Your guide to biggest and best music festivals

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

As Bruce Springsteen heads for Worthy Farm, Blur reunite and Doves aim for great heights, this year’s festival season offers the perfect recession antidote. Ben Walsh is our guide

End of the Road

"An artistic triumph and fully deserving of its place in the festival calendar" was how our reviewer Nick Hasted described last year's End of the Road.

Now in its fourth year, this quirky, independent event, which won the Best New Festival at the Festival Awards 2006, is set deep within the beautiful tranquillity of Larmer Tree Gardens. This year, the 5,000-capacity festival will feature the Broken Family Band, the Cambridge quartet with a haunting, rather unhinged slant on country rock, Alela Diane, the melancholy folk singer from Nevada City, California, the folk-inflected Dodos from San Francisco, the sumptuous, mesmerising harmonies of Fleet Foxes, the Danish post-pop crooner Peter Broderick, bluegrass exponents Mumford & Sons, cerebral folkies Okkervil River and the country-rock colossus Steve Earle. Longer than normal sets are positively encouraged at this corporate-free delight.

Act not to miss: Fleet Foxes
Act to look out for: Okkervil River
Where: Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset (020-8675 9616;
When: 11-13 September

This perennially intriguing festival, now in its fourth year, celebrates all aspects of art and culture, including poetry (Jeffrey Lewis and Andrew Motion will attend) and literature talks (Blake Morrison). Also, this year the English National Ballet will present a new musical from Che Walker. But indie rock is still the main draw and Latitude once again boasts one of the finest line-ups of the year, with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Pet Shop Boys, Doves and Grace Jones topping the bill. The Doves' exquisite new album, Kingdom of Rust, will have hopefully catapulted this Mancunian trio, who formed in 1998 and have released four albums, to Elbow-like success by July. They deserve their moment in the sun and they could be the surprise package at this pretty, family-friendly setting in gorgeous Southwold. Other highlights at this now major boutique festival include Spiritualized, Bat for Lashes, Editors and Gossip.
Act not to miss: Doves
Act to look out for: A Belle and Sebastian DJ set
Where: Henham Park, Southwold, Sunrise Coast, Suffolk (
When: 16-19 July

The Secret Garden
This radically expressive and radically inclusive festival boldly claims to provide "a nihilistic escape from the daily drudge of normality and invites you into the world of Eden and Babylon", two hedonistic areas created either side of a picaresque lake. Jarvis Cocker, the gangly, former misfit, who is now rather part of the establishment, tops the typically eclectic bill. Also confirmed are the quirky Liverpudlian turntablist Sonny J, the underrated anti-folk songstress Emmy the Great, electronic whiz and sonic-soundscape practitioner Caribou, reggae greats Toots and the Maytals and Golden Silvers, a New Romantic, electro-pop trio from London, whose debut, True Romance, is released later this month.
Act not to miss: Jarvis Cocker
Act to look out for: Emmy the Great
Where: Mill Hill Field, Grange Farm, Huntingdon (
When: 23-26 July

"Glastonbury has a tradition of guitar music. I'm not having hip-hop at Glastonbury. It's wrong," maintained Noel Gallagher last year. The granddaddy of music festivals controversially selected Jay-Z as a headliner last year, but there's no such hip-hop adventure this time, as Glastonbury plumps for rock mammoths Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young, and Gallagher's old nemeses, the freshly reunited Blur. Ever since the Boss' 2006 album We Shall Overcome: the Seeger Sessions , which included 13 old folk songs made popular by the folkie Pete Seeger, Springsteen has been re-energised. He released, with his E-Street Band, the superb Magic in 2007 and has followed it up with the solid Working on a Dream this year. Expect the insatiable 59-year-old to slide on his knees, grinning like an extra in High School Musical at some stage of his three-hour-plus set. Other highlights include Fleet Foxes, Franz Ferdinand, the Ting Tings, White Lies, Emiliana Torrini, Doves, Lily Allen, Echo and the Bunnymen and the rugged, bluesy sensation Florence and the Machine.
Act not to miss: Bruce Springsteen (although Blur could run him close)
Act to look out for: Florence and the Machine
Where: Worthy Farm, Pilton (
When: 24-28 June

Wychwood, which is pitched up at Cheltenham racecourse and overlooks some green, lush rolling hills, is like a small-scale Glastonbury (7,500 people) and this relaxed festival has, rather impressively, won the best family festival award three years since its inception in 2005. Supergrass, Super Furry Animals, the Mummers, Oojami Sound System, who are a unique fusion of Turkish rhythms and European electro sounds, Red Light Company and the Wonder Stuff are this year's big acts, but its traditionally folk leanings see Bellowhead, the Irish folk singer Cara Dillon and Oysterband also playing. In addition to the four music stages there is a children's literature festival, comedy and hundreds of workshops.
Act not to miss: Super Furry Animals
Act to look out for: Bellowhead
Where: Cheltenham Racecourse, Prestbury Park (
When: 29-31 May

Cambridge Folk
The three-time Grammy winner Lucinda Williams plays her only UK festival date this year at this intimate and rather lovely 45-year-old festival, one of the most famous and biggest folk events in the world. A reliably dependable line-up includes the Zutons, LA band Los Lobos, who blend blues, rockabilly, jazz and Latin, the inimitable folk-rockers the Saw Doctors, Booker T Jones and his band, the seminal English folk group the Waterson Family, the Irish folk singer Cara Dillon, Mumford & Sons, Alela Diane, Peter Molinari, Eddi Reader, Adrian Edmondson and the Bad Shepherds and the provocative folk singer Jim Moray.
Act not to miss: Lucinda Williams
Act to look out for: Mumford & Sons
Where: Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge (
When: 31 July-3 August

One of summer's most vivacious festivals, where most join in the annual fancy dress, DJ Rob Da Bank's event has grown so much in esteem that it's added two more – Camp Bestival and Bandstand. The Mercury Prize winners Elbow are booked to play, as are Polly Scattergood, the flamboyant punk outfit the Horrors, the Big Pink (the London duo have been compared to the excellent TV on the Radio), the Ghost, Casio Kids and a DJ set from Toddla T.
Act not to miss: Elbow
Act to look out for: The Big Pink
Where: Robin Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight (
When: 11-13 September

Camp Bestival
Voted Best New Festival in the UK Festival Awards 2008, this giant playground of jollity, dance and psychedelia features a superbly eclectic line-up, including the 66-year-old soul diva Candi Staton, the delicate, haunting folk-pop singer Laura Marling, the wonderful PJ Harvey, the preposterous Welsh rappers Goldie Lookin' Chain, Florence and the Machine, the fired-up folkie Frank Turner, Will Young and the "doo-wop" singer-songwriter VV Brown. Plus, there will be DJ Yoda, Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip and the jazz-funk impresario Roy Ayers.
Act not to miss: PJ Harvey
Act to look out for: Frank Turner
Where: Lulworth Castle, East Lulworth
When: 24-26 July

The jazz great Ornette Coleman, responsible for the Pulitzer Prize-winning 2006 release Sound Grammar, has been charged with creating the 16th Meltdown, a festival previously curated by David Bowie, Morrissey, Patti Smith and Massive Attack. The revered saxophonist, violinist and trumpeter is responsible for some of the most dazzling, singular music ever heard, including the 1959 release The Shape of Jazz to Come and his landmark release This Is Our Music. Coleman's radical and uncompromising approach – he's collaborated with the likes of Frank Zappa and Sonic Youth – promises to attract an improvisational and fascinating (which is still to be announced) line up.
Where: Southbank Centre, London SE1 (
When: 13-21 June

The Big Chill

An ideal festival for hip families, the Big Chill is located in the exquisite grounds of Eastnor Castle, which boasts a wood, an arboretum and four lakes. The typically diverse line-up includes the magnificent former Talking Head David Byrne (fresh from a productive collaboration with Brian Eno on Everything That Happens Will Happen Today), the ubiquitous Basement Jaxx, Orbital, Gong, Mr Scruff, Lamb, the deliciously funky Friendly Fires, Calexico, Apples and Snakes and Spiritualized, Jason Pierce's alternative rock/space-rock act, who are always a breathtaking live experience. Plus, a programme of activities are planned from Thursday night right through the weekend.
Act not to miss: David Byrne
Act to look out for: Friendly Fires
Where: Eastnor Castle Deer Park, Herefordshire (
When: 7-9 August

Womad, set up by Peter Gabriel 27 years ago, has long been the home for world music. This joyous festival has a deliriously faithful following and offers everything from drum'n'bass to Guinean kora to Cuban divas. More than 3,000 people attend and its diverse line up will include the legendary R&B songwriter Solomon Burke, Fat Freddy's Drop, the seven-piece folk outfit from New Zealand, the trail-blazing Guinean kora VC master Ba Cissoko and Etran Finatawa, who combine the nomadic cultures of the Tuareg and Wodaadbe people of the West African people of Niger.
Act not to miss: Oumou Sangare
Act to look out for:Ba Cissoko
Where: Charlton Park, Malmesbury, Wiltshire (
When: 24-26 July

Green Man
Set in breathtaking countryside, with a mountain called Sugarloaf as a dramatic backdrop, this environmentally friendly, of course, and deliciously eccentric festival celebrates indie and folk music. This year's line-up includes Chicago's superb alternative rockers Wilco, the folkie du jour Bon Iver, Brighton's eccentric indie-rock quartet British Sea Power, Four Tet, the highly praised Brooklyn-based indie-rockers Grizzly Bear, Dirty Three, Vetiver, Peter Broderick, Andrew Bird and the Leisure Society.
Act not to miss: Wilco
Act to look out for: Grizzly Bear
Where: Glanusk Park, Crickhowell, Wales (
When: 21-23 August

The apex for any self-respecting rock act, this double festival has performances from Kings of Leon, this year's Brit Award winners for Best International Group and Best International Album, for Only by the Night, Kaiser Chiefs, Placebo, the mouthy, experimental indie-rocker Jamie T, Funeral for a Friend, the Prodigy, Maximo Park, Glasvegas, Gallows and Bloc Party. Plus, the two biggies, the mighty Radiohead and the Arctic Monkeys, who are performing in the UK for the first time since they last toured in December 2007.
Act not to miss: Arctic Monkeys
Act to look out for: Jamie T
Where: Little John's Farm, Richfield Ave, Reading; Bramham Park, Leeds (
When: 28-30 August

Isle of Wight
Resurrected in 2002 from the original 1970 bash, which saw Jimi Hendrix's last live performance, this was voted Britain's best major festival in 2007. This year offers the Prodigy, Simple Minds, Neil Young, the Pigeon Detectives, the Script, Basement Jaxx, the Ting Tings, Charlatans, Stereophonics, White Lies, Noisettes, Maximo Park, Ultravox (yes, they're back and it "means nothing to me, oh Vienna..."), Razorlight and Pendulum.
Act not to miss: Neil Young
Act to look out for: Noisettes
Where: Seaclose Park, Newport, Isle of Wight (
When: 12-14 June

Hop Farm
Vince Power, the Mean Fiddler and Reading Festival founder who is also behind Spain's extremely successful Benicassim festival, holds this small festival, which is totally free of ticket registration and is devoid of branding or sponsorship. Expanded to a three-day event this year, the Hop Farm festival is once again held in the lovely Paddock Wood, and the line-up includes Paul Weller, the glorious Echo and the Bunnymen, Florence and the Machine, Noah and the Whale, Howling Bells, Ladyhawke, Mystery Jets, Editors, Super Furry Animals and Pigeon Detectives. More acts are promised.
Act not to miss: Echo and the Bunnymen
Act to look out for: Noah and the Whale
Where: Hop Farm, Paddock Wood, Tonbridge, Kent ( festivals/others2008/thehopfarm)
When: 3-5 July

Set in the Highlands, the fourth year of Rock-Ness, which blends dance and electronic music with rock, includes a typically heady line-up: the Prodigy, Placebo, Basement Jaxx, Orbital, the awe-inspiring London rapper Dizzee Rascal, the Wombats, Alabama Three and Frightened Rabbit, an idiosyncratic indie-punk outfit from Selkirk in Scotland.
Act not to miss: Dizzee Rascal
Act to look out for: Frightened Rabbit
Where: Loch Ness, Scotland (
When: 12-14 June

T in the Park
T in the Park is the biggest Scottish festival and won the Best Line-Up award at the UK Festival Awards '08 and the Greener Festival Award last year. It once again comes up trumps with a line-up that includes the Kings of Leon, Blur, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and the Killers as headliners. Also playing are Snow Patrol, the Specials (minus, of course, their inspirational Jerry Dammers), Razorlight, Manic Street Preachers, Bloc Party, Lady GaGa, Glasvegas, James, Lily Allen, TV on the Radio, the experimental and sensational five-piece from Brooklyn, New York, Ladyhawke, Keane, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Mogwai, Foals and the blistering Nine Inch Nails.
Act not to miss: Blur
Act to look out for: TV on the Radio
Where: Kinross
When: 10-12 July

V Festival
The V Festival perennially seems to have the cream of most festivals' top draws with Oasis, who made a bit of a comeback with Dig Out Your Soul, the excellent Elbow, Keane, the Enemy, the Killers, Razorlight, Snow Patrol, the Specials and Lily Allen. Plus, there's Taylor Swift, the teenage country sensation Stateside, Fatboy Slim, the Ting Tings, Happy Mondays, the excellent Brooklyn space-rock sonic conjurors MGMT, Biffy Clyro, the Streets, James Morrison, Peter Doherty, Katy Perry, Dizzee Rascal and Lady Gaga. It's impressive.
Act not to miss: Elbow
Act to look out for: MGMT
Where: Hylands Park, Chelmsford; Weston Park, Staffordshire (
When: 22-23 August

Hard Rock Calling
Hard Rock Calling, back for the fourth year running and now extended to a three-day event, is blessed with the potent Bruce Springsteen as a headliner, along with Neil Young, the Killers, who returned to form with Day and Age, Fleet Foxes, the magnificent bluesman and boogie singer Seasick Steve and the Pretenders.
Act not to miss: Bruce Springsteen
Act to look out for: Seasick Steve
Where: Hyde Park, London W1
When: 28 & 29 June

The superstar rapper Kanye West, fresh from bagging himself a Brit award for Best International Artist and selling out the O2 Arena, headlines the Sunday event (5 July), while Basement Jaxx and the DJ Paul Oakenfold head up the Saturday night (6 July). This two-day-and-night festival is for non-campers and also features Dizzee Rascal, the Streets, the German duo Digitalism, Delphic, Q Tip, Filthy Dukes and the rapper Kid Cudi.
Act not to miss: Kanye West
Act to look out for: Digitalism
Where: Hyde Park, London W1
When: 4 & 5 July

Arts and Entertainment
Jude Law in Black Sea


In Black Seahe is as audiences have never seen him before

Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops


Arts and Entertainment
Full circle: Wu-Tang’s Method Man Getty

Music review

Arts and Entertainment
When he was king: Muhammad Ali training in 'I Am Ali'
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
Arts and Entertainment
Scare tactics: Michael Palin and Jodie Comer in ‘Remember Me’

TVReview: Remember Me, BBC1
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game