The 11 best music festivals in the UK for 2023

From Billie Eilish to Sam Fender, this year’s home turf festivals offer it all (Getty/PA)
From Billie Eilish to Sam Fender, this year’s home turf festivals offer it all (Getty/PA)

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.

The Great Escape

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

Black Deer

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

The 2023 lineup for Manchester’s Parklife (Parklife)
The 2023 lineup for Manchester’s Parklife (Parklife)


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

Paul McCartney performs in the headline slot on the Pyramid Stage during day four of the Glastonbury Festival (Getty Images)
Paul McCartney performs in the headline slot on the Pyramid Stage during day four of the Glastonbury Festival (Getty Images)


Where: Finsbury Park, London

When: 7–9 July

If you’ve had Ice Spice’s “Munch (Feelin’ U)” or “Boy’s A Liar Pt 2” stuck in your head for the last few months, then you won’t want to miss the Bronx rapper’s London debut at Wireless this year. The UK’s biggest rap weekender sends hip-hop and R&B fans racing over to north London each year. Over the years, Wireless has welcomed almost every hip-hop heavyweight to its stages. This summer, US stars Travis Scott, Bryson Tiller, Playboi Carti, Lil Uzi Vert, Lancey Foux and Travis, plus the UK’s very own R&B girl group, FLO, will join them. EM


Where: Henham Park, Suffolk

When: 20–23 July

For those looking to bop along to your favourite tunes in a beautiful lakeside setting, head over to Latitude, which is back on its gorgeous Suffolk site – neon-lit woodland and all. This year’s lineup is led by the fantastic trio of Pulp, Paolo Nutini and George Ezra, with Metronomy, The Kooks and Sophie Ellis-Bextor among the other musical highlights (and throwbacks) to be gracing the stages. Grab your chance to cool off from dancing with a natural swim, or catch your breath with a peaceful poetry reading. The beauty of Latitude is that it’s only as chaotic as you want it to be. Ellie Harrison

Loyle Carner performing at Standon Calling 2022 (Megan Graye)
Loyle Carner performing at Standon Calling 2022 (Megan Graye)

Standon Calling

Where: Standon, Hertfordshire

When: 20–23 July

Standon Calling may have started out as a private birthday barbecue in 2001 but don’t be fooled by its humble origins. A mere 30 miles north of London, the Hertfordshire-set event will soon host thousands of party-lovers. There’s much to love here, not least its family-friendly atmosphere. Unique offerings such as a costume parade, hot tubs, swimming pools and a dog show foster the sort of warm, fuzzy atmosphere that you may struggle to find at the more party-hardy festivals. But, of course, there’s still bangers aplenty. This year you’ll get to dance along to pop acts such as Years & Years, Self Esteem, Anastacia, Melanie C – and even Rick Astley. Bring your dog, bring your kids – Standon is calling all who want to let loose in the calm of the countryside. Nicole Vassell

We Out Here

Where: Wimborne St Giles, Dorset

When: 10–14 August

If you’re the kind of person who picks their festivals based on vibes alone, We Out Here is the one for you. Curated by 6Music’s Gilles Peterson, this Dorset festival is the perfect place to let your hair down. The musical performances smoothly bring together the best of the world’s jazz and electronic artists (often at the same time). With Ezra Collective, Mala and Joe Armon-Jones, and Roisin Murphy all set to take the stage, attendees will spend the days and nights dancing carefree around lush woodlands. And, really, isn’t that what festivals are for? Isobel Lewis

Amy Taylor of Amyl and the Sniffers are performing at Green Man this year (Getty Images)
Amy Taylor of Amyl and the Sniffers are performing at Green Man this year (Getty Images)

Green Man

Where: Brecon Beacons, Wales

When: 17–20 August

Welcome to the most wholesome festival around. Nestled in the foot of the Black Mountains, Green Man’s lush green hills and ethereal glades will host the likes of First Aid Kit, Devo, Spiritualised, Amyl and The Sniffers, Slowdive, Confidence Man, Goat, Young Father and The Comet is Coming. Amid grassy expanses, revellers can find sanctuary in yoga, meditation workshops and a medley of talks and comedy shows. While you’re not tuning into the music, parents and kids can while away their hours in Einstein’s Garden, an area that channels Roald Dahl classic George’s Marvellous Medicine with its fizzing abundance of science experiments. Green Man is one for all the family. MGL

Reading Festival

Where: Richfield Avenue, Reading and Bramham Park, Leeds

When: 25–27 August

This year’s event is sure to preserve Reading’s reputation as the ritual stomping ground for teenagers who just completed their A-Level exams. As the festival continues to shift away from its rock roots, its lineup grows more varied with each passing year. Gen-Z pop star Billie Eilish is one of many big-name acts on the billing, along with hip-hop artist Loyle Carner, socially astute rapper Slowthai and electronic music duo Bicep. Other gems include everyone’s favourite Scot, Lewis Capaldi, Las Vegas rockers The Killers, singer-songwriter Sam Fender and dance-pop act Becky Hill. Across the weekend, fans can potter between these titans – just make sure you stop at a glitter stall (or two) on the way. MGL

Revellers at Reading Festival (Getty Images)
Revellers at Reading Festival (Getty Images)

End of the Road

Where: Larmer Tree Gardens, Wiltshire

When: 31 August–3 September

Held in the verdant Larmer Tree Gardens on the border of Dorset and Wiltshire, the End of the Road festival is a charmingly eclectic endeavour, with a spattering of different musical genres on offer. This year’s lineup is headlined by prolific Aussie rockers King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, synthpop foursome Future Islands, alt-rock band Wilco, psychedelic Kiwi outfit Unknown Mortal Orchestra and indie singer-songwriter Angel Olsen. There’s also plenty of must-see highlights further down the bill, including Ezra Furman, Greentea Peng, Joan Shelley, and the charismatic Irish folk group The Mary Wallopers. A strong comedy line-up includes Sara Pascoe, Robin Ince and Simon Munnery. Bibliophiles will be able to take advantage of the festival’s literary indulgences. Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller will be delivering a talk on his new book, while writer Emma Warren will be discussing her critically acclaimed work Dance Your Way Home: A Journey Through the Dance Floor, which seeks to answer the question – why do we dance? How apt! Louis Chilton