Armchair fans and ardent festival-goers are united in grief at the absence of Glastonbury’s annual shindig this summer. BBC coverage of the event had become so comprehensive, that several stages were provided with blanket online coverage, enabling a weekend of live music without mud, rough sleeping or overpriced fast food.
This year, TV viewers will have to join the festival hardcore and travel to get their live music fix, but that just gives the perfect excuse to see what you’re missing. There are many different options of all shapes and sizes sited around the country, with new festivals being introduced every year. Here’s ten of the best for this summer.
1. Reading & Leeds
24-26 August – Little John’s Farm, Reading & Bramham Park, Leeds
Whilst Glastonbury signals the beginning of the summer festival season, Reading and Leeds usually calls time on the seasonal entertainment. Originally known for covering the rockier side of alternative music, the Reading Festival and its newer Leeds sibling has broadened its horizons over the years, with many teenagers out to celebrate (or forget) their exam results. This year’s initial line-up even attracted criticism from the hardcore fans.
The 2018 list covers both traditional Leeds/Reading fare as well as more pop and R&B-orientated acts, with artists including Kings of Leon, Fall Out Boy, Wolf Alice, The Horrors, Pendulum and The Vaccines to Kendrick Lamar, Dua Lipa and Skepta.
2. Isle of Wight Festival
21-24 June – Seaclose Park, Isle of Wight
Taking full advantage of Glastonbury’s fallow year, the Isle of Wight Festival moved its date to the traditional late June slot that many associate with the mythical ley lines of Somerset. If any festival has the right to do this, then surely it’s the Isle of Wight, which pre-dates Glastonbury. Indeed, the festival celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, recalling its origins in the late-1960s hippy movement, when legendary acts The Who, Jimi Hendrix and The Doors played to huge crowds.
This year, the line-up includes big names such as Liam Gallagher, Van Morrison, Depeche Mode, Kasabian, The Killers and the Manic Street Preachers. In addition to the big rock acts, disco king Nile Rodgers and pop princess Rita Ora are on the bill, whilst Haçienda Classical will no doubt be popular with middle-age ravers.
3. RiZE Festival
17-18 August, Hylands Park, Chelmsford
In the days before boutique festivals, when events were advertised in the NME and didn’t sell out in five minutes, Glastonbury and Reading was joined in the big league by the upstart V Festival. With backing from Virgin and smart locations in Chelmsford that captured the south east market and Leeds for the north east, V was a rather civilised affair compared to its messier cousins, but no less entertaining. The emphasis moved from indie to pop over its two-decade existence, and the northern leg moved to Staffordshire after Reading swooped in to take the Leeds location.
Virgin support ended last year, with the new RiZE Festival taking over the Chelmsford location and date, whilst Staffordshire still awaits its replacement. RiZE visitors can enjoy sets from Liam Gallagher, The Manic Street Preachers, Stereophonics and Bastille from the traditional festival list, whilst the poppier end of the scale includes, Craig David, Plan B, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Rita Ora, Years and Years and Sean Paul.
4. British Summer Time
6-15 July, Hyde Park, London
A slight variation on the Festival theme comes from this Barclaycard-sponsored event which brings big name acts to London’s Hyde Park for a week of high-profile concerts. Unsurprisingly it’s a popular concept, with many dates selling out fast and with no need to worry about other stages or camping, the focus is on the main acts.
This year’s headliners range from former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Walters, alternative legends The Cure, and mainstream blockbusters Eric Clapton, Michael Bublé and Bruno Mars. The whole thing ends with the final scheduled UK performance from folk colossus Paul Simon. The support acts are pretty big too, including Van Morrison, Santana, Squeeze and James Taylor.
29 June – 8 July, Glasgow Green
For years, T in the Park was Scotland’s premier festival, taking place a couple of weeks after Glastonbury and often featuring a similar line-up, plus a few local favourites from Runrig to The View. After an unsuccessful relocation from its original Clydeside location, T in the Park is no more, replaced by TRNSMT, which takes place over two weekends. Like British Summer Time, it’s marketed as a series of gigs rather than a standalone festival.
Nevertheless there are lots of big names on this year’s bill, which is headlined by The Stereophonics, Liam Gallagher, Arctic Monkeys, Queen & Adam Lambert and The Killers. Supporting artists include Scottish acts Texas and Franz Ferdinand and there’s a second stage too.
23-26 August, Daresbury, Warrington
Festivals aren’t just about watching traditional bands play to an appreciative audience singing along to the chorus whilst avoiding the worst of the British weather. The dance festival tradition stretches back almost three decades now. Whether you were brought up on the acid parties of the 80s, a regular patron of the 90s superclubs or a millennial raver; Creamfields, which continues to outlive the famous Merseyside club, is for you.
The line-up focuses on DJs rather than live music, with Cream regulars Carl Cox and Paul van Dyk both having their names on the list along with favourites such as Eric Prydz, Fatboy Slim, Tiësto, Pete Tong and a certain Idris Elba.
12-15 July, Southwold, Suffolk
With its multi-coloured sheep, family-friendly activities and wide range of attractions, Latitude is the most middle-class and civilised of festivals. It’s a popular format too, and has been around for over a decade, entertaining the not-too-hardcore in East Anglia. It should provide plenty of fun for those missing Glastonbury, with theatre, poetry, politics, art, film and workshops, as well as stand-up sets from comedy favourites Harry Hill, Alan Davies and Dylan Moran.
Music fans needn’t feel left out at Latitude either, with a strong bill that features artists such as The Killers, Solange, alt-J, Wolf Alice, Rag ‘n Bone Man, The Charlatans, James and John Hopkins.
2-5 August, Lulworth Castle, Dorset
Latitude may take from Glastonbury’s variety, but Radio 1 DJ Rob da Bank’s Bestival has adopted the anything-goes attitude of Somerset’s spiritual weekender. Bestival is the epitome of the boutique festival and has a creative, diverse and ecological agenda to rival Glastonbury. Visitors are encouraged to wear fancy dress, with this summer’s event running to a circus theme.
This year’s big headliner is the Silk City collaboration between Mark Ronson and Diplo, and other acts include superstar diva Grace Jones, London Grammar, MIA, Chaka Khan, Thundercat and Rudimental.
9. Camp Bestival
26-29 July, Lulworth Castle, Dorset
Bestival has also spawned a sister, family-friendly event titled Camp Bestival. So successful has it been that its Dorset location has since been adopted by the older event. By its very nature, in addition to music visitors can enjoy comedy shows, literature programmes, children’s area, workshops and performances.
Artists playing the stages include Simple Minds, Rick Astley, Clean Bandit, Orbital and Basement Jaxx DJ sets, Shed Seven and Stereo MCs.
10. Festival No. 6
6-9 September, Portmeirion, Wales
Festival No. 6 has probably one of the best locations for a performing arts event. It’s set in the beautiful Mediterranean-inspired village of Portmerion, backdrop for cult 1960s TV show The Prisoner in which the late Patrick McGoohan played No. 6, from which the event takes its name. Unlike that programme, visitors to this festival can revel in freedom, including spoken-word shows from Suggs and Will Self, comedy from Reginald D Hunter and Tim Key to art installations, high-class dining experiences, healthy activities and a carnival.
There’s live music too, with The The, Friendly Fires and Franz Ferdinand the headliners, plus The Charlatans, Jessie Ware, Everything Everything and Hurts amongst a big line-up.