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Festival Guide 2018: the best festivals for discovering new music


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There’s more to music festivals than seeing your favourite band perform their greatest hits.

Sometimes, the best moments are stumbling across the smallest acts giving performances fit for the Pyramid Stage to a half full room. They are the ones you tell your friends about, the ones that leave a lasting impression and who may make it to the top of the bill in a few years’ time.

To assist you on your new music quest, here’s just a few of the UK’s best festivals for discovering new music.

Live At Leeds

Live At Leeds

When? Saturday 5th May

Where? Leeds

Who to see?  Idles, Avalanche Party, ALASKAALASKA, White Room and Pom Poko.

The festival so renowned for its selection of new music it has introduced the likes of Ed Sheeran, Alt J and Stormzy to the masses and this year’s edition promises to be no exception. Taking place across Leeds vibrant city centre, be prepared to navigate the busy bank holiday streets in search of a diverse range of venues hosting the freshest breakthrough artists of indie, pop and everything in-between.

Hit the North

When? Friday 4th –  6th May

Where? Newcastle

Who to see? Pip Blom, Denzel Himself, Fizzy Blood, Chelou and The Old Pink House.

Following a successful first innings in 2017, Hit the North and its younger sibling, Meet the North return with an air of experience. Newcastle’s premier multi-venue festival hosts events over three dates, kicking off with warm ups from Jungle, Drenge and Circa Waves. The new music motivated festival gives a platform to the best the north has to offer, taking the party on from smaller venues to the O2 Academy across the weekend. If you’ve ever wanted to see what a band look like in a tiny Brewdog pub, or an authentic mining institute, then this is the festival for you.

Sound City

Sound City

When? Saturday 5th – 6th May

Where? Liverpool

Who to see? Baxter Dury,Yellow Days, Hatchie, Hockey Dad and Team Picture.

To ensure you’re spoilt for choice this Mayday Bank Holiday, Sound City’s relocation to Liverpool’s cultural hotbed, the Baltic Triangle, is set to turn the festival up a notch. Making use of a diverse range of spaces, including a regenerated warehouse, brewery, bars and a whole host of intimate surroundings, Sound City have gone all out in booking new artists to suit all musical tastes.

Forbidden Forest

When? Sunday 6th May

Where? Donnington Park, Derby

Who to see? Alan Fitzpatrick, Solardo, Hannah Wants, Detlef and Sonny Fodera

Curated by rave enthusiasts in response to the “stagnation” of dance music festivals and the UK clubbing circuit, Forbidden Forest has been an instant success for fans of house, techno, garage and bass alike. If you really want to get into that bank holiday spirit, throw yourself head first into the night for a mammoth twelve hours of tunes.

Stag and Dagger

When? Sunday 6th May

Where? Glasgow

Who to see? Protomartyr, Yak, The Vegan Leather, Bloody Knees and Yassassin.

Glasgow is a musical landmark, on any given night you could wander into King Tuts and discover your new favourite band. But, with a Stag and Dagger ticket, you have the opportunity to witness both the established and up and coming play hyped sets guaranteed to fill the tenement-lined streets with the exotic sound of unheard music. With curfew set at 3am – it’s bound to be a lively one.

The Great Escape: Phoebe Fox

The Great Escape

When? Thursday 17th – 19th May

Where? Brighton

Who to see? Suzi Wu, Happy Meals, Superorganism, Bad Sounds and The Rhythm Method.

Heralded as the UK’s answer to SXSW; musicians, fans and industry gurus alike descend on Brighton to experience a stellar showcase of 450 must see emerging artists from around the world. The Great Escape promises an experience like no other, with spontaneous collabs’, topical debates and secret gigs cropping up across the weekend.

We are FSTVL

When? Friday 25th – 27th May.

Where? Damyns Hall Aerodrome, Upminster.

Who to see? Bicep, Denis Sulta, Ben Klock, Green Velvet and Not3s

Six years on from its birth, We are FSTVL sets precedent for UK dance festivals, hosting over 300 of the best dance, underground and grime artists the country has to offer. Lose your inhibitions as you become acquainted with the freshest signings to the world’s leading labels.

All Points East

When? Friday 25th May –3rd June

Where? Victoria Park, London

Who to see? Hookworms, Lo Moon, Her, Bo Ningen, Sylvan Esso.

Scattered across ten days in the capital, All Points East provides a master-class in how to put on an unmissable electro heavy line up. Whilst it may be the huge names that attract you, All Points East is incorporated into Tower Hamlet’s Borough of Culture bid and every name on the bill, big or small, should help to cement this title.

Southport Weekender Festival

When? Saturday 9th June

Where? Finsbury Park, London

Who to see? Souldynamic, Booker T, DJ Spen, Henrik Schwarz and Sandy Rivera.

Stretching across nine arenas, this celebration of soul, house, R&B, disco and garage brings together the giants of the genre and the rising stars who have earnt the reputation to stand beside them. Spectate the sensation that has brought loved ones together in its long-standing legacy, returning to London crowds once again for a day to remember.

NASS Festival

When? Thursday 5th – 8th July

Where? Royal Bath & West Showground, Somerset

Who to see? De La Soul, Lady Leshurr, Carasel, Adian Coker and Eva Lazarus & The Afronaughts.

For fans of beers, boards, BMX and beats, NASS combines sport and music in an eclectic, unmissable mix. When you’re not spectating leading sports stars in the park or admiring the street art you never know who you may find as you make your way between the main stage, on-site warehouses or the Truck and Bearing pub, as NASS hosts an exclusive pick of DJs, garage and drum and bass titans.

Barn on The Farm

When? Thursday 5th – 8th July

Where? Over Farm, Gloucester

Who to see? Bad Sounds, The Pale White, The Night Café, Gengahr and Anteros.

Set within fully functioning farm land, Barn on the Farm provides fertile ground for new music to plant its seed. Within the acoustic scene, BOTF holds a strong reputation for handpicking artists who are going places, making those hair-on-end sets all the more special, knowing you’re unlikely to see any of the line up playing this intimately in a few summers time.

Farr Festival

Farr Festival

When? Thursday 5th – 8th July

Where? Bygrave Woods, Hertfordshire

Who to see? Daphni, Or:la, Moodymann, George Fitzgerald and Skee Mask.

Seeking adventure just outside of London, look no further than the vibrant terrains of Farr Festival. Deep into the peaceful woods, electronic beats replace the morning chimes of the songbird and they have never sounded better, amongst the dense natural surroundings. Hosting a wide range of producers and performers, you’re sure to find someone new to impress your mates at your next house party.


When? Thursday 12th – 14th July

Where? Upcote Farm, Cheltenham

Who to see? H09909, Bloody Knees, Fangclub, Sløtface and Dead!

Reducing your carbon footprint, saving a few pounds and relishing in new music go hand in hand, right? Well, at 2000Trees they do. Rock is the genre of choice at 2000trees, though there is someone on the bill for everyone and no matter what you choose to watch, it’s sure to sound euphoric as it emanates through the trees.

End of The Road

When? Thursday 30th August – Sunday 2nd September

Where? Larmer Tree Gardens, Dorset

Who to see? Shame,Insecure Men, Flat Worms, Japanese Breakfast and Big Thief.

Boasting a weekend filled with all the creative arts has to offer; comedy, films, literature, workshops and healing, you can be assured that when it comes to new music, End of The Road will have you covered. Last year the festival won Best Medium Sized festival and is no doubt the premier gathering of alternative and folk  artists in an idyllic garden setting.

Festival No.6

When? Thursday 6th – 9th September

Where? Portmeirion, Wales

Who to see? Raf Rundell, Goat Girl, Haelos, Marika Hackman and The Lovely Eggs.

Taking place in the movie set surroundings of Italianate aesthetic, Festival Number 6 is your number one tip for finding new music, arts and indulging in culture and palatable gastronomy. Though there is no guarantee the weather will stay on side, what is promised is the euphoria of new music, with memories attached for life.

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