When you're sitting through exam season, being stuck in academia can seem like a terrible life decision. Yet come summertime, it suddenly gets a whole lot better: four months of bliss, peppered with the odd holiday, drinking sessions and, if we're lucky, a spot of good weather.
Having rinsed yourself clean of revision, and waved adios to your digs for the summer, it'll be back to the nest for a few months of r&r, with very little to do besides the occasional pub jaunt, or half-heartedly applying for summer jobs. On seriously empty days, you might even agree to keep the parents happy by accompanying them on the once-a-year family day out (you love it really).
It's become a ritual to top off your summer on the UK's festival circuit, traipsing up and down the country in search of the best musicians, DJs and fancy dress themes. It means getting down and dirty with mother nature and spending long weekends in a flimsy tent with wet wipes for hygiene and warm cider for nourishment.
So in case you haven't had chance to finalise your festival plans, we're here to help with the 411 on the best weekends of the summer.
Line-up: The xx, Sigur Ros, Kaiser Chiefs, Jessie J
When: Various dates throughout June and July
Where: Eden Project, Cornwall
Price: individual concerts are £35
Uber-chill, these summer sessions held at the Eden Project offer something for the more zen characters among us. A stellar line-up including The XX, Sigur Ros and Kaiser Chiefs all head down to Cornwall for various dates throughout the summer, along with Eddie Izzard. Peppered throughout June and July, these individual events act as great mini festivals.
Beach Break Live
Line-up: Jake Bugg, AlunaGeorge, Devlin, Foreign Beggars, Lulu James
When: 20 — 24th June
Where: Pembrey Country Park
Price: weekend ticket £104, day tickets £20
Sold as the festival for students, which is better than it sounds. We promise. With a decent line-up featuring Jake Bugg, AlunaGeorge, Lulu James and Foreign Beggars, there’s plenty to impress, along with an extensive list of DJs. Oh, and did we mention it’s on the beach? So don’t forget your swimmers.
Line-up: The Rolling Stones, Mumford And Sons, The XX, Primal Scream
When: 26th June — 1st July
Where: Worthy Farm, Shepton Mallett
Price: tickets sold out
The grandfather of all festivals, Glastonbury is the most the most legendary event of all on the UK’s summer music calendar. Synonymous with mud, wellies and celebrity sightings, this year’s line-up brings some golden oldies to the forefront: The Rolling Stones and Primal Scream take centre stage, alongside Arctic Monkeys, The XX, Mumford & Sons and Dizzee Rascal. So, the hype lives on.
Somerset House Series
Line-up: Basement Jaxx, Tom Odell, Jessie Ware, Of Monsters And Men
When: 11 — 21st July
Where: Somerset House, London (nearest tube: Temple)
Price: individual concerts are £27.50
Ever the place to welcome culture, Somerset House opens its doors in July to the music crowd, who will flock to see the likes of Jessie Ware, Tom Odell and Basement Jaxx. With its eclectic line-up, the summer series runs as a 10-day-long festival. Tickets for each act are sold separately, so choose wisely.
T In The Park
Line-up: Rihanna, Mumford & Sons, Kendrick Lamar, Emeli Sande
When: 12 — 14th July
Where: Balado Airfield, Milnathort, Kinross, Scotland
Price: weekend tickets £194, day tickets from £75
Scotland’s summer party in the park returns, bringing with it a mish-mash of headliners, to ensure there’s something for everyone. From Rihanna to Mumford & Sons, and Kendrick Lamar to Emeli Sande, prepare to spend the weekend running from stage to stage. Plus, if you’re into your B-list pop acts, there’s something for you too: James Arthur, Little Mix and Ke$ha have all just been added to the line-up.
Line-up: Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Frank Ocean, Snoop Dogg
When: 12 — 14th July
Where: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Price: weekend tickets £190, day tickets £75
Bringing some of the biggest names in music to the capital, Wireless festival has some chart-heavy headliners, with Justin Timberlake leading on Friday, and Jay-Z taking centre-stage on Saturday. Held at the Queen Elizabeth Olympia Park, it’s a camp-free festival, so leave your tent and noodles at home. If you’re struggling to decide which day to go, both Justin and Jay-Z will be ripping it up in a “Legends of the Summer” event on the Sunday. Problem solved.
Line-up: Bloc Party, Hot Chip, alt-j, Foals
When: 18 — 21st July
Where: Henham Park, Suffolk
Price: weekend tickets £190, day tickets £84.50
At Latitude, culture matters. It isn’t just about the music (or boozing) — poetry, dance, drama and comedy are all equally important, so literates and bards, this is easily the one for you. There’s Eddie Izzard and Dylan Moran, and Caroline Anne Duffy and Daniel Kitson. And, music-wise, you’ve got Bloc Party, Hot Chip, Kraftwerk, and Foals. Sited in Suffolk, you can expect a busy weekend.
Line-up: Rudimental, Azealia Banks, Goldfrapp, Plan B, Lianne La Havas
When: 19 — 21st July
Where: Victoria Park, London
Price: weekend tickets £108, day tickets from £60.50
London’s Lovebox returns to London's Victoria Park this year with an impressive line-up, led by Hot Chip, Rudimental, Azealia Banks, Annie Mac and Plan B to name but a few, alongside a selection of off-the-beat acts. The festival, curated by Groove Armada, has been frequented by dance music devotees since 2002. Filling a long weekend (except sleeps that are at home), expect three memorable days of music, cirque, cabaret, and entertainment.
Electric Daisy Carnival
Line-up: Tiësto, Avicii, Fake Blood, Flux Pavilion
When: 20 — 21st July
Where: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London
America arrives in London by way of the Electric Daisy Carnival. As lively as it sounds, EDM is a worldwide brand, uniting the very best in electro-trance music. This year, it brings an extensive list of DJs and trance superstars to the capital for its European debut, including Dutch trance-god TIesto and master DJ Steve Angello. Are we ready for it? Expect pyrotechnics, colour, lights and crushing sound systems, as energetic adolescents dripping in day-glo take to the Olympic Park. It will be crazy.
Secret Garden Party
Line-up: Regina Spektor, Bastille, Django Django, 2MANYDJS
When: 25 — 28th July
Where: Grange Farm, Abbots Ripton
Price: weekend tickets from £142.50
The secret is out. This overgrown garden party has become one of the most talked-about events on the festival circuit. One where band t-shirts and frayed denim shorts don’t cut it, The Secret Garden Party has a dress code that dictates feathers, glitters, gems, and jewels — so go hard or go home. Full of exuberance and energy, it calls itself 'a four-day party like no other'. This year’s theme is 'superstition', while headline sets come from Soulwax, Bastille and Regina Spektor. Elsewhere there’s art installations, kitschy workshops, and, of course,boutique camping.
Line-up: Plan B, Disclosure, Rita Ora, Example
When: 26 — 27th July
Where: Long Marston Airfield, Stratford Upon Avon
Price: weekend tickets £120
Global Gathering celebrates its 13 birthday this year, making it one of the oldest dance festivals in the UK. With a line-up spanning the dance and electronic music spectrum, expect all kinds of techno, house, dubstep, disco, and so forth, along with some popular mainstream names — Plan B, Rita Ora and Disclosure.
Line-up: Empire Of The Sun, Noah And The Whale, Matt Corby, Tom Odell
When: 9 — 11th August
Where: Cornbury Park, Charlbury
Price: weekend tickets £146
From the people that bring you Secret Garden Party, this four-day festival unites music, theatre, dining and contemporary arts, in the beautiful setting of Cornbury Park. Following last year’s debut on the festival circuit, Wilderness is back, with Empire Of The Sun as the exclusive headline act, along with Noah And The Whale, Tom Odell, Ghostpoet and Matt Corby. As well as music, you can expect all sorts: spa sessions, crafts, wild runs, live theatre, and so forth. Heck, there’s even horse riding. Voted as one of the best festivals in 2012, it’s all about the outdoors. There’s woodlands, lakes and meadows, so pitch your tent, light a fire, and somebody dig out the marshmallows.
Line-up: Beyoncé, Kings of Leon, Stereophonics, The Script, Calvin Harris
When: 17 — 18th August
Where: Hylands Park, Chelmsford, Essex and Weston Park, Weston-under-Lizard, Staffordshire
Price: weekend tickets £185, day tickets £89
Hats off to V Fest for booking Beyoncé as their headline act this year. Offering a selection of sounds, ticket holders also get to enjoy the likes of Kings of Leon, Stereophonics, Calvin Harris and The Script, to namedrop a few from a lengthy line-up. If you’re a Virgin customer, don’t forget to enquire as to receiving any perks from your loyalty.
Line-up: The Prodigy, David Guetta, Duke Dumont, Afrojack
When: 23 — 25th August
Where: Daresbury, Cheshire
Price: weekend tickets £140, day tickets £75
One of the most celebrated festivals in the North West, this dance festival attracts some of the biggest names in the ‘biz. This year will see The Prodigy, David Guetta, and Duke Dumont pleasing the crowd, along with a long line-up of DJs.
Leeds and Reading
Line-up: Eminem, Biffy Clyro, System of a Down, Green Day
When: 23 — 25th August
Where: Richfield Avenue, Reading, and Bramham Park, near Leeds
Price: weekend tickets £202, day tickets £90
Now a classic on the UK festival circuit, Leeds and Reading vow to focus fully on the music. Attracting rock fans from around the country, this year’s line-up features Eminem, Biffy Clyro, Green Day and System Of A Down, so weekend campers can expect to hit it hard. Spanning the August bank holiday weekend, there’s also some softer acts for the lesser metal-heads among us. Phoenix, Haim and Bastille have all been added to the mix. Camping is popular, but there are day tickets available, too.
South West Four
Line-up: Carl Craig, Afrojack, Knife Party, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
When: 24— 25th August
Where: Clapham Common, London
Price: day tickets from £50, weekend tickets £97.50
SW4 is a two-day festival that takes place on Clapham Common, bringing together the best DJs and electronic acts. Bigger than ever this year, the event celebrates its tenth anniversary — so expect some big celebrations. This year’s line up includes Armin van Buuren, Knife Party, Afrojack, TEED, and Laidback Luke. Both day tickets and weekend tickets are available, and though the official event wraps up at 10pm each day, obligatory afterparties carry on well in to the wee hours.
Line-up: Roots Manuva, Toddla T, Shackleton, Courtney Pine
When: 22 — 26th August
Where: Near Market Harbourough, Northamptonshire
Price: weekend ticket £129
As the country’s leading green and free-thinking event, Shambala returns as the UK’s answer to the Burning Man festival. Set across the four days of the August bank holiday weekend, over 200 music acts will take to the 12 stages, along with cabaret, comedy, talks and debates — all housed in beautifully decorated venues. The line-up for this year includes performances from Roots Manuva, Shackleton, Toddla T, and legendary folk singer Billy Bragg.
End Of The Road
Line-up: Sigur Rós, Belle And Sebastian, Frightened Rabbit, Warpaint
When: 30th August — 1st September
Where: Larner Tree Gardens, North Dorset
Price: weekend tickets from £140
As one of the UK’s more folky festivals, End of the Road returns to Wiltshire at the end of the summer. Alongside Sigur Rós and Belle and Sebastian, look forward to seeing Nashville’s girl-of-the-minute Caitlin Rose, as well as the likes of Warpaint and Dinsosaur Jr (plus plenty of acts that you’ll then be adding to your iTunes). Hire a Yurt and kick back in luxury.
Line-up: Elton John, Snoop Dogg, M.I.A, The Flaming Lips
When: 5 —8th September
Where: Robin Hill Country Park, London
Price: weekend tickets from £180
Another festival to look back to yesteryear for its headline acts, Bestival brings the one and only Sir Elton John to the centre stage. Expect guests young and old, as other big acts include Snoop Dogg, MIA, Franz Ferdinand, and Fatboy Slim. As the original boutique festival, Bestival has grown and grown, and is easily one of the most popular on the UK circuit.
Festival No. 6
Line up: James Blake, Manic Street Preachers, Everything Everything, Mount Kimbie,
When: 13 — 15th September
Price: weekend tickets £170
If you haven’t been to Portmerion, this is the perfect excuse. An amazing place in its own right, the Italian village that was the setting of cult ‘60s show The Prisoner now plays host to Festival No. 6. Wrapping up the festival circuit, No. 6 comes mid-way through September, so you’ve still got plenty of time to plan. Following the success of last year’s inaugural event, this year’s line-up is impressive, pulling in James Blake, Everything Everything, Mount Kimbie, and I Am Kloot. Best yet, Manic Street Preachers are there for a rare festival performance.