The Sound Of Music: UK Festivals
Over the last fifteen years or so, the UK summer festival scene has become incredibly broad. Away from time-honoured stalwarts such as Glastonbury and Reading, music events of various shapes and sizes have continued to spring up across the country. Here are ten of the best festivals to look out for in 2015 – some of them long-standing and well-known, others far less so.
Ben Lerwill is a freelance travel writer based in Oxfordshire. His work has appeared in more than 50 publications, including National Geographic Traveller, The Times, The Independent, Wanderlust, BBC Countryfile and Time Out.
Banner Image Credit: iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages
Dates: 28 June & 3-5 July
Where: Finsbury Park, London
Top of the bill: Drake, Avicii, David Guetta, Nicki Minaj
A beat-heavy London festival now moving into its eleventh year, Wireless once drew rock acts but has since evolved into one of the country’s highest-profile line-ups of urban music artists. It’s also grown this year to accommodate a fourth day, which, unusually, will be taking place almost a full week before the rest of the festival. There’s a VIP area (“garden seating”, anyone?) but no camping.
Into The Wild
Dates: 10-12 July
Where: Hounslow Hall, Buckinghamshire
Top of the bill: Skinny Lister, Mark Morriss, Hackney Colliery Band, The Carnabys
Stadium acts? Platinum-selling megastars? Not here. New festival Into The Wild returns for a second showing this year, and the emphasis is very much on keeping the quality high but the costs low. Tickets for the three-day event are priced at just £55, a fraction of the price of bigger events, and a dreamy countryside setting coupled with a creative line-up of mainly indie artists makes it an enticing option.
T in the Park
Dates: 10-12 July
Where: Strathallan Castle, Perthshire
Top of the bill: Kasabian, The Libertines, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, The Prodigy
This year marks a fresh start for the 20-year-old Scottish festival, with plans to move the site to Strathallan Castle having recently been given the go-ahead. The event, previously held 20 miles away at Balado, consistently draws big-name international acts and has a reputation for its colourful, party-hard atmosphere.
Dates: 16-19 July
Where: Henham Park, Suffolk
Top of the bill: Alt-J, Portishead, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Manic Street Preachers
After a decade of rave reviews, laid-back Latitude is now firmly established as one of the summer’s go-to events for those who like their festivals on the arty side. There’s almost as much emphasis on comedy, poetry, theatre and film as there is on the music – although you’ll also find some genuinely big draws across the two main stages.
Dates: 17-18 July
Where: Victoria Park, London
Top of the bill: Snoop Dogg, Hot Chip, Rudimental, Jessie Ware
Billed as “a celebration of the best of British and international music talent, dance and the arts”, Lovebox is a two-day blast of speaker-shaking performances in East London’s Victoria Park. The event was founded by DJ duo Groove Armada back in 2002, and it still attracts a strong range of acts representing dance music in its various forms.
Dates: 17 July-2 September
Where: Royal Albert Hall, Royal College of Music and other venues
Top of the bill: London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
This is, you’ll be aware, no gnarly rock fest in a West Country field. The BBC Proms was founded way back in 1895, and for countless music fans of a certain persuasion it remains the festival of the summer. Its eight-week season incorporates performances as far afield as Swansea, Glasgow and Belfast, although most concerts take place in London. A stand-out event this year will be Simon Rattle conducting the Vienna Philharmonic in September.
Dates: 23-27 July
Where: Castle Hill, North Devon
Top of the bill: Laura Marling, Bombay Bicycle Club, Passenger, Crystal Fighters
Having debuted last year, Somersault makes a welcome return to the hills of North Devon in 2015. There’s a pleasingly folky feel to the line-up, but the event is about far more than the music – it also puts on activities as diverse as yoga, falconry, volleyball, tree-climbing, surfing and mountain-biking.
Dates: 24-26 July
Where: Various venues across Sheffield
Top of the bill: Wu-Tang Clan, Basement Jaxx, The Charlatans, Buzzcocks
A multi-genre festival taking place across over 70 Sheffield venues, Tramlines has continued to grow in stature since its inception in 2009. And with more than 130 acts taking to the stage over the three days of the programme – and with venues ranging from social clubs to art galleries – it’s nothing if not full of variety. The name is a reference to the city’s tram network, and it’s big on promoting sustainable city travel.
Dates: 30 July-2 August
Where: Lowther Deer Park, Lake District
Top of the bill: Elbow, Snoop Dogg, Kaiser Chiefs, The Vaccines
Blessed with one of the best settings in the country, in a park deep in the folds of the Cumbria countryside, Kendal Calling has twice been named the UK’s Best Small Festival, and more recently Best Medium Festival. Despite its slight size expansion, however, it still has an offbeat, uncommercial feel – expect everything from late-night cinema to performance art.
Cambridge Folk Festival
Dates: 30 July-2 August
Where: Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge
Top of the bill: Joan Baez, Frank Turner, Passenger, Joan Armatrading
A famously eclectic gathering dating back to the mid-1960s, the Cambridge Folk Festival is one of the foremost events of its kind in the world. The likes of Van Morrison, Paul Simon and Fairport Convention have all appeared, but the line-up also features genres as varied as bluegrass, gospel, jazz and roots. It’s known for being family-friendly.