Can’t wait for summer? Us neither! Our 2017 festival guide has the low-down on the biggest and best of the UK’s music-centred weekends to set you up for the hotter months!
Unsure which festivals to hit up this summer? Maybe our 2017 festival guide will help…
Funk & Soul Weekender Pontins, Camber Sands 12-15th May Kick off the summer early and get lost in the groove-filled wonderland that is the Funk & Soul Weekender. Ignoring the temptations of popular culture, Funk & Soul Weekender blends old skool with new, mixing live artists with the hottest DJ’s, the lineup includes hip hop pioneers Sugarhill Gang, who are joined by incredible emerging talents such as Harleighblu and Jordan Rakei, creating a perfect atmosphere and an intimate group of like minded music lovers to celebrate all things soulful. Gilles Peterson, Craig Charles, Submotion Orchestra, Flamingods, and Lakuta also feature. Outside of the live music, there’s live band karaoke, pool parties and disco yoga, hula classes and secret activities for guests to uncover – what’s not to love? The Great Escape Various venues, Brighton 18th-20th May The Great Escape Festival is returning to Brighton this month for a weekend of non-stop talent. The festival takes place across over 30 different walkable venues in the city, showcasing 450 emerging artists from all over the world. Heading the bill this year are Slaves, the punk two-piece from Kent, and singer-songwriter Rag’n’Bone Man who has had an exceptional start to 2017 – plus many more for festivalgoers to discover over the weekend. The Great Escape kick-starts festival season in Brighton, transforming the town in to a mecca for music lovers and performers. It will be a weekend full of diversity, energy and no doubt some revelry. ‘The Festival For New Music’ will be returning to Brighton on the 18th of May for an outstanding showcase of new music talent.
Victoria Park, London
Officially the shortest festival in our guide (but by no means does that make it any less impressive), Field Day is being welcomed back to Victoria Park this June for the event’s tenth anniversary. This urban London festival has a line up to suit everyone and the atmosphere to create incredible memories. If you attend Field Day this year you will be in for a treat!
This year, the festival are celebrating their decade of successful events by opening their brand new second indoor main stage, The Barn. Headlining The Barn is Aphex Twin, who are set to liven up the state of the art construction with “Xtal”. However, if Aphex Twin isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other acts available, from Flying Lotus to Mura Masa, Julia Jacklin, Whitney, Rae Morris and more.
As well as the incredible music, you can socialise over food and drink from a variety of specialist caterers. Whether you visit the Street Feast, Venn Street Market or London Brewers Market you will ?nd something amazing to suit your taste and appetite, making Field Day a truly unmissable day out for all.
Wild Life Festival
Brighton City Airport, Shoreham-by-Sea
This June sees the return of the highly anticipated Wild Life Festival to Brighton City Airport, with a very special treat. While Rudimental and Disclosure bring with them the sound of summer, house legend and our very own university alumni, Fatboy Slim, is set to bring his own slice of Ibiza to our fair city.
The festival also boasts a range of acts bringing various genres of music together for an explosive two days. Grime, house and guitar music converge with acts like JME, Andy C and George Ezra, on various tropical themed stages.
In the run up to the festival, Wild Life are also offering one very talented up-and-coming DJ the chance to share the stage and play to the masses, with the shortlist decided by a panel including The Verse editor Nammie Matthews.
With the beach and sun already there, Wild Life festival will transform Brighton into its own exotic island.
9-11th June 2017
Now in its fourteenth year, Download Festival continues its reign, bringing together fans and bands and offering up some of the most established rock and metal acts of the last thirty years (and probably more). It’s a festival of heavy music, with an enviable list of bands signed up. This year, the headline acts include Aerosmith, Rob Zombie and Slayer. The long weekend takes place in Donnington Park, Leicestershire, supporting new acts as well as established bands, however the festival is also welcoming stars of WWE this year, who will compete in a custom-made ring inside the festival’s arena. The list of bands playing continues to grow in the days leading up to the festival with 20 new acts announced at the end March and more still to come. In true Download spirit, it’s going to be just a little bit raucous.
Glynde Place, East Sussex
30th June-2nd July
The Love Supreme festival takes place in the Sussex Downs in the grounds of Glynde Place, right on Brighton’s doorstep. It began in 2013 when its creator, Cirano Romano, noticed a lack of UK festivals that provided the English music festival experience for jazz heads.
Now firmly cemented in the summer calendar for Brighton music lovers, the festival has widened its appeal, including DJs, rap and RnB artists and a food village offering a diverse range of cuisines. Featuring many well-established acts on its bill this year, such as The Jacksons, George Benson, Corrine Bailey Rae and Laura Mvula.
The burgeoning resurgence of jazz music is well represented at The Love Supreme this year too: Grammy award winning Gregory Porter will add some gravel to the grooves, Kamasi Washington, collaborator with Kendrick Lamar, will be slipping you a preparation, as will genre bending funkster sirens Nao.
El Dorado Festival
30th June – 2nd July
The baby of all the festivals in this guide, being that the inaugural year was 2016, El Dorado is back – making Hertfordshire interesting for three days. Highlights on the lineup include Groove Armada, Zak Abel, SG Lewis, Shy FX and the godfathers of hip hop, The Sugar Hill Gang. Hip Hop Hippy indeed.
El Dorado is not all just music though. If you need a break from raving, there are yoga classes, mobile massage parlours on offer (go on, you’ve earnt it). Or if you want to to be sporty, there are the El-ympics, where you can compete with both actual athletes and armchair athletes (ie. your mates). If that wasn’t enough, there is also an old skool circus for the kids and those who, like me, never actually grew up. Start your summer here.
Upcote Farm, Cheltenham
The 2000trees festival will once again be bringing an international array of bands and musicians to their stage over the weekend of 6-8 July, at Upcote Farm, near Cheltenham in Gloucester. Now in its eleventh year, it continues to champion the ethos of the organisers – being completely independent and bringing together a diverse array of performances over four stages.
Confirmed acts already include Mallory Knox and Lower Than Atlantis, joined by solo-singer Jamie Lenman (previously of post-hardcore trio Reuben), who has just released an awesome new single; Mississippi and the fantastic Feed the Rhino, who are brilliant at ripping up all stages large or small. 2000trees organisers aim to maintain a personal feel and offer fans an opportunity to see some amazing bands in a relatively small festival crowd – and they more than succeed.
Victoria Park, London
The beauty of London is that there is always something brilliant and unique happening, and July 2017 is no exception. Victoria Park will be playing host to some of the industry’s best acts this year with musical genius Frank Ocean, the ‘just-as-talented-as-Beyonce’ Solange Knowles, introspective DJ Jamie xx, the all round O.G. Kaytranada, street poet Ray Blk, the ‘more-talented-than-Will-Smith’ DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ EZ (who I hope with bring many garage bangers with him), grime supreme Kano and rave experts, Chase and Status, all hitting up Lovebox. Other highlights of the two-day festival include disco golf (a combination I have always dreamed would one day be a reality), hip hop karaoke (I’m ready to show off my mic drop moment when I perform the whole rap from the Gorillaz song, Clint Eastwood), as well as many interesting boutiques and stools to stay hipstered up.
This festival is just like the city it takes place in: cool, lively and fun.
Secret Garden Party
Mill Hill Field, Abbots Ripton
For the last 15 years Secret Garden Party has been waving the flag as one of the most creative, independent festivals in Britain, and this summer it’ll be hosting its final party.
Starting as a humble gathering of a few hundred friends, SGP has now hosted years of up to 30,000 attendees. While previous years have seen legendary performances from the Gorillaz, Florence + the Machine and Blondie, joining this final shindig will be headliners Crystal Fighters, Metronomy and Toots & The Maytals. Celebrating arts, music, friendship and a final farewell to its fun-loving loyal gardeners. In this festival for everyone, past years have offered swimming and opportunities to become a gladiator. Naturist fireworks, paint fighting and an afternoon of pampering will also be available.
Appropriately, “Sweet Dreams. Are Made of These?” is the party’s final theme. It is a bold, satirical look at the ‘New Religion’ the 21st century audience has for itself, via the instantaneous online world of fame, celebrities and media. SGP promotes a broader message about the troublesome nature of these doctrines of access and excess. But in SGP style, they’re making it a party.
Hill Farm, Oxfordshire
Oxford plays host to one of this years most talked about medium-sized festivals – Truck! From the 21st to 23rd of July, revellers can catch headliners The Vaccines, Franz Ferdinand and The Libertines alongside Maximo Park, Slaves, The Wombats, Sundara Karma, Yak, Pulled Apart By Horses and many more.
Visit Truck if you want to see huge bands in a unique farm setting; it’s a family festival that still knows how to put on a wild time. With a bigger line up every year, it’s no wonder tickets have already sold out – so you’ll have to keep an eye out for any touts or resales for this one!
Y Not Festival
Peak District, Derbyshire
Like a slightly wilder cousin of Truck Festival, Y Not is located further north in Derbyshire and run by the same people. But traveling that few extra hours on the coach is definitely worth it if you are looking for an even more electric and intoxicating atmosphere that those northerners are so famous for!
This years headliners are The Vaccines, Stereophonics, Two Door Cinema Club and – don’t forget your Thursday ticket to catch early-bird headliners – Feeder. Other acts include Jake Bugg, Happy Mondays, Clean Bandit, Frank Turner, Example, Splashh and loads more. Tickets are close to selling out so you don’t want to sleep on this one. Expect bucket hats, a few flares and a lot of partying!
Matterley Estate, Winchester
The notoriously wacky Boomtown Fair festival is returning to the south coast for ‘Chapter 9’ this summer. Acclaimed for its outlandish nature, the festival hosts 12 eccentric stages all with their own unique character of dystopia and discordance. Headlining the weekend will be The Specials, M.I.A. and Cypress Hill, but of course not forgetting the legendary Ziggy Marley; following his brother’s emotional performance last year, which he dedicated to their late father, we are also very much looking forward to seeing what legendary artist Ziggy Marley brings to the fair.
Close to Brighton, the festival has great transport links – which may be the deciding factor for many on their weekend of revelry. Taking place in the city of Winchester, there should be no muddy five hour, phone battery-dead coach journeys. With a range of camping opportunities and a plethora of different, alternative activities, this playful festival certainly has something for everyone.
Reading & Leeds
Richfield Avenue, Reading / Bramham Park, Leeds
Once again, headline acts of Reading and Leeds 2017 are straight out of the top draw. The festivals never fail in their line-ups, though this year is truly set to be something special. For Leeds, Muse are booked to play the Friday headline slot on the Main Stage (Sunday at Reading), supported by legendary ex-Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher.
On Saturday evening (Friday at Reading), festivalgoers will be treated to the singalong pop tunes of Bastille in the run up to guitar gods Kasabian, who will be taking to the stage with a host of new songs and renowned rock ‘n roll attitude.
Rap legend Eminem is closing the festival on Sunday evening (Saturday at Reading). His legacy as a rap god meant that his announcement shook the festival community to the core, and no surprise – we’ve been wanting to rap about mom’s spaghetti in a festival setting for a long time.
As the world’s longest running festival, Reading & Leeds always impress – don’t miss out this August Bank Holiday!
Lulworth Estate, Dorset
Bestival is back this summer and for the first time will be hosted in the enchanting Lulworth Estate on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast. The festival will be made up of eight areas from enchanted woods to the iconic Bestival inflatables; the inflatable church (where it is apparently entirely possible to get legally hitched) and the world’s biggest bouncy castle. With so much to see across the site, the Bestival team are most certainly dedicated to creating a memorable festival experience.
Headliners this year include The xx, A Tribe Called Quest and Pet Shop Boys with other guest stars joining them on the bill: Dizzee Rascal, Little Dragon and Rag’n’Bone Man. The festival also shows its support this year to local music groups in inviting them to join show – and we are looking forward to seeing what the Weymouth Ukeleleans will be bringing to the party.
The Best(fest)ival on the South Coast takes place between Thursday the 7th and Sunday the 10th of September with music from 11am-4am each day; the arbiter of aural adventuring Rob Da Bank commanding us to “make way for the invaders of the future!”
After its first year success, Boundary Festival is returning to Brighton on the 30th of September. Last year saw the likes of Bondax, Groove Armada, Jungle and Congo Natty grace the stage. Whilst this year’s line up is still yet to be revealed, early bird tickets have already sold out, with the next wave widely anticipated. This year’s festival boasts three huge stages, a vintage fair and local street food all located in Stanmer Park. With the promise ‘to push your festival going experience right to the limit’, Boundary Festival is sure to impress once more!