Top UK music festivals: 2021 dates, tickets, line-up news, and Covid-19 rules
Festival season is on! Following the Government’s roadmap announcement – which gives the go-ahead for indoor performances and smaller events from May 17 (with social distancing), and large-scale events from June 21 – multiple organisers have now confirmed their festivals for 2021.
Here is our guide to the best festivals going ahead this summer, and beyond. (Events are subject to change, for obvious reasons.)
Which festivals are taking place in 2021?
Reading and Leeds
The twin festivals are still scheduled to take place on August 27-29, at Richfield Avenue in Reading and Bramham Park in Leeds. They feature big acts like Stormzy, Lewis Capaldi, Liam Gallagher, Post Malone and Queens of the Stone Age. Tickets are currently sold out.
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight festival has a sterling line-up, including Liam Gallagher, David Guetta, Snow Patrol, Duran Duran, The Script, Tom Jones, All Saints, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and Kaiser Chiefs. It has been rescheduled from the summer to September 16-19. Tickets are on sale now.
The UK’s first ever craft beer music festival had to postpone its inaugural edition last year, but is now confirmed for June 18-20. Held in the grounds of Ragley Hall, Warwickshire, it’s headlined by Primal Scream and Hot Chip Megamix. Tickets are on sale.
The city’s annual celebration of arts and culture returns from May 1 with a mix of online and in-person events. Curated by Lemn Sissay OBE, it will feature comedy, literature, arts and music, both contemporary and classical. Tickets on sale now.
The Big Feastival
This foodie favourite in the bucolic Cotswolds on Alex James’s farm – of Blur and now cheesemaking fame – returns for its 10th anniversary on 27-29 August. Acts confirmed include Nile Rogers, Sigala, and Rag’n’Bone Man. Nathan Outlaw and Mark Hix are some of the chefs onboard. Tickets on sale now.
The Oxfordshire festival is scheduled for August 5-8, although the line-up hasn’t been announced yet. But the event is definitely a go, with the Wilderness Twitter saying yesterday: “The sweetest moments are worth waiting for, we’ve missed you.” Tickets are currently sold out.
The popular festival has shifted back to September 10-12 and will now take place at Crystal Palace Park in south London. Future, Skepta and Migos are headlining, and the acts also include Meek Mill, D Block Europe, Megan Thee Stallion and AJ Tracey. The first round of tickets is already gone, but you can register to hear about the next.
Similarly, Benn hopes to bring us a Latitude festival – in Henham Park, Suffolk – on July 22-25. The line-up features Lewis Capaldi, Bastille, First Aid Kit and Snow Patrol, and tickets are now on sale. But Benn did note that the timing between the Government’s June 21 date for Step 4, and the dates for Wireless and Latitude, is very tight, so urges them to underwrite insurance for events.
Hospitality Weekend In The Woods
This brand new festival has announced its full line-up of drum and bass stars – including Netsky, Camo & Krooked and Noisia. Taking place on September 18-19 at Beckenham Place Park in London, it’s part of the 25th-anniversary celebrations of legendary label Hospital Records. Tickets are currently sold out.
The family favourite is on July 19-August 1, and this year is promising “the staycation of the century”. On offer at Lulworth Castle in Dorset is a line-up featuring Fatboy Slim, Groove Armada, Becky Hill, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Kelis and the Sugarhill Gang, along with kid-friendly acts like Dick and Dom. Tickets on sale now.
EFG London Jazz
The 2021 festival – which usually takes place across the city, from big venues like the Barbican and Royal Festival Hall to clubs such as Ronnie Scott’s – is reportedly going to be a combination of live and digital work, with the exact details TBC. But we do know it’s planned for November 12-21.
This popular festival, taking place on August 27-29, combines music, camping, family activities and foodie feasts. Held at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire, this year’s line-up features Manic Street Preachers, Supergrass, Pixie Lott, Embrace and Symphonic Ibiza, plus there’s a funfair, watersports and woodland walks. Tickets on sale now.
Jazz lovers can also head to this funky festival at Glynde Place, East Sussex. It takes place on July 2-4, and the line-up includes TLC, The Isley Brothers, Sister Sledge, Candi Staton, Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes, Kokoroko, and The Brand New Heavies. Tickets are currently being released in three tiers, with general release now on sale.
Set in the luxurious surrounds of Alexandra Park and Palace, and with panoramic London views, this one-day festival is planned for July 24. This year’s line-up features Groove Armada, Norman Jay, House Gospel Choir, The Coral, Phil Wang and Sophie Duker. Tickets are on sale now.
Scheduled for the bank holiday weekend (August 26-29), the electronic music festival takes place at Daresbury Estate in Cheshire, between Liverpool and Manchester – and tickets have sold out already. Acts include Tiesto, Sigma, Jax Jones and Eric Prydz.
The Manchester festival changed dates to September 11-12 earlier this year, so is well positioned with the roadmap. The line-up features Dave, Megan Thee Stallion, Skepta, Mabel, Slowthai, Disclosure, and Elbow. Tickets are now sold out.
This new Clapham Common festival is a celebration of black culture, featuring Davido, Kehlani, Yemi Alade, Pa Salieu, Nao, Honey Dijon, Fatoumata Diawara, Princess NokiaDarkoo, Ms Banks and more – plus African-influenced food trucks and chefs from around London. It takes place on the August bank holiday weekend (August 27-30), and tickets are on sale via Ticketmaster.
BST Hyde Park
Organisers of the London concert series have yet to comment since the roadmap announcement, but it’s planned for July 8-9. Artists this year include Pearl Jam, Pixies, Idles, Duran Duran, Grace Jones, Nile Rodgers and Chic, and tickets are now on sale.
The inclusive pop festival – which features fun elements like alternative club nights, cabaret, vogueing troupes and secret discos – returns on September 4 in London’s Brockwell Park. The line-up includes Cheryl, Becky Hill, En Vogue, Eve, Gabrielle, Atomic Kitten, C&C Music Factory, Whigfield and Lisa Maffia. Mighty Hoopla is currently sold out, but you can join a waiting list for resale tickets which will be made available on June 7 and August 2.
Norfolk & Norwich Festival
This low-key festival has been pushed back just three days by the roadmap announcement: it will now take place between 17-30 May. The varied programme features theatre, circus, music, cabaret, dance, art, poetry and more. For tickets and full info, head here.
All Points East
Taking place on the August bank holiday weekend (August 27-30), All Points East sees some big names coming to London’s Victoria Park – including London Grammar, Jorja Smith, Foals, Bombay Bicycle Club, Jamie XX, Kano, Arlo Parks and Slowthai. Tickets are now on sale.
Head to another London green spot, Peckham Rye Park, for great indie music, plus chefs, breweries, record labels and party brands. The line-up for this festival – expanding to two days for the first time (July 30-August 1) – includes Motor City Drum Ensemble, Move D, Nightmares On Wax, Marcellus Pittmann and Horse Meat Disco. Book tickets here.
Thanks to receiving £75,000 from the Culture Recovery Fund, this west Somerset event is back on track. The line-up – mostly carried over from last year – features Gabrielle, Sister Sledge (travel permitting), Shed Seven Toyah, The Blockheads, Sound of the Sirens, and house band The Wurzels. It takes place August 27-29, and tickets are expected to be on sale from the end of May. Ticket holders from 2020 will be rolled over to 2021.
Hampton Court Palace
There are plenty of big names announced for this extremely civilised festival, where you can enjoy a Fortnum & Mason picnic on the lawn or in a waterside gazebo, or dine in the palace’s state apartments. The music acts include Tom Jones, Van Morrison, Keane, Lionel Ritchie, Rick Astley, George Benson, Nile Rodgers and CHIC. It takes place August 13-24, and tickets are now on sale.
Edinburgh Summer Sessions
Taking place on Princes Street Gardens, this atmospheric outdoor festival also has a royal backdrop – Edinburgh Castle – and is likewise hosting the great Tom Jones. Headline acts also include DMAs, Michael Kiwanuka, Anne-Marie, Travis, Simple Minds. It takes place August 6-15, and you can purchase tickets now.
Scotland’s biggest music festival returns in early autumn. Situated right in the centre of Glasgow, it boasts headliners Liam Gallagher, Courteeners and the Chemical Brothers, plus Primal Scream, Snow Patrol, Sam Fender, Blossoms, Dermot Kennedy, Amy Macdonald and more. It’s on September 10-12, and tickets are available now.
What can I expect at a festival in 2021?
Ally Wolf, manager of Clapham Grand and festival director of Mighty Hoopla, notes that we’re all – organisers and attendees alike – awaiting detailed guidance from the Government on what measures will be necessary to reopen big events. Will that involve vaccine certificates, testing, masks, sanitiser – or all, or none? If the vaccine rollout goes as planned, will festivals be back to ‘normal’?
Earlier this year, Wolf made the decision to move Hoopla back from June to September, and feels confident that “it’s a realistic target.” He’s expecting to reopen Clapham Grand with social distancing initially, but isn’t sure how that would be possible at a festival. “Maybe we lower capacity to allow more space? But it’s very different to a seated event.”
He thinks the main thing will be ensuring plenty of space around the entrance to a festival, so that “you can do temperature checks or lateral flow tests, or check vaccine certificates – whatever it winds up being – without causing a problem for the local area.”
There may still be some optional measures like providing hand sanitiser at festivals, he suggests, depending on current health advice.
But he’s certain that it will all be possible. “This is what we do! We organise large-scale events with customer safety integral to our planning, and without ruining the fun experience.”
The main message he wants to share is that customers can now book with confidence and “look forward to having an amazing time.”
Which festivals aren’t taking place in 2021?
Glastonbury is the big name absent from this year’s line-up, although founder Michael Eavis recently told LBC that he was considering staging a much smaller event in the autumn – “around the anniversary date of when we started, which was September 18, 1970.” There is also a live-streamed edition on May 22, featuring Coldplay, Damon Albarn and Haim.
Download Festival was originally planned for June 4-6, which is too early according to the roadmap plan. Organisers have now confirmed it will be cancelled for the second year running.
Boomtown, the Winchester festival that was originally taking place from August 11 -15, has been postponed to 2022. You can find more info on 2021 refunds and their next event here.