Festival season is fast approaching, and there is nothing better than spending a summer weekend in glorious weather* with your favourite bands.
*Glorious weather not a guarantee.
I have been to quite a few festivals big and small and I feel that the best thing about any festival is the atmosphere. People from all different walks of life come together to enjoy one thing: music. Yes its muddy, the toilets are questionable and it’s not the most hygienic of situations, but honestly, there is nothing better than a good summer festival.
Here are my favourite festivals this year:
Best for Rock:
Rock fans tend to be the most loyal fans in the world and Download is the place to go to celebrate all things heavy metal. Past headliners include Avenged Sevenfold, Linkin Park and rock giants, and let’s face it, legends, Aerosmith. Yes, every June hosts 5 stages full of iconic names, such as Rob Zombie, The Offspring, Skid Row and even Bowling for Soup (to take the edge off). If you love heavy metal, thrash or death metal (or all of the above) Download cannot be beaten. Heavy metal and rock may get labelled as scary or angry, but the crowds at true rock gigs and festivals are unbelievable, and if you love this music, you will need to be at Donington Park.
Best for Teens:
Reading is just down the road from me and I have been to this festival four times. One thing I have noticed over the years (the first time I went was 2001) is the crowds have got younger and younger to the point that when I went in 2012 I felt like a pensioner at 26! Reading has definitely changed over the years. Once upon a time, it was a modest rock festival where dedicated rock fans would congregate together. Over recent years, however, it has opened its doors to a broader music range including hip-hop and even pop music and brings in a crowd of 170,000. Is this a good thing, is this a bad thing? Well, whatever the case may be, it still sells out every year and the kids seem to love it!
It may have changed but Reading has staged some of the most iconic gigs in music history, including the Foo Fighters’ debut UK gig, where hundreds of fans crammed into a small tent to see the band for the first time. Dave Grohl still says that the Foo Fighters first time at Reading is one of his most memorable gigs. Foo Fighters have played Reading and Leeds many times since (I am lucky enough to have seen them myself) and it is an extremely important festival for many bands. Previous years have seen Queens of the Stone Age, Paramore, Arctic Monkeys and Blink-182 headline.
Best for Dance:
Forget the stereotypes of glow sticks and whistles (Okay… the odd whistle might be there, but they save you from a sore throat!) Creamfields is every dance lovers best choice by far. Based in Cheshire, it regularly sees massive names topping the bill, such as Alesso, Annie Mac, Fatboy Slim, and Pete Tong. They have recently started putting more of an emphasis on grime music as well, so it is a win-win if you love both genres.
Best for Pop:
I believe V Fest has gathered the reputation of being a slightly more civilised festival (whatever that means!) by the media. Be that as it may, I still wouldn’t recommend the toilets there! Anyway, I would say that V fest is a good place to start for those who are not certain if festivals are their thing. V fest has a good line up every year and has showcased the very best of pop with Justin Timberlake and Ellie Goulding in previous years as well as a good pick of dance acts such as Sub Focus, Katy B, Chase and Status, and Tinie Tempah. V is quite a mix of acts: in one weekend you could have the opportunity to see Above and Beyond, as well as Childish Gambino, The Wailers, M People and Bastille which is quite a range of music! See what I mean? There is something for everyone and in a clean, fashionable environment…although I wouldn’t bank on that.
Going abroad to enjoy your favourite bands makes more and more sense the more I think about it. What could be better than going to a wonderful town or city to take in the unique and beautiful culture and people whilst enjoying your favourite bands/artists/DJs? Good news – Sziget Festival is based in Budapest, so not only do you get some amazing music but you also get to go to one of the most sought-after cities in Europe. All for a brilliant price considering. This year sees the likes of Dua Lipa, Gorillaz and Kendrick Lamar headlining, as well as the very sought after Arctic Monkeys.
Best Unheard Of:
Indie festivals tend to be a bit smaller and less pricey than their pop/star filled competitors – which is great for fans. Check out Community Festival in London if you’re a fan of indie and upcoming music – it is a great day out, and as it only started in 2017 the ticket prices are still great. In this year alone, it has grown a massive amount with Two Door Cinema Club, The Vaccines and You Me At Six all headlining back-to-back.
It is only one day, so as with all day festivals check you have hotel and accommodation booked.
Best for RnB and Hip Hop:
London’s Wireless Festival is often my festival of choice every year. Hip Hop’s finest have been there in the past, including Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Drake and Outkast as well as Chance the Rapper, Schoolboy q, J.Cole, 2 Chains and plenty more to feast your eyes/ ears on. The genre of music may be quite specific but in terms of hip-hop and RnB, they do very well every year. Wireless combines the perfect combination of controversial characters with iconic names from the industry.
Best for Budget: Love Box
Lovebox takes place in London, Victoria every July. It is a two day festival with a very good line up. Acts such as Chase and Status (they’re busy every summer), A$AP Rocky, Route 94, M.I.A, NAS, Banks and many more have had big billings in the past here. Lovebox is the child of doting parents Groove Armada and is quite a modest sized festival with around 25,000 people going each year. It hasn’t got the history that some festivals have…yet! It may be a little wet behind the ears still, but this is what can make it cheaper so I would suggest going very soon before the prices start hitting treble figures!
Best for Legends and Families:
Well, I couldn’t write a festival blog without mentioning Glastonbury, could I?! It’s the biggest, it’s the baddest, and it’s the best! Glastonbury headliners are always a big deal and it is a prestigious festival to play. Past years have seen the honour has given to Arcade Fire, Metallica, Arctic Monkeys, Adele, Ed Sheeran, Beyonce and Kasabian – what a selection. As well as sets from The Black Keys, Jake Bugg, Robert Plant, Dolly Parton, the Bee Gees, Massive Attack, Disclosure and even Yoko Ono! Yes, the ticket system is slightly over the top and the prices are high but the festival season would not be the same without the iconic platform that is Glasto! 120,000 fans spread over an 8-mile radius at Worthy Farm.
There isn’t one in 2018 to let the field recover, but get geared up for 2019 now.
Top festivals are often quite pricey and usually need advanced purchasing of tickets. If you are keen to go then it will definitely take some saving as you will need more than just your ticket! You will also need supplies such as a tent, loo roll (trust me, you need this), sleeping bags and, depending on your personal preferences, baby wipes, toothpaste, face wash etc.
Of course, if you are heading abroad then you will need a current passport and flights etc. If your budget is tight then no worries, there are hundreds of local and smaller festivals taking place all over the country this summer and even better, lots of them are free too! Local festivals do not always mean obscure bands you’ll never see again, most of them showcase fantastic new music and are the perfect opportunity to see a band before they become massive and you have to pay £200 to see them.