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The best UK festivals for discovering new music – and who to see when you get there

From Brighton to Liverpool, London to Leeds, we've picked out some of our favourite festivals for discovering great new acts

Roisin O'Connor
Music Correspondent
Friday 23 March 2018 12:13
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As we slowly, tentatively, finally seem to be easing our way out of that brutal winter, it’s time to start thinking about your summer plans.

Each year we become more and more spoilt for choice when it comes to music festivals, but which ones are worth your time? Festival veterans will likely have their favourites locked down, and you already know about all the big ones: Isle of Wight, Reading & Leeds, TRNSMT, Green Man, Parklife, End of the Road, Latitude to name but a few.

We’ve compiled a list of the festivals you might be less familiar with that really excel when it comes to one of our favourite things: new music. Pop, rock, indie, grime, hip hop – whatever your taste is, these festivals have you covered.

Sound City

Takes place: Liverpool, 5-6 May

Tickets: http://www.soundcity.uk.com/

Anyone griping about the death of rock music should shut up by the time they arrive at Sound City. This festival is packed to the rafters with talent, much of which comes in the shape of exciting young indie and rock acts.

On the lineup this year are some of our new favourites including Billy Lockett, IDLES, Matt Maltese, False Heads, Sam Fender, Aadae, Stereo Honey, Sea Girls, Otzeki and False Advertising.

Live at Leeds

Takes place: Leeds, 5 May

Tickets: https://www.liveatleeds.com/

Often referred to as the ‘Great Escape of the North’, Live at Leeds also takes place over the May Day bank holiday – and organisers are clearly to determined to go even bigger and better than last year.

Acts you shouldn’t miss include Abi Ocia, Cosmo Pyke, Louis Berry, Rae Morris, Sorry, Spring King, The Xcerts, Touts, Catherine McGrath, Freya Ridings, Anteros and Blaenavon.

Definitely don’t miss The Independent’s stage – more details on that to come!

The Great Escape

Stefflon Don takes over the VEVO stage at The Great Escape festival

Takes place: Brighton, 17-19 May

Tickets: http://greatescapefestival.com/

Every year, the UK music industry (and then some) gathers in Brighton to try and seek out some of the best new talent around. But TGE isn’t just for them: it’s a great place for you to discover your favourite new pop singer, or maybe a great new rock band. Plus there’s fish and chips.

Che Lingo, Pitou, Aine Cahill, Tamino, Lady Bird, Hak Baker, Awate, Nina Nesbitt, Kojey Radical, Blanco White, Poppy Ajudha, Lewis Capaldi, Lo Moon, Ms Banks, Tom Grennan… the list goes on and on, but those are our top picks to try and see over the weekend.

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All Points East

Dave Bayley of Glass Animals performs on stage in 2017 

Takes place: London, 25-27 May

Tickets: http://www.allpointseastfestival.com/

This brand new festival is being held in Victoria Park, east London, and has already announced a faintly ridiculous range of headliners, including LCD Soundsystem, Bjork, The xx and The National, plus Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Glass Animals, Young Fathers and BADBADNOTGOOD.

You can also find loads of the best and brightest in new music on the billing, featuring Tom Misch, Superorganism, Lo Moon, Kojey Radical, Stefflon Don, Rex Orange County, Khruangbin and Yaeji.

(@olli_appleyard/Slam Dunk Instagram

Takes place: Hatfield, 26-27 May

Tickets: https://www.slamdunkmusic.com/tickets/

Slam Dunk is storming ahead with its biggest lineup so far – it’s definitely the one for your more alternative music. This year’s billing is pretty wild, festival-goers will get to see the likes of Good Charlotte, Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday, Twin Atlantic, The Audition, Creeper, Dream State and Grayscale.

2000trees

Enter Shikari are headlining this year’s 2000trees festival 

Takes place: Gloucestershire, 12 – 14 July

Tickets: http://www.twothousandtreesfestival.co.uk/

Organisers of this award-winning independent festival – set in the beautiful Cotswold Hills – have dedicated themselves to bringing the best new and underground music over the course of one weekend in July, catering to all tastes from rock to metal, folk to indie, pop to electronic.

This year 2000trees is being headlined by our faves Enter Shikari and At The Drive-In, the latter in a UK festival exclusive. Fresher faces include the likes of Turbowolf, Fangclub, Arcane Roots, Sløtface, Nervus, Bitch Falcon, Lady Bird, Gender Roles and Loathe.

Kendal Calling

Takes place: Lake District, 26-29 July

Tickets: http://www.kendalcalling.co.uk/

Set in the stunning Lake District’s Lowther Deer Park, Kendal Calling has more of a family-friendly vibe that some of the others on this list, but the line-up is just as good.

This year you’ll get to see fresh new talent like Tom Grennan, Yonaka, The Amazons, Marmozets, Black Honey, Plastic Mermaids, and Trampolene.

Standon Calling

Takes place: Herfordshire, 26-29 July

Tickets: http://standon-calling.com/

On top of a stellar lineup you’ll be able to catch DJ sets, family activities and some great comedy.

Bigger names on this year’s lineup include Paloma Faith, George Ezra and Bryan Ferry, plus Goldfrapp, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Horrors, Little Simz and Gaz Coombes.

Names you might not be so familiar with – but should definitely get to know – are Shame, Gengahr, Tom Walker, Nina Nesbitt, Dream Wife, Hak Baker, Pip Blom and Jade Bird.

Check out a playlist of new music to discover this summer, below:

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