Best music festivals in the UK
If there’s one thing the British know how to do its throw a party! No matter how big or small, music festivals are as much a part of British life as fish and chips or getting sunburnt on a freakishly hot weekend in March.
The music festival season in the UK starts around April and runs all the way to late September, with the highest concentration at the peak of summer in July and August. In the last decade there has been a huge increase in the number of music festivals, the larger festivals have expanded to cater to larger crowds and the diversity of themes is ever-growing.
Here’s our pick of the best music festivals in the UK.
The grand-daddy of them all, a festival that needs little introduction. In 1970, Somerset farmer Michael Eavis decided to throw a party on his farmland with T-Rex headlining. A year later David Bowie headlined and the rest, as they say, is history. Now the biggest festival in England, entertaining over 150,000 people with 4 main stages and more big top tents, filled with bands and DJs, than you’ve ever seen in your life!
Our advice: Arrive early! back in the day when the gates opened on Wednesday there was a trickle of punters arriving. These days everyone has realised that getting their early to get the best tent spot is key, so take time off work, get up early and get there for gate-opening. Don’t make a band-seeing schedule, you’ll only disappoint yourself and also miss out on some classic spontaneous “glasto” moments. Be prepared for all types of weather, it’ll probably rain at some point so Wellington boots are a must!
- Date: Usually the last weekend of June with a year off every 4 years to allow the Worthy Farm cows some extra cud-chewing time.
- Venue: Worthy Farm, Pilton, Glastonbury, Somerset
- Where to get tickets: Register online here and good luck! Tickets sell fast!
The retro-island of the Isle of Wight off the south coast of England has played host to some epic music festivals in the last few decades. Now Bestival, the self-proclaimed best festival of all is doing a grand job of continuing that tradition. Taking place every year at the Robin Hill Country Park, some 55,000 people descend on this cute venue set in a small valley, pitch their tents and go nuts for 4 days. With two outdoor, a number of big-top indoor and even some hidden micro-stages this festival always creates some lasting memories.
Each festival is themed and fancy-dress is almost mandatory, you’ll look more of a freak in civilian clothing than you ever will dressed as a giant purple shark with flashing red lights for eyes. The line-up is always eclectic, often with a few surprises thrown in. You’re sure to find you’re next favourite band at this place and you’ll no doubt spark up some random conversations with people thanks to the funky attire you buy / rent / make out of papier maché.
- Date: Around the first weekend of September every year.
- Venue: Robin Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight, England
- Where to get tickets: Head to bestival.net and enjoy their beautiful website
Once just a bar in London, now an impressive and quite unique festival in Ledbury, Herefordshire! In the grounds of the picturesque Eastnor Castle, it’s one of the few festivals that features ponds in its main concert area. 2 valleys separate most of the camping from the main stages so you’re much more likely to get a good night’s sleep after a good day’s dancing.
The festival has grown in capacity over the years but still remains one of the more chilled out festivals. You’re less likely to have heard of half of the bands but you can be sure everyone performing will be amazing. This approach works in its favour as no one area gets over-crowded at any one time. There’s also lots of other activities taking place to keep you busy and lots of amazing and unusual meals to try too. The organisers make a point of having more space than capacity, so you’ll find shorter queues for drinks, toilets and food vans! Genius! You’ll also find the world’s oldest DJ here who has somewhat of a cult following, be sure to check out DJ Derek’s set. It’s a real highlight!
- Date: First weekend of August.
- Venue: Eastnor Castle, Herefordshire, England
- Where to get tickets: Buy your tickets from the Big Chill Website or Big Chill Bars in London and Bristol.
T in the Park
Scotland’s answer to Glastonbury with a fantastic line-up every year that’s sure to make the trip to Balado in Kinross-shire worthwhile. Since 1994 this festival has grown in size and appeal. Now with a capacity of around 85,000, there are 7 stages and a huge fun fair that’s sure to make you burn a whole in your wallet / lose your lunch. Don’t let the Scottish weather put you off, T in the Park is one big mother of a festival worth checking out.
- Date: First weekend of July.
- Venue: Balado, Kincross-shire, Scotland
- Where to get tickets: Grab your ticket online at tinthepark.com
More great music festivals in the UK
Dual-venue event taking place in Chelmsford and Leeds on the same weekend. The bands swap saturday and sunday. Has one of the best line-ups you’ll ever see at a music festival. It’s a highly commercial event but well worth it for the bands that perform. Taking place every year in August.
The Great Escape
A multi venue music festival in Brighton, England. One ticket gets you access to over 30 venues. 3 days of pure music geek-dom awaits you plus the chance to spend some quality time in this city famed for its great art scene. Expect to be spoilt with over 300 bands performing. Also features a convention bringing together some big names in festival organising, music producers and artists. Takes places the 2nd weekend of May.