Best Rock and Pop Festivals in the UK

My Favorite Music Festivals Around Britain

You're never far from a rock and pop music festival during the UK summer and fall. Hundreds of rock and pop festivals take place across Great Britain from May through early September. Dance music, singalongs, ambient sounds, new age, family friendly; established bands, the latest indie groups and iconic artists all come out to play, rain or shine, in the British summer.

Here's a list of music festivals we like around the UK, plus a handy resource to find even more.

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Glastonbury Festival

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This 30 plus -year old festival is a bit like an English Woodstock with cherries on top. There's a famous Pyramid Stage, smaller venues, camping, food, a kids Glastonbury and every kind of music imaginable. Musicians are the top acts at the top of their games as well as great blasts from the past. There are at least seven main stages, circus tent and theatre and loads of Greenfield activities. The weather usually turns it into a huge mud bath. And if you don't have the stamina for three solid days of partying, don't come.

Who's there? Every kind of music imaginable. In 2019, acts included Janet Jackson, The Cure, Lizzo, Billie Eilish, Sheryl Crow, and many more.

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Isle of Wight Festival

Aerial photograph of the Isle Of Wight Festival
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It may not be the cutting edge (some people even call it Dad rock), but the combination of well-established rock'n rollers with current stars makes The Isle of Wight Festival in June a sell-out year after year. Once Europe's answer to Woodstock, the festival is now kept deliberately small - only 50,000 tickets are available and they are like gold dust. Get on the mailing list before the line-up is announced because, by the time it is, they gone. Check the festival's community website for a chance to buy returns.

Who's there? In 2019, acts included Bastille, KT Tunstall, Rick Astley, and many more.

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The Leeds and Reading Festival

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Promoters Festival Republic stage this pair of popular rock and pop festivals in both Leeds and Reading at the same time. Similar to the way the V Festivals are organized, artists play both festivals, racing between the north and south versions on different days. Leeds fans consider their version, in Bramham Park, to be the north's answer to Glastonbury. The festivals sell out almost as soon as tickets go on sale at the end of March.

Who's there? Among the 2019 acts - The 1975, Post Malone, Billie Eilish, Bastille, Churches, The Wombats, and more.

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Mike Mantin

The first self-described boutique festival, Bestival is small and perfectly formed. Just like some of the other big time UK festivals, it features top commercial and indie acts, past and present, but it's a bit more upmarket. First off, it's "curated", and it's held in a lovely country park which almost never turns into a muddy field. There are ready pitched tents, a Tipi Field, caravan camping and free or "pay per poo" Comfy Crappers - sorry that's their brand name.

Who's there? In 2019, headliners scheduled included Nile Rodgers & Chic, The Human League, Sister Sledge, Vengaboys, and more.

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Mathew Street/Liverpool International Music Festival

The Mathew Street Music Festival in Liverpool, Europe's largest free music festival became the Liverpool International Music Festival, held in Sefton Park, in 2013. It began as a kind of outlet for Beatles tribute bands, other pop tribute bands and reinterpretations. That's all changed now. Though you'll still find plenty of Beatles music and tribute bands, you'll also find Soul, Diva, BritPop, New Bands, Big Bands and Country & Western.

Who's there? At least 95 bands from all over the British Isles and as far afield as the USA, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, France, Italy, Finland, Poland and Turkey perform in the main festival, carried across the crowds by huge LED screens so no one misses anything. A a supporting indoor program of live music fills pubs, clubs and venues all over town. in 2019, acts included Nile Rodgers & Chic, De La Soul, Sister Sledge, Ella Eyre, Jazzie B, and more.

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This one's for hard rockers who go for real guitar mayhem. Located in Donington Park, not far from East Midland's airport, Download regularly features such veterans as KISS, Judas Priest and Lost Prophets. It's noisy, wild and a good choice if you can't score tickets to the Isle of Wight festival.

Who's there? The 2019 line up included Tool, Slipknot, Def Leppard, Slayer, Rob Zombie, Smashing Pumpkins, and more.

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Another boutique festival, Latitude at Henham Park, is in a lovely part of Suffolk, near the coast. Beautiful countryside, nice pubs and a festival that attracts about 50,000 for a really fine mix of experiences. Music, comedy, theatre, film and poetry are featured on nine different stages.

Who's there? Headliners range from electronic dance music makers and disco icons Grace Jones to unusual personal styles. There's punk, nostalgia, new wave and some great comedy acts on the comedy stage. In 2019, acts included George Ezra, Snow Patrol, Lana Del Ray, Churches, Cat Power, and more.

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Peter Gabriel's world music festival is legendary. Anything goes in terms of musical styles, but musicianship is paramount. You might hear Jazz, gospel, blues, rock, Bollywood, West African percussion, singer-songwriters and even the occasional disco diva. A lot more listening than screaming and bopping goes on at this grown up event in Charlton Park, Malmsbury, Wiltshire.

Who's there? In 2019 - Ziggy Marley, Macy Gray, Anna Calvi, Saving Grace, and many more.

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Green Man Festival

Folk, lo-fi and psychedelic rock are part of the relatively low key Green Man Festival in Wales' Brecon Beacons. This one's family friendly and mellow. It's been called an "indie-folk fairyland" and "the UK's hippest festival" by London papers. But it's not all new agers in la la land. In fact, NME, the UK's definitive music scene magazine said that the choice of music available "puts most other festivals to shame".

Who's there? In 2019 - Four Tet, Father John Misty, Eels, Stereolab, Yo La Tengo, Broken Social Scene, and more.

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You've gotta go, if only for the great name of this two-day, Ullapool-based festival on the west coast of Scotland. It's indie through and through and features locally big names as well as up-and-comers. This one is really small and intimate - also possibly wet and cold, it being September in Scotland. So, while there's camping available, you might want to look into hotel and B&B accommodations in Ullapool.

Who's there? 2019 acts include Tide Lines, Hunter and the Bear, Idlewild, The Vatersay Boys, and more.

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End of the Road Festival

Despite its name, The End of the Road, at Larmer Tree Gardens in Dorset, is not the last music festival of the year. In fact, since its origins as a mid-September festival, they've moved it to the last week in August. One of the newest festivals, first run in 2006, The End of the Road has a kind of hand-made feel about it - one of the founders actually sold his house to help finance the first one. The festival is family friendly and tends to feature lesser known, less hyped bands who play longer sets and also involve themselves in workshops and festival events.

Who's there? The Scandinavian connection of the early festival seems to be gone and what you can expect is a big line-up of little known bands and singers and the chance to make a discovery. In 2019, acts include Beirut, Metronomy, Spiritualized, Courtney Barnett, and more.

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e-Festivals - Online Music Festival Guide

There are hundreds of music festivals in the UK and every year new ones are launched while older ones fade away. Keeping track of them all, their line ups, their dates, their accommodations arrangements is a full time job. Luckily, there's a full time website, e-Festivals, that does just that. Billing itself as the "definitive guide to festivaling", e-Festivals is full of news, useful information and bloggy buzz for the committed festival goer.

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