Whether you’re desperate to get ankle-deep in mud while belting out rock anthems at the top your voice in the middle of a field, or fancy chasing up-and-coming artists around smaller gig venues in city pubs, the best music festivals of 2023 have everything you could wish for. Glastonbury Festival remains the headliner, but favourites such as Boardmasters, Truck and The Great Escape all deserve notice. Find out why – and who’s playing – below…
When: 14-23 April
Where: Empire Polo Club, Los Angeles, USA
Despite its heavy association with Instagram, influencers and attendees intent on dressing to impress, there’s so much more to Coachella then aesthetics. Providing a double whammy among the best music festivals of 2023, Coachella runs its star-studded line-up over two weekends the California desert, with this year’s line-up featuring an eclectic mix of acts ranging from Bad Bunny to Gorillaz, Rosalía, Björk, Kaytranada and The Chemical Brothers. Still not selling it? You’ll also get the opportunity to do a bit of celeb-spotting, appreciate your surroundings and soak up the Californian sun.
Headliners: Bad Bunny, BLACKPINK, Frank Ocean
The Great Escape Festival
When: 10-13 May
Where: Various venues, Brighton, England
If tents, Portaloos and spending the entire weekend walking around a field isn’t your thing, then The Great Escape Festival is for you. Set in what is arguably the coolest city in the UK, TGE takes place in the heart of Brighton and showcases over 500 up-and-coming artists from all over the world, in 35 venues, all within easy walking distance of each other. Past line-ups have featured future hitmakers such as Sigrid, Michael Kiwanuka and Stormzy, making it the perfect opportunity to update your Spotify playlist and brag to your mates about how the next BRITs Rising Star was that act you once caught a glimpse of in the back of a seaside pub.
Headliners: Maisie Peters, Arlo Parks
Cross The Tracks
When: 28 May
Where: Brockwell Park, London, England
One of the first UK festivals of the season, Cross The Tracks offers the perfect way to ease into the chaos of long days with buckets of sunshine (if you’re lucky) and a whole lot of good music. Angling to be thought of as London’s No.1 jazz, funk and soul festival, Cross The Tracks has amassed a solid line-up for 2023, complete with smooth grooves from NxWorries – the superduo brainchild of neo-soul legend Anderson .Paak and producer Knwledge – and the silky vocals of R&B crooner Masego. Cross The Tracks also features workshops, talks, creative spaces and craft beer markets alongside so much more.
Headliners: NxWorries, Masego and Ezra Collective
When: 29 May-4 June
Where: Parc Del Fòrum, Barcelona, Spain
Kicking off the European festival season with a bang, Primavera Sound returns with one of its most extensive line-ups to date. Going with someone whose music preferences conflict with yours? Not a problem. Leave them to watch the blast-from-the-past sets from Blur, Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode while you check out what Kendrick Lamar, Rosalía and Calvin Harris are up. As well as the obvious musical attractions, Primavera Sound is set right against the Balearic Sea. Get your money’s worth and soak up the early-summer coastal goodness.
Headliners: Pet Shop Boys, Blur, Halsey, Kendrick Lamar, Depeche Mode, Rosalía, Calvin Harris
When: 8-11 June
Where: Donington Park, Derby, England
One of the only UK festivals where you’re guaranteed to get what you’ve paid for, Download Festival is laden with headbanging crowds letting loose to heavy metal and emo bands. This year Download also celebrates its 20th anniversary, and its line-up features over 60 acts, including star-studded headliners Bring Me The Horizon, Slipknot and Metallica. One perfect for not only the metal-heads, but for those who want to avoid what some may call the more “precious” tastes that festivals aim to cater for these days, Download is a no-frills experience where gourmet food options are nowhere to be seen. Still, its inclusion among the best music festivals of 2023 is mandatory, thanks to its sole purpose: to provide the best environment for the most intense mosh pits of all time.
Headliners: Metallica, Bring Me The Horizon, Slipknot
When: 10-11 June
Where: Heaton Park, Manchester, England
Isn’t it ironic that a music festival in Manchester is named Parklife? We think it’d be more apt if they’d named it Supersonic… Geared towards rap music, with infusions of pop, the festival vibrates with a youthful energy that attracts thousands of punters each year, with 2023’s allocated pre-sale tickets selling out before the line-up was even announced. Stepping just to the side of typical stage design and other creative elements, Parklife unveils a ludicrous new aesthetic each year, with past favourites ranging from industrial set-ups to tangled jungle-themed vibes.
Headliners: The 1975, The Prodigy, Skrillex, Fred Again..
Isle Of Wight Festival
When: 15-18 June
Where: Newport, Isle Of Wight, England
The one that’s like the UK’s version of the original Woodstock? Yep, that’s Isle Of Wight Festival. The family-friendly weekender that caters for all music preferences has been a firm favourite since its revival in 2002, and if you can’t make an overseas jaunt, IOW is definitely a fine alternative among the best music festivals of 2023 – complete with a short ferry ride, you can almost treat it like the UK’s version of Primavera. This year’s line-up boasts an eclectic mix.
Headliners: Pulp, George Ezra, The Chemical Brothers, Robbie Williams
When: 21-25 June
Where: Worthy Farm, Somerset, England
There’s no argument that Glastonbury Festival is the UK’s flagship music festival. Spread over 900 acres of land and boasting more than 70 performance spaces, it’s definitely going to be one of the best music festivals of 2023, and its increasing popularity shows no sign of slowing down – tickets for this year’s Glastonbury went on sale on 6 November 2022 and, as usual, were snapped up at lightning speed. Those who emerged from the booking war zone clutching precious tickets to their chest will be lucky enough to see Elton John perform the final UK show of his Farwell Yellow Brick Road Tour.
Headliners: Elton John, Arctic Monkeys, Guns N’ Roses
When: 29 June-2 July
Where: Festivalpark Werchter, Werchter, Belgium
Exclusively catering for rock fans, Rock Werchter is located just half an hour from Brussels, near the Flemish town of Leuven, and is one of the best music festivals of 2023 for those who want to experience a unique mix of rock and alternative music, sprinkled with a hint of pop, soul, metal and hip-hop. A sign of the label’s drawing power, it’s bemusing that acts as big as The 1975, The Black Keys and Queens Of The Stone Age can all feature on the line-up without claiming headliner status.
Headliners: Stormae, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Muse, Arctic Monkeys
The 1975 at Finsbury Park
When: 2 July
Where: Finsbury Park, London, England
Nine years on from the release of their debut album, The 1975 are set to play their biggest UK show ever at London’s Finsbury Park this July. Their recent tour has garnered rave reviews across the board and attracted special guests such as Charli XCX, Taylor Swift and Lewis Capaldi (with teases of Harry Styles), all of which suggests this day-long event will have what it takes to be remembered as one of the best music festivals of 2023.
Support acts: Cigarettes After Sex, Bleachers, The Japanese House, American Football
Mad Cool Festival
When: 6-8 July
Where: Madrid, Spain
Doing what it says on the tin, Mad Cool is, ultimately, mad cool. Taking place in Madrid’s July heat, this Spanish festival celebrates its seventh birthday this year. Boasting the finest names from the pop, rock and alternative genres, it’s the perfect event for those looking to score musical bragging rights for the rest of the year. Without a camping option, Mad Cool also ensures its attendees benefit from hotel luxuries in the morning and nighttime, while enjoying jam-packed hours of great live music during the day.
Headliners: Lizzo, Lil Nas X, Queens Of The Stone Age, The Black Keys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Liam Gallagher
When: 7-9 July
Where: Glasgow Green, Glasgow, Scotland
The unofficial replacement for Scotland’s beloved T In The Park, TRNSMT took over Glasgow Green in 2017 and has since been a quality example of what an indie/rock/alt festival should be. Claiming to have the best audiences in the world, TRNSMT isn’t for the faint-hearted, but if you don’t mind returning from gigs covered in bruises and beer, then it’s certainly for you. Its 2023 line-up sees the likes of BRIT winners FLO, Glasgow’s own Joesef and Britpop legends Pulp all take to the stage alongside some of the most exciting acts in the UK today.
Headliners: Pulp, Sam Fender, The 1975
When: 20-23 July
Where: Henham Park, Suffolk, England
An all-encompassing experience of music, arts and comedy, Latitude Festival is the perfect event for those who aren’t quite ready to tackle the trials and tribulations of Glastonbury. 2023’s line-up sees Pulp, Paolo Nutini and George Ezra on the main stage, as well as a bunch of other fantastic musicians who will take up position across the site. And Latitude isn’t just for adults, either – it’s kid-friendly, providing plenty of fun and immersive activities for the little ones to occupy themselves with while you have a craft beer or two as you relive Britpop’s heyday.
Headliners: Pulp, Paolo Nutini, George Ezra
When: 21-23 July
Where: Steventon, Oxfordshire, England
For those who miss the days when Reading and Leeds Festivals appeased the indie-rock kids, Truck is the little festival where everything is scaled down to evoke nostalgia for that bygone era. Line-ups over the past few years have included some of the biggest names in British indie-rock, from Sam Fender to Wolf Alice and Catfish And The Bottlemen. With the top-tier camping package coming in at £225 (plus booking fee), it’s a fun and affordable favourite among the best music festivals of 2023.
Headliners: Two Door Cinema Club, alt-J, Royal Blood, The Wombats
On The Beach
When: 21-30 July
Where: Brighton Beach, Brighton, England
Part of the On The Beach series, Brighton Beach welcomes a series of headliners across two weekends in July. Following on from the huge success of having the host city’s own Fat Boy Slim headlining in 2022, this year On The Beach invites prestigious dance icons such as Carl Cox and Eric Prydz to the stage, while also calling forth rock favourites Royal Blood (from neighbouring Worthing) and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. What can be better than evenings spent on the beach, watching the sun set while listening to your favourite tunes blaring from a crisp sound system?
Headliners: Chase & Status, Carl Cox, Eric Prydz, Royal Blood, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
When: 9-13 August
Where: Fistral Beach, Newquay, England
Not your average festival, Boardmasters ties together everything you’d want in one of the best music festivals of 2023, with the added extra of surfing and skateboarding competitions set right next to the site, on Fistral Beach. Situated deep into the West Country, it’s perhaps not the most accessible festival to get to, but Boardmasters always manages to create a line-up so attractive that even citizens of John O’Groats would be tempted to make the journey.
Headliners: Liam Gallagher, Lorde, Florence + The Machine
When: 10-16 August
Where: Budapest, Hungary
Set on an island in the middle of the Danube, Sziget Festival is one of the rare events where you’re guaranteed to have a good time, whatever the line-up. Luckily, this year’s acts conspire to make it one of the best festivals of 2023 – if not the decade – spread across 13 different stages and a unique site on which it’s impossible to get bored.
Headliners: Billie Eilish, David Guetta, Florence + The Machine, Imagine Dragons
All Points East
When: 18-28 August
Where: Victoria Park, London, England
Sometimes a day festival is as far as you can go – and that’s OK, All Points East is here for you. Set in Victoria Park, this London-based festival takes places on various dates across the summer, in order to cater to specific music tastes. Last year, All Points East delivered headline performances from Tame Impala, The National, The Chemical Brothers, Charli XCX and Gorillaz, all on separate days across two weeks in August. Always an ideal way to round off summer, this year’s line-up easily places it among the best music festivals of 2023.
Headliners: Stormzy, Field Day, The Strokes, Jungle, Haim
Reading and Leeds Festivals
When: 25-27 August
Where: Reading, Berkshire | Leeds, West Yorkshire, England
Recent line-up experiments may have raised eyebrows in some quarters, but Reading and Leeds Festivals continue to tease audiences new and old with the impressive acts they manage to snag each year. Last year, Reading and Leeds attracted a shed-load of Arctic Monkeys devotees after securing the Sheffield icons for a UK festival exclusive, and yet they still brought grime fans to the party on the strength of highly anticipated slots from Dave and Megan Thee Stallion – how often do you see a mix like that?
Headliners: Sam Fender, The Killers, Billie Eilish
The Big Feastival
When: 25-27 August
Where: Kingham, Oxfordshire, England
With Blur reuniting for two shows at London’s Wembley Stadium in the summer, bassist Alex James is also putting on his very own festival, The Big Feastival, which will take place on his own farm in the Cotswolds. The musical menu leans towards alternative pop, while attendees can also expect decadent dining and cooking masterclasses from guest chefs such as Asma Khan, Nathan Outlaw and Anna Haugh. For foodies and culture vultures alike, The Big Feastival is easily one of the best music festivals of 2023.
Headliners: Sigrid, Tom Grennan, Blossoms
Check out the new albums to look out for in 2023, and prime yourself for the festival bangers that will rule this year’s stages.
Original article: 3 January 2023
Updated: 25 April 2023
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