Favourite festival sold out? Here are the best alternatives

After two long years, festivals are back – but tickets are in short supply. Here are some options if you’ve missed out, featuring rave-jazz parties, fairground rides and organic psychedelia


The original
The West Country dairy farm shindig by which all other musical events are judged
Worthy Farm, Somerset;
22-26 June (sold out)

From its hippie beginnings, via an unruly fence-hopping middle period to more genteel iterations of late, Glastonbury remains the festival that sets the template for all others. Free milk in the 60s, regular mud baths every couple of years since; it has become something of a rite of passage for Britons to lose an important part of their brain in a field in Somerset. Sturdy, over-the-calf wellingtons help if you’re trudging from one side of the vast site to the other in a wet year, but the payoff comes with pockets of through-the-looking-glass reality in secluded glades, or mass euphoria in front of culture-setting headliners on the Pyramid stage.

* * *

The alternatives

Kurt Vile
Kurt Vile is in the lineup at All Points East, in London’s Victoria Park. Photograph: Timothy Hiatt/WireImage

All Points East
An eclectic array of quality names in one east London park
Victoria Park, London E3; 19-20, 25-28 August

Camping is a big part of the Glastonbury experience. But for a similar array of great artists all in one place, London’s All Points East boasts quality names and there’s no tent required. Most predilections are catered for at this grownup four-dayer whose headliners – a Gorillaz festival exclusive, Tame Impala, who are not playing elsewhere in the UK either – come bolstered by inspired curveballs: rapper’s rapper Pusha T, slacker-rock king Kurt Vile and, in smaller print, synth-pop outfit Japanese Breakfast and white-hot UK garage/techno revivalists Overmono.

Nala Sinephro
Nala Sinephro, on the bill for We Out Here, in Cambridgeshire. Photograph: Nala Sinephro / Earth

We Out Here
Award-winning hip jazz secret garden party
Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire; 25-28 August

Love camping, and Glasto’s eclecticism? Curated by Gilles Peterson’s label and held in rural Cambridgeshire, where Secret Garden Party used to be, We Out Here celebrates all the hot young rave-jazz the UK has to offer, and “joins the dots between soul, hip-hop, house and electronica”. Pharoah Sanders is the venerable name attached, but the goodness runs deep with cosmic jazz revelation Nala Sinephro, the haunting electronica of Koreless and Obongjayar all playing live; the vast list of DJ sets spans everyone from Marshmello to Sherelle. There are lovely bell tents to sleep in, or campervan pitches. Gong baths and yoga uphold the Glasto vibe, with wild swimming and kids’ activities too. KE

Pink sheep at Latitude 2021.
Pink sheep at Latitude 2021. Photograph: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images


The original
An idyllic setting, pink sheep, and much more than music
Henham Park, Suffolk; 21-24 July

One of the few festivals that went ahead at full capacity in 2021, this sprawling, bucolic paradise of arts and crafts still has some tickets available. If the somewhat bland headliners (Lewis Capaldi, Snow Patrol) are not to your liking, there are far better acts further down the bill, from Little Simz to Phoebe Bridgers, Fontaines DC to Rina Sawayama. As always, music is only one facet of this wide-ranging event, with spaces dedicated to literature, theatre and comedy, as well as activities such as swimming and paddle-boarding. It’s perfect for families, with late-night parties in the woods alongside more highbrow offerings for the grownups.

* * *

The alternatives

Björk will appear at Bluedot in Cheshire. Photograph: Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

Education, education, raving?
Jodrell Bank Observatory, Cheshire; 21-24 July

If you can’t make it to Latitude this year, you can still see headliners Groove Armada at Bluedot, which boasts a similar mix of live acts and intellectual stimulation. Bringing together music and science in the shadow of the imposing Lovell Telescope, the festival has a Luminarium (an immersive labyrinthine tunnel experience), talks and panel discussions with leading scholars, and a family-friendly space camp featuring astronaut Tim Peake. Science not your thing? Not a problem: with acts such as Björk, Mogwai, Kojey Radical, Spiritualized, Kelly Lee Owens and more on the music stages, you can do some cosmic adventuring of your own.

Mitski will be touring her new album, Laurel Hell, at Leisure in Margate. Photograph: Chris McKay/Getty Images

Seaside, fairground rides and pioneering female artists
Dreamland, Margate; Fri 24 June

Over in Margate, a new one-day boutique event brings together an inspired lineup of leftfield musicians. Indie auteur Mitski tours her superb recent album, Laurel Hell (her only festival appearance this year aside from Glastonbury); she is joined by husky-voiced innovator Nilüfer Yanya, brooding, genre-mashing Londoners Sorry and Nashville DIY artist Soccer Mommy, with more acts to be announced. As with Latitude, music is only part of the attraction. The beachfront theme-park setting is surely the clincher: in between sets you’ll be able to enjoy Dreamland’s amusement rides, arcade games and a roller disco. Keep an eye out for the afterparties. KB

Creamfields South
Creamfields South in Chelmsford. Photograph: Rutger Geerling Rudgrcom


The original
All the biggest names, all the biggest bass drops
Daresbury Estate, Cheshire; 25-30 August (sold out)

Featuring household name beat-makers and a DJ set for every mood, Creamfields is celebrating its 25-year commitment to hedonism. It’s the festival that sees your poky dance tent and raises you everything from commercial rave-pop to deep house, from Tiësto to Black Coffee, as pyrotechnics light up the night. Despite the often relaxed attitude of security (maybe because of the relaxed attitude of security), the vibe is reportedly not as “aggy” as similar events. It’s not quite the summer of love – the usual festival toilet complaints apply – but there’s catharsis here for everyone from the serious clubber to the fun-forward newbie.

* * *

The alternatives

Creamfields South.
Expect rave-pop giants: Creamfields South. Photograph: AnthonyMooney.com ©

Creamfields South
One massive party, now airlifted to Chelmsford
Hylands Park, Chelmsford; 2-4 June

This year, Creamfields has a new southern wing at the Chelmsford site once home to the V festival. The two lineups are very similar and Creamfields’ much-loved Steel Yard mega-tent will be there. Carl Cox, Calvin Harris and David Guetta are just some of the rave-pop giants in the house; Maya Jane Coles, minimal techno DJ Charlotte de Witte and drum’n’bass specialist Harriet Jaxxon are among the female names balancing out this big bro-fest.

Progessive house composer Ben Bohmer
Progressive house composer Ben Böhmer is in the lineup at London’s Junction 2 festival. Photograph: Michal Augustini/REX/Shutterstock

Junction 2
Techno, techno, techno (and more) at the end of the Piccadilly line
Trent Park, London EN4; 18-19 June

A more curated experience is on offer at London’s Junction 2, a techno-leaning event now relocated from previously advertised location Boston Manor Park in west London on different dates; only Richie Hawtin has fallen off the schedule. Original tickets remain valid – Saturday 3 June tickets are valid Saturday 18 June and so on. J2’s environs will be even leafier than its previous incarnation (some of it under a motorway flyover), but organisers promise the same attention to detail that has made this event so beloved: high-quality sound systems, intimate sets as well as mass shakedowns and a discerning but friendly clientele. Live sets from the uplifting progressive house composer Ben Böhmer and Jon Hopkins are in the offing, while there are umpteen DJ sessions from everyone from Kevin Saunderson’s E-Dancer to go-hard, nosebleed Italians 999999999. KE

Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips
Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, on this year’s Womad bill. Photograph: Stephen J Cohen/Getty Images


The original
The ultimate summer weekend of global sounds
Charlton Park, Wiltshire; 28-31 July

The global music festival celebrates its 40th birthday this year, with a lineup as ambitious and inventive as ever. In these leafy and wooded Wiltshire fields, you’ll find Angelique Kidjo reimagining Talking Heads’ album Remain in Light, Fatoumata Diawara’s gorgeous Malian protest pop, the Sugarhill Gang’s hip-hop, and the Flaming Lips’ psychedelic brand of Zorb-and-glitter-cannon-fuelled entertainment. Womad also claims the most kid-friendly activities and workshops of any festival, plus a fairground and a great Sunday kids’ parade. Global food, wellbeing spas and art also soothe the soul.

* * *

The alternatives

Erykah Badu
Erykah Badu will be at Love Supreme in East Sussex. Photograph: Suzanne Cordeiro/REX/Shutterstock

Love Supreme
Jazz, funk and soul extravaganza in the South Downs
Glynde Place, East Sussex; 1-3 July

If a thrilling mix of jazz and soul is what draws you to Womad, Love Supreme also has a stellar lineup for 2022. They have two UK festival exclusives (Erykah Badu and London jazz scene stalwarts Sons of Kemet and Nubya Garcia playing together), plus Ethiopian jazz legend Mulatu Astatke and soul/disco queen Candi Staton. There are stages for late-night sessions, interviews and local talent, all in a dramatic Sussex Downs setting, as well as plenty of stuff for the kids. Long-table banqueting and wellbeing spas give the experience panache.

Intimate, hands-on world music weekender, with a family focus
Braziers Park, Ipsden, Oxfordshire; 30 June-4 July

For a more intimate weekend of global hippy vibes, try the “UK’s friendliest little festival”, Elementary. Here you’ll find lesser-known names but buckets of diversity: Ghanaian drummers, sacred choirs, “organic psychedelia”, didgeridoos and djembes, and intriguing characters such as Israeli musician Yogev Haruvi, who calls himself a human rhythm machine. Workshops are also hands-on and absolutely for the free-spirited, including instrument sessions and dance classes to learn Brazilian forró, Shakti, shamanic and holistic practices and styles. End your days with stargazing sessions for maximum mindfulness. JR

Parklife in Manchester. Photograph: PR


The original
82,000 people, mad for it
Heaton Park, Manchester; 11-12 June (only Sunday tickets remaining)

Held in Manchester’s Heaton Park, this is very much a city festival, attracting a home-town crowd primed to party: its compact design adds to an intense vibe, more than an “in tents” vibe. Known for its impressive A-list headliners, vast range of acts and a Mancunian commitment to raving, Parklife’s lineups have been hip-hop-oriented of late; this year it re-hosts 2021’s draw Megan Thee Stallion, plus Tyler, the Creator and 50 Cent as a UK festival exclusive. Further down the bill are Bicep, also back for a second year, Mercury-winner Arlo Parks and TikTok revelation PinkPantheress. It’s a young crowd.

* * *

The alternatives

Megan Thee Stallion
Megan Thee Stallion will be at Wireless in Birmingham. Photograph: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

All the hottest hip-hop names, no rapper left behind
London and Birmingham; 1-3 and 8-10 July

Yes, Wireless is in Birmingham (or – shudder – London), which is patently not the same as a Mancunian home-town blow-out. But no other UK event boasts a better lineup if hip-hop (and related genres) are your sounds of choice. Megan Thee Stallion, Tyler, the Creator and pop-soul singer Mahalia are just some of the acts doubling up at Parklife and Wireless, and the Wireless names only get bigger: Cardi B, J Cole and Dave, plus Burna Boy and Popcaan, and drillers of the moment Central Cee and ArrDee. Parklife has a few one-day Sunday tickets left at £84.50; but you can get the coach (return) from Manchester and a one-day ticket to Wireless Birmingham for not much more (around £95).

FKA Twigs
FKA twigs at last year’s Lovebox. Photograph: David M Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images

Huge mainstream names, from hip-hop to pop, relocate to north London
Finsbury Park, London N4; 16 July

Despite its inception as a dance event, Lovebox is another London festival with a very strong hip-hop pedigree and a generous helping of top-tier mainstream acts just like Parklife; its 2022 Finsbury Park setting makes for great transport links to an Airbnb for the night. Frustratingly, this year’s performers are as yet unannounced, but expect a high calibre. Last time, they hosted Tyler, the Creator, Khalid, Little Simz, FKA twigs and Charli XCX. KE

Kraftwerk will be at the Green Man festival in Powys. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/REUTERS

Green Man

The original
The Brecon Beacons extravaganza that’s become the Welsh mini-Glastonbury
Glanusk Estate, Powys; 18-21 August 2022 (sold out)

From its beginnings as a 300-capacity psychedelic folk weekender, Green Man now hosts 25,000 diehards every summer and is a Welsh institution (they still have the bilingual signs). The setting is unbeatable – Crickhowell’s Table Mountain glowering gorgeously behind the main stage – and the musical remit favours adventurous singer-songwriters, indie, electronic and jazz artists (Kraftwerk, Michael Kiwanuka and Cate Le Bon are among the big hitters this year). In recent years, late-night electronica and global sounds in the Chai Wallah’s tent have drawn younger festival-goers, while the Talking Shop tent, science and art, and local beer and cider sustain its intimate soul.

* * *

The alternatives

Grace Jones will performs at Kite in Oxfordshire.
Grace Jones will performs at Kite in Oxfordshire. Photograph: Gareth Cattermole/BFC/Getty Images

New early summer festival of music and ideas
Kirtlington Park, Oxfordshire; 10-12 June

Green Man has always given prominent slots to artists who have quickly progressed to bigger stages: last year’s Self Esteem gig marked her big breakthrough. New weekender Kite has a similarly refreshing lineup, hosting her alongside Saint Etienne, Mavis Staples, Grace Jones, TLC and This Is the Kit, a refreshingly female-heavy top tier. It also has an ambitious attitude to non-music programming, with big names such as Ai Weiwei, David Miliband and Tina Brown talking about art, politics and ideas.

Doune Rabbit Hole
‘Folkier edges’ at Doune the Rabbit Hole in Stirlingshire. Photograph: Mathieu Cartier

Doune the Rabbit Hole
Scotland’s rising festival star
Cardross Estate, Stirlingshire; 14-17 July

If you love Green Man’s folkier edges, Scotland’s Doune the Rabbit Hole looks a treat, with the likes of Peggy Seeger, Burd Ellen and Richard Dawson peppering an exciting programme. International headliners such as Patti Smith accompany lots of beloved homegrown talent, including Teenage Fanclub and Belle and Sebastian. They go even further with their late-night clubbing inclinations, with the Warren Dance Arena and multiple stages around the woods, although their big names – including Orbital, 808 State and Utah Saints – are likely to please middle-aged raving parents as much as the kids. JR

The Chemical Brothers will be at London’s Field Day and Bristol’s Forwards festival.
The Chemical Brothers will be at London’s Field Day and Bristol’s Forwards festival. Photograph: Lesley Martin/PA

Field Day

The original
A brain-scrambling day in the park
Victoria Park, London E3; Sat 20 August

Restored to its original location after a temporary foray to south London, Field Day is synonymous with cutting-edge music in the heart of the city. It somehow encapsulates that pleasurable feeling of wandering through a park, dazed and slightly lost, the satisfying thump of beats pulsing in the background as you try to locate the sushi burrito stand you walked past earlier. While past iterations encompassed lineups spanning indie, hip-hop and jazz, the focus this year is squarely on techno and electronica, with highlights including the Chemical Brothers, Kraftwerk, Peggy Gou, Floating Points and Squarepusher.

* * *

The alternatives

Caribou will be at Wide Awake in London’s Brockwell Park. Photograph: Roberto Ricciuti/Redferns

Wide Awake
Top-notch electronica, jazz and post-punk, with green credentials
Brockwell Park, London SE24; 27-28 May

Set in Field Day’s 2019 location, Wide Awake shares some of that festival’s original founders and eclectic tastes. After elegant electronica? Here are Bicep, Caribou and Floating Points. Want some loud guitars? Enter Fat White Family, Yard Act and Amyl and the Sniffers. Jazz enthusiast? Please enjoy The Comet Is Coming. Expanded to a two-day event after its first outing last September (the planned launch in June 2020 did not go to plan), the festival prides itself on its focus on sustainability: the eco policy promises zero waste in landfill and a ban on single-use plastic.

Little Simz
Little Simz, in the lineup for Bristol’s Forwards festival. Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

A wide-ranging newcomer with a stellar inaugural lineup
Clifton Downs, Bristol; 3-4 Sept

Further afield, Bristol’s new Forwards festival hosts a similarly broad mix of genres. Field Day headliners the Chemical Brothers appear here, alongside Jamie xx, Little Simz, Self Esteem, Sleaford Mods and Texas psych-funk trio Khruangbin. It is perhaps no surprise that this newbie has attracted such an exciting array of musicians: it is promoted by the same team behind Coachella and BST Hyde Park. As the name suggests, it’s a progressive-minded festival – in addition to two main music stages, the website promises a space for activism and debate featuring “experts, disruptors, artists, writers and thinkers”. Don’t check your brain in at the door. KB

Aldous Harding
Aldous Harding, on the bill for End of the Road in Wiltshire. Photograph: Jana Legler/Redferns

End of the Road

The original
Music-focused end-of-summer celebration, now in its 16th year
Larmer Tree Gardens, Wiltshire; 1-4 September (sold out)

Sitting right at the end of the school holidays, and packed with 6 Music-friendly alternative, indie and Americana, End of the Road is the perfect record-lover’s farewell to the summer festival season. This year’s lineup includes US heroes (Pixies, Bright Eyes, Magnetic Fields), contemporary darlings (Aldous Harding, Kurt Vile, the Anchoress), and newcomers (Sniffany and the Nits, Apollo Ghosts). There are other attractions – the Wonderland area for kids, book talks in the woodland library, magical installations and happenings in Larmer Tree Gardens’ gorgeous wooded setting – but this one’s all about the bands, and quick to sell out as a consequence.

* * *

The alternatives

Tim Burgess
Tim Burgess will appear at Seachange in Devon. Photograph: Valerio Berdini/REX/Shutterstock

A music-filled south-west weekend run by a record shop
Various venues, Totnes, Devon; 27-29 May

Fans of End of the Road who fancy a weekend with similar quirky character should try Seachange, now in its fifth year. Run by Totnes’ wonderful record shop, Drift, it’s an indie kid’s dream of a three-dayer, and music acts play in venues dotted around the town (including a Grade 1 listed church, a gold-ceilinged ballroom and a restored cinema). The biggest names for 2022 include the Charlatans’ Tim Burgess, Porridge Radio, Keeley Forsyth and Gwenno, and the tickets are less than £100 for the weekend, plus the cost of accommodation.

Manchester Psych Fest
Manchester Psych Fest. Photograph: Piran Aston

Manchester Psych Fest
Lots of alternative action in the northern city of sound
Various venues, Manchester Oxford Road; 3 September

Those not wanting to miss their end-of-summer, back-to-school indie vibes should check out Manchester Psych Fest, which is full of gigs in the alternative venues around the city’s Oxford Road station. It being the same weekend as End of the Road, some acts are also heading up the M5 to be there too, including Kurt Vile and Tinariwen so far. There are also art installations and exhibitions, as well as festival food and booze courtesy of the city’s DIY courtyard complex of breweries and restaurants, Hatch. JR

Rebecca Lucy Taylor, AKA Self Esteem.
Rebecca Lucy Taylor, AKA Self Esteem. Photograph: Olivia Richardson

The performers say…

Self Esteem
Performing at: Kite, Glastonbury, Latitude, All Points East, Forwards and more

When I do a headline tour of my own shows I come back and feel like I’m absolutely untouchable, but it’s really good to put yourself in a festival situation and get back to winning crowds over. There’s something really special about that feeling – when it’s sunny and you’re just about to go on stage – that is so evocative and beautiful. At the last Glastonbury I played three shows in a weekend, and it became like an endurance test; there were some fans that came to every single one. It really felt like we’d completed Glastonbury. I’ll never forget that. This summer I’m excited to see Beverly Glenn-Copeland – I’m the biggest fan. It’s really fun when you notice, “Oh, I love that artist. I’ll be there and I can go for free.” The novelty of that doesn’t wear off, since being a 16-year-old girl who goes to festivals, and somehow now it’s their job.

Wide Awake, Parklife, Glastonbury, Green Man, Creamfields North and more

Matt McBriar, left, and Andy Ferguson. Photograph: Dan Medhurst

Andy Ferguson: There’s only so much you can learn from Spotify algorithms; it’s very different walking around a festival and stumbling across new acts. My favourite festival memory was at Glastonbury on a Sunday evening. I was in a bar and it was boiling hot and everyone was a bit frustrated – a guy was trying to get served but he said to the person next to him, “No, it’s you next,” and then that person said, “No, it’s you next,” and it turned into this thing where the whole crowd was going “It’s you next” and nobody ended up getting served. The bar staff stood up and started clapping – it was peak Glastonbury.
Matt McBriar: I think it’s the collective enjoyment of music that was really missing through the pandemic. When you experience music with people you don’t know, it’s so much more euphoric. We’re both really looking forward to seeing Slowdive live – we rediscovered them in lockdown and they’re playing at Primavera in Barcelona on the same day as us. I can’t wait.

Joy Crookes
Parklife, Glastonbury and more

Joy Crookes

A festival weekend is quite primal – there’s not much overthinking. It’s so spur-of-the-moment: not knowing where you’re going to go next, what you’re going to eat, who you’re going to bump into. I love that spontaneity – that intimacy and messiness. My favourite festival memory is seeing Grace Jones perform at Latitude: watching a woman of her age and calibre hula hoop for an entire 60-minute set is not something you ever forget. She was so fiercely unapologetic. I was really impressed. She’s a living legend. I’m really looking forward to her Meltdown in London this year. I’m also excited to see Kendrick Lamar at Glastonbury – I’ve seen him live twice, but I still love every moment of it when I see him.

Yard Act
Wide Awake, Doune the Rabbit Hole, Bluedot, End of the Road and more

Yard Act

James Smith: There’s something about a stage in a field, and everyone being away from the stresses of their day-to-day lives – that’s a feeling you don’t get anywhere else. I’ve missed being surrounded by other human beings in the common cause of music and hedonism. I think my favourite act I ever saw at a festival was Patti Smith at Roskilde in Denmark. I’d recently lost a friend, and she played a straight-up punk cover of the Jim Carroll Band’s People Who Died. It was the most uplifting, spiritual thing. At one point she said, “This is how you do a guitar solo”, and she picked up this black Telecaster, threw herself on the floor and just rolled around for about five minutes. It was hypnotic. This summer I’m hoping to see Little Simz live – I’ve been trying to, but our sets keep clashing. I think that’s gonna be a special one. KB


Kitty Empire, Kathryn Bromwich and Jude Rogers

The GuardianTramp

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