The latest on: UK Music Festivals, 2021

As the UK begins to come out of lockdown, the end is in sight and we can finally look forward to enjoying live music. But which festivals are on offer this summer and who’s playing?

Picture this: a plastic cup full of questionable liquid soars over your head, glinting in the sun and disappears into the sea of people in front of you. You stare in anticipation (at the back of someone’s head if you’re 5 foot), clutching your £9 beer as you wait for your favourite band to take the stage. This morning you rolled unceremoniously out of your roasting tent, took a trip to an unholy portaloo, before slumping into a broken camping chair and chugging a warm cider. Tonight you’ll be dancing to a DJ set as some lad in a bucket hat slides shirtless through a bath of mud. We’ve missed you, UK festivals.

On the 22nd of February, Boris Johnson laid down his roadmap of how the UK will begin to ease from the third current lockdown – cue a host of festivals organisers scrambling to arrange their events! Currently, June 21st remains the magic date for when all Corona Virus restrictions will be lifted and since this announcement, some festivals have sold out in record time. It’s no secret that we can’t wait to be throwing shapes in a muddy field. But which festivals can you choose from this summer and which big name acts can you expect to be screaming the lyrics back to? Below we outline 11 of this summer’s best festivals with confirmed go-aheads…

Parklife

Where? Heaton Park, Manchester

When? 11-12th September

The renowned Parklife festival is back, having sold out in record time before tickets even made it to general sale due to unprecedented demand. Some 2020 ticketholders may be disappointed to see that the line-up has altered from the one previously promoted for 2020. There’s no Tyler The Creator in sight (be right back crying). However, the line-up remains an incredible showcase of the very best talent from hip-hop and electronic music, including Skepta, Disclosure, slowthai, Dave (in a UK festival exclusive), Peggy Gou, Carl Cox, Eric Prydz and recent Grammy winner Kaytranada. But the headliner that got everyone talking is Megan Thee Stallion, an artist whose fame has found new heights during the pandemic. The thought of a field full of Mancs singing along to WAP is slightly surreal but epic.

Latitude

Where? Henham Park, Suffolk

When? 22-25th July

Event organisers have stated that the four day Suffolk festival will go ahead this summer at full capacity. Snow Patrol, First Aid Kit and Bastille  are already confirmed to appear and many more artists are yet to be announced. Founder, Melvin Benn, seems to be eager to reassure visitors that the festival can be enjoyed as safely as possible, stating that on-site testing will be available for any unvaccinated visitors.

Isle Of Wight

Where? Seaclose Park, Newport

When? 16-19th September

This world renowned festival, first held in 1968, is also set to return this summer at a pushed back date, and it’s no surprise that a host of impressive artists are fixed to perform at an event celebrated for its notable line-ups. This year the line-up is a showcase of male acts and bands. Good old Liam Gallagher headlines the Friday night mainstage, whilst Sam Fender, James, You Me At Six, Scouting for Girls, Kaiser Chiefs, Primal Scream and many more are officially playing. You can also catch Golden Oldies Tom Jones and Duran Duran on the island.

Kendal Calling

Where? Lowther Deer Park, The Lake District

When? 29th July-1st August

The festival iconic enough to bring Snoop Dogg to Cumbria in 2015, returns in 2021 with a line-up packed full of indie bands, including The Kooks, DMA’s, Pale Waves, Sundara Karma, The Sherlocks, The Magic Gang and Blossoms. By night the festival becomes a rave with DJ’s Joel Corry, Andy C, 808 State and Faithless, plus more, performing. This festival’s line-up gets more impressive by the year and is perhaps one of the most exciting and eclectic announced this year, allowing big names such as Stereophonics, The Streets and Dizzee Rascal, as well as the alternative music scene the opportunity to play. Let’s just hope the festival magically falls on the few days a year it doesn’t rain in The Lakes.

Reading and Leeds

Where? Little John’s Farm, Reading and Bramham Park, Wetherby

When? 27-29th August

If you haven’t spent your August bank holiday at Reading or Leeds fest have you even been a UK teenager? Evolving from a renowned rock and indie festival into a more mainstream pop and hip-hop event, this festival, now in its 5th decade, remains a post-GCSE rite of passage. This summer the line-up continues the annual trend of bringing in more and more big mainstream names. Stormzy, Catfish And The Bottlemen, Post Malone, Disclosure, Liam Gallagher and Queens Of The Stone Age headline. The array of artists is definitely impressive, including some not often seen in the UK, like Doja Cat, but I can’t help feeling the festival is becoming slightly predictable. Whilst other events seem to have made an effort to diversify their line-ups, including artists who don’t usually appear and a vast array of genres, I feel like I’ve seen the majority of this Reading and Leeds line-up before. Maybe in 2019, or 2018 or 2017? Plus, where are the women? But more on that below.

Slam Dunk

Where? Leeds Temple Newsam, Leeds and Hatfield Park, Hertfordshire

When? 4th September (Leeds) 5th September (Hertfordshire)

The UK’s biggest pop-punk, rock , metal and alternative festival , set up by independent record label Slam Dunk Music, is back for 2021 on a pushed back date. As per usual the best established and up-and-coming artists in their respective alternative genres fill the line-up. Don Broco, Mayday Parade, The Story So Far, Sum 41, While She Sleeps, plus many more bands will perform.

Neighbourhood Weekender

Where? Victoria Park, Warrington

When? 3rd-5th September

This Cheshire festival is recognised for its annual line-up of the best indie and alternative artists and this year is no exception. Gerry Cinnamon, James and Catfish And The Bottlemen headline and the rest of the acts are a “who’s who “ of the current UK indie scene. Circa Waves, Sam Fender, Pale Waves, The Magic Gang, Sundara Karma, Sea Girls, Alfie Templeman and Working Men’s Club, to name just a few. Although Ian Brown was set to headline in 2020, he will not return this year after publicly denouncing the suggestion that a vaccination passport may be needed to attend. Brown tweeted:

‘My Saturday night headline show at NHBD Weekender Festival will now not happen! I refuse to accept vaccination proof as condition of entry. Refunds are available!’ (@ianbrown)

Strawberries and Creem

Where? Childerley Orchard, Cambridge

When? 18-19th September

This contemporary festival is known for showcasing prevalent artists from the urban and dance music scenes. Artists from the genres of grime, hip-hop, garage, house and drum and bass will be on offer, including headliners PARTYNEXTDOOR, Sean Paul, Bugzy Malone and Koffee. DJ’s such as Dennis Sulta, Honey Dijon, Mall Grab, Hybrid Minds and Dimension are also set to appear. First Release tickets are sold out but you can still get your hands on the fast selling phase 2 tickets to attend this exciting up and coming event.

All Points East

Where? Victoria Park, London

When? 27th-30th August  

This London festival only began in 2018 and has rapidly risen to stand out from the crowd of a multitude of live music events the capital has to offer. The line-up for this summer is refreshingly different, with an assorted mix of artists from a variety of genres. London Grammer, Jorja Smith, Jamie XX, Kano, Loyle Carner, Foals, Bombay Bicycle Club, Slow Thai, Arlo Parks, Mahalia and Caribou are all performing. There is also a stage dedicated to prominent and up and coming names in electronic music, including Adelphi Music Factory, The Blessed Madonna, George Fitzgerald and O’Flynn. With one of the most eclectic and diverse line-ups on offer this summer, this festival has something for everyone.

TRNSMT

Where? Glasgow Green, Glasgow

When? 9-11th July 2020

Festival old-hands Courteeners headline this Scottish festival, along with Ian Brown, Sam Fender, Blossoms, The Chemical Brothers, Snow Patrol, Liam Gallagher, Primal Scream and Keane. It all just seems a bit familiar at this point. It is the smaller artists who I’m most excited by on this line-up, such as  Sea Girls, Vistas, Declan Mckenna, Joesef and artists from a wider array of genres, including KSI, Little Simz and Ms Banks. Although the female-only ‘Queen Tut’s’ stage was created in 2019, after The Musicians Union criticised the line-up for being dominated by male acts, this 2021 line-up is once again, predictably all male headliners.

Creamfields

Where?

When? 26-29th August

Perhaps one of the UK’s most famous festivals, Creamfields has come to be known as a world renowned electronic music event, bringing the most famous DJs on the planet to a field in Warrington. The line-up for 2021, as per usual, reads like an A-Z directory of the world’s best DJ’s. Alesso, Andy C, Armin Van Buuren, Bicep, Carl Cox, Camelphat, Chase and Status, David Guetta, Deadmau5, Franky Wah, Martin Garrix, Pete Tong and Tiësto just about scratches the surface of the astonishing list of over 100 performers. If you are a fan of electronic music a trip to Creamfields is a must.

The Takeaway

Although many events have chosen to stay virtual this summer, including the legendary Glastonbury, which has just announced livestream performances from Coldplay, Michael Kiwanuka and Haim and many more, there is definitely no shortage of exciting festivals to attend. Yet, I can’t ignore the blatant lack of female acts, especially on the major stages and headlining slots within these line-ups. Although many festivals, including Reading and Leeds have previously been criticised for their lack of gender inequality and racial diversity it seems nothing has really changed. Blaming a lack of women within music is definitely not a valid excuse when there are currently so many female artists worthy of headlining festivals.

It remains unclear precisely how festivals will go ahead this summer and what safety measures will be in place. Will we need to have a vaccine or negative test before being allowed to enter festival sites? Will social distancing and mask wearing be enforced? Will these events even be allowed to go ahead? Only time will tell….

Words: Leila McGrorty

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