Isle of Wight Festival
11th – 14th June
Having attracted some of the biggest counterculture names in its early days including Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane before a parliamentary act effectively banned the festival, the Isle of Wight Festival was revived in 2002 by music promoter John Giddings and went on to win Best Major Festival at the 2007 UK Festival Awards. Confirmed acts at the 2015 Isle of Wight Festival include as diverse offerings as The Prodigy, Kool and The Gang and Pharrell Williams, with festival-goers having the opportunity to leave their cramped two-person tent at home and take advantage of the festival’s boutique camping and luxury glamping.
The Wickerman Festival
24th – 25th July
For the past 14 years the beautiful coastal countryside of Scotland’s Dumfries and Galloway has been transformed into the two-day long family-friendly Wickerman Festival. Starting out as a grassroots event first organised in 2001 by festival co-founder and director Sid Ambrose, who wanted to make use of the area’s past as a filming location for the 1973 British cult classic The Wickerman to attract more visitors, the festival today has almost 20,000 people in attendance each year and has featured performances by acts including Echo & The Bunnymen, Stiff Little Fingers and Primal Scream. The festival culminates each year with the burning of a 30 foot Wickerman crafted by local artists Trevor Leat and Alex Rigg.
The Wickerman Festival, East Kirkcarswell Farm, Dundrennan, Scotland, UK, +44 (0)1557 500 586
6th – 9th August
A relative newcomer to the UK festival scene, Wilderness Festival was first held in the summer of 2011 and went on to wine Best New Festival at the UK Festival Awards that same year and an award for Extra-Festival Activity in 2013. Perhaps this is because Wilderness is a festival with a difference: while music is of course a major component and last year acts featured include headliners Metronomy, Burt Bacharach and London Grammar, the festival is also a celebration of contemporary art, food, literature and rejuvenation which sees the beautiful forests and parkland of Oxfordshire’s Cornbury Estate transformed with boutique camping, a lakeside spa and gastronomic experiences.
Wilderness, Cornbury Park, Charlbury, UK, +44 (0)844 871 8819
The Secret Garden Party
23th – 26th July
Founded by Freddie Fellowes in 2002, The Secret Garden Party is Cambridgeshire’s annual music and arts festival designed for, as Fellowes puts it, ‘professional party-goers’, which has grown from a small, invite-only event with just 500 revellers in attendance to a major player on the festival circuit attracting an average of 25,000 attendees and names as big as Blondie, Faithless and Regina Spektor. Currently, the 2015 Secret Garden Party is set to include ten stages featuring performers like Paris-based electro-swing outfit Caravan Palace and English alt-folk singer Marika Hackman and the festival’s annual theme will this year be ‘childish things’ with attendees encouraged to embrace the magic of their childhoods and proving the festival’s nickname as ‘Disneyland for adults’.
24th – 28th June
Quite possibly the daddy of the UK music festival scene, from its humble beginnings as a 1,500 person attended event first taking place in 1970, Glastonbury has grown into a legendary, must-go festival with an average of 200,000 in attendance – so much so in fact, that tickets have a tendency to sell out in record time. While the full Glastonbury 2015 line-up won’t be announced until spring, festival-goers can expect to see a performance from soul icon Lionel Richie while other rumoured acts currently include British DJ Fatboy Slim, Canadian electro-funk outfit Chromeo and English singer-songwriter Ella Eyre, and as with every year, just wandering Glastonbury will be a treat with its many stages and arty goings-on.
Glastonbury, Worthy Farm, Worthy Lane, Pilton, UK, +44 (0)115 896 0073
10th – 13th September
Established by British leftfield DJ and former BBC Radio 1 host Rob da Bank, Bestival is a multi-award-winning boutique festival taking place on the Isle of Wight since 2004 that evolved from the DJ’s Sunday Best record label and club nights. The four-day festival call the lovely, leafy Robin Hill Country Park home and each year has played host to eclectic line-ups featuring artists as diverse as Beastie Boys, Amy Winehouse and Stevie Wonder, while Bestival’s creative director Josie da Bank adds unique touches to the festival programme such as its boutique campsite, mass fancy dress days and Bollywood-themed cocktail bar.
Bestival, Robin Hill Country Park, Downend, Isle of Wight, UK, +44 (0)20 3327 4810
Cambridge Folk Festival
30th July – 2nd August
Taking place at Cambridge’s beautiful Cherry Hinton Hall, the Cambridge Folk Festival was first held in 1965 and over its 50-year history has hosted performances from legends including Paul Simon, Joan Baez and Fairport Convention. Noted for its unique and friendly atmosphere, the festival’s wide definition of folk ensures an eclectic line-up encompassing genres including country, gospel, bluegrass, Cajun and jazz while 2011 saw the launch of a new stage, The Den, which is dedicated to emerging folk talent. The festival line-up is to be announced in early 2015, though if last year’s performers – which included Van Morrison and Joan Armatrading – are anything to go by, attendants are in for a treat.
Cambridge Folk Festival, Cherry Hinton Hall, Cherry Hinton Road, Cambridge, UK, +44 (0)1223 357 851
13th – 16th August
More of a cultural experiment in community living than a straightforward music festival, BoomTown Fair first took place in 2008 and is a four-day celebration of art, music and theatrics that sees Hampshire’s Matterley Estate transformed into a giant pop-up city that attracts thousands of creative minds and revellers. Featuring nine distinctly themed ‘city districts’, which include Barrio Loco showcasing the best in dirty bass and TrenchTown where reggae and dub can be heard, ad 20 stages of music, BoomTown Fair is possibly the UK’s most eclectic and creative festival and guests at the 2015 fair can expect to see the likes of psychedelic trance project Green Nuns of the Revolution and music-performance group Juno Reactor.
3rd – 5th July TBC
Definitely a must-attend festival for fans of heavy metal, Sonisphere was dreamed up by founder John Jackson in collaboration with festival organiser Stuart Galbraith and originally started out as a touring festival with a series of six one or two-day events taking place across Europe. Today, the British incarnation of the festival has grown to a three-day long event featuring some of the biggest legends of metal including Iron Maiden, Metallica and Rammstein, and while the Sonisphere 2015 line-up is as yet unannounced, festival-goers can rest assured they will be treated to the festival’s usual onslaught of heavy metal, comedic acts and other festival-related fun at Knebworth Park next summer.
Reading and Leeds Festival
28th – 30th August
The UK’s annual twin festivals Reading and Leeds take place simultaneously on the final bank holiday weekend of August and have become synonymous with performances such as Nirvana’s 1992 set and the infamous bottling off stage of rapper 50 Cent. Operated by UK festival promoters Festival Republic, Reading and Leeds feature a number of stages attracting different genres, including the Lock Up Stage featuring punk and underground bands and BBC Introducing Stage featuring unsigned or relatively unknown acts, and of course its Main Stage which has seen headline performances from acts like Eminem and Radiohead. Metallica, Swedish punks Refused and American indie rockers Manchester Orchestra have been confirmed for the 2015 Reading and Leeds line-up.
Reading Festival Little John’s Farm, Richfield Avenue, Reading, UK, +44 (0)20 7009 3001 / Leeds Festival, Bramham Park, Wetherby, UK, +44 (0)20 7009 3001