-4, Larmer Tree Gardens, Salisbury (endoftheroadfestival.com)
There are peacocks, magical woodlands and a consistently great music line-up every year. This time Joanna Newsom, Animal Collective and Bat For Lashes lead the way but there are also endless new discoveries to make from an impressive daytime line-up.
MORE THAN MUSIC
July 14-17, Henham Park, Southwold (latitudefestival.com)
Like a broadsheet newspaper’s arts supplement come alive, Latitude can usually be relied upon to offer a range of theatre, poetry and even ballet alongside the bands. This year you can see Opera North as well as productions of both The Importance of Being Earnest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The National, New Order and Grimes are among those doing the music.
Aug 4-7, Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire (wildernessfestival.com)
Robert Plant and The Flaming Lips are on the music bill, but that seems less mouthwatering than what’s on offer from top chefs including Raymond Blanc, Mark Hix and Skye Gyngell. There’ll also be loads of theatre, talks from organisations including the V&A, a lakeside spa and a cricket match.
Aug 26-28, Alex James’s Farm, Kingham, Cotswolds (jamieoliver.com/thebigfeastival)
Jamie Oliver gets together with Blur bassist and cheese enthusiast Alex James (where else can you have the opportunity to see “Alex’s Cheese Hub”?) to give equal billing to gigs and grub. Oliver will be doing demos alongside the likes of Tom Kerridge and Gizzi Erskine, while music comes from Kaiser Chiefs, Foxes and the Proclaimers.
Aug 10-14, Watergate Bay, Newquay, Cornwall (boardmasters.co.uk)
Here’s the best place to combine surfing with suitably lively bands including Chase & Status, deadmau5 and Primal Scream. A surfing competition for professionals long before it incorporated a music festival, you can also book your own lessons if you get sick of the music.
Sept 8-11, Robin Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight (bestival.net)
DJ Rob Da Bank’s brainchild traditionaly closes festival season with as many wacky happenings as can be crammed into a weekend. This year that includes Mexican masked wrestling, a Bollywood tent and a drum and bass set from former choirboy Aled Jones. The music line-up looks great too, with The Cure, Major Lazer and Hot Chip all coming over on the ferry.
Secret Garden Party
July 21-24, Abbots Ripton, Huntingdon, Cambs (secretgardenparty.com)
Like all the weird peripheral bits of Glastonbury without the feeling that you’re stuck on Oxford Street on Christmas Eve, Secret Garden Party is the definitive boutique experience. Camp in safari tents, tipis or garden sheds, try out “the UK’s only hot tub bus” and drift away to the sounds of Caribou, Air and Shura.
Festival No. 6
Sept 1-4, Portmeirion, North Wales (festivalnumber6.com)
There should be less mud than most at this small weekender, which takes place around the Italianate village built by Sir Clough William Ellis, best known as the set of cult TV show The Prisoner. Attendees are free to see Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Super Furry Animals and Bastille, plus a David Bowie tribute show with surprise guest vocalists.
July 28-31, Lulworth Castle, Dorset (campbestival.net)
Bestival’s little sister is the best one for kids – in fact you’ll feel pretty left out if you’re not wheeling round a few four-year-olds in one of those trolleys used for transporting gravel at garden centres. This year there’s a space theme and music from Fatboy Slim, Jess Glynne and Tears for Fears, but everyone will really be there to see CBeebies superstar Mr Tumble.
July 28-31, Charlton Park, Malmesbury, Wiltshire (womad.co.uk)
The festival experience has come a long way when its offers include a “weekend spa ticket” that comes with complimentary Womad sarong and slippers. As ever the music here is more wide-ranging than anywhere else, stretching from English folk act This is the Kit to Senegalese legend Baaba Maal and US funk pioneer George Clinton, and everywhere in between.
July 28-31, Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge (cambridgefolkfestival.co.uk)
Now over 50 years old, this venerable festival continues to stretch the definition of what constitutes folk, with Irish rockabilly lady Imelda May, gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello and soul man Charles Bradley all on the bill. A more conventional folk hero, Christy Moore, is one of the headliners.
July 1-3, Glynde, East Sussex (lovesupremefestival.com)
Like Cambridge, this relative newcomer is proving successful by billing itself as a specialist festival, in this case jazz, while taking the broadest view of what that entails. Hence stars such as Grace Jones, Lianne La Havas and Kelis appearing on the bill, alongside more recognisable jazz acts including Melody Gardot and Kamasi Washington.
June 10-12, Donington Park, Derby (downloadfestival.co.uk)
The former home of the Monsters of Rock festivals continues to rock in a monstrous fashion, offering a blanced mix of ageing metal bands such as Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and Megadeth, plus the younger, poppier end of the spectrum including All Time Low, Billy Talent and Shinedown.
Ramblin’ Man Fair
July 23-24, Mote Park, Maidstone (ramblinmanfair.com)
A new one born last year, Ramblin’ Man caters to the large audience that exists for the old unfashionable stuff. Classic rock bands Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, Black Stone Cherry and Thunder are among the main attractions. There’s also a prog rock stage and, needless to say, a real ale festival.
Aug 25-28, Daresbury Estate, Halton, Cheshire (creamfields.com)
There are four days of dancing to be done at this successful spin-off from the superclub Cream. The line-up is a who’s who of the biggest DJs in the world right now, from homegrown talents Calvin Harris, Fatboy Slim and Above & Beyond to the super Swedes Avicii , Axwell & Ingrosso and Alesso. And of course Pete Tong has an “All Gone Pete Tong” tent.
June 11-12, Brighton City Airport (wildlifefestival.com)
This one must have done so well the first time around that the second one has the same headliners as last year: Disclosure and Rudimental. Dance music from the likes of Flume, Julio Bashmore and Tiga dominates the bill, but there’s also classic hip hop from Ice Cube, Busta Rhymes and De La Soul and incongruous singer-songwriter fare from James Bay.
Sept 2-4, Norfolk Showground, Norwich (sundownfestival.co.uk)
Sundown has a few proper pop stars in its mix, not least Jason Derulo, Jess Glynne and Years & Years, but the various dance stages will keep energy levels the highest. They’re run by organisations including UKF, Defected and Ministry of Sound.
Electric Daisy Carnival
July 9, Milton Keynes Bowl (uk.electricdaisycarnival.com)
This American import also operates in New York, Las Vegas and Japan. It only lasts a day and a night, but you can still camp nearby if you choose. They’re bringing their Crystal Village to Milton Keynes, an apocalyptic stage setup appropriate for the excess-loving EDM DJs on the bill. They include Avicii, Axwell & Ingrosso, Martin Garrix and Oliver Heldens.