FESTIVAL FEATURE: Twelve Festivals We Can’t Wait To Attend In 2023

With 2023’s festival season already beginning to kick off, we’re taking a look at twelve festivals we can’t wait to attend this year. If you’re struggling to decide which to head to this year or are looking to try something new but need a little more persuading, we’re here to help you!

Wide Awake 
27th May
Brockwell Park, London

Fan of post-punk? Fan of underground alternative music? Fan of BBC Radio 6? If you said yes to any of these questions, Wide Awake is undoubtedly the festival for you this May.

Residing in the scenic Brockwell Park grounds, this celebration of post-punk is not to be missed. This year’s edition sees Caroline Polachek headlining after her mammoth sophomore record Desire, I Want To Turn Into You, which will be an unmissable performance. If you enjoy raucous punk gigs, there’s more than enough bands for you. Osees will be manic, Viagra Boys will have everyone running into each other, and Warmduscher will have everybody dancing. If you’re more into relaxing and listening to gentler, perhaps more thought-provoking music whilst the sun goes down, then Wide Awake have that covered too; Black Country New Road, Molchat Doma, and Jockstrap will have you sorted. A proudly independent festival, this year will mark Wide Awakes third edition, with the line-up only getting stronger each year. What also is getting stronger is its commitment to helping the environment, with this year’s festival committing to be sustainable with a number of environmental promises being put in place. Mix all these factors into a beautiful summer’s day with great food and even better beer on offer, what more could you want from a day festival? (JLough)

Live At Leeds
27th May
Temple Newsam, Leeds

Taking place on 27th May during the May bank holiday weekend, Live At Leeds: In The Park is the perfect indie offering to brighten the weekend. This year’s event is headlined by Two Door Cinema Club who will be bringing the sing-along anthems with the likes of DMA’S, The Hives and Tom Walker also appearing towards the top of the line-up. Set across five stages, rising names The Lottery Winners, Prima Queen and Brooke Combe will also be appearing at the festival which champions up and coming talent working towards those bigger headliner slots in the future. Want to make a weekend of it in Leeds? Be sure to check out Slam Dunk North which takes place at Temple Newsam the day after!

Slam Dunk Festival
27th May – Hatfield Park, Hatfield
28th May – Temple Newsam, Leeds

Slam Dunk Festival will take place at Hatfield Park (South) on the 27th of May, and Temple Newsam Leeds (North) on the 28th, being the 16th edition of this fan favourite festival. This year will be the biggest yet, with a line-up stacked with some of the best artists from the rock, emo, pop-punk and metalcore scenes and both events are now sold-out. The festival is only in both locations for a day but you will be spoilt for choice with over fifty bands across six stages, headlined by Enter Shikari, who will no doubt be showcasing their number one album A Kiss For The World and the old school legends The Offspring. Also with the likes of Yellowcard, who have just reunited for the 20th anniversary of Ocean AvenueBilly Talent, Bowling For Soup, Creeper, The Hunna and heavy fan favourites such as Boston Manor, Four Year Strong, Trash Boat or We Came As Romans.

One of this year’s biggest surprises is the exclusive reunion of Kids In Glass Houses to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Smart Casual, as well as the reunion of Chicago pop-punks The Academy Is.

Slam Dunk is a fantastic experience, with a great atmosphere, many of the scene’s most beloved bands and some of the hottest acts turning heads right now. Get stoked for Trophy Eyes, Real Friends, Jxdn, PVRIS, Less Than Jake, The Menzingers, The Maine, Grayscale, Spanish Love Songs, Zebrahead, Gogol Bordello, Underoath, Wargasm, Holding Absence and many more. (JLom)

Download Festival
8th – 11th June
Donington Park

The hallowed turf of Donington Park has hosted the greatest and holiest of all our rock and metal heroes over the years and every summer Download Festival rolls out the black carpet on the famous site to ensure the legacy on this hallowed site continues. This year the stakes have been upped with an extra day to mark the 20th anniversary of the most hallowed of all UK festivals and this year we’re preparing to spend four days in the rock’n’roll trenches instead of the traditional three and We. Can’t. Wait.

Metallica have been confirmed to be pulling a split shift this summer with a Thursday headline slot being followed by a second headline shift on Saturday night as the metal titans pull double duty and a promise of no repeat songs over what will be two unforgettable appearances. Also topping the bill are metal icons Slipknot with a Sunday night headline appearance on the very site which propelled them from emerging metal band to bonafide headliners and an industry defining act.
This year Download have also given the keys to the main stage to a first-time headliner in Bring Me The Horizon but although they may be Download leading virgins they are no first timers to the big occasion or the festival itself. Further down the bill we’re buzzing for Ghost and their outrageously entertaining live set and banger after banger after banger, Five Finger Death Punch, Halestorm, The Distillers, and Disturbed. But for us the one to watch and top of our ‘must see’ list are the bonkers Electric Callboy; like a fever dream where happy trance hardcore legend Scooter has a fling with a bone rattling metal band like Machine Head their sound has to be heard to be believed and on the big stage of Download it will be a unique, partner swinging, smile inducing and unforgettable set and one we will be front and centre for.

Download has already completely sold out which gives you an insight into the anticipation for this 20th instalment in the rock and metal masterpiece. Till then, horns ready, wellies and vans packed, and we’ll see in the promised land in June. (EM)

Outbreak Fest
23rd – 25th June
Depot Mayfield, Manchester

Looking for something a little bit heavier? Then Outbreak with its stacked hardcore and punk line-up could definitely be the one for you this June. Once again taking place in Manchester, the festival will be held from 23rd to 25th June at Depot Mayfield and alongside the musical offering will be art exhibitions, skate jams and independent markets for attendees to enjoy.

The packed line-up sees Converge, Bane (performing their only UK date), Death Grips and Denzel Curry taking on the mainstage headline slots. Whilst other names on the line-up are Deafeater, Militarie Gun, Code Orange, Scowl, Turnover and Loathe amongst many more across the weekend.  Outbreak is also starting a day early for those lucky enough to get tickets to the sold-out pre-show being held in conjunction with Concrete Culture on Thursday at Gorilla. Ticket-holders will get to see One Step Closer, Higher Power (Year One Set), The Flex, Despize, Fate, Dynamine and Nix kicking off Outbreak festival in style. Known for its inclusive community spirit, Outbreak has become a highlight of many hardcore-punk fans year. (NC)

Barn On The Farm
29th June – 2nd July
Over Farm, Gloucester

Barn On The Farm was founded back in 2010 and it began with a more Folk feel to it but in the years since it has grown into a festival of new music and has also discovered some of the stars of tomorrow including Ed Sheeran, George Ezra and Catfish and the Bottlemen. In 2018 it was awarded the best grassroots festival by UK Festival Awards showing just how special it is for new music. The festival itself is set on a working farm in the lovely Gloucestershire countryside and is relatively small, holding around 2500 attendees with three quirky, earthy vibed stages. The main stage is in an open-ended Barn which produces a great atmosphere and the late evening sun bathes the crowd in a nice orange glow. There is also an outdoor stage which is just perfect for those summer nights where you can sit on the grass and just listen to the music with a drink or two or head to the front to sing and dance the night away with friends and to meet new ones. Lastly is the small Barn which is a fun place, mainly indoors with a high stage and gets very busy and on the Sunday evening of the festival they have a surprise special guest, surrounding the barn is a nice courtyard with food stalls and comfortable places to sit and chill.

This year’s festival sees some big names in the form of Holly Humberstone, Bleachers and Lizzy McAlpine. There is plenty more to keep you going from Alternative/Indie in the form of Thomas Headon and Cassia. If you enjoy hazy summer evenings full of music and fun then Barn on the Farm is definitely the place for you. (MS)

5th – 8th July
Upcote Farm, Cheltenham

Here at BTN, we absolutely love 2000trees and it has become a firm fixture in our festival calendar. Now a four-day event, attendees are able to start the party early and get acquainted with their tent neighbours that bit earlier,  it will also be the last chance to see Press To Meco live as they play their final show on the Wednesday of the festival. This year’s headliners are Soft Play (formerly Slaves) returning after their 2017 headline slot, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes will be bringing their raucous live show to the Cotswold hills and Bullet For My Valentine are making their 2000trees debut by headlining the Friday night. Some highlights to keep an eye on come with Thursday seeing Cancer Bats performing their Bat Sabbath set much to the delight of all festival goers, Friday sees Empire State Bastards (formed by Simon Neil and Mike Vennart) performing one of their first festival performances which we just know will see the tent and its surroundings absolutely packed to the rafters and American Football looking to offer up one of the sets of the weekend on Saturday.

Other notable mentions/recommendations go to Noisy, Unpeople, The Xcerts, Clarence, Casey and Modern Error; who we’ll definitely be checking out this year. The festival is situated within Upcote Farm in Cheltenham, offering a tranquil setting where the focus always has been on developing a great atmosphere to allow everyone to have a fantastic and safe time. Whether it’s the intimacy of the Forest Stage sets or having a laugh thanks to the comedy line-up on The Word Stage, you’ll instantly feel at home and part of something special. Don’t miss out on 2000trees’s legendary silent disco and most definitely don’t go counting the trees on site to find the 2000th tree… (NC)

Truck Festival
21st-23rd July
Hill Farm, Oxfordshire

Returning to the Oxfordshire countryside, Truck Festival is coming back for its 2023 instalment in the height of summer. After going to last year’s Community Festival in Finsbury Park, London, we are especially looking forward to seeing some of the headliners from there performing here like Two Door Cinema Club and The Wombats who are always musical heavyweights on the stage. Manchester’s Everything Everything is sure to be a must-see at this festival after their immensely successful 2022 electronic-rock record Raw Data Feel. Another act that is sure to be a standout for us is Wunderhorse, who we saw supporting Fontaines D.C. at the Birmingham O2 Academy in November of last year. They impressed us and captivated the audience then and we are sure they will be able to do it again with ease. Liverpool’s own, STONE and Red Rum Club, are set to make an appearance at the festival too with both of their loud and alternative infused tracks.

Spread across five stages over 4 days, there is something for everybody at Oxfordshire’s Truck Festival. Whether it be a more intimate experience built with heavy guitar music in mind like The Nest Stage or the other side of the scale, the Truck Stage which is their biggest outside stage comparable to the main stages at many other major festivals. (JD)

Tramlines Festival
21st – 23rd July
Hillsborough Park, Sheffield

Welcome to Sheffield, home of the city’s biggest festival; Tramlines. Held annually since 2009, artists known nationally and locally gather together to create the perfect mix of music, art and comedy. Raking in a whopping 40,000 people a day here at Hillsborough Park, Tramlines Festival is taking place on a summer’s weekend in July (21st-23rd) and the line-up is definitely an eye-catcher for the indie/rock lovers out there. We’re talking DMA’s, Circa Waves, Richard Ashcroft and Sea Girls on Friday’s main stage, Courteeners, Blossoms, Beabadoobee and Everly Pregnant Brothers taking over the stage on Saturday and Sugababes, Black Honey, Courting and Sheffield’s own, Reverend & The Makers making the last day worth it on Sunday’s stage.

The best thing about Tramlines is no matter who you are or where you’re from, everyone is feeling the love. You could be walking down the main path in the park on your own with nothing but a pint in your hand and within minutes, you’ll be up on someone’s shoulders, singing your heart out to your favourite songs (with a whole new bunch of mates too). What more could you ask for? With only a few tickets left and way more acts to be announced, if you love the sun, love the buzz and love a bloody good time, then don’t miss out; get your tickets now before they’re gone completely! (SC)

RADAR Festival
28th – 30th July
O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester

One of the UK’s most outstanding progressive metal festivals, Radar Festival has risen up the ranks over its short lifetime. Moving from its original home down in Guildford’s Corner House, Radar opened its doors to some of the best bands in prog metal from across the globe just a mere four years ago and has gone from strength to strength ever since, taking the title for Best New Festival at the UK Festival Awards in 2022. Upscaling the size and location of their venue, this year sees Radar Festival take on Manchester’s o2 Victoria Warehouse between July 28th-July 30th for a weekend of live performances, masterclasses and music markets from the world of metal.

This year’s headliners include mysterious masked outfit Sleep Token on the Friday, Igorrr for the Saturday and seeing out the weekend on Sunday with innovative djent icons Periphery, marking their first time back on UK soil in four years. Elsewhere returning Radar festival favourites Monuments will head up the second stage on Friday after headlining the first instalment of the festival back in 2019, alongside Saturday and Sunday second stage headliners Heart Of A Coward and Loathe. Further down the bill the likes of Haken will sub headline Sleep Token for a special ten-year anniversary set of their album The Mountain, Australia’s Thornhill will be flying in for their only UK festival appearance this year, as well as other standout acts including Volumes, Unprocessed, Playgrounded, Profiler and Ten 56 will pack out the line up with one more name set to be announced. Djent, prog metal and everything in between, 2023 is set to be the biggest and best year Radar has seen to date. (KCF)

9th – 13th August
Watergate Bay and Fistral Beach, Cornwall

Boardmasters has come a long way from its origins as a small surfing coemption in Newquay, it’s now a major music event boasting 50,000+ spectators, catapulting it to being one the biggest festivals in the UK. What’s perhaps so impressive is how its kept surfing culture directly at its heart. This year’s line-up of music artists really lends well into the vibe of the festival, perhaps one of its most impressive yet. 

The festival organisers have really gone to town setting the vibes for the Friday evening when the first headliner Lorde will belt out Solar Power to spectators after they’ve been standing in the blistering heat all day. The New Zealand singer songwriter will dazzle the UK coastline on the opening night, tipping off a great day of music including artists such as Ben Howard and Everything Everything. Saturday sees Liam Gallagher of the Oasis brothers performing as a UK Festival exclusive which is a huge reason to attend in itself. Other exciting acts on Saturday include Yard Act and Nova Twins. Closing the festival, we have the breath-taking Florence + The Machine, what more needs to be said about their range, stage presence and significance within the UK music scene. They close the festival after a packed Sunday schedule including Dermot Kennedy and Black Honey.  

We’re pleased to see such an array of artists and in particular a host of incredible female artists, which the festival seemed to lack last year. They have most definitely made up for it in 2023, and we cannot wait to get down to the beach. (CE)

Reading Festival/Leeds Festival
25th – 27th August
Richfield Avenue/Bramham Park

As one of the later British festivals, Reading Festival is where it is at for those who love pop, rock and indie… oh and a bit of rap music. Although this year has not sold out thus far, there is no doubt that this year will be nothing short of a great experience. Big acts such as Sam Fender, FoalsThe Killers, Lewis Capaldi, Billie Eilish and Imagine Dragons will grace the headliner spots across the bank holiday weekend and show how rock, indie and pop still speak to the masses. Of course, the atmosphere when The Killers perform hits such as The Man, Somebody Told Me and Mr. Brightside, the crowd will burst into a mass sing-song as after all, who can resist these bangers?

Undoubtedly, there will be some clashes over the weekend. However, Festival Republic tends to put together a timings list, so you can plan ahead and there are two main stages again, therefore there will always be something to watch. This year sees a lot of focus on homegrown talent including Grammy-winning Wet LegSea GirlsBaby QueenYou Me At SixThe SnutsYard ActGeorgia and BRIT winner, Arlo Parks. These acts are just a small highlight of the talent that Britain has and they are all heading to Reading and Leeds Festival shortly. It is the only festival in Britain that can successfully bring rock, pop, grime, rap and a whole host of genres together and the crowd will love and support these acts. With such talent gracing both Reading and Leeds, there is nowhere else to be on the August bank holiday.  (JLisney)

Which festivals will you be heading to? Tweet us @BringTheNoiseUK and let us know!

Written by: Martin Smith, Jo Lisney, Sian Connolly, Eric Mackinnon, James Lomax, Katie Conway-Flood, Caitlyn Ebsworthy, Jack Delve, Nicola Craig and Joe Loughran.

Nicola Craig
Head of Live with an unwavering love for the seaside, live music and writing about others instead of myself. Twitter: @nicolalalalar