The UK’s 10 best music festivals

Whether you go full-on feral at Glastonbury or chomp on churros at a one-day dad-fest, there’s a festival for you


When 26 to 30 June
Where Worthy Farm, Pilton
Who Stormzy, the Killers, the Cure, Janelle Monáe, Janet Jackson, Lizzo. But everybody knows Glastonbury isn’t about the music. It’s about trying to find the naked sauna field and/or huffing laughing gas with a bloke you’re convinced is Banksy at 3am in the stone circle.
What A mud-baked Mecca and church of the sesh, Glastonbury is God. It will probably ruin every other festival for you because none of them will ever quite match the scale, quality and freeform escapism of Worthy Farm. The first time I went, I only found the Pyramid Stage on the Sunday and when I got there I had to watch Cypress Hill. Even so, it was still the greatest weekend of my life, proof of its mighty, transcendental power.
Does it pass the festival Bechdel test? Accessed via a secret door disguised as a nail salon, the Sisterhood stage is a gloriously fun safe space for anyone who identifies as a woman to go and dance like Kate Bush and do DIY power tool workshops away from the fellas. So it passes 100%.
The song to listen to Lizzo – Juice. And the soft sobbing of everyone who didn’t manage to get a ticket.
See also Nothing Compares 2U, Glastonbury. But maybe Boomtown at a push.

End of the Road

When 29 Aug to 1 September
Where Larmer Tree Gardens, nr Salisbury
Who Spiritualized, Beirut, Metronomy, Sleaford Mods, Courtney Barnett, Mitski, Jarvis Cocker, Let’s Eat Grandma, Cass McCombs
What Clapton/Chorlton (insert your own intensely gentrified local postcode here) in a field, with added roaming peacocks and even more craft beer. Expect to see: your friends who moved to Margate last summer and are already regretting it; people dressed like plumbers who definitely aren’t plumbers; that ex who left you for the Momentum movement; and Stewart Lee.
Does it pass the festival Bechdel test? Just about. Even though this year’s headliners are distinctly masculine, the further reaches of the bill make for the very picture of equality, with talent rather than tokenism key to the EOTR ethos.
The song to listen to Mitski – Nobody
See also Bluedot, Camp Bestival, Truck

Jorja Smith.
Field music… Jorja Smith. Photograph: PR Han

Field Day

When 7 to 8 June
Where Meridian Water, N18
Who Skepta, Jorja Smith, Diplo, Jungle, Octavian, Todd Terje, Pusha T, George FitzGerald, Earl Sweatshirt
What After a brief sojourn near Brixton following its ousting from east London’s Victoria Park, Field Day is heading to some brutalist technotastic warehouses in the Tottenham/Enfield marshlands that look as if they’ve been lifted from the outskirts of Berlin. Excellently, the new location makes it close enough to Ikea for you to start your day with meatballs and a hotdog chaser. Plus, with its latest licence ever, presumably everything will stay louder for longer. You can also expect the wildest Uber surge-charging N18 has ever seen.
Does it pass the festival Bechdel test? There’s a decent if not somewhat downbeat female headliner in Jorja Smith as well as some solid electronic party starters in Marie Davidson and the Black Madonna, but sadly the rest of the fest is a touch “woke lads in vests who’ll loudly interrupt women in order to tell them how much of a feminist they are”.
The song to listen to Marie Davidson – Work It
See also Boardmasters, Creamfields


When 8 to 11 August
Where Houghton Hall, nr King’s Lynn
Who Four Tet, Ricardo Villalobos, Helena Hauff, Floating Points, Jerry Dammers, Ben UFO, Optimo, Hunee, Seth Troxler, Jane Fitz, Andrew Weatherall, Joy Orbison
What A gourmet techno, house and electronic party in the Norfolk countryside. Weaving together art installations that aren’t cringe with long, exploratory DJ sets and a sleep-optional 24-hour music licence, Houghton was birthed of the realisation that people who like electronic music aren’t always running around with their shirts off, covering strangers in glitter, dropping liquid MDMA into their eyeballs and being terrible humans. Warning: the site’s proximity to Norwich means that one of your mates won’t stop making Alan Partridge jokes and at some point you’ll probably have to run away from them just so you don’t have to hear yet another shout of “DAN!”.
Does it pass the festival Bechdel test? This is the kind of place that prides itself on making everyone feel comfortable. Geezers should be in short supply. Bliss.
The song to listen to Helena Hauff – Qualm
See also Field Maneuvers, Fly Open Air festival, Gottwood

Strawberries & Creem

When 15 June
Where Haggis Farm, Cambridge
Who Stefflon Don, Ms Dynamite, Sean Kingston, Kevin Lyttle, Mahalia, Flava D, Jimothy, the Heatwave, Alisha, B Young, Heartless Crew
What It has a name like a classic garage banger and an old-school lineup that reads like it’s been borrowed from one of those neon rave posters strapped to a streetlight on the side of the road. However, Strawberries & Creem isn’t an Ayia Napa flashback from 2001 (or a rowdy Wimbledon offshoot). In fact, it’s one of the newest festivals on the scene. Set up in 2014 by a bunch of local Cambridge students – AKA May ballers – one of their first ever bookings was Skepta and things have only got bigger since.
Does it pass the festival Bechdel test? After five years of dudes on top, they’ve now secured Stefflon Don and Ms Dynamite as headliners, making for an effortless win.
The song to listen to Ms Dynamite – Dy-Na-Mi-Tee
See also Garage Nation festival, 51st State festival



When 12 to 13 July
Where Gunnersbury Park, W3
Who Chance the Rapper, Solange, Brockhampton, Loyle Carner, Kaytranada, Annie Mac, Lizzo, Action Bronson, Slowthai
What Showcasing the cream of icy cool contemporary hip-hop and R&B, at least two in every five Lovebox attendees will honestly believe themselves to be an influencer. Make sure your Juul vape and iPhone are fully charged before entry and always have a friend on hand to check your contouring hasn’t smudged. If that friend is a former Love Island contestant, even better.
Does it pass the festival Bechdel test? If that means it’ll get a bigger social reach, then yes, yes it does. Anything for the likes. But in reality, nope. A Solange headline set does not a fully lady-friendly lineup make.
The song to listen to Loyle Carner – You Don’t Know
See also All Points East, Sundown

British Summer Time

When 5 to 14 July
Where Hyde Park, W2
Who Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Robbie Williams, Céline Dion, Barbra Streisand, Florence & the Machine, Stevie Wonder
What Like a Christmas present from an aunt you only see once every five years, British Summer Time is always something of a wildcard. This year is no exception, with gay icons, boyband breakaways and two grumpy old men headlining. Brilliantly, due to Barclaycard’s funding of fossil fuels, Neil Young was so livid at its sponsorship of the event that he convinced promoters to drop the bank’s name from any promotional activity, meaning his and Bob’s night is now no longer part of BST but a standalone show.
Does it pass the festival Bechdel test? Well it doesn’t not. It’s worth mentioning that the Céline Dion night looks set to rival Pride as the biggest LGBTQ+ party that London will see this summer.
The song to listen to Robbie Williams – Feel
See also Mighty Hoopla, Latitude, Isle of Wight

We Out Here

When 15 to 19 August
Where Abbots Ripton, nr Huntingdon
Who Kojey Radical, Tirzah, Nubya Garcia, Sons of Kemet, Matthew Herbert, Gary Bartz, Yasmin Lacey
What With a stealth to match Andy McNab on manoeuvres, jazz has suddenly become extremely cool, headed up by a wave of slick twentysomethings from south London who have genuinely never seen that Fast Show sketch. As a first-time festival, there’s a worry things could get a bit Fyre here, but Gilles Peterson’s We Out Here is so on trend – and shored-up in the old Secret Garden Party site rather than a private island in the Bahamas – that the possibility of Netflix film-worthy failure is slim.
Does it pass the festival Bechdel test? There are many good things about the current jazz-aissance and the spotlight it shines on female artists is one of them.
The song to listen to Nubya Garcia – When We Are
See also Naked City, Cross the Tracks, Love Supreme



When 5 to 7 July
Where Finsbury Park, N4
Who Cardi B, Migos, Travis Scott, Future, Rae Sremmurd, Future, Lil Uzi Vert, A$AP Rocky, AJ Tracey, Ella Mai, Bugzy Malone
What The fact that Wireless sold out in record time and Reading & Leeds is still trying to shift tickets for Foo Fighters, Royal Blood and the 1975 tells you all you need to know about the taste of teens in 2019; rock is dead and glitzy rap from the States dripping in diamonds is king. Scoring perhaps the most exciting headliner of 2019 in Cardi B, her rapping the praises of her own vagina to a crowd of 40,000 will be a treat.
Does it pass the festival Bechdel test? Cardi B aside, Wireless is perpetually guilty of failing to book enough women. It has done a little better this year, bringing in talents Flohio, Stefflon Don and IAMDDB, but things are still miles away from true parity.
The song to listen to Cardi B and Bruno Mars – Please Me
See also Parklife, Boardmasters, SW4 festival

Green Man

When 15 to 18 August
Where Brecon Beacons, nr Crickhowell
Who Father John Misty, Sharon Van Etten, Khruangbin, Richard Thompson, Gwenno, Stereolab, Julia Jacklin, Ezra Collective, Aldous Harding
What A lush playground for the modern hippy and people who think beard oil is actually a thing, Green Man is like Hebden Bridge with tents or BBC 6 Music’s Sunday schedule if it were ever adapted into an immersive play. Formerly an alt-folk-first festival, it has recently branched out into heavier music, so you can get shouted at by Idles and Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs if you need waking up after too many lovely singer-songwriters crooning.
Does it pass the festival Bechdel test? Not only does it pass, it gets an honorary plaque from the Fawcett Society, a signed first edition of A Room of One’s Own and a gold-plated She Pee. Hurrah! Odds are that it will have changed its name to Green Woman by 2020.
The song to listen to Julia Jacklin – Head Alone
See also Black Deer festival, Red Rooster, Cambridge folk festival, Citadel

• The Guardian is Glastonbury’s official media partner


Leonie Cooper

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The UK’s eight best music festivals
From the Mighty Hoopla’s queer, pop-focused celebration to Download’s annual joyous metal onslaught, there’s an event this summer for everyone

Leonie Cooper

12, May, 2018 @8:15 AM

Article image
The best UK rock, pop and dance festivals for 2017
From Glastonbury to Wireless, a comprehensive guide to the summer’s top 10 rock, pop and dance weekenders, plus the best of the rest

Guardian music

06, May, 2017 @7:00 AM

Article image
Music festival listings 2015: a summer guide to UK and Europe's best
From Kanye at Glastonbury to a Fleetwood Mac reunion on the Isle of Wight, from LaRoux in Suffolk to Elbow on Blackheath, the Kaiser Chiefs in Kendal or Primal Scream in Aviemore, from north to south, east to west, from behemoth to boutique, we’ve got the listings and links you need for months of sunburned – or waterlogged – sonic fun

Priya Elan

30, May, 2015 @7:00 AM

Article image
Give it some welly: the 30 best UK music festivals still available to book
The summer’s big events sell out sooner every year but, whether you like gnarly moshpits, banging dance tents, kid-friendly jazz retreats or gastro entertainment, there’s still time to take your pick and get looking for your camping gear

Michael Cragg, Leonie Cooper, Michael Hann and Jenessa Williams

01, Apr, 2023 @10:55 AM

Article image
'U OK hun?': The essential questions for summer’s festival season
Find out how to navigate welly season with a series of probing quizzes and how-to guides

Joel Golby, Gavin Haynes and Leonie Cooper

04, May, 2019 @10:00 AM

Article image
#ReviewAnything – going boldly where no reviews have gone before
Reviewed this week: festival toilets, Simon Cowell’s new beard, the Spike TV channel and the Segway

Kate Hutchinson, Rachel Aroesti, Phil Harrison & Luke Holland

28, Aug, 2015 @12:11 PM

Article image
The 10 best things to do this week: Lovebox and Painting Pop
Frank Ocean tops the bill at the east London festival, while Abbot Hall in Cumbria celebrates Blake, Hockney, Boty and more

The Guide

07, Jul, 2017 @8:00 AM

Article image
The 10 best things to do this week: Wireless festival and Wimbledon
Skepta, Chance the Rapper and more play summer’s annual hip-hop extravaganza, while tennis takes centre court for two weeks

The Guide

30, Jun, 2017 @8:00 AM

Article image
From Uptown Funk to Girls On Film: this summer's ultimate festival playlist
From Richie to Ronson, here are the songs that make up the essential soundtrack to your festival experience for 2015

Sam Wolfson

01, Jun, 2015 @4:00 PM

Article image
From Beyoncé to David Bowie: 10 of the best Glastonbury sets ever
Ahead of a livestreamed version of the festival, here are some of the biggest and best performances from years gone by

Dorian Lynskey

21, May, 2021 @8:00 AM