The 11 best music festivals in the UK for 2023
Festival season is back, and it almost seems as though there’s too much choice this year.
In the UK alone, organisers have assembled lineups starring some of the biggest acts today, from veteran rockers to pop stars, country music queens to raucous new indie bands.
In between each announcement, the debate surrounding gender representation has continued, not least when Glastonbury’s Emily Eavis acknowledged the fact that, this year, the Somerset festival is being headlined by all-male acts.
While there’s plenty more work to be done to address this issue, we’re convinced that our picks of the best festivals this year offer something for everyone.
Whether you’re seeking a relaxed getaway in a picturesque bucolic setting or a weekend of moshing in the bustling city, here are the best UK festivals for 2023.
Where: Brighton, Sussex
When: 11–14 May
Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside! The Great Escape is ideal for those who love to have their finger on the pulse of new music, regardless of genre. Hosted in venues dotted around Brighton, TGE sees most of the UK music industry and their latest up and comers descend on the city for a few intense days of serious hustling. If you’re a punter, though, you can simply enjoy wandering from one venue to the next, maybe stopping to enjoy an Aperol Spritz or some fish and chips along the way. Just make sure you check out The Independent’s stage at The Old Market on Friday (12 May), where you’ll be treated to some great live shows from indie upstarts English Teacher, Blondshell and Egyptian Blue, plus legendary rock band (and this year’s headline act) The Pretenders. Roisin O’Connor
Where: Eridge Park, Kent
When: 16–18 June
Black Deer is the UK’s annual celebration of all things country, bluegrass and Americana. From Sunday’s “gospel brunch” to its motorcycle-inspired leather and denim workshops, this Kent-based festival has it all… even a Hollywood star or two. Joining Homeland actor Damien Lewis in his festival debut are acts including The Pretenders, Bonnie Raitt, Bear’s Den and The Wandering Hearts. Giddy-up and grab yourself some tickets! Meg Warren-Lister
Where: Heaton Park, Manchester
When: 10–12 June
Parklife celebrates modern British rave culture at its finest. Somehow, it manages to consistently out do pretty much every other festival lineup – at least when it comes to sheer eclecticism. This year is no different, with Mercury Prize-winning rapper Little Simz, US hip-hop legends Wu-Tang Clan and Nineties icons The Prodigy performing alongside burgeoning acts such as Slowthai, Aitch, Raye, Flo, ShyGirl and Nia Archives. The essence of Parklife, though, is its dance music and gun fingers, with even the most rain-resistant ravers coming for the high-BPM stages hosting both domestic and international DJs, such as Peggy Gou, Skrillex, Jyoty and Fred Again. Ellie Muir
Where: Worthy Farm, Somerset
When: 21–25 June
Back to Worthy Farm we go, for five days of music and art at the world’s biggest music festival. Glastonbury sprawls across multiple fields in Somerset and is so vast that it’s practically a city in itself, with countless bars, comedy venues, yoga classes, children’s entertainment, burlesque shows and, of course, music on offer. There are multiple stages, from the iconic Pyramid where you’ll see headliners Guns N’ Roses, Arctic Monkeys and Elton John, to the Left Field curated by the singer-songwriter Billy Bragg. With each Glastonbury lineup announcement comes the inevitable chorus of “It’s not about the headliners!” There is still truth in that. As much as we would love to see more women headlining, below the top billing on this year’s poster, you’ll find a veritable smorgasbord of talent. Just heed the advice from Glasto veterans and avoid trying to plan your entire week: go with the flow and you’ll have the best festival experience. ROC
Where: Finsbury Park, London
When: 7–9 July