*Sings* it’s the most wonderful time of the year. The summer season, that is. As the official start is mere weeks away, we can’t help but contain our excitement as we edge towards endless days of sunshine (at least let’s hope so), outdoor dining, drinking cider in the park, and of course, one of the season’s highlights: music festivals. In recent years the number of festivals taking place in the UK has exploded. Through a combination of an increasing demand for live music, the value for money nature of festivals (average priced festivals cost roughly the same as what you’d pay for seeing one artist/band), plus additional extras that often come with festivals such as fun fares, quirky street food and the opportunity to travel to other towns/cities – and it’s not hard to see why they are now more popular than ever. What’s also refreshing is just how diverse they’ve become. Admittedly, I used to associate festivals with indie boys playing guitars, muddy fields, wellie boots, and hallucinatory drugs. Now, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Today there are a plethora of events catering to all age demographics, lifestyle interests and musical tastes. Here are a few cherry picked festivals that have caught our eye.
1. Greenwich Music Time Festival 30th June – 7th July
The legendary group The Jacksons and Alexander O’Neal are just two of the headline acts scheduled to perform at Greenwich Music Time Festival this year. Set over 6 nights, and overlooking the Thames, the festival is situated at the World Heritage-listed, 5000-capacity Old Royal Naval College boasting spectacular views of the city. Additional confirmed acts include Sir Cliff Richard, Little Mix and Michael Ball, and with prices starting from £35 per show, this is a definitely a steal.
2. Love Supreme – 30th June – 2nd July
The organisers of Love Supreme Jazz Festival have exceeded themselves this year, the confirmed line-up for one of the country’s most well-respected jazz/soul festivals is fire! To name a few: Gregory Porter, Corinne Bailey Rae, Robert Glasper, The Jacksons, George Benson, Herbie Hancock – such quality! Set in the serene locale of Glynde Place, Sussex, Love Supreme offers a mellow, mature festival experience for music lovers. The remaining tickets are priced from £59, but hurry, they are going quickly so book now.
3. Wireless Festival – 7th-9th July
Wireless Festival is without a doubt aimed at the 18-25 market and often has the hottest stars in hip-hop, R&B, grime and dance music as part of their line-up. This year is no exception, scheduled acts include Chance The Rapper, Bryson Tiller, Skepta, Nas, Sean Paul and Wiley. Tickets usually sell out super-quick, but there may be the chance to purchase on resale sites.
4. Kew The Music Festival – 11th – 16th July
Set within the picturesque grounds of the Royal Botanical Gardens comes Kew The Music Festival, a week-long celebration featuring a special guest performing each night. The diverse musical line-up includes Passenger, All Saints and concludes with the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, Mary J. Blige on Sunday 16th July. Prices: From £44.50 (adult), £26 (child).
5. Lovebox – 14th and 15th July
The internet was abuzz when news of Lovebox Festival’s two main headliners were announced: Solange Knowles and Frank Ocean. If chilled out musical vibes running the gamut from R&B, electronica and neo-soul is right up your musical street then you should seriously consider attending. Taking place at Victoria Park, London, additional artists scheduled to perform include Sampha, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man and Chase N Status. Tickets are priced from £38.33 for a day ticket.
6. Africa Utopia – 15th & 16th July
The annual festival celebrating the music, art and culture emerging from Africa returns to London’s Southbank Centre this summer. This year’s event will include dynamic music performances, talks, workshops, fashion and food with special appearances from Fuse ODG and the Chinkeke Orchestra. Entry to the main hall is free, and workshops start from £25.
7. Afropunk Festival London – 22nd – 23rd July
Afropunk London returns for its second year! The Brooklyn imported music and art festival will be taking place at The Printworks, London and is set to wow with its eclectic blend of musical acts which includes Corinne Bailey Rae, Willow Smith and Lil Simz. In addition to the stage performances, visitors will also be able to pick up unique art pieces and bespoke fashion items. Definitely one of the most stylish and creatively-driven festivals around, be prepared to be inspired.
8. Garage Nation Festival – 22nd & 23rd July
Get ready to bubble and skank as you relive the good old days of the early noughties when Garage music dominated the airwaves, car stereos and nightclubs across the UK. Garage Nation is a festival celebrating UK garage, drum and bass, dance and electro. Streatham Common is set to come alive with the sounds of anthemic floor fillers and special guest PAs from artists and DJs from around the world including Robin S, DJ Luck and MC Neat and Artful Dodger. Tickets are priced from £49.95
9. Margate Soul Festival – 4th – 6th August
Margate Soul Festival is regarded as Kent’s premiere soulful music festival held in and around the picturesque Margate Harbour next to the landmark Margate beach. Known for its family-friendly atmosphere, the festival’s price-friendly entrance fee means revellers can spend a mini family vacation comprising of sun, sea and sand while soaking up soul classics from past and present. Confirmed artists so far include Candi Statton, Arrested Development, The Blackbyrds and Joe Bataan. Tickets are priced from £27.50-£66.
10. 51st State Festival – 5th August
Now in its third year, 51st State Festival returns to the capital, setting up camp at the green, serene Trent Park, Enfield, North London. The festival is committed to championing the architects of US House, Garage, soul, disco and reggae, and will once again be bringing together some of the individuals who had a hand in popularising these sounds such as Evelyn Champagne King, Omar, Shola Ama and Louie Vegas.
11. V Festival – 19th – 20th August
The V Festival is one of the heavy-hitters of the festival game, offering a mouth-watering line-up of pop icons and stadium headliners from a variety of genres including pop, rock, R&B and grime. Set in the picturesque location of Hylands Park and Westow Park, this year’s main attractions include Pink, Dizzee Rascal, Jay Z, Madness and Jason Derulo. Prices are £89 for a day ticket, £165 for weekend only.
12. One Love Festival – 1st – 3rd September
One Love Festival is strictly for the reggae music lovers. This year the event celebrates its 10th anniversary and will also be giving a cursory nod to Greensleeves Records who are celebrating a milestone of their own – their 40th anniversary. The line-up includes U Roy, Horace Andy, Michael Prophet, King Tubby Sound System and Dennis Bovell. All the action takes place over two days at Colebrook Lakes, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, tickets are priced at £35, under 10s go free.
13. Bestival – 7th 10th September
Bestival is one of the most ambitious music festivals in the UK, taking place over four days and attracting some of the top names in popular music. This year’s eclectic mix include A Tribe Called Quest, The Pet Shop Boys, Dizze Rascal, Wiley, Soul II Soul, as well as star DJs like David Rodigan, Annie Mac and Fatman Scoop. More than just a music festival, the event is aimed at fun loving, musical families and will once again feature added attractions like inflatables, the world’s biggest bouncy castle and a climatic fireworks display on closing night. Set in a new location, Lulworth Estate, Dorset, the venue is said to boast acres of beautiful woodland and forests with a massive castle located in the centre. Prices are £170 for a weekend pass.
14. Reload Festival – 8th – 10th September
If you are a fan of feel-good, nostalgic ‘80s pop music (and less face it, who isn’t?), then you’ll no doubt love Reload Festival, a two-day event celebrating the music of artists from yesteryear whose pop anthems have formed the soundtrack to many of our lives. This summer’s 80’s music roll call include Billy Ocean, Soul II Soul, Aswad and Heatwave. Definitely positioned as a family-friendly event, under 13s are granted free-entry, and there will be plenty of distractions to keep them busy (such as fun fares and inflatables) while mummy and daddy relive their glory days. Prices: £37 for day ticket, £70 for weekend.
15. On Blackheath – 9th and 10th September
Set in the south-east London suburb of Blackheath, On Blackheath is a two-day festival which merges music with culinary delights. Now in its fourth year, this summer’s headline acts include hip-hop legends De La Soul, KT Tunstall, The Fun Lovin’ Criminals and The Libertines. In addition to the music, there will be an assortment of street food vendors, pop-up restaurants and cooking demonstrations located in the John Lewis Food Village. Family fun will occur courtesy of a playground adventure area where street theatre and arts and craft activities will be on offer. Priced at £49.50 for a day ticket