The days are getting longer, the sun is starting to seem less like a complete stranger and more like a distant relative who has called up to announce an impending visit, and you’ve dug the SPF 50 out from the back of the bathroom cupboard. Summer is just around the corner – and, despite all of the doom and gloom in the news, you have four months of music festivals to look forward to.
If you missed out on Glastonbury tickets (along with two million others), never mind – Oxfordshire’s Wilderness remains the top choice for letting your hair down to acts including The Chemical Brothers and Christine and the Queens in a gorgeous countryside setting without the dismal food and sleeping arrangements; rather, you’ll find artisan bakes and cocktail bars, glamping options and even a bit of wild swimming.
Or hop aboard the ferry to the Isle of Wight to see Britpop legends Pulp back in action, up to Manchester to dance along to hometown heroes The 1975 at Parklife, or stay in the capital for a rockin’ day out with The Boss at BST Hyde Park. There’s something for everyone: just don’t forget your wellies. This is Britain, after all.
Best UK musical festivals for summer 2023
Cheltenham Jazz Festival, April 26-May 1
Cheltenham’s historic Montpellier Gardens plays host to a brilliant array of classic and contemporary jazz, brought to you from vocalists such as Laura Mvula, Van Morrison, Will Young and Mika and collectives like the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra, who will perform with Spandau Ballet’s lead singer Tony Hadley. Tickets are available here.
The Great Escape, May 10-13
Brighton’s annual celebration of the freshest new music returns, with fiery popstar Maisie Peters and Mercury Prize Award-winning Arlo Parks heading up the bill. Spread across 30+ venues in the seafront hedonist’s paradise, you can also catch sets from Caity Baser, Cucamaras, English Teacher, Nell Mescal (a certain Oscar-nominated actor’s sister…) and The Big Moon, plus more than 490 other emerging artists. Tickets are available here.
Project 6, May 26
A brand new festival in Brockwell Park, Project 6 headliners include Ghetts, Fabio & Grooverider with The Outlook Orchestra, Shy FX, Hudson Mohawke, and Goldie. And for night owls who don’t want the party to end, the festival is followed by a string of parties at venues throughout the capital, from Fabric to Village Underground. Tickets for both day and night are available here.
Wide Awake, May 27
Brockwell Park’s new-ish kid on the block has garnered a loyal following since its first festival back in 2021, thanks to a diverse line-up, filled with fresh, agenda-setting alternative acts, affordable tickets and an intimate atmosphere. This year’s lineup includes American singer-songwriter Caroline Polachek (who has been labelled “this generation’s Kate Bush”, to her distaste), Black Country, New Road, Jockstrap and Shygirl. Tickets are available here.
Cross the Tracks, May 28
South London’s beloved park rounds up its Bank Holiday weekend of fun (following Wide Awake, above) with this joyous celebration of jazz, funk and soul. Catch sets from NxWorries (Anderson .Paak & Knxwledge), Ezra Collective, Kelis, Gilles Peterson and more. Tickets are available here.
Mighty Hoopla, June 3-4
Proving that music festivals need not be all about guitars and pretentious conversations debating your favourite indie band, Mighty Hoopla is like a ginormous glitter canon threw up on a London park, soundtracked by every pop queen you loved as a teenager: including Kelly Rowland, Aqua, Jamelia, Natasha Bedingfield and the Vengaboys. Dress code: the more sequins and sparkles the better. Tickets are available here.
Download, June 8-11
The UK’s biggest party for metalheads is celebrating its 20th birthday this year, so of course its lineup is world class: Bring Me the Horizon, Slipknot and Metallica headline Derby’s Donington Park, while Evanescence, Placebo and Parkway Drive also feature on the bill. Tickets are available here.
Cambridge Club, June 9-11
This wonderful boutique festival takes place in the tranquil Childerley Orchard, and always promises to be a good time. Legends such as Lionel Richie, Grace Jones, Kool & The Gang and Billy Ocean all feature on this year’s lineup; there’s plenty for the rest of the family, too, including the little ones – Dick & Dom top the bill on the festival’s special ‘Imagination Station’ stage. You can get tickets here.
Parklife, June 10-11
Manchester’s biggest festival returns with some of the brightest names in electronic music – plus homegrown indie rockers The 1975 and grime star Aitch. Get your dancing shoes on to sets from Fred again…, Wu-Tang Clan + Nas, Carl Cox, Sonny Fodera, Mall Grab and more. You can get tickets here.
Isle of Wight, June 15-18
Too slow to secure tickets to Pulp’s massive reunion show at Finsbury Park in July? Catch Jarvis Cocker and co. here first – along with a jam-packed offering of George Ezra, The Chemical Brothers, Robbie Williams, Blondie, Courteeners and The Human League. Tickets are available here.
Black Deer, June 16-18
Fresh from having scooped Song of the Year at this year’s Grammys, Bonnie Raitt tops the bill for Kent’s ‘festival of Americana’. Your boots will find plenty more to tap along to, with Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Lucinda Williams and The Teskey Brothers set to perform. Tickets are available here.
Glastonbury Festival, June 21-25
If you were lucky enough to get tickets for Worthy Farm’s hallowed extravaganza of world-leading music and arts, you’ll be witnessing Sir Elton John’s final UK performance, part of his last ever tour, atop the Pyramid Stage on Sunday night. If not? The rest of the lineup is yet to be released – although Arctic Monkeys and Guns N’ Roses are strongly rumoured to be the other headliners – so pray your favourite won’t be there. Tickets are sold out, but there will be a resale in April.
BST Hyde Park, from June 24
You’ll be Dancing in the Dark throughout June and July in the capital, with various shows headlined by P!nk (June 24 & 25), Guns N’ Roses (June 30), Billy Joel (July 7) and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (July 6 & 8). Some shows are sold out, but tickets are available here.
Love Supreme, June 30-July 2
One of the country’s leading jazz festivals, Love Supreme’s 2023 offering is set to be perfect for its 10th birthday celebrations. Located in Glynde Place in East Sussex, you can catch sets from legendary pioneer Grace Jones and not-so-new kid on the block, Mercury Prize-winning Little Simz, as well as Thundercat, Candi Staton and Jazzmeia Horn. Tired from all the dancing? Try a spot of yoga, organised hill walking or secret swimming. Tickets are available here.
TRNSMT, July 7-9
Having replaced Scotland’s flagship festival T in the Park a few years back, TRNSMT consistently delivers lineups filled with indie rock’s biggest names. This year’s no exception: headliners across the weekend include Pulp, Sam Fender and The 1975. Located in city-centre park Glasgow Green. Tickets are available here.
Wireless, July 7-9
Wireless’s full line-up is yet to be announced, but it’s guaranteed to see hip-hop and grime’s biggest stars descend on Finsbury Park once again. Artists already confirmed include Playboi Carti, Lil Uzi Vert, Travis Scott and D-Block Europe. Tickets are available here.
bluedot, July 20-23
Set atop Cheshire’s UNESCO-listed Jodrell Bank Observatory, just a short ride from Manchester or Birmingham, bluedot is a fantastic amalgamation of the weird, wacky and wonderful world of art. The music alone is worth booking for: cult indie band Pavement, trailblazing singer Grace Jones and Róisín Murphy top the bill. Tickets are available here.
Latitude, July 20-23
It’s no wonder that Latitude earns annual platitudes labelling it the UK’s most beautiful, serene festival – set within the stunning grounds of Suffolk’s Henham Park, it brings together music, artisan street-food, family-friendly fun, comedy and poetry in perfect harmony. Pulp, Paolo Nutini and George Ezra head up proceedings; elsewhere on the lineup, you can catch electro-poppers Metronomy, lockdown-icon Sophie Ellis-Bextor and fabulous Kiwi rockers The Beths. Tickets are available here.
Standon Calling, July 20-23
Located just a short train ride away from central London at Standon Lordship, Hertfordshire, this gem couples an intimate, local atmosphere with great acts and imaginative staging and street-food options. Catch Years & Years, Self Esteem, Bloc Party and Confidence Man doin’ their thing. You can get tickets here.
Tramlines, July 21-23
Sheffield’s ode to lad rock is back with another banger – sing along to your favourite tracks from Richard Ashcroft, Courteeners, Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott, Blossoms, Kate Nash and more. Tickets are available here.
Camp Bestival, July 27-30 (Dorset); August 17-20 (Shropshire)
The Disneyland of festivals now has two sites, meaning there’s double the opportunity for both kids and parents to have a fabulous weekend filled with face-painting, dancing to great music and tucking into delicious food vendors. The Dorset edition will feature sets for the adults from Grace Jones, Craig David and Sam Ryder, with Mister Maker and Horrible Histories for the younger ones; in Shropshire, you can catch Primal Scream, Rudimental and The Human League, along with Mr Tumble and Cosmic Kids Yoga. Tickets are available here.
Wilderness, August 3-6
Oxfordshire’s annual party was making waves as a ‘boutique’ musical festival before its competitors had even started to cotton onto the fact that punters wanted delicious food, innovative staging and comfy glamping options as much as they wanted wellies and DJs. This year’s musical offering includes The Chemical Brothers, Christine and the Queens, Fatboy Slim and Sugababes; there’s food from Michelin-starred Adam Handling and Anthony Demetre, plus a woodland banquet courtesy of chef Ben Quinn; and talks from writers like Sara Pascoe and Elizabeth Day. Pack your bikini, too, because there’s even wild swimming. Tickets are available here.
Boardmasters, August 9-13
It’s not hard to see why Boardmasters is heralded as the country’s most naturally stunning festival – it’s set against a backdrop of rolling Cornish hills and blue seas. Liam Gallagher, Florence and the Machine, Little Simz, Four Tet and Bob Vylan will be among the artists trying their hardest to live up to the location. Its beauty makes it a popular one, meaning weekend tickets are already sold out, but you can sign up for information on day tickets here.
All Points East, from August 18
All Points East to London’s sprawling Victoria Park for another dose of the world’s best musicians, from homegrown hero Stormzy (August 18) to New York City indie pioneers The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs (August 25). The other dates are yet to be announced, but we’re sure the acts will be as achingly hip – and fun – as the locals who roam the site, as ever. Tickets are available here.
Lost Village, August 24-27
A magical world of good old-fashioned hedonism, glitter and dancing, Lost Village returns to its home in a Lincolnshire forest; catch sets from Bonobo, Four Tet, Habibi Funk, Mr Scruff and more at the festival’s various inventive stages, from battered cars and metal hangar containers to woodland cabins, nestled within the trees. Tickets are available here.
Reading and Leeds, August 25-27
Every British teenager’s musical rite of passage always delivers the big names, and this year is no exception: you can mosh (or not) along to Billie Eilish, The Killers, Sam Fender, Steve Lacy and Foals. Tickets for each festival are available here.
Victorious, August 25-27
This family-friendly festival brings yet more of indie rock’s biggest names to Plymouth’s Southsea Common. This year’s headliners are Jamiroquai and Kasabian (with Sunday’s yet to be announced); they’ll be joined by Ben Howard, Alt-J, The Coral and more. Tickets are available here.
End of the Road, August 31-September 3
End of the Road is a magical festival. It’s nestled in Larmer Tree Gardens, near Blandford in Dorset, its sprawling, green home forming an idyllic backdrop to art, dancing and a genuinely buzzing yet intimate atmosphere that makes it seem like the world’s best-kept secret; it also makes it the perfect (albeit bittersweet) send-off to another packed summer of festivals. This year’s event will be headlined by Aussie psych-rockers King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, who always guarantee a good show. You can also catch sets from Wilco, Angel Olsen and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, among others. Tickets are available here.
Moseley Folk & Arts, September 1-3
Located just a short bus ride away from Birmingham city centre, this one is a longstanding gem, offering up the best of contemporary folk, arts and crafts: from Wilco, Squeeze and The Proclaimers to local businesses and unsigned artists. Tickets are available here.