From Jay Z at V to Bryn Terfel at Edinburgh — the Times critics tip the blow-outs to book
For the big names
1 Isle of Wight
Newport, Isle of Wight, June 8-11
Who’s playing? Rod Stewart, Run DMC, the Pretenders, Zara Larsson
With plenty of vintage rock favourites and a vague hippy leaning, this is the perfect choice for the festival dad.
£195 (01983 840294)
Pilton, Somerset, June 21-25
Who’s playing? Ed Sheeran, Radiohead, Katy Perry, Solange
A pop-up city where the good, the bad, the ugly, the fabulous and the extremely confused live together in relative harmony. Tip: don’t hang around the Pyramid Stage all weekend; explore the fringes because, really, there is nothing else like this place on earth.
3 British Summertime
Hyde Park, London W1, June 30-July 9
Who’s playing? Justin Bieber, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, the Killers
A series of standalone concerts stretching out over afternoons and evenings in a large chunk of Hyde Park. The supporting cast complements the main attractions: Phil Collins is joined by Blondie and Mike + the Mechanics, and the pop punks Green Day share a bill with the less poppy punks Rancid.
Day tickets about £70 (0844 8240300)
Catch Ella Eyre at V
Hylands Park, Chelmsford, Essex, and Weston Park, Staffordshire, Aug 19 & 20
Who’s playing? Jay Z, Ella Eyre, Pink
The most poptastic weekender of them all is a riot of fluoro sticks and VIP areas, with the biggest stars of R&B, pop and hip-hop attracting a young and excitable crowd taking selfies and blowing their cash at the champagne bar.
£189 weekend, £89 for a day (vfestival.com)
5 Reading and Leeds
Richfield Avenue, Reading, Berkshire, and Bramham Park, Leeds, West Yorkshire, Aug 25-27
Who’s playing? Kasabian, Eminem
You have finished your GCSEs. Now you are ready to get drunk, get off with a stranger, lose your tent and phone your mum in tears on Sunday afternoon, rocking out to a teen-friendly mix of indie, EDM and hip-hop along the way.
Day tickets £72 (020 7009 3001)
For the hip names
6 The Great Escape
Various venues, Brighton, East Sussex, May 18-20
Who’s playing? Slaves, Cosmo Pyke, Goat Girl, HMLTD
Billed as the UK’s answer to SXSW, this is a multi-venue showcase for new acts from around the world, where the queues are notorious and everyone ends up claiming to have seen the gig of the weekend. It’s a lot of fun.
£65 (three-day), £35 (day) (greatescapefestival.com)
7 Field Day
Victoria Park, London E3, June 3
Who’s playing? Loyle Carner, Flying Lotus, Aphex Twin, Lady Leshurr
As long as they sort out the bars and the toilets — both subject to horrific queues in past years — this offers a great chance to catch a hipster-friendly line-up of
hip-hop, indie and electronica.
Victoria Park, London E3, July 14 & 15
Who’s playing? Frank Ocean, Solange, Anne-Marie, Jamie xx
A hedonistic dance/pop/R&B weekender where people don’t wear many clothes and some of the most pioneering names in American music have agreed to play.
£77 for day tickets (0844 8440444)
PJ Harvey comes to Green Man
9 Green Man
Crickhowell, Brecon Beacons, Powys, Aug 17-20
Who’s playing? PJ Harvey, Michael Kiwanuka, Hurray for the Riff Raff
Providing you accept that, being in a Welsh valley, it will rain, Green Man is one of the most enjoyably laid-back festivals around. A beautiful setting and a well-curated line-up of indie, folk and world music contribute to the charm.
10 Whitby Goth Weekend
Whitby, North Yorkshire, April 21-22
Who’s playing? Toyah, Aurelio Voltaire, Polyanna
Each year, the seaside town where Bram Stoker wrote Dracula plays hosts to a celebration of all things moody and misunderstood. Bright colours not encouraged.
11 Secret Garden Party
Mill Hill Field, near Huntington, Cambridgeshire, July 20-22
Who’s playing? Metronomy, Crystal Fighters, Let’s Eat Grandma
Paint fights, dance-offs and insane installations are all part of the fun at this much-loved mid-sized event, which is coming to an end 15 years after helping to launch the boutique festival trend.
£170 (0844 8700000)
12 Boomtown Fair
Matterley Estate, near Winchester, Hampshire, Aug 10-13
Who’s playing? Booka Shade, Eliza Carthy, Fabio and Grooverider
“The world’s biggest pop-up immersive city” is an orgy of lunacy that’s split into themed districts including a cyberpunk citadel, a Latin barrio, a Wild West quarter and a woodland party area, and which celebrates such musical subcultures as reggae, drum’n’bass, folk and electro swing. For the wild and open-minded.
13 Festival No 6
Portmeirion, Gwynedd, Sept 7-10
Who’s playing? The Flaming Lips, Charlotte Church, Rag’n’Bone Man, Bloc Party
Taking place in a 1920s resort modelled upon an Italian fishing village and made famous by the cult TV show The Prisoner, this is a festival of two halves. By day, literary talks, male voice choirs and a Sgt Pepper-themed carnival. By night, all hell breaks loose.
£205 (0844 9670002)
Gorillaz, the band behind Demon Dayz
14 Demon Dayz
Dreamland, Margate, Kent, June 10
Who’s playing? Damon Albarn and lots of special guests
Gorillaz, Albarn’s revolving supergroup, already resembles a bonkers festival
bill, so it makes sense that they are hosting their own, in the appropriately off-kilter surroundings of a rejuvenated amusement park. The line-up is still TBC but Grace Jones, Mavis Staples and one Noel Gallagher are all on the forthcoming album, Humanz.
£60 (01843 295887)
Heaton Park, Manchester, June 10 & 11
Who’s playing? The 1975, Frank Ocean, A Tribe Called Quest, Jess Glynne
The lush pastures where the Stone Roses made their comeback are now the venue for one of our best new city festivals, offering a vivid spectrum of dance music, hip-hop, indie, R&B and pop.
Southbank Centre, London SE1, June 9-18
Who’s playing? MIA, Young Fathers, Crystal Castles
MIA, the Anglo-Tamil musical firebrand, is the curator of this year’s season of stand-alone events and hers is a typically wild and non-conformist line-up, with performers from Liberia, Sweden and Jamaica and a free all-day block party.
Various prices (020 3879 9555)
17 Summer Series
Somerset House, London WC2, July 6-16
Who’s playing? Norah Jones, Songhoy Blues, Warpaint, Birdy
The festival for people who don’t like festivals: a series of evening concerts in a neoclassical courtyard in the heart of London. On a balmy night, with a good act playing, this feels like the only place to be.
£29.50-£40 per show (020 7845 4600)
Finsbury Park, London N4, July 7-9
Who’s playing? Chance the Rapper, Skepta, Nas, Zara Larsson
This urban event attracts not only the biggest names in hip-hop, grime, R&B and pop, but also the freshest: watch out for Lil Yachty and Lil Uzi Vert.
From £55 per day (wirelessfestival.co.uk)
19 Truck Festival
Hill Farm, Oxford, July 21-23
Who’s playing? The Libertines, Franz Ferdinand, Dead Pretties
One of the first sponsorship-free small festivals, this is somewhere between a village fête and a grandchild of Woodstock. For kids, there’s face painting, a joke stall and circus acts.
20 Camp Bestival
Lulworth Castle, Dorset, July 27-30
Who’s playing? Brian Wilson, Madness, All Saints, Mark Ronson
If you have fond memories of festivals in your youth but now have kids, Camp Bestival is at hand with bouncy castles, fairground rides, children’s theatre and a parent-and-baby chill-out lounge.
£192 (0844 8884410)
Secret location in Northamptonshire, Aug 24-27
Who’s playing? Oumou Sangaré, Alice Russell, Benjamin Zephaniah
The hippy spirit lives on at this beatific, anti-corporate oasis, where kids are invited to roam wild (sandpits, crazy golf course, inflatable rings area, craft workshops and woodland activities) before ending the day with a cup of cocoa and a bedtime story
in the family yurt.
£150 (0121 472 6688)
22 Electric Fields
Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfries & Galloway, Sept 1 & 2
Who’s playing? Frightened Rabbit, Dizzee Rascal, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Glass Animals
Deep in the forests of western Scotland, this small, sweet-natured shindig has a diverse bill for grown-ups and a zone dedicated to small people called, delightfully, Our Kids Electric, with messy play areas, glitter tattoos, balloon modelling and
For the civilised
Matthew Healy of the 1975 is at Latitude
Henham Park, Suffolk, July 13-16
Who’s playing? Fleet Foxes, Mumford & Sons, the 1975, Goldfrapp
If John Lewis were to stage a festival, this would be it. Theatre, poetry, pretty woodland glades and a decent coffee are all part of the middle-class experience. It is highly unlikely a drunken biker will mistake your tent for a urinal at 3am.
£197.50 (020 7009 3001)
The Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire, July 7-9
Who’s playing? Bryan Adams, Kaiser Chiefs, Imelda May
It’s the Chipping Norton set’s back yard, so expect posh hampers, possibly sightings of David Cameron and muttered talk about Brexit negotiations while you’re trying to set out a blanket with a good view of Jools Holland. The organisers say that this year’s festival will be the last.
£170 (0844 2492222)
25 Cambridge Folk Festival
Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge, July 27-30
Who’s playing? Jake Bugg, Indigo Girls, Loudon Wainwright III
One of the venerable institutions of the festival circuit — it started in 1965 — Cambridge runs the gamut from hardcore folk (Shirley Collins) to folk-pop (Ward Thomas) to non-folk (Jake Bugg) and a vibe of bucolic bliss.
£167 (01223 357851)
Charlton Park, Wiltshire, July 27-30
Who’s playing? Two Door Cinema Club, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Eliza Carthy
Antisocial behaviour, petty theft, seething crowd trouble — just some of the things that you won’t find at Womad. World music fans are some of the friendliest people you’ll meet, and this is the home of world music, from every continent and in every musical style.
£210 (0118 960 6060)
27 End of the Road
Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset, Aug 31-Sept 3
Who’s playing? Father John Misty, Mac DeMarco, Bill Calahan
A pretty woodland location and a friendly crowd go with an indie, folk and world line-up augmented by secret discos, table tennis tournaments and cult movie screenings.
Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire, Aug 3-6
Who’s playing? Grace Jones, Emir Kusturica, Toots and the Maytals
Party with the swish set at this frightfully luxurious boutique bash, where feasts by Ottolenghi and Nuno Mendes get equal billing with the bands, and the punters are more likely to be found doing yoga workshops than drinking Strongbow and falling over.
For culture vultures
29 Manchester International Festival
Various venues, June 29-July 16
Who’s playing? New Order, Arcade Fire, Bonobo
Covering art, music, theatre, dance and much more, MiF has established a reputation for big-hitting world premieres, envelope-pushing new work and random quirky stuff. There’s plenty of all three again this year.
Various prices (mif.co.uk)
Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, July 7-9
Who’s playing? Pixies, Orbital, alt-J
The observatory at Jodrell Bank provides a spacey backdrop to this celebration of science, technology and futuristic music, with exhibitions, live experiments and talks by scientists on subjects including interplanetary travel and extraterrestrial intelligence. Boldly going where no festival has gone before.
£159 (0844 8889991)
31 Port Eliot
St Germans, Cornwall, July 27-30
Who’s playing? St Etienne, Eimear McBride, The Comet is Coming
Pretend you are a member of the decadent aristocracy at this delightful affair where literature, art, fashion and music collide. It is also refreshingly rule-free: nobody will stop you swimming in the Tiddy or wandering through the maze.
£145 (0844 8700000)
32 Primavera Sound
Parc del Forum, Barcelona, May 31-June 4
Who’s playing? Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, Frank Ocean, Aphex Twin
This Catalan extravaganza is revered for two big reasons: stonking line-ups and virtually guaranteed sun. The sister event in Porto on June 8-10, Nos Primavera Sound, is just as enticing, with the headliners Bon Iver, Aphex Twin, and Justice.
€90 for a day at Barcelona; €110 for the weekend at Porto (primaverasound.com)
Party afloat at Love International
33 Love International
Tisno, Croatia, June 28-July 5
Who’s playing? Ben UFO, Axel Boman, Black Madonna, Craig Richards
With its gorgeous coastline, cheap prices and whatever the Balkan version of joie de vivre is, Croatia has long been a destination for festival tourists. This blissful electronic epic has beachside lolling, open-air discos, an indoor nightclub and rip-roaring boat parties.
£125 for seven days — club and boat parties extra (loveinternationalfestival.com)
Toyenparken, Oslo, Norway, Aug 8-12
Who’s playing? Lana Del Rey, the xx, Pixies, Chance the Rapper, Ryan Adams
Intimate, classy affair set in beautiful parkland, well-curated and full of chic, cosmopolitan locals and in-the-know foreigners. No camping but you can buy tickets that include a hotel room.
£436 including hotel (oyafestivalen.no)
For party animals
Donington Park, Derbyshire, June 9-11
Who’s playing? System of a Down, Aerosmith, Biffy Clyro
It’s an onslaught of rock, metal and emo and the only respite from the avalanche of heaviness is in the beer tent, although you can also catch a spot of wrestling with the NXT Superstars.
Daresbury, Cheshire, Aug 24-27
Who’s playing? Deadmau5, Stormzy, Fatboy Slim, the Chainsmokers
DJs rule at a vast multi-stage rave, with all the vast light shows, firework displays and freaky dancing you would expect. Getting a few hours of kip in your tent could prove problematic.
Lulworth, Dorset, Sept 7-10
Who’s playing? The xx, A Tribe Called Quest, Pet Shop Boys
The definitive end-of-summer blow-out has moved from the Isle of Wight to the seaside site of its sister event, Camp Bestival. New areas too: the multi-level Temple and the subterranean Frozen Mole. Plus, of course, fancy dress: the theme this year is “colour”. Bring sunglasses.
Gregory Porter is at Cheltenham
38 Cheltenham Jazz Festival
Various venues, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, April 26-May 1
Who’s playing? Chick Corea, Gregory Porter, Snarky Puppy, Orchestra Baobab
This is the festival where pop-rock acts often test out their jazz chops, with Will Young and Rick Wakeman getting into the swing this year. Sell-out shows at the town hall may have “listening seats” available if you deem sight of the artist’s face unnecessary.
39 Bath Jazz
Various venues, Bath, Somerset, May 19-28
Who’s playing? Brad Mehldau, Georgie Fame, Madeleine Peyroux, Naturally 7
The city’s new multi-arts festival features a strong jazz strand, including an appearance by Brad Mehldau, Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard, the pre-eminent jazz piano trio of the moment. For world music fans, the kora player Ballaké Sissoko’s duets with the French cellist Vincent Segal are sublime.
40 Love Supreme
Glynde Place, near Lewes, East Sussex, June 30-July 2
Who’s playing? Herbie Hancock, the Jacksons, Gregory Porter, Laura Mvula, Christian Scott
The funky crowd-pleasers get the big stages, the hard-core jazzbos are in the tents. Well-established and with 50 acts this year, the formula for the UK’s only big camping jazz festival is working.
£54 for day ticket (lovesupremefestival.com)
Glyndebourne, near Lewes, East Sussex, May 20-Aug 27
Who’s playing? William Christie, Robin Ticciati, Barbara Hannigan
Proving that summer opera festivals needn’t all be about champagne and frolics, the season includes Cavalli’s Hipermestra — a 17th-century drama in which a king orders his 50 daughters to kill their 50 husbands on their wedding day — and a new version of Hamlet by Brett Dean. This dark but enticing fare is leavened by Don Pasquale, Donizetti’s comedy.
Tickets: 01273 815000
Wormsley, Buckinghamshire, June 1-July 30
Who’s playing? Jennifer France, Douglas Boyd, Christine Rice
Riding high on an RPS nomination for last year’s Idomeneo, the company presents a new production of Debussy’s Pelléas by Michael Boyd, Handel’s Semele, Mozart’s Figaro with a strong young cast and a new work by Roxanna Panufnik pairing professionals
with members of the local community.
Tickets: 01865 361636
Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla conducts at Aldeburgh
Various venues, Aldeburgh and Snape, Suffolk, June 9-25
Who’s playing? Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla, Roderick Williams, Iestyn Davies
The festival that Britten built honours the composer but spreads its net far and wide under the enterprising oversight of Roger Wright, late of the BBC Proms. There’s a new staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a performance on the water of Thorpeness Meare and a new work by Oliver Knussen.
Tickets: 01728 687110
44 East Neuk Festival
Various venues, Fife, June 28-July 2
Who’s playing? Elisabeth Leonskaja, Belcea Quartet, Julian Bliss
The delightful churches and barns on the east coast of Scotland host chamber music of the highest quality. A series of Schubertiads is the backbone, but the other events include two programmes mixing the music of Mozart with his rival Salieri, and the veteran trumpeter John Wallace leading dozens of local brass players in a promenade celebration of Fife’s mining and brass band heritage.
Tickets: 0131 473 2000
45 Cheltenham Music Festival
Various venues, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, July 1-16
Who’s playing? Bryn Terfel, Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla, Sheku Kanneh-Mason
In his tenth year as festival director, Meurig Bowen delivers an impressive parade of contemporary music, featuring more than 50 living composers and 20 premieres. Novelties include Classical Mixtape, which invites the audience to sit, sprawl or walk round Tewkesbury Abbey during the music. Plus excellent chamber music in the Pump Room and Rush Hour concerts by young musicians.
Tickets: 01242 850270
Verdi’s Macbeth in its original version at Buxton
Various venues, Buxton, Derbyshire, July 7-23
Who’s playing? Stephen Gadd, Yvonne Howard, Laurence Cummings
Centred on Frank Matcham’s jewel-like opera house, the festival honours its commitment to rare works with Mozart’s early Lucia Silla and Verdi’s first thoughts on Macbeth, presented in its original 1847 incarnation. In the concert line-up there’s a Paul Lewis piano recital and a literary strand too.
Tickets: 01298 72190
47 York Early Music Festival
Various venues, York, July 7-15
Who’s playing? I Fagiolini , B’Rock Orchestra, the Sixteen
A semi-staged St Matthew Passion, Robert Hollingworth directing a “promenade” performance of Monteverdi’s Vespers in York Minster to mark the composer’s 450th anniversary, a bassoon extravaganza, and Harry Christophers’ the Sixteen performing a fascinating mix of Poulenc and Palestrina: these are the highlights of a 40th-anniversary festival that also includes a competition for young “early” musicians.
Tickets: 01904 658338
48 Three Choirs Festival
Cathedral and other venues, Worcester, July 22-29
Who’s playing? Sarah Connolly, Roderick Williams, David Butt Philip
Usual mixture of stirring choral works (Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, Janácek’s Glagolitic Mass, Mendelssohn’s early oratorio St Paul, Tippett’s A Child of Our Time) sung by the three cathedral choirs and the festival chorus, chamber music, daily evensongs and
the premiere of Torsten Rasch’s new orchestration of his song cycle A Welsh Night. Plus drama and dance performances, talks and walks.
Tickets: 01452 768928
49 Edinburgh International Festival
Various venues, Edinburgh, Aug 4-28
Who’s playing? Riccardo Chailly , Bryn Terfel , Stuart Skelton
Celebrating its 70th anniversary, the festival has a bumper crop of opera — making up, almost, for years of drought — with visits from Teatro Regio Torino (Turin), all three of Monteverdi’s surviving operas and a new production of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Greek. Concerts include a joint fixture with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Mariinsky Orchestra and, in the contemporary strand, a recital by Anoushka Shankar.
Tickets: 0131 473 2000
50 Presteigne Festival
Various venues, Powys, Aug 24-29
Who’s playing? George Vass, Berkeley Ensemble, Sine Nomine choir
Six composers collaborate to write a new set of bagatelles for piano to match Beethoven’s; and eight other composers collaborate to write a set of string orchestra variations on the folk song Lovely Joan. There’s also a new string quartet from Edward Gregson, a new choral work from Cecilia McDowall, a special focus on Danish music, plus films and talks.
Tickets: 01544 267800