The ten best music festivals

These live outdoor gigs are the perfect accompaniment to a lazy summer's day, says Xfm's Steve Taylor
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£30 per seat

In a bid to de-mud the festival season, the Old Trafford cricket ground in Manchester is going rock. The homecoming Morrissey headlines the Virgin Trains Move festival on Sunday, while The Cure have new "heavy" material to showcase and Madness, The Pixies and Ocean Colour Scene ensure that a splendid back-catalogue time is had by all. With a maximum of three bands each day, expect some long innings before stumps.

8-11 July (0870 405 0445;


£112 (sold out)

OK, there are no tickets left, but via new technology or ancient vibe, everyone does Glastonbury. As for the line-up, Macca is a definite and Orbital say this will be their last ever performance. Oasis seem a safe bet, but U2, Kraftwerk and The Eagles are guesses, having not yet provided alibis for the weekend. No Prince, though. Look for ways to win tickets: Lee's Carnaby Street store, for example, is giving some away until 29 May.

25-27 June (0870 998 8888;

Carling Festival: Reading & Leeds

Reading £45 (day), Leeds £105 (weekend)

Reading is the no-nonsense deal; 33 years on and still brutally simple. It's easy to get to by train or road, there's little movement between stages and (if history repeats) a car-boot sale at the gates dispenses reasonably priced multi-packs of beer. Job done. This year's line-up includes The White Stripes, The Darkness, 50 Cent and Morrissey. If you're up north, head for Leeds; or go anyway, because Reading is sold out.

27-29 August (Ticketmaster 0870 151 4444;,



Bob Dylan, fresh from his US lingerie ads and alleged enquiries into the possibility of his becoming a judge on American Idol, is back with a whole new agenda. Catch him while you can. This is a one-day festival, so you won't need to pitch a tent, and you can get a slap-up meal in north London afterwards.

20 June, Finsbury Park, London N4 (0870 151 4444;


From £45 for day ticket (without camping)

Designer skateboard-wear outnumbers biker garb at Donington nowadays, but the vibe is still intense in the country's biggest mosh pit. There are three stages and a one-way people system to avoid the accidental interlocking of piercings. Metallica, Slayer, Soulfly, Korn and The Stooges provide the necessary metal roots, while Him, Breed 77, Peaches and the headliners Linkin Park demonstrate where the heavy stuff is at right now.

5-6 June, Castle Donington, Derbyshire (0870 151 4444;

The Green Man

£20 per day, £35 weekend ticket (under-14s £5 per day, under-7s free)

Check out the "folktronics" at Baskerville Hall, where Conan Doyle set his celebrated whodunit. Curated by It's Jo and Danny, leading exponents of the acoustic guitars and laptop approach, The Green Man is a quiet, rural affair complete with film, literature and children's games. Four Tet headline a bill that includes new experimental minstrels Adem and the hotly-tipped James Yorkston and the Athletes.

21-22 August, Hay-on-Wye, Powys (01874 611129;

We Love... Homelands


Yep, it's changed its name, and there's even some rock/pop. The Music and Scissor Sisters may be big on the posters, but really it's a who's who of turntablism. From new superstar DJs Richard X and Mark Ronson, to old masters Grandmaster Flash and Jazzy Jeff, it's 17 hours of beats, breaks and then, I suspect, more beats. Over 18s only.

29 May, Winchester, Hampshire (0870 151 4444;


€79 (inc camping); €50 day ticket

Two German sister festivals: Hurricane in the windswept north in Eichenring, Scheessel and Southside in the potentially blazing heat of an abandoned airfield in Tuttlingen, Baden-Württemberg. The line-ups put alternative music in context; impressive newcomers such as Franz Ferdinand, Breed 77, McLusky and Snow Patrol will surely turn into mere fans for sets by Bowie, The Cure, The Bunnymen, the Pixies and PJ Harvey.

25-27 June (00 40 853 88853;

T in the Park

£88 weekend, £42.50 day ticket (festival sold out)

With five stages, including Slam (the biggest single dance gathering in Scotland) and the X-Stage, this is headlined by the band that may well end up as the overall victors of the 2004 festival season, The Bees. As far as the big stuff goes, I defy you to choose between the Pixies, Massive Attack and The Chemical Brothers on Sunday night. It's still worth trying to win tickets in competitions through the website.

10-11 July, Kinross, Scotland (


€80 weekly ticket; €15 daily ticket (on gate only)

Every year, the island of Obuda, between Buda and Pest, becomes a micro-community of Goths, ravers, metallers, freaks, punks and local Hungarians. There are 38 stages (take that, Glastonbury!) and no camping restrictions, so you can pitch up in the woods or behind the main stage. The truly international programme of music, art and dance workshops and organised cake fights make Sziget more than a festival. It's an experiment in utopian living.

4-11 August, Budapest, Hungary (