I asked a few of my favourite travel bloggers to name their ‘top UK music festival for 2023′. Y’know, just in case you’re looking for a little inspiration for which festivals to go to this year.
So far for me, I’ve just got Glastonbury booked in and that’s it, so I was intrigued to see which ones would come up. We’ve actually ended up with quite a few in Scotland so looks like I might need to head up there for my festival summer this year. Glasto came up, of course – you’ll need to get lucky in the resale for that – but where else do the top travel bloggers in the business say we should get our festival on, at?
Only one way to find out…
10 Different UK Music Festivals
17th January to 3rd February 2019
– Pic from Celtic Connections
Kathi from Watch Me See
“Celtic Connection is a music festival in Glasgow that focusses on Celtic music, but also its connections to folk, roots and world music in other cultures. It runs for almost three weeks at the end of January and features more than 300 events across the whole city. Glasgow is always worth a visit for its buzzing live music scene, but during Celtic Connections there are even more musicians in town, new music venues pop up and bands collaborate which you had never dreamt of seeing on one stage!
I love going to Celtic Connections gigs because the bands that play this festival are always extra special – some use unique instruments, some perform in Gaelic, and others play genres that you normally don’t hear on stage. Being in Scotland and in January, I think the fact that all the gigs are inside, is a huge plus for a music festival!
Gigs happen all over the most iconic venues of Glasgow, like King Tut’s, the Old Fruitmarket or Saint Luke’s, so going to multiple gigs is like going on a music tour through the city. There are also pop-up gigs in smaller, unusual venues, and a programme of public workshops give you the opportunity to try out some traditional Celtic instruments, dancing and singing.”
Read more from Kathi on Glasgow: 50 Useful Tips for Glasgow
14 to 16th June 2019
– Pic from Download’s Facebook page
Cazzy Magennis from Dream big, Travel far
“Download Festival is held at Donnington Park every year. It’s a rock lovers’ paradise and offers a range of genres from heavy metal, rock, punk rock, and alternative rock. Some of the world’s biggest names in rock music have graced these stages from Slipknot, Slayer, Linkin Park, Marilyn Manson, Metallica, Guns n Roses among many more. The best thing about this festival is the atmosphere and the vibe that surrounds it. Everyone is there for a brilliant time. If you get lost in the crowd during a mosh (which you probably will), you immediately meet a new bunch of people to rock with.
You can choose between 3-night and 5-night camping, depending on what you want. There’s even an option for ‘quiet’ camping which is perfect for those who want to experience the music, but aren’t up for too much partying. Children as young as 5 can attend, so the whole family can rock out if wanted. There are plenty of bars and eateries serving lots of great food and drinks to keep your energy up!
There are so many artists to listen to that your only problem will be deciding who you’ll choose out of the three stages. It’s no wonder that this is considered ‘The UK’s Premier Rock Festival’. If you want a weekend full of great music, great company and great times, then Download is for you!”
26th to 30th June 2019
Helen from heleninwonderlust.co.uk
“Running since 1970, the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts (or Glasto as it’s affectionately called) is the festival to end all festivals and takes place at the end of June on Worthy Farm in Somerset.
For many, the festival is the absolute highlight of the year and a chance to escape into a non-judgmental, creative, colourful and magical world filled with music, art, friendly people and cider. Lots and lots of delicious cider.
Each year the festival attracts many of the world’s biggest bands and artists including the Foo Fighters, Coldplay and Paul McCartney who have all headlined at one point or another, as well lots of up and coming artists too.
But it’s not just the incredible music that attracts people year after year, it’s everything else as well – the relaxed atmosphere, the lovely vibe, the great food, the array of things to do (both day and night) and perhaps the fact that you can bring your own alcohol. For this reason, despite being the UK’s biggest festival, tickets for Glastonbury are like gold dust.
If you go to one British music festival in your life, let it be Glastonbury. That’s if you can get tickets of course…”
More advice from Helen: 25 Tips for Glasto Virgins
Or more advice from meeeee:
Doune the Rabbit Hole, Stirling
19th-21st July 2019
Flora from floratheexplorer.com
“Doune the Rabbit Hole is an intimate family-friendly festival in Stirling, Scotland. It’s held each July in a stunning location on the grounds of Cardross House, a family-run estate with ancient oak trees and unending views across the gently sloping fields. I’ve been twice — first in the pouring rain of 2017 and then in the baking sunshine of 2018 (never say Scotland’s weather is predictable!) but both years were fantastic.
Doune is one of the UK’s smallest festivals with a capacity of only 3,000: that means a relaxed and friendly atmosphere where you keep bumping into the same faces, whether it’s at a local food vendor’s stand, amongst a dancing crowd, or sitting round the campfire in the evening.
There’s tons of music across three stages from local and international artists – last year’s headliners were The Levellers, Akala and Big Country – plus tents for comedy, spoken word, theatre, and cinema. 2019 will be its tenth year and the organisers are pulling out all the stops, with rumours of some huge headliners to come!”
READ MORE: The Top Music Festivals in Europe
WOMAD Festival, Wiltshire
25th to 28th July 2019
– Pic from WOMAD’s Facebook page
Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of Green Global Travel
“Founded way back in 1980 by music legend Peter Gabriel, Artistic Director Thomas Brooman, and influential concert promoter Martin Elbourne (who also books the Glastonbury Festival), WOMAD arguably ranks among the world’s most impressive cultural festivals.
The name is an acronym, which stands for World Of Music And Dance– an accurate description of this colourful celebration of global culture. Now approaching its 40-year anniversary, the festival has always embraced the expansive diversity of the world’s cultures, breaking down geographical and political boundaries through art, dance, and music.
What this means for attendees is an array of eclectic cross-cultural collaborations, such as when alt-rock icons Echo & the Bunnymen jammed with the Drummers of Burundi in 1982, and when Mali’s desert blues group Tinariwen was joined by members of indie-rockers TV On The Radio in 2010.
The late July festival, now based in Wiltshire, no longer tours around the world as it once did. But it still attracts around 30,000 visitors each year by providing a unique experience that includes traditional international cuisines (some of which is cooked by the musicians themselves).”
Read more about the Top 10 Festivals in the World from Bret and Mary Love on their blog.
17-20 July 2019
by Kathi from Watch Me See
– Pic from Hebridean Celtic Festival
“The Hebridean Celtic Festival, or Heb Celt as it is called locally, is a major music festival for Celtic music in the Outer Hebrides, an island group off the west coast of Scotland. For a weekend in July, the small town of Stornoway turns into a bustling music capital.
Heb Celt is not only unique because of it’s music, but also because of its setting. There are venues all across the Isle of Lewis – the largest of the Outer Hebrides and linked to the Isle of Harris by land. The main stages can all be found in Stornoway, which makes it the perfect home base for the festival and day trips in the area. The main stage is on the grounds of Lews Castle in the middle of town, a stunning setting, and certainly one of the specialities of Heb Celt. Performers come from around the world to play Celtic music or genres that are linked to that style.
The festival is incredibly popular – so popular in fact, that you need to book accommodation and ferry tickets well in advance (especially if you want to bring your car across) – or you can fly, but remember that the planes are small and fill up quickly!”
Read more from Kathi about Lewis: Things to Do on Lewis in a Day
18-21st July 2019
Melanie Varey from twoplusdogs.co.uk
“Latitude Festival is a ‘grown up’, family friendly festival with a relaxed feel. Based at Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk the site is spacious enough to be able to move freely around the acts.
As a frequent visitor of various festivals since my 20s, this is now my favourite as I feel very comfortable at this event. There are a wide variety of thing to see and do including, music, poetry, dance, comedy and a family area. Last year we were treated to an impromptu set by no other than Liam Gallagher!
The BBC new music stage is fabulous with its selection of cool-looking sofas. The food and drink offering last year was brilliant, with many well known street food trucks pitching up and serving their wares. There is a good selection of beverages; last year offered an Aviation Gin tent, a Russian Standard Vodka tent and decent quality wine and lager.
There are plenty of reasonably (for a festival) clean toilets and the atmosphere feels safe and relaxed. You can even swim at Latitude in the lake – what more could you want?”
[Vicky here: Latitude is one of my most favourite festivals of all time, you should def go!]
READ MORE on Latitude: 12 Reasons Why You Have to Go to Latitude Festival
15th to 18th August 2019
Macca from anadventurousworld.com
“Green Man is an independent music festival right in the heart of the Brecon Beacons in Wales. As for a festival location, there aren’t many places as beautiful as the Brecon Beacons with the campsite surrounded by rolling green hills and it is just stunning. Also, the cute villages of Crickhowell and Llangynidr are really near if you fancy a pint and a pub lunch (which I highly recommend!)
As a mid-sized festival of 20,000 people, Green Man really celebrates alternative and folk music. Don’t expect mega headline acts that you’ll find at Glastonbury but bands like St Vincent, PJ Harvey and Fleet Foxes. Also, there’s a real emphasis on other things to do with tents offering comedy, films, poetry and a bit of theatre too. And in the evening there are Ceilidhs and all-night bonfires so there really is something for everyone.
One of the reasons I loved Green Man was because of the laid-back vibe. After doing bigger festivals for a few years, I wanted a more sedate one with a real focus on the music I love, so Green Man really stood out for me. Instead of teenagers getting wasted all the time, you’re more likely to find 40-year-olds with little ones running around. But for me, the music was incredible, and I don’t think I’ve seen a campsite in such a beautiful setting than that of Green Man in the Brecon Beacons!”
TBC September 2019
Gemma from twoscotsabroad.com
“Sure you’ve heard about Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival but what about Fife’s Outwith? 23 venues, 200 artists over five days performed in Scotland’s old historic capital, Dunfermline, in 2018, and in 2019 it is going to be bigger.
Although Outwith balances a mix of theatre, art, comedy, film and literature, there is a full day of music with over 50 bands performing in a variety of venues. Expect pubs, cafes, the old fire station and even the British Legion to open its doors for Outwith.
Acts included ‘standing room at the front door only’, Moonlight Zoo, Jim Gellatly favourites Oskar Brave and the Scottish Philharmonic Orchestra played at Pittencreif Park’s bandstand. Not familiar with these bands? Doesn’t matter! It is all about discovering new talent at Outwith Festival in Fife.”
Inma Gregorio from aworldtotravel.com
“Hogmanay, or Scottish New Year, is celebrated throughout Scotland but especially in Edinburgh. It lasts for 3 days and 2 nights and invades the city with an incredible display of festivities, new and old traditions.The Hogmanay celebrations kick off with the awe-inspiring Torchlight Procession – or Parade of Torches – inspired by the Vikings on December 30th. Thousands of people gather at several points near the Royal Mile carrying lighted torches, and slowly the procession parades to the rhythm of the drums to Edinburgh’s hill creating a cascade of fire across the city centre. Once in the hill, the parade gets to an end with a huge fireworks show.On the other hand, the Street Party – Edinburgh’s world-famous New Year’s Eve festival – is held outdoors in the city centre on December 31st and gathers nearly 100,000 people each year. Even if it is outdoors and you have to walk a lot between stages because it covers a huge area, it is essential to buy the pass to enjoy it. The year we attended it we were lucky to enjoy bands as The 1975, Pet Shop Boys, Chvrches and Django Django among others.If you are still standing, on January 1st the crazy Loony Dook parade takes place under the iconic Firth of Forth bridge in South Queensferry at 10 AM. Highly recommended!”