These days the choice of music festivals is endless. Throughout the year - particularly in summer - many of the biggest names in the industry head to Finsbury Park, Worthy Farm, Bramham Park and beyond to put on a performance before thousands of adoring fans. So many great names have contributed to making the likes of Glastonbury, Leeds and Reading, Download, Wireless and Creamfields world-renowned festivals, as well as inspiring us to travel further afield to Benicassim in Spain or Coachella in California. And the lineups just keep getting better! This year, you could see Ariana Grande, Foo Fighters, Bastille, Kylie Minogue, Stormzy, The 1975, George Ezra, Kings of Leon, Cardi B, Lana Del Rey, and more. I know what you’re thinking...boy are you spoilt for choice!
So which one should you go to? Do you want to camp out in a field to watch the hottest acts in the charts or prefer something a little more chilled out with emerging artists? Are you looking for something alongside music like theatre and dance or one with great food stalls? Do you want to travel somewhere with a slightly more fortunate weather outlook, or are you happy to dance in the rain in a euphoric (albeit damp) atmosphere?
Try taking our quiz to find out which festival could be the one for you...
Since its inception in 1970 where the festival bore a slightly hippy-esque identity, Glastonbury has ventured into mainstream music and now brings a wide range of hugely popular acts to its numerous stages. It is perhaps one of the most iconic festivals in the UK thanks to its reputation for delivering stellar performances, having hosted Beyonce, Radiohead, Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry, Coldplay, Adele and Muse in recent years. This year, the five day festival features Kylie Minogue, Janelle Monae, Janet Jackson, and Stormzy, with further acts to be announced.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Glastonbury is the world’s largest greenfield festival, situated on Worthy Farm between Pilton and Pylle in Somerset. But make no mistake, it can get pretty crowded at times. 2019 is expected to see around 200,000 festival-goers flock to the farm, so make sure you’re well prepared for crowds, rain (we all remember those photos of a flooded campsite in 2005 and 2016), and chaos. But don’t despair, Glastonbury is well worth the effort, guaranteeing great performances and five days of fun.
Sharing the same lineup, the two festivals are great alternatives to the infamous Glastonbury. It began in Reading in 1958 as the National Jazz Festival, but since transitioned to more rock-heavy and chart-based lineups. To address its growing popularity, Reading Festival branched out to Leeds, as approximately 180,000 festival-goers filled the grounds of Bramham Park and Little John’s Farm in 2018.
Similarly to Glastonbury, the festival is one to camp at, but unlike Glastonbury, you can opt to buy day tickets if this isn’t for you. Leeds and Reading will be hosting headliners Foo Fighters, The 1975, Twenty One Pilots and Post Malone, as well as many other top acts across its 8 performance areas.
Leeds and Reading’s attendees are generally getting younger, and with no age restrictions there may be the odd child or getting an early musical education. However, the festival can be fun for all ages - just be prepared to see plenty of carnage, bottle-throwing and fancy dress.
Situated on the coastal Spanish town of Benicassim, the festival (also known as FIB) is populated by tourists who flock to see its pop, rock and electronica-fuelled lineup. Everyone from Muse, Kings of Leon, Chemical Brothers, Oasis, Bob Dylan, Florence and the Machine and Stormzy have graced its three stages, bringing one hell of a beach party to Valencian town. While Stormzy’s busy headlining Glastonbury, the Kings of Leon return to Benicassim in 2019 alongside Lana Del Rey, George Ezra, The 1975, Franz Ferdinand, Jess Glynne, Blossoms and more.
As many festival-goers travel from afar, the festival caters to those in need of a holiday by opening the camping ground several days before the live music begins. You can also choose from normal camping to VIP or glamping, really transforming the festival into a decent summer trip. Make sure you pack swimwear and some beach-chic attire for this fun-filled, sun-soaked, four-night fiesta, as you’ll have better odds when it comes to the weather than any of the UK festivals.
Having won 9 UK Festival awards since 2004 and a Big Chip Award in 2017, Creamfields is one of the best dance festivals in the world. Founded by club promoter Cream, the festival began in Winchester in 1998 but returned to Liverpool the next year, and finally in Daresbury in 2006 where it has been held ever since. Proving to be a huge success, it expanded internationally and now takes places all over the world including Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Chile, Argentina and many other locations.
Household names of the dance genres have headlined the UK editions. Swedish House Mafia, David Guetta, Fatboy Slim and the late Avicii performed on more than one occasion, and Calvin Harris, Marshmello, Martin Garrix and even Idris Elba have been part of the lineup. So far, Swedish House Mafia, The Chemical Brothers, Deadmau 5, Adam Beyer and Cirez D have been confirmed for 2019.
Despite being a dance music festival, Creamfields has been praised for catering to the wide variety of subgenres. It’s also been recognised for providing good food options and plenty of options for camping.
Groove Armada and Jools Butterfield founded the festival back in 2002, hoping to introduce a different kind of show to the London music scene. It takes its name from a box of records and a pack of heart-shaped Post-its, which also inspired the ‘Lovebox’ album. The festival quickly gained momentum, requiring its London location to change to cater to growing demand for tickets, and leading to spinoff parties around the UK and abroad.
Despite not being a camping event, Lovebox exudes festival culture. It brings dance, pop, rock and other musical genres to life with great acts, while also hosting circus performances, cabaret and more plus great food and drink options. Over the years, lineups have featured Groove Armada of course, Manu Chao, Norman Jay, The B52’s, Blondie, Ellie Goulding, Dizzee Rascal, Snoop Dogg and Jess Glynne. This year’s is still to be announced, but it’s guaranteed to be another eclectic and exciting group.
Possibly the most noteworthy festival when it comes to fashion, Coachella has inspired many clothing lines and become associated with many models and celebrities sporting bohemian festival attire in the crowds. But it’s also famed for grouping the chart’s biggest performers together, who perform on two consecutive weekends in spring. It all started when Pearl Jam’s frontman Eddie Vedder wanted to overthrow Ticketmaster’s service charges and fees. They boycotted LA venues and opted for the more remote Empire Polo Club in Indio, and performed a show so successful that it transpired into the annual Coachella festival.
While it might cost you a bit to get over there, what’s awaiting you is well worth the price. Ariana Grande, Khalid, Tame Impala, Solange, Childish Gambino, Janelle Monae, are just some of the 100 plus acts performing, and who knows - you may easily spot a Kardashian, Jenner or supermodel walking amidst festival-goers. Plus, southern California has nine in ten dry days a year so you’re pretty much set up for some glorious sunshine. Escape with music at Coachella this year, in this desert valley, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Combining big names in music with huge names in comedy and dance, Latitude is the all-round, multi-genre, multi-disciplinary festival of performing arts. It’s great festival option if you’re searching for chilled-out, lazy summer vibes or if you’re coming with the family. Latitude is like a retreat, tucked away in Henham Park and giving you the ultimate dose of culture and the arts with live music, theatre shows, poetry readings, film screenings, workshops, yoga classes and a whole lot more.
This year, George Ezra, Lana Del Rey and Snow Patrol are complemented by Jason Manford, Russell Kane and Michelle Wolf, and the renowned Sadler’s Wells Dance Company. Organisers have also taken it up a notch when it comes to hygiene, where you can now purchase their Seat of Luxury ticket to get access to high tech loos and improved bathroom facilities that only accessible to a select few. It allows you to enjoy the rural woodland environment without compromising on luxury facilities, for the ultimate festival experience.
Buried within the lush Cornbury Park in Oxfordshire, Wilderness similarly to Latitude brings a range of exciting events across different performing arts to one location. It goes beyond just entertainment to really go all out with an experience, providing discos and bars in the woods, a stunning picturesque landscape with a lake, banquet tables and delicious food, and a range of camping options such as ‘quiet’ camping or ‘boutique’ camping. It’s great for those wanting to escape normality to a secluded and magical fairytale forest.
There’s also great acts to see such as Peggy Gou, Groove Armada, Bastille and Justice, as well as activities such as paddle yoga, debates, spa treatments and more. The vibes are pretty relaxed, where it’s much more child-appropriate than Leeds, Reading or Glastonbury for example. Spread across four days of nonstop bliss, Wilderness has won awards as a festival and is guaranteed to have you relaxing, laughing, singing, dancing and definitely eating!
Ran by Live Nation, Wireless has travelled up and down the country since 2005, bringing urban flavour to Leeds, Birmingham and London. The festival has become a solid option for those who enjoy dance, r’n’b, hip-hop, rap, grime and garage artists in the charts, and 2019 includes massive award-winning headliners. Migos, Travis Scott and A$AP Rocky are all performing this year, alongside Cardi-B, who had to pull out of last year’s lineup due to falling pregnant.
There’s no camping option, but for those looking to do so, there are plenty of nearby campsites or alternative accommodation around London. Wireless remains a popular event that many flock to yearly, where despite its lack of camping, it continuously attracts youthful crowds to compete with Leeds and Reading and Glastonbury. Former lineups have witnesses Black Eyed Peas, Jay Z, Kanye West and Rihanna rock up parks, showcasing its consistency when it comes to delivering the biggest urban acts around. Prepare to up your game when it comes to street style, as Wireless has also been noted for its fashionable, on-fleek festival-goers.
Dedicated to all things heavy metal and rock’n’roll, Download is a dream for those who love listening to Slipknot, Muse, Kiss, Marilyn Manson, Guns N’ Roses, Iron Maiden and Metallica, who have all performed there. The festival began in 2003, proving so successful it grew from two days to three, and enlisted spinoff parties in Australia and France. Reportedly, Download was named so to provoke a rebellious and unruly identity synonymous with the musical genres.
Despite such anarchistic character, you can still get some peace and calm with their select ‘quiet’ camping options or go environmentally-friendly with ‘eco’ camping. There’s also plenty of food and drink stalls as well as non-music events that occur between performances, so you won’t miss the likes of Def Leppard, Slipknot, Rob Zombie, Whitesnake, Tool, Smashing Pumpkins, and more rock out its stages.
Beating Glastonbury by two years as the UK’s longest running music festival, the Isle of Wight began in 1968 with The Jefferson Airplane headlining and describing itself as ‘the greatest pop festival ever held in this country’. The festival gained popularity among Europeans, with many journeying to the island each year. Since inception, it has evolved with the times, hosting chart-toppers and popular artists annually. This year, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, George Ezra, Biffy Clyro, Fatboy Slim, Courteeners, Anne-Marie and Jess Glynne will be playing.
The festival isn’t just for party-goers, but families and those interested in a range of performing arts. Activities include film screenings, comedy shows, theatre, workshops, a silent disco as well as market stalls, food stalls and a circus. Keeping little ones busy, the festival provides children’s activities and entertainment and also has a fairground. Over the years, the Isle of Wight Festival is more like a visitor experience, providing so much to see and do to feel like more of a short holiday.
Having such a strong presence in the world of music, Manchester is justifiably home to one of the best indie festivals in the UK. Some believe it to be named after Blur’s track, however this is yet to be confirmed. Parklife is organised by local club night group The Warehouse Project, among others, and attracts both local legends like Oasis, underground DJs and other big names across genres. Last year, Liam Gallagher performed (after renaming the festival to tribute his long rivalry with Blur) alongside NERD, Lorde, Skepta and The xx. As of yet, Stockport band Blossoms are confirmed for 2019, but there’s more news coming soon.
Parklife takes place in the city’s largest park and the biggest municipal park in Europe. There’s no camping, but prepare to stay a while as there’s plenty more going on. With a funfair, installations, interactive art and immersive experiences as well as many relaxation areas, you can easily stay from opening til closure.
Venture among waterfalls, rivers and forestry in Wales and you’ll find the Green Man Festival; a celebration of music and art all things ethical. Besides live music spanning indie, folk, rock, dance and more, festival-goers will find poetry, theatre, comedy, literature, dance events and bars, barbecues and bonfires. Green Man is like no other, transporting you away for urban life to natural surroundings and hippie vibes.
It claims to be a festival for everyone; divided into different zones such as Mountain’s Foot, Einstein’s Garden and Fortune Falls, which all have respective activities and events. Beyond a select few like Four Tet, you’ve probably not heard of much of their lineup, but that just adds to its quirky and unique festival experience. Where else could you bathe in hot tubs under the stars, book in for a massage and do yoga classes at a festival? Green Man has plenty to offer in terms of wellbeing, and it does a lot for charity too for an added feel-good bonus.
One of the most creative festivals around, Camp Bestival will be calling all heroes and superheroes this year for the official 2019 fancy dress theme. Come as NHS nurses and firefighters or opt for Mr and Mrs Incredible, the choice between reality and the supernatural is yours when it comes to choosing a costume for 2019. Expect to see all kinds of inspired attire in this family-friendly festival that spans generations.
Beyond what to wear, there’s also great acts to see. Jess Glynne (who’s making her way around the festival circuit in 2019), The Human League, Ash, The Wailers, Sara Cox, and Sister Sledge are just a few performers for this year, and hosts include Sporty Spice Mel C and Big Shaq. For more than music, Camp Bestival brings great comedy and literature-based activities, some of the best food and drink, a heap of wellness and fitness classes, workshops and discos, and other unique things to enjoy like Kitchen Drumming Circles, mud slides, fire pits and more.
Camp Bestival is the sister and arguably more family-oriented festival to Bestival, which takes place on the same dates and location. They are both colourful and visually-thrilling with exciting lineups and things to do.