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Soundtrack of the Summer: Rolling Stone UK selects the pick of this year’s festivals both at home and abroad 

Looking for a good festival this summer? We've got you covered

By El Hunt

The Great Escape

10-13 May, Brighton

Taking over the seaside city of Brighton every year with over 500 fresh faces, The Great Escape is the king of the UK’s new music festival scene. West London post-punks Butch Kassidy, indie-folk duo Lilo, the Isle of Wight’s Coach Party, rising DJ-producer I. Jordan, the Billie Eilish-approved JGrrey, Dirty Hit signee Sipho, hotly tipped band English Teacher, Danny Brown collaborator Petite Noir, and the mythology-steeped The Last Dinner Party are just a handful of highlights from a packed line-up. Undoubtedly the one to attend if you want “I saw them when they were just starting out!” bragging rights to annoy your mates with for eternity. 


 18-20 May, Calvià

The dulcet tones of Black Eyed Peas’, a nostalgic sing-song courtesy of The Kooks, the dance stompers of Peggy Gou and the picture-postcard beaches of the Balearics all in one place, you say? While Mallorca Live’s line-up might be fairly chaotic, rapidly hopping from the NYC dance-punk of !!! to techno DJ Mall Grab and The Chemical Brothers, that’s surely part of this beachy bash’s central appeal. 


27 May, London

Not to be confused with the Katy Perry song of the same name, Brockwell Park’s Wide Awake does a cracking job at pulling in an eclectic blend of newer names. Alongside established bill-toppers like Caroline Polachek, Black Country, New Road, Daniel Avery and Alex G, they’ve also enlisted sure-to-be-massive grunge-rocker Blondshell, art-pop duo Jockstrap, Goat Girl solo spin-off Naima Bock and Melbourne’s psych-jazz heads Glass Beams. 

Primavera Sound Barcelona 

29 May-4 June. One of Spain’s biggest and best-known festivals, Primavera has expanded over the years, with newer editions of the event now taking place in Madrid, Porto, Buenos Aires and São Paulo. Their Barcelona outpost, however, is where it all started. Since the bulk of the music happens from late afternoon onwards, it’s possible to squeeze in a bit of a city break and roll straight from the beach to the Parc del Fòrum later on. As well as an opening show from Pet Shop Boys, the line-up also features Blur, New Order, a newly reunited Le Tigre, Rosalía, Kendrick Lamar, St Vincent, much-buzzed-about group Gabriels, the pop theatre of Christine and The Queens, Fred again.. and Kelela. Best of all, that first-rate selection of acts barely scrapes the surface of the music on offer. 

Live at Leeds

27 May, Temple Newsam

A fixture of the northern city for the past 16 years, this year’s festival takes place in the grounds of Temple Newsam, a stately home 15 minutes from the city centre. On Rolling Stone UK’s very own stage, you’ll find The Hives, Maximo Park, Everything Everything, The Big Moon, The Beths, Lime Cordiale, Gengahr and Pillow Queens. Of course, it’s unlikely that you’d want to hang out anywhere else, but those with the urge to explore will also run across the likes of Black Honey, Two Door Cinema Club, The Lathums and Kate Nash. 

Mighty Hoopla


Noughties pop aficionados, this pop-centric party in London’s Brockwell Park can make you whole again. The genius creation of the squad behind legendary LGBTQ+ club night Sink the Pink nails the Y2K brief with acts like Natasha Bedingfield, Rachel Stevens, Jamelia, Kelly Rowland, A1, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, X Factor winner Michelle McManus, Vengaboys, and Steps’ Lisa Scott-Lee. But this isn’t just a trip down memory lane — as well as left-field pop acts like Years & Years and Confidence Man, you’ll find top-notch dance music (think: Róisín Murphy, Midland and DJ collective Queer House Party) and all kinds of other weird and wonderful fun, ranging from drag shows to Queerly Come Dancing. Anyone else up for karaoke with Barry from EastEnders?


The Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival, 2019
Elton John will close this year’s festival. (Photo: Rodw/Wikimedia Commons)

21-25 June, Somerset

So often repeated that it’s become a cliche whispered by wizened old hippies up the Stone Circle every year, Glastonbury is about so much more than the music, man! Whether you’re hellbent on basking in the gong baths at the Healing Fields, sweating out your sins at legendary on-site queer club NYC Downlow, or trying to track down the ever-elusive hidden Rabbit Hole, it’d be easy to spend an entire weekend on Worthy Farm without venturing anywhere near its iconic Pyramid Stage. That would be a shame, however. With well over 100 stages, everybody and their dog is playing the festival, but at the top of the bill you’ll crucially find Arctic Monkeys, Elton John, Lizzo, Guns N’ Roses, Lana Del Rey, Wizkid, Lil Nas X, and a teatime legends slot from Yusuf/Cat Stevens.


28 June-1 July, Gdynia, Poland

Held in the middle of a huge airfield on the northern coast of Poland, Gdynia’s Open’er festival has a lot going for it in between its impressive industrial surroundings, abundance of cheap beers, and big names like Arctic Monkeys, Lizzo, Lil Nas X, SZA, and Kendrick Lamar heading up the bill. Elsewhere you’ll also find cumbia-peddling punks Los Bitchos, a nostalgia shot in the shape of Paolo Nutini (with his new shoes on, no doubt), bass supremo Thundercat, Young Fathers, PinkPantheress and plenty of on-site art shows and film screenings if you’re feeling particularly cultured. 

Montreux Jazz Festival

30 June-15 July.

This Swiss destination has plenty of be-boo-bopping on offer — but there’s far more to this festival than world-class jazz and its infamous jam sessions. Alongside legends like Bob Dylan, Lionel Richie and Nile Rodgers & Chic, some of music’s most exciting new names — including emerging talent Doechii, BRITs Rising Star victors FLO, and indie-pop artist Cat Burns — are making their way to Lake Geneva. As well as passes for the whole event, the festival also flogs individual show tickets for punters hoping to pick and choose.

Mad Cool

6-8 July, Madrid

If fuelling up for festival revelry every day with a gigantic plate of tapas sounds like your calling in life, Madrid’s Mad Cool — which found a home in the city back in 2016 — may well be the place to do it. Bill-toppers range from Liam Gallagher, Lil Nas X, Queens of the Stone Age and The Black Keys, to Janelle Monáe, The 1975, Lizzo and Machine Gun Kelly, with the likes of King Princess, Raye, Honey Dijon, Genesis Owusu and Mimi Webb also heading to the Spanish festival. Still on the fence? Two words that will hopefully tip you over the edge: Robbie Williams. 

Nos Alive

6-8 July, Lisbon

Here in the UK, Nos admittedly brings to mind hundreds of little silver canisters strewn across town-centre pavements — but it also happens to be the completely unrelated name of the telecommunications company that sponsors an annual festival in downtown Lisbon. In place of hissing balloons, you’ll find Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys, Lizzo, Queens of the Stone Age, Sam Smith, Rina Sawayama, Angel Olsen, IDLES, and much more in Portugal’s getaway city.


8-9 July, essex

Presented by London clubbing institution Fabric, EXODUS will apparently turn the surroundings of Kelvedon Hall — a whopping great manor house in Essex — into “a rave new world”. A new face on the scene, it’ll involve five woodland stages, all kinds of ‘immersive’ visual gubbins, and a beat-heavy bill. Highlights include genre-hopping Toronto talent Peach, New Jersey club star UNiiQU3, acid-house trailblazer A Guy Called Gerald, the versatile blends of Shy One, booty-bass leader DJ Assault, and a b2b set from tech-house head Craig Richards and minimal techno pioneer Ricardo Villalobos. 


5 August, London

If you’re thinking ‘Does London really need another day festival?’ it’s possible that Rally will make you eat your hat. A meeting of minds between GALA festival’s team and indie promoters and Visions’ head honchos Bird on the Wire, this newbie will take place in Southwark Park — and stands out with a fairly unique line-up. US rapper Princess Nokia, post rockers caroline and Squid, electro-punks PVA and psych-minded afrobeat artist Obongjayar are all present and correct, alongside big names in electronic music Kelly Lee Owens, John Talabot, Leon Vynehall and Loraine James.

Green Man

17-20 August, Powys, Wales

Tucked away in the middle of the beautiful Brecon Beacons, Welsh festival Green Man is one of the UK’s best-looking concerts — but there’s plenty of substance too. Alongside 70s new wave icons Devo, psychedelic rock stalwarts Spiritualized, influential art-rockers The Walkmen and jazz reinventors The Comet Is Coming, they’ve brought in plenty of emerging talent, too, including Sudan Archives, Special Interest, and Σtella.


13-16 JULY,  Benicàssim, spain

Besides being every music-loving Millennial’s nostalgic fever dream — The Offspring, Franz Ferdinand, The Wombats, Kaiser Chiefs, and mash-up kings 2ManyDJs are all on this year’s line-up — the Festival Internacional de Benicàssim (or FIB, for short) is shaping up into a doozy. Sports Team, Nova Twins and Bastille are also among the many acts making the trip to scorching-hot Spain. Taking place on the coast, just north of Valencia, FIB occupies a slight niche in that — unlike a lot of Spanish city festivals — it offers on-site camping, just a couple of minutes away from the main arena. A word of warning, however: unless you’re quick enough to secure a pitch site underneath the dappled shade of a sought-after tree, you will most probably melt.


18-20 August, Biddinghuizen, the Netherlands

There’s a lot to be said for a festival which manages to quietly nail the smallest details every time. From its pristine campsites and markedly delicious food offerings to a main stage with (lower your voice to a sultry whisper) full rain cover for defence against Biddinghuizen’s soggy climate, Lowlands honestly feels a little Utopian. This year, Billie Eilish, Florence + The Machine, Boygenius, Foals, Steve Lacy, Turnstile, Jessie Ware, Ezra Collective and MUNA are among the acts heading along. Oh, and did we mention there’s also a lakeside mini-spa complete with hot tubs, spas and masseurs?

End of the Road

31 August-3 September, Dorset

A staple happening late in the UK’s summer festival season, it’s always worth saving a bit of gas in the tank for this Dorset gem. Specialising in indie and folk, End of the Road nearly always succeeds in putting together a line-up that feels a little different from the rest of the pack, and their 2023 edition at Larmer Tree Gardens is no exception. Headed up by King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Future Islands, and Wilco, acts lower down the bill continue to deliver the goods. Irish post-punks The Murder Capital, genre-fluid rapper Flohio, Colombian synth expert Ela Minus, Norwegian-American experimenter Okay Kaya and Master Peace are just a few of the many highlights.