Sunburn, food poisoning, those toilets; that’s right! It’s festival season again! With so many opportunities to chat loudly with your friends with some bands playing in the background where do you turn to find out the best dramatic backdrop for your selfie where to pitch up for a life changing musical moment? Look no further, here is our round up of the festivals that matter this summer.
The daddy of all UK festivals. I could go on, but you’ve either got tickets or you haven’t (I haven’t). Universally beloved, universally believed to not be as good since the fence went up, universally watched on TV by everyone.
The National will be brilliant, mind.
A relative newcomer to the scene, but one that packs in big names. This year you have the option to gamble on Frank Ocean actually turning up for his headline slot, or you could watch the almost insultingly punctual The 1975 the following evening. Close enough to a major metropolis that you could forgo camping for an Airbnb.
Pro-tip: You will end surrounded by people who Studio 54 would have turned away for being too dressed up.
Flying Lotus will be brilliant, mind.
Secret Garden Party
Basically, an end of term party for public school kids, if you want to hear where Jemima and Tarquin are spending their gap years this is the festival for you. That said I know an Australian lass I know blagged her way in with a roadie, so if you get the opportunity to go for cheap you should absolutely do it.
Toots & The Maytals will be brilliant, mind.
The New Labour of festivals. Your pulled pork slider will be served on a plate with the face of the pig you are eating on it, you’ll be pulling actual twigs out of your real ale, you will be surrounded by people who work/have worked for Channel 4 and their kids and you will probably be tutted at if you so much as breathe loudly during Fleet Foxes.
Pro-tip: Not the friendliest festival in the UK. Yes, that is Dylan Moran and no, he doesn’t want to talk to you.
Ibibio Sound Machine will be brilliant, mind.
The one where you people do fancy dress. God help us if there’s a war.
Pet Shop Boys will be brilliant, mind.
The pop one. If Geordie Shore was a festival, it would be V Festival. You will be surrounded by young people who cannot fathom that you might be able to watch a band, rather than film it for your Instagram, and talk exclusively in hashtags.
Pro-tip: It can get a bit hen party/stag do later-on. Watch who you befriend after dark. What happens in V stays in V.
The Rubberbandits will be brilliant, mind.
The festival where legends come to die, legends are born, and legends come back around on some sort of grotesque perpetual nostalgia tour. Once the home of genuinely alternative music, Reading and Leeds is now like a three-day episode of The Inbetweeners sound tracked by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
Japandroids will be brilliant, mind.
End of the Road
If the Guardian was a music festival it would be End of The Road. Endlessly well meaning, desperate to be to relevant and some very serious opinions about the state of things, End of the Road is one long hot take of a festival. A friend of mine came back form it one year and told me about the amazing clog dancing they’d seen. Clog dancing! The Britain’s Got Talent! of pre-war entertainment.
Pro-tip: Despite the clog dancing no-one gets burnt in a giant wicker man, you can relax.
Ty Segal will be brilliant, mind.
Festival No. 6
I’m not sure that there are many places better suited for a Bakhtinian romp into the carnivalesque than Portmeirion, the fun-house mirror of a village where The Prisoner was set, so full marks for hosting a festival here. A mixture of entertainment ranging from “the safe” to “the very safe” balances out the odd background or a festival.
Pro-tip: We know you’re not a number. We know you’re a free man. Please stop repeating it.
The Flaming Lips will be brilliant, mind.
So, there you go, nine festivals to take you out of your arm chairs and into one of those collapsible camping chairs instead. And why not? Because joking aside there are few feelings like joining in on a huge singalong with thousands of strangers and feeling like this moment was meant for you and your mates. Few feelings like ending up in the wrong tent because of a line-up change and discovering a new favourite. Few feelings like losing your friends and ending up with a bunch of new ones.
Festival season, we salute you. We just might be saluting a few of you from afar.