With the sun showing its face and temperatures finally on the rise, it’s starting to feel like summer. And that means it’s time to look forward to festival season in the UK. But if you’re fed up of huge crowds, identikit line-ups and garbage beer, fear not. While Glasto and Reading/Leeds get all the coverage, the UK has some of the best alternative festivals in Europe. So whether you want to let loose and find somewhere suitable for all the family, here’s our complete guide to the best alternative UK summer festivals in 2018!
Line-Up: The Killers, Solange, alt-J, Belle and Sebastian
Date: 12th – 17th July
Price: £197.50 Adult Weekend Ticket
Probably the biggest festival on our list, Latitude has quickly established itself as one of the most popular festivals on the UK circuit since its inception in 2006. With a focus on all the art forms, not just music (though the line-up is always brilliant), Latitude has grown in size over the years but has still managed to maintain a real family friendly feel. This year sees the likes of The Killers and alt-J headlining, while BBC Music Introducing will have a stage at Latitude for the second year in row, offering a specially curated programme of classical, world, jazz, country and folk music. The comedy and theatre tents are also always worth checking out.
Line-Up: Friendly Fires, Franz Ferdinand, Everything Everything, The The
Date: 6th – 9th September
Price: £180 Adult Weekend Ticket
There’s very few festivals in the UK quite as unique as Festival No. 6. Set in the picturesque coastal village of Portmeirion, you’d be forgiven for feeling like you were on the Amalfi Coast in Italy as opposed to North Wales. The village setting and the yurt or Castell Deudraeth accommodation options makes No. 6 a genuinely different option on the UK festival scene. The music is always great and this year sees The The, Friendly Fires and indie legends Franz Ferdinand headlining.
Line-Up: The Flaming Lips, Ghostpoet, Mystery Jets, The Go! Team
Date: 21st July
For the first time in over 30 years, Alexandra Palace will play host to a kaleidoscope of music and arts for a festival like no other. Set high above London within the Park and Palace, the Kaleidoscope Festival will feature a live music main stage, with the likes of The Go! Team, Ghostpoet and headliners The Flaming Lips performing, while parties, spoken word and comedy event will also be dotted throughout the hallowed grounds of Ally Pally. Hidden parts of the Palace, never before seen, will be opened up for immersive experiences, and some of the biggest names in the London food scene will also be on hand.
Line-Up: The War on Drugs, Fleet Foxes, John Grant, Public Service Broadcasting
Date: 16th – 19th August
Price: £180 Adult Weekend Ticket
Another Welsh festival on our list, for us the Green Man Festival offers the best setting of the lot with the stunning backdrop of the Welsh Black Mountains accompanying great music and some serious partying. Green Man is split into ten areas, each with its own vibe and artistic policy such as; ‘Fortune Falls’, ‘a shamanic hideaway for the creative and cultured’; and ‘Einstein’s Garden’, where you can ‘learn and gawp at something strange’. The line-up for 2018 is also probably our favourite this year too with The War on Drugs and Fleet Foxes headlining, and John Grant, Grizzly Bear and Public Service Broadcasting also taking to the stage across the weekend.
Line-Up: Nile Rodgers & Chic, Bastille, Jon Hopkins, Kamasi Washington
Date: 2nd – 5th August
Price: £179.50 Adult Weekend Ticket
Oxfordshire’s Wilderness Festival is relatively new to the UK festival scene having only started back in 2014 but it’s already gained quite the reputation. Now in its fifth year, Wilderness is perfect if you’re looking for a real old school hippy love-in to put it bluntly. The forest setting is idyllic to say the least and there’s even a chance to go wild swimming. As well as an eclectic line-up of great music with everything from pop greats to Nile Rodgers & Chic, to jazz royalty Kamasi Washington, Wilderness is also a foodie haven with a huge array of street food trucks, as well as the option to sign up to one of the festival’s many banquets.
Line-Up: First Aid Kit, Jake Bugg, Tune-Yards, Public Service Broadcasting
Date: 19th – 22nd July
Price: £179 Adult Weekend Ticket
After a year-long hiatus, Larmer Tree Festival is back in 2018 for its 27th year. The event has cemented itself as one of the UK’s most loved and long standing festivals thanks to its breath-taking location, outstanding line-ups and breadth of activities on offer. This year sees Swedish duo First Aid Kit and Nottingham-born Jake Bugg headlining, while the intimate and eccentric festival offers a unique party experience with plenty of activities for a real festival community feel.
Line-Up: Gorillaz, Die Antwood, Limp Bizkit, Jimmy Cliff
Date: 9th – 12th August
Price: £236 Adult Weekend Ticket
But if you’re looking for something truly ‘alternative’ where the music is almost secondary to the weekend experience, look no further than Boomtown Fair. The UK’s most unusual festival is back for its 10th year of music, art, theatre design, and architecture with a vast open air theatrical production on a scale unrivalled anywhere in the country. Boomtown Fair is all about adventure and escapism, and as such comes with a storyline that unfolds in real time throughout the festival weekend. Brought to life by hundreds of actors, Boomtown features a number of different interactive and immersive venues celebrating the grassroots culture of festivals all across the globe. Boomtown’s musical line-up isn’t half bad either with Gorillaz, Die Antwood and Limp Bizkit headlining, but you’ll also hear ska, folk, gypsy, reggae, world, punk, jazz, blue-grass, drum and bass, garage, funk, soul, dub, and hip-hop at some point or another across the weekend.
If you fancy heading abroad for a festival, check out our guide to Europe’s best music festivals 2018.