7 of the best UK festivals
It’s that time of year again – festival season! You wake up in a tent, spray some dry shampoo in your hair and crack open a fruity cider to enjoy with your breakfast (non-alcoholic, if you like!)
Music festivals are one of my favourite things to do in the in summer; you get to see amazing bands, have a laugh with your friends, and take a welcome break from reality.
Although there are some excellent music festivals in Europe and beyond (hello Coachella!) the UK has some of the biggest and best festivals in the world. And as the industry is growing, new festivals pop up every year.
In this post, I want to mention the best festivals in the UK and tell you about my favourites.
As a quick disclaimer, these festivals cater to my music taste which is house/indie/electro/pop/dance. I know there are loads of other amazing festivals for different genres like rock and metal, but they might not be my personal preference so I’m going to leave them out.
Probably the most famous festival on this list, Glastonbury is a five day music and arts extravaganza that has been taking place in Somerset since 1971. It’s the largest green land festival in the world with around 175,000 attendees (according to Wikipedia) and takes place in June.
Glastonbury brings fans of all genres together by delivering renowned musicians from all over the world. Past headliners have included New Order, Rage against the Machine, The Killers, Pixies, Johnny Cash, Dua Lipa, Jay Z, Morrissey, and thousands more during the 47 years the festival has been around. In addition to the main stages, there’s so much going on around the site, and the party never stops, with music going on ALL night.
I think one of the reasons it’s so popular is because of the freedom mentality Glastonbury has fostered since its 70’s hippie days, offering normal folks the opportunity to relax and unwind in a positive environment. Plus, it’s family friendly so you can take your kids to their first festival which is pretty cool.
Beware, getting festival tickets to Glastonbury is notoriously hard. It’s a serious business with a long process, which you can read more about on the official website. It’s also one of the most expensive festivals, as I believe tickets were £238 in 2017. But you should always follow the protocol and buy from a registered provider, because there are lots of nasty scammers out there who will try and sell you a fake ticket and ruin your experience.
This is another large festival, which is quite similar to Glastonbury in its mentality and openness. You can find it in Winchester in early August.
Although it’s not as big, Boomtown is split into ‘districts’ which are designed to look like towns distinguished by individual characteristics, for example there’s a wild west themed sector and a nuclear power plant sector. The towns and actors parading around the festival bring it to life and the whole experience is so immersive you feel like you’re in a different world.
Music wise, Boomtown festival is melting pot of Drum & Bass, Reggae, Ska, Punk, hip hop and electronic music, but you never know who could appear on the line-up. Don’t assume anything at Boomtown! While there is a family friendly section of the festival, I would recommend it for more hard-core party goers who won’t mind missing out on a few nights of sleep.
I am so excited to attend Boomtown this year as it celebrates its 10th year and gets bigger and more extravagant.
Parklife is a two-day festival held every year in Manchester in June. As I live in Manchester, I love attending because it’s so close and is around £120 for a weekend ticket. Plus there’s something nice about going home to your own bed at the end of the day. Even though it’s a relatively small day festival, the line-up is always amazing with headliners like the XX, Justice, Lorde, Liam Gallagher and N.E.R.D.
Gottwood has been on my list for ages, but it falls on the same weekend as Parklife so regretfully I haven’t been.
It’s set in the woods in Anglesey in Wales and is an arts and cultural festival that’s known for its small-hippy-festival vibe. By day you can relax beside an idyllic lake, while at night you can dance away under the stars in the forest. It’s definitely one of the more hippy festivals on the list, yet continues to grow more every year (next year is its 10th).
The Hills have Vibes
Now this really is one of the smallest festivals in the UK! When I went last year, 400 people attended.
This is because the festival is still a baby – the upcoming event in July will be its third year! he festival was started by a group of friends from Stockport, so everyone knows each other, which is quite nice and unlike other festivals. Tickets are mega cheap (around £40 for a weekend) and it’s a two day camping festival located on a little farm in Derbyshire. Its an eco-festival and everything is recycled at the end and they have vegan food options. Expect lots of crazy outfits, DIY decorations, and disco/house/tech DJs.
Lost Village was the second UK dance festival I went to, so it holds a special place in my heart. You’ll find it in Lincolnshire and it’s on during the August bank holiday weekend. It’s nice because it’s fairly small, although I imagine if would have grown more now, and everyone is really happy and friendly; perfect for making lots of friends. Plus it has loads of amazing food vendors; I had a killer ice cream sandwich that I still think about to this day.
Leeds & Reading
How could I write a blog post without mentioning where it all began for me? Leeds festival!
I went to my first Leeds fest when I was 15 with a big gang of my friends from school and we continued the tradition for three years. We thought we were SO grown up and cool! I haven’t been to Leeds/Reading festival for years, but the line-up is a lot more varied now and I know lots of people my (old) age that still enjoy going. You can camp for the weekend, or buy separate day tickets, and it takes place during the August bank holiday weekend.
Have you been to any of these festivals? Any I’ve missed? Comment below!