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John Kennedy presents: The best alternative music festivals in the UK

Radio X presenter picks his top alternative music festivals for summer

John Kennedy
Wednesday 24 May 2017 12:23 BST
(Wilderness Festival)

John Kennedy presents X-Posure with John Kennedy on Radio X, Monday – Thursday from 10pm. Described as the ‘doyen of alternative music’, John is Radio X’s new music guru and is one of the most trusted voices in music. John was the first person to play Adele on the radio and has been instrumental in introducing artists including Mumford & Sons, MIA and The xx to the UK airwaves.

Here he's written us a guide to some of his favourite festivals for alternative music.

In the Woods Festival

In The Woods festival (Tony Jupp)

Takes place 1-2 September


If you’re looking for a small festival, I’d recommend you get a ticket for the 1000-capacity In the Woods, which is now in its 11th year. The line-up isn’t announced until very close to the event and often the artists on the bill haven’t released a record yet, so you take a risk.

However their curation is fantastic and you’re guaranteed to walk away with a new favourite artist. I’ve seen so many great artists there for the first time including Anna Calvi, alt-J, Young Fathers and Lianne La Havas, all before they’d released anything. Years & Years also played there - they’d released a record at that stage but it was still quite early on in their career.


(Wilderness Festival (Wilderness Festival)

Takes place 3-6 August


Wilderness has a great setting, great food, a great variety of activities plus some great new names to check out. Look out for the beautiful R&B indie of Babeheaven, the furious rock and roll of Louis Berry, the soothing sounds of Isaac Gracie, and the hypnotic entrancing electronics of Anchorsong from Japan.

End of the Road

(©2016 Rachel Juarez-Carr | (©2016 Rachel Juarez-Carr |

Takes place 31 August - 3 September


If you want some noisy rock and roll in your ears, Slowcoaches and Goat Girl should be your go-to acts for something fierce and furious. In contrast, Let’s Eat Grandma are a duo from Norwich who make a dreamy, electronic-inspired fantasia of songs. HMLTD are the exciting glam band of the year. Shame bring the rock and roll rebellion and combine it with great songs and amazing tunes.

Electric Fields

Takes place 1-2 September


Anna Meredith is a Scottish composer who has an incredible band. Her latest album will make you dance with a combination of cellos, brass, an assortment of percussion and keyboards. A must-see, I would say personally.

PINS are a post-punk group of girls from Manchester, who are updating that Joy Division sound for the 21st century. They recently collaborated with Iggy Pop and are well-worth checking out. Aldous Harding is a bewitching singer-songwriter from New Zealand whose new album came out on the legendary 4AD records.

Also playing are Sacred Paws - a duo from Glasgow and London who create an infectious Afro-influenced post-punk featuring Rachel Aggs - one of my guitar heroes – on guitar. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are also a really exciting new band from Australia.

Festival No. 6

Takes place 7 - 10 September


The Rhythm Method are playing at Festival No. 6 - think The Streets meets Squeeze and you’re halfway there. They’re an essential band to see at any festival this year.

XamVolo is an amazing R&B singer from Liverpool who I’d recommend seeing.

Superfood from Birmingham return this year with a fantastic second album and are guaranteed to make you feel good (like superfoods should!).

Formation are from Wimbledon and their debut album conjures up a South London LCD Soundsytem. They’re really good. Look out for Aine Cahill, who is one of a series of fantastic new singer-songwriters emerging from Ireland. Cabbage are also playing Festival No. 6 – they’re a must-see band this year, and one of your five a day!

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