UK summer festivals – Six of the best

Sarah Fortescue 22 May 2012

Summer may not have shown many signs of sticking around for too long, so you may be wondering how to make the most of it when it finally arrives.

If you’ve not made plans yet, and in search of some inspiration, the solution may be found in a UK festival. But with so many to choose from, which will be right for you? From all dayers to long weekends, boutique to big, pop to rock and a few hidden gems in between, we’ve picked six of the best.

Isle of Wight Festival

Date: 21st – 24th June

Location: Isle of Wight

Price: £190

Line up: Tom Petty Heartbreakers, Elbow, Pearl Jam, Biffy Clyro, Tinie Tempah, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

The Isle of Wight festival is famed for its big name headline acts, with its roots in the original early festival scene of the 70s. Offering one of the most diverse line ups of the summer (US heavyweights Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen are headlining two of the three days) 2012 is set to carry the trend. IOW festival aims to represent great music from the past, the present and the future, so those looking for something a little more current need not be disappointed – performances from Labrinth, Jessie J and The Vaccines will also be featuring, so those looking for a truly eclectic musical mix should plan to head south in June, to the holiday destination of Seaclose Park.

In The Woods Festival

Date: Saturday 1st September 2012

Location: Secret Location, Kent

Price: £50

Line Up: Kwes, Alt-J, Stealing Sheep, Maia, Peter & Kerry, Laurel Collective

The brainchild of Laurel Collective, In the Woods was born out of the desire to experience new music in a truly unique environment. Taking place since 2005 in a secret woodland location in Kent, it may well do this – and with only 750 sought after tickets available, the usual festival worries of fighting for a camping spot or queuing for overflowing toilets are thankfully eradicated, meaning festival goers can concentrate on the diverse underground musical talent. The focus of the event sits very proudly with its quirky intimate location and exclusive collection of up and coming acts, fitting neatly into a 24 hour party – so if it’s a sample, or you’re on a slightly tighter budget, this is probably the festival for you.

Leeds Festival

Dates: 24th – 26th August

Location: Bramham Park, Leeds

Price: £197.50

Line Up: Foo Fighters, The Black Keys, Kasabian, Florence and the Machine, The Cure, Paramore

Without doubt one of the most popular student festivals in the country, Leeds festival returns to Bramham Park for the tenth year with its signature headline bill of international names from the more alternative realms of indie, rock, and punk rock. Leeds is unapologetically no frills, offering bands, beer and burgers for a three day rock concert- it’s designed for those wanting a unique festival experience, mud included, with the focus very much on its globally renowned performers. With over 160,000 attendees, there’ll be plenty of likeminded revellers to enjoy the bank holiday weekend with if you manage to lose your friends, your tent, your phone…


Dates: 12th July – 15th July

Location: Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk

Price: £175

Line Up: Bon Iver, Elbow, Paul Weller, Metronomy, Laura Marling, Ben Howard, White Lies, The Horrors

Not content with sporting one of the most diverse musical line ups for 2012, Latitude, Suffolk’s multi-arts festival, will also be offering an impressive array of artists from the world of theatre, literature and comedy. For those who may be missing the Union over the summer, the literary arena will even feature a live debate with Labour’s Tom Watson, David Cameron’s General Election speech writer and Daily Mail columnist Ian Birrell and Evening Standard writer and feminist Rosamund Urwin. If it’s a more refined weekend you’re looking for, with plenty of food for thought, then Latitude will definitely be worth a visit.


Dates: 14th – 17th June

Location: Houghton Hall, Norfolk

Price: £135

Line Up: Sven Vath, Andy C: Alive (Live), Rusko, Foreign Beggars, Stanton Warriors, Toddla T

Fans of Huntingdonshire’s Secret Garden Party will be pleased to hear that their production team, Secret Productions, are due to bring the unmistakeable SGP twist to this year’s Glade. Attendees are told to “expect a mouth-watering four days of fun-fuelled mayhem, as Glade 2012 is back to show every other UK dance festival how it’s done”. Lovers of underground music can look forward to 14 stages showcasing hundreds of DJs and live acts, some in 24 hour venues, and others in the renowned SGP-born ‘Artful Badger’ area, with the debut of the ‘Meteor Stage’, hidden in a thirty foot deep crater… Mayhem has been promised, and it very much sounds like it’ll be delivered.


Date: 15th – 17th June

Location: Victoria Park, London

Price: £99 full weekend, £49.50 day tickets

Line Up: Hot Chip, Magnetic Man, Friendly Fires, Booka Shade, Grace Jones, Lana Del Ray

Lovebox, a festival created by accident by Groove Armada 10 years ago, has taken up annual residence in East London’s Victoria Park. Its aim is to merge all of the fun and frivolity of the best UK camping festivals with the convenience of a London base. Taking inspiration from the clubs, dance halls, galleries and shops of the local area, Lovebox creates 3 days of partying – each with their own unmistakeable identity. Day tickets are available, so if its carnival style entertainment with bass, beats, breaks and riffs – Friday is the day to go. Saturday is home to the big pop headliners – Emeli Sande, Friendly Fires and Rita Ora are all 2012 performers – while Sunday hosts a no holds barred party, described by the organisers as ‘a totally unique hedonistic all dayer.’ If you can’t make your mind up, it’s probably best to opt for a weekend ticket and head in each day on the tube – making time for the official after parties, of course.

Sarah Fortescue