Almost everybody loves a barbeque in their garden, but that doesn’t mean that by extension they’d also enjoy heading into the wilderness with Bear Grylls to eat spiders and drink their own wee. Same thing with festivals: live music outside is great, without necessarily having to sleep for three nights next to a man in a jester hat playing the bongos. London’s festival season is far more civilised, with the delicious promise of a tube ride home at the end of every night. Here’s what’s happening this summer.
THE BIG ONES
All Points East
Victoria Park, E3. May 24-Jun 2
Returning for a second year having sent Victoria Park stalwarts Lovebox and Field Day scurrying elsewhere, this two weekend monster again has a must-see line-up. Most people should find one or more of their firm favourites among the six headliners: The Chemical Brothers, The Strokes, Christine and the Queens, Bring Me the Horizon, Mumford & Sons and Bon Iver. Afternoon temptations are plentiful too, including the reformed Raconteurs, James Blake, Little Simz and Kamasi Washington.
Wembley Stadium, HA9. Jun 1-Jul 6
London Stadium, E20. Jun 1
Twickenham Stadium, TW2. Jun 20
The London Stadium hosted more gigs than Wembley last year, so this time the home of the England team has gone bananas, inviting eight different acts to invade the pitch. They include the latest Spice Girls reunion, Korean boy band phenomenon BTS and acrobatic superstar Pink. For fans of the classics, it’s Fleetwood Mac, The Who, The Eagles, Bon Jovi and Billy Joel. Only Muse and Metallica have gone elsewhere, to the London Stadium and Twickenham respectively.
Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park
Hyde Park, W1. Jul 5-14
You can’t move for divas round Hyde Park this summer, with both Barbra[CORRECT] Streisand and Celine Dion making rare trips to the UK to sing ballad after ballad, while Florence + the Machine and Robbie Williams ought to put on shows that are just as extravagant. Stevie Wonder and Lionel Richie will get together for a soul day on July 6. Look out too for big name support acts including Black Eyed Peas, The National and Josh Groban.
Finsbury Park, N4. Jul 5-7
Haringey Council is going to have its work cut out policing the new clause in the Wireless festival’s licence which requests that performers “not perform vulgar material”. There’ll be F-words aplenty
at what has increasingly become a dedicated rap festival. Homegrown acts are dotted around the bill including AJ Tracey, Not3s and Bugzy Malone, but really it’s all about the arrival of the big Americans. Cardi B, ASAP Rocky, Migos, Travis Scott and Future will all be there.
Bob Dylan and Neil Young
Hyde Park, W1. Jul 12
This double bill of legends is taking place in the middle of the British Summer Time series of Hyde Park shows, but has been promoted separately after Neil Young belatedly took issue with the sponsors, calling Barclays “a fossil fuel funding entity.” Look out for lots of branding hastily concealed with bedsheets.
Meridian Water, N18. Jun 7-8
The edgy music festival has sent its attendees round the houses lately, moving from Victoria Park to
Brockwell Park last year, and this time to four warehouses and an outdoor space in Enfield. Being all the way out there means they can put on what they’re calling “London’s loudest festival”. Those shaking the speakers include Skepta, Jorja Smith, Diplo, Pusha T and Octavian.
Brockwell Park, SW2. Jun 8
Having shared facilities with Field Day last year, this time this LGBT-geared one is on its own in a park which has struggled to win over both festival goers and local residents in the past. The line-up should raise a smile from one and all, with disco queen Chaka Khan lording it over retro pop stars Bananarama, All Saints and Liberty X. More current material comes from Tove Lo and Confidence Man.
Finsbury Park, N4. Jun 30
Finsbury Park is a little less busy this summer, but this indie-focused one-dayer remains. Top of the bill is the chirpy pop-rock of The Kooks, still hugely popular well over a decade since their biggest album. Then there are newer retro types Blossoms, one man Proclaimers Gerry Cinnamon and something louder from Bedford band Don Broco.
Gunnersbury Park, W3. Jul 12-13
In its second year out west, this colourful fixture on London’s festival calendar has another impressive, eclectic line-up. Rap, R&B and dance music all have big name representatives, with Chance the Rapper, Solange, Giggs and Four Tet booked. Watch out too for hip hop veterans Cypress Hill performing their triple platinum 1993 album Black Sunday in full, heavily populated rap band Brockhampton and body positive soul star Lizzo.
Blackheath, SE3. Jul 13-14
There’s sure to be plenty of colourful headgear on display when Grace Jones and Jamiroquai share top billing at this south London happening. They’ll be joined by big-selling man mountain Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, superlative hip hop band The Roots and jazz multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier. There’s also a range of family entertainment for those with kids and an edible line-up from Street Feast.
Gunnersbury Park, W3. Jul 14
This one is the equivalent of one of those artsier camping festivals, like Latitude, in one tent-free day in west London. So there’ll be representatives from the Science Museum, the UK Space Agency and the Roundhouse, as well as music from bands including Catfish and the Bottlemen, Bastille and Friendly Fires.
House of Common
Clapham Common, SW4. Aug 26
Madness play two very different homecoming shows this summer, the first on June 15 in the civilised surroundings of Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath, and the second this reggae-focused all-dayer on Clapham Common. They’ll be joined in Clapham by a couple of Jamaican giants, Jimmy Cliff and Horace Andy, as well as the son of the biggest giant of all, Ziggy Marley.
Finsbury Park, N4. May 25-26
The people behind the Creamfields festival up north are building their 20 metre high “superstructure” in London again, a vast contraption that puts clubbers inside the lightshow. The big names providing the beats include dance legend Carl Cox doing his Space Ibiza set and Sweden’s Eric Prydz putting on his HOLO show, which will dazzle the crowd with 3D holographic animations.
Peckham Rye Park, SE15. May 26
The other opportunity to dance on grass over the late May bank holiday is this proudly independent affair, without the big name recognition factor of Steel Yard but with plenty of high quality electronic sounds. Chez Damier, Crazy P, Gerd Janson and Honey Dijon are high on the bill.
South West Four
Clapham Common, SW4. Aug 24-25
This August bank holiday fiesta is booking “afternoon headline sets” again, which means that Tinie Tempah and Plan B get top billing despite playing in the middle of the day, while the nighttime stuff is left to big dance names including Martin Garrix, Pendulum, Sigma and Chase & Status. A Sunday rap stage stars Wiley and Wretch 32.
Crystal Palace, SE19. Aug 31
This house and soul event isn’t in Southport and isn’t in Finsbury Park this time either, having set sail south for Crystal Palace. The line-up hasn’t been announced yet, but they know what they’re doing – the organisers are currently on their 52nd party in Butlin’s.
Hospitality in the Park
Finsbury Park, N4. Sep 21
After the summer is over, Finsbury Park will rumble one more time to the frantic sounds of this drum & bass event. In the spirit of all those bands who play classic albums track by track, LTJ Bukem will be doing a “1990-1995 set”. Other notable names include S.P.Y, Camo & Krooked and Mala.
Hampton Court Palace Festival
Hampton Court Palace, KT8. June 6-22
There are plenty of ways to splash the cash at probably the poshest outdoor music event of the summer, whether you want to get yourself a Fortnum & Mason hamper or a “waterside gazebo”. The concert offerings are slightly livelier than usual, with pop rockers Busted, Aussie icon Kylie and disco king Nile Rodgers appearing. Michael Ball & Alfie Boe, Tears for Fears, Caro Emerald, The Jacksons and as ever, Jools Holland, are also in the line-up.
Live at Chelsea
Royal Hospital Chelsea, SW3. Jun 13-16
Rivalling Hampton Court in the extravagance stakes, this event at the home of the Chelsea Pensioners offers the opportunity to dine in the State Apartments or have a two-course barbeque outside. The music comes from Tom Jones (twice) plus the Gipsy Kings and Toto. The latter will be joined by comedy rockers The Darkness.
Greenwich Music Time
Old Royal Naval College, SE10. Jul 1-7
With Greenwich’s Old Royal Naval College beside you and the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf across the water, this is a grand spot to watch a gig. This year there are fewer shows than usual but the line-up is still wildly eclectic, featuring mod rock from Paul Weller, dance sounds from Groove Armada and something cosy from Cliff Richard, plus an orchestra playing songs from West End musicals.
Kew the Music
Kew Gardens, TW9. Jul 9-14
The benefit of a series of one night events rather than a conventional festival is that the organisers can book acts that have almost nothing in common. So those appearing beside the Temperate House this summer include young chart topper Jess Glynne, Eighties throwback Rick Astley, revived garage hero Craig David and Nineties rockers Garbage. All that plus, naturally, Jools Holland.
Somerset House Summer Series
Somerset House, WC2. Jul 11-21
The Neoclassical courtyard by the Thames always has a more interesting musical selection than most. This time the bookings range from the experimental R&B of The Internet (Jul 11) and the cutting edge jazz of Sons of Kemet (Jul 13) to the flamenco pop of Rosalia[ACUTE ON I] (Jul 15) and indie disco of Parcels (Jul 18). Look out too for three bands who have been away a long time: Doves (Jul 16), The Good, The Bad & The Queen (Jul 17) and Gossip (Jul 21).
Camden High Street, NW1. Jun 1-2
You don’t even have to spend much time outside for some of the events in London’s festival calendar. Camden Rocks, similar to the Camden Crawl of the past, grants access to 20 venues around the High Street, where around 400 rock acts will be on the go including Frank Turner, Deaf Havana, Ash and Ratboy.
Various venues, Shepherd’s Bush. Jun 15
This all day event from Communion, the Mumfords & Sons-associated record label and concert promoter, has hosted early career sets from the likes of George Ezra, Michael Kiwanuka and Bastille in the past. So it’s worth keeping an eye on this year’s participants, who include Gang of Youths, Novo Amor, Ider and Laurel.
Nile Rodgers’ Meltdown
Southbank Centre, SE1. Aug 3-11
The latest giant to follow David Bowie, Patti Smith and David Byrne and don the curator’s hat at Meltdown is Nile Rodgers of Chic. He hasn’t announced any shows at the time of going to press, but given that his recent collaborators on record include Daft Punk, Elton John and Lady Gaga, he’s going to be dipping into an incredible address book.
Lloyd Park, Croydon CR0. May 31-Jun 2
The newest major festival to take place close to London is this Croydon three-dayer, which treads on Wireless’s toes somewhat by booking rappers including Nas, De La Soul and Ghetts. There’s a broader international feel too, however, with appearances from Nigerian star Wizkid, reggae bigwig Damian Marley and Colombian reggaeton singer J Balvin.
Cross the Tracks
Brockwell Park, SW2. Jun 9
There’s soul, funk and jazz coming to south London this summer at this new one day event. Chaka Khan tops the bill, playing after more veterans in the shape of Martha Reeves & the Vandellas. Further down, it’s a good showcase for London’s thriving current jazz and soul scene, with sets from Jordan Rakei, The Comet is Coming and Oscar Jerome.