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Festival Guide 2018: the best metropolitan festivals


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Maybe standing at a main stage, knee deep in mud that's pouring over the top of your wellies, necking a lukewarm cider, then trekking back to a flooded tent is all part of the 'fun' at festivals... but it's definitely not for everyone.

Recent years have seen the popularity of metropolitan festivals rise, with the likes of Live At Leeds and Dot to Dot Festival offering all the same good music from the comfort of indoor venues, and the same overpriced lukewarm cider from bars you can wait at without fear of drowning.

The format of these types of festivals usually sees hundreds of acts play across the main music venues in a city's centre, and you spend a lot of your day clutching Google Maps running between them all. There's no promise it won't rain between venues, but at least you get to dance to your favourite band with your jacket off.

So ditch the wellies. Here are the best metropolitan festivals this year.

Live At Leeds

Live at Leeds

5th May 2018

Where? Leeds

Who? The Vaccines, Circa Waves, Peace, The Horrors, The Magic Gang, Cabbage, Blaenavon, Rae Morris

Now in its eleventh year, Live At Leeds has built its reputation over the years as one of the UK's best metropolitan one-dayers. With most of the city's most iconic venues taking part (even the arena just by the way of hosting the ticket exchange), dash from the university, to the O2 Academy, to The Wardrobe and out to the Brudenell to catch some of the best established and new names in indie.

Baltic Weekender

1st - 3rd June 2018

Where? Liverpool

Who? Kenny Dope, MoStack, Helena Hauff, Marky & GQ, Romare, Leon Vynehall, Objekt, Dele Sosimi

Baltic Weekender bring another mega lineup of grime, house, techno and more to Liverpool's Baltic Triangle. Taking place on the final weekend of the academic year, it's the perfect place to hit with your mates once the exams are over, the dissertation is in and the drinks are finally flowing.


23rd June 2018

Where? London

Who? Aurora, Flyte, Billie Marten, Aquilo, Sam Fender, Freya Ridings, King No-One, Joel Baker

Bushstock, set in the heart of Shepherd's Bush, celebrates the best music to come out of Communion. Often heavily featuring softer acoustic, indie and singer-songwriter style acts, this year is no different, with pop princess Aurora, delicate Billie Marten and magical Aquilo all playing sets on 23rd June. The festival is known for its personal atmosphere, DIY vibes and clear focus on new music - perfect for people wanting to experience something a little more intimate.

Sound City

Sound City

5th - 6th May 2018

Where? Liverpool

Who? DMA's, Peace, Idles, Sunset Sons, Baxter Drury, Jaws, Superorganism, Black Honey

Going back to its city centre roots this year and taking place in the Baltic Triangle, the creative hub, Sound City hosts a delicious line-up headlined by psych-rockers Peace and Aussie-but-Britpop DMA's. Stealing Sheep have planned a performance celebrating all women in the industry, bringing together some of the best local percussionists and production students, while Kycker are bringing a load of essential new acts to the city. Set in the heart of Liverpool, one of the UK's richest cities in terms of music, culture, and independent business, it's bound to be a dreamy weekend.

Dot to Dot

25th - 27th May 2018

Where? Manchester (25th May), Bristol (26th May), Nottingham (27th May)

Who? The Horrors, Dermot Kennedy, Pale Waves, Marika Hackman, Mahalia, Turnover, Bad Sounds, Cassia

Dot to Dot is as much a tour as it is a festival as it takes over Manchester, then Bristol, then Nottingham for a day full of some of the best music from an eclectic mix of established and up-and-coming musicians. Though headlined by indie kings The Horrors, the festival comes into its own with its stellar line-up of new acts. It's just one of the best places to be this Summer to find a future headliner first.

When In Manchester

14th April

Where? Manchester

Who? Nova Twins, Hey Charlie, The Big Peach, Carl North & The Lonely Hearts, Scarlet., Lucia, The RPMs, Cabezudos

When in Manchester returns to the city's hip Northern Quarter for its fourth edition, championing some of the best running through the music world's undercurrents at the moment. Plus, it's one of the few festivals this year that can boast a line-up that isn't mainly male-dominated; an immediate solution to the 'equality' that other festivals are aiming for by 2020. Catch up!

The Great Escape: Phoebe Fox

The Great Escape

17th - 19th May 2018

Where? Brighton

Who? Tom Grennan, Lewis Capaldi, Ten Tonnes, Goat Girl, Samm Henshaw, The Spook School, Jerry Williams, Tom Walker

The Great Escape is king when it comes to championing the best of the new music world, showcasing 450 emerging acts over 30 venues in the city. Head down to Brighton in May to spend a full weekend finding a whole host of new favourite acts. Your playlists will be all the bulkier by the time you get back, boasting to your mates about how you've managed to find the 'next big thing'.


5th - 6th May 2018

Where? Leicester

Who? Drenge, Circa Waves, Genghar, Little Comets, The Wytches, The Big Moon, Idles, Anteros

Totally independent, Handmade Festival takes place on May Bank Holiday weekend - and what better way to spend your bank holiday than  immersing yourself in great music, art, photography, performance, film and comedy? The festival is hands-on curated by the city's independent venues and promoters and although in its heart it may seem a local affair, with acts like Drenge and Circa Waves the talent comes from everywere.

Slam Dunk

Slam Dunk

26th - 28th May

Where? Leeds (26th May), Hatfield (27th May), Birmingham (28th May)

Who? Good Charlotte, Jimmy Eat World, PVRIS, Frank Carter, Taking Back Sunday, Sleeping With Sirens, Twin Atlantic, Creeper

For music fans that are bored of the pop and indie genres that dominate most festivals at the moment, Slam Dunk brings an heavier line-up to Leeds, Hatfield and Birmingham this May celebrating acts across various genres including rock, punk, ska, emo and metal. Entering its twelfth year, Good Charlotte and Jimmy Eat World lead names for the alternative festival.

Supersonic: Eduardo Pinto


22nd - 24th June 2018

Where? Birmingham

Who? Gazelle Twin, Dennis McNett, Andrea Belfi, Vanishing Twin, Housewives, Yves Tumor, Daniel Higgs, Faka

Based in the heart of Birmingham, Supersonic celebrates 15 years this year, with another stellar line-up of experimental music and arts lead by Gazelle Twin. If you're in the mood to experience something completely different and off-the-radar, heading to the midlands for a couple of days this June might just whet your appetite.


10th - 12th May 2018

Where? Wrexham

Who? This Is The Kit, Gaz Coombs, Gengahr, Bill Ryder-Jones, Euros Childs, Jane Weaver, 9Bach, Kate Rusby

Although they boast a line-up of international talent, Focus Wales firmly shine the spotlight on Wales' rising stars. 200+ acts will perform over 20 stages, welcoming 8,000 people to the town of Wrexham - and it's not just for music fans. The festival programme also sees an array of arts showcases, film screenings and comedy performances: there's really something for everyone.

Robert Smith's Meltdown

15th - 23rd June 2018

Where? London

Who? The Libertines, Nine Inch Nails, Placebo, Manic Street Preachers, Deftones, Mogwai, 65daysofstatic, The Psychedelic Furs

Meltdown each year is curated by iconic music figures, having had Bowie, Morrisey and Yoko Ono take the reigns in previous years. Now in its 25th, The Cure's frontman Robert Smith has put together a line-up featuring some of his favourite bands, including Deftones, The Libertines and many others from the genres of glam, shoegaze and post-rock set to perform over the week-long event at London's Southbank Centre.

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