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Best Rock and Pop Festivals in the UK

My Favorite Music Festivals Around Britain

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You're never far from a rock and pop music festival during the UK summer and fall. Hundreds of rock and pop festivals take place across Great Britain from May through early September. Dance music, singalongs, ambient sounds, new age, family friendly; established bands, the latest indie groups and iconic artists all come out to play, rain or shine, in the British summer.

Here's a list of music festivals we like around the UK, plus a handy resource to find even more.

Glastonbury Festival

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This 30 plus -year old festival is a bit like an English Woodstock with cherries on top. There's a famous Pyramid Stage, smaller venues, camping, food, a kids Glastonbury and every kind of music imaginable. Musicians are the top acts at the top of their games as well as great blasts from the past. There are at least seven main stages, circus tent and theatre and loads of Greenfield activities. The weather usually turns it into a huge mud bath. And if you don't have the stamina for three solid days of partying, don't come.

Who's there? Every kind of music imaginable. In 2014 - Dolly Parton, Kasabian, Robert Plant, Metallica, Lily Allen, Ellie Goulding, Ed Sheeran, Bryan Ferry, GoldFrapp are among the acts.

Isle of Wight Festival

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Rosie Greenway
It may not be the cutting edge (some people even call it Dad rock), but the combination of well established rock'n rollers with current stars makes The Isle of Wight Festival in June a sell-out year after year. Once Europe's answer to Woodstock, the festival is now kept deliberately small - only 50,000 tickets are available and they are like gold dust. Get on the mailing list before the line-up is announced because, by the time it is, they gone. Check the festival's community website for a chance to buy returns.

Who's there? You might see in 2014 Alison Moyet, Massive Attack,Skrillex, Paolo Nutini, John Newman, Blondie

RockNess

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Paul Campbell/VisitBritain Images
The only music festival with its own monster, this rock and music festival has the gorgeous background of Loch Ness. About seventy acts perform on four stages and there's a cinema, silent disco, 24-hour café, lots of food and drink outlets and luxury camping available. Who knows? Nessie might even rise to the occasion.

In 2009, second year running, The Big Issue named RockNess Best Music Festival in Scotland, calling it a "stellar festival that's fast becoming a Scottish summer institution" and praising the site and the "unbeatable mix of huge rock and dance acts plus many other standouts on another monster bill."

Who's there? In 2014, Rockness is taking a break because of clashes with other big events like the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Organizers promise it will be back in 2015. Meanwhile, check out this report.

The Leeds and Reading Festival

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Ricky Wilson/Getty Images
Promoters Festival Republic stage this pair of popular rock and pop festivals in both Leeds and Reading at the same time. Similar to the way the V Festivals are organized, artists play both festivals, racing between the north and south versions on different days. Leeds fans consider their version, in Bramham Park, to be the north's answer to Glastonbury. The festivals sell out almost as soon as tickets go on sale at the end of March.

Who's there? Among the 2014 acts - Those popular perennials Arctic Monkeys, Blink, Queens of the Stone Age, Bombay Bicycle Club, Disclosure.

The V Festival

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Zak Hussein
Top British pop music stars perform at two outdoor festivals in two days. The multi-stage festival takes place on a Saturday and Sunday, simultaneously in the Southeast - Chelmsford - and in the North Midlands - Staffordshire. The Saturday line ups of artists at each venue switches from the other venue on Sunday. Acts tend to come from the cream of British pop musicians. Because V Festivals have been copied in the USA and Australia, some festival fans consider this huge event a bit "corporate".

Who's there? In 2014 - Justin Timberlake, Ed Sheeran, Manic Street Preachers, Kaiser Chiefs, Blondie, The Killers, Lily Allen, Tinie Tempah, All Saints, Human League, Sophie Ellis Bextor, plus a lineup of comedy acts on the Glee Club Comedy Stage.

Bestival

The first self-described boutique festival, Bestival is small and perfectly formed. Just like some of the other big time UK festivals, it features top commercial and indie acts, past and present, but it's a bit more upmarket. First off, it's "curated", and it's held in a lovely country park which almost never turns into a muddy field. There are ready pitched tents, a Tipi Field, caravan camping and free or "pay per poo" Comfy Crappers - sorry that's their brand name.

Who's there? In 2014, headliners scheduled included Tune Yards, Factory Floor, MNEK, Wolf Alice, The Amazing Snakeheads, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Say Lou Lou, Glass Animals, Kate Tempest, Cousin Marnie, Indiana - this is true indie discovery territory. There's usually a fancy dress theme as well, with extra goodies for your costume available in the Dressing Up Field.

The Wickerman Festival

Fans of Scotland's taste for fire festivals will love The Wickerman Festival at East Kirkcarswell in South West Scotland. This huge event, which includes tent, tipi and yurt camping, has a wide open music policy that ranges from chart-topping pop and dance music to hard core rock. And at the end, a thirty-foot tall Wickerman goes up in flames. Cool - or if you've seen the classic British horror film The Wicker Man - pretty creepy.

Who's there? Dizzee Rascal and Del Amitri headline in 2014, along with a huge line up that includes Shed Seven, The Feeling, Alabama 3, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Augustines, The Zombies, Big Country,  Finding Albert, Skinny Lister, The Hosts, Model Aeroplanes, LIFE.

Mathew Street/Liverpool International Music Festival

The Mathew Street Music Festival in Liverpool,  Europe's largest free music festival became the Liverpool International Music Festival, held in Sefton Park, in 2013. It began as a kind of outlet for Beatles tribute bands, other pop tribute bands and reinterpretations. That's all changed now. Though you'll still find plenty of Beatles music and tribute bands, you'll also find Soul, Diva, BritPop, New Bands, Big Bands and Country & Western.

Who's there? At least 95 bands from all over the British Isles and as far afield as the USA, Brazil, Argentina, Canada, France, Italy, Finland, Poland and Turkey perform in the main festival, carried across the crowds by huge LED screens so no one misses anything. A a supporting indoor program of live music fills pubs, clubs and venues all over town. in 2014 even the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic will be there, along with Shaggy, Ian Broudie and the Lightening Seeds, Kid Creole, Goldie and a huge line-up of new and established acts.

Download

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Dave Etheridge-Barnes/Getty Images
This one's for hard rockers who go for real guitar mayhem. Located in Donington Park, not far from East Midland's airport, Download regularly features such veterans as KISS, Judas Priest and Lost Prophets. It's noisy, wild and a good choice if you can't score tickets to the Isle of Wight festival.

Who's there? The 2014 line up is really typical,Aerosmith, Avenged and Linkin Park among the headliners.

T in the Park

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Martin Grimes/Getty Images
July's mega festival at Balado in Kinross, Scotland, has nine stages, tents and arenas with dozens and dozens of acts. Like most big festivals, it sells out fast. Get on the mailing list for the best chance of getting one.T Break stage introduces the best unsigned acts after organizers sift through more than 1,000 submissions. The main stages feature top British and international bands and artists. And there's all the usual paraphernalia of a giant festival - camping, a Fancy Dress Friday, fairground rides, food and market stalls.

Who's there? Among the 2014 headliners, lots of the usual suspects and Pharrell Williams, Ed Sheeran, Ellie Goulding, The Arctic Monkeys, Paolo Nutini, Franz Ferdinand, The Kaiser Chiefs and loads more.

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