Festival season is on! Following the Government’s roadmap announcement – which gives the go-ahead for indoor performances and smaller events from May 17 (with social distancing), and large-scale events from June 21 – multiple organisers have now confirmed their festivals for 2021. Here is our guide to events this summer, and beyond. (Events are subject to change, for obvious reasons.)
Which festivals are taking place in 2021?
Reading and Leeds
The twin festivals are still scheduled to take place on August 27-29, at Richfield Avenue in Reading and Bramham Park in Leeds. They feature big acts like Stormzy, Lewis Capaldi, Liam Gallagher, Post Malone and Queens of the Stone Age. Tickets are now on sale.
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight festival has a sterling line-up, including Lionel Ritchie, Snow Patrol, Duran Duran, The Script and Kaiser Chiefs. It has been rescheduled from the summer to September 16-19. Tickets are on sale now.
The UK’s first ever craft beer music festival had to postpone its inaugural edition last year, but is now confirmed for June 18-20. Held in the grounds of Ragley Hall, Warwickshire, it’s headlined by Primal Scream and Hot Chip Megamix. Tickets are on sale.
The city's annual celebration of arts and culture returns from May 1 with a mix of online and in-person events. Curated by Lemn Sissay OBE, it will feature comedy, literature, arts and music, both contemporary and classical. The full line-up will be announced on March 30.
The Big Feastival
This foodie favourite in the bucolic Cotswolds on Alex James's farm – of Blur and now cheesemaking fame – returns for its 10th anniversary on 27-29 August. Acts confirmed include Nile Rogers, Sigala, and Rag'n'Bone Man. Nathan Outlaw and Mark Hix are some of the chefs onboard. Tickets on sale now.
The Oxfordshire festival is scheduled for August 5-8, and you can book tickets now – although the line-up hasn’t been announced yet. But the event is definitely a go, with the Wilderness Twitter saying yesterday: “The sweetest moments are worth waiting for, we’ve missed you.”
The popular festival is pencilled in for July 2-4 in London’s Finsbury Park. Music acts are still TBC, but organiser Melvin Benn said that the event should be able to go ahead as long as the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown goes to plan – so watch this space...
Similarly, Benn hopes to bring us a Latitude festival – in Henham Park, Suffolk – on July 22-25. The line-up features Lewis Capaldi, Bastille, First Aid Kit and Snow Patrol, and tickets are now on sale. But Benn did note that the timing between the Government’s June 21 date for Step 4, and the dates for Wireless and Latitude, is very tight, so urges them to underwrite insurance for events.
Hospitality Weekend In The Woods
This brand new festival has announced its full line-up of drum and bass stars – including Netsky, Camo & Krooked and Noisia. Taking place on September 18-19 at Beckenham Place Park in London, it’s part of the 25th-anniversary celebrations of legendary label Hospital Records, and tickets are on sale.
The family favourite is on July 19-August 1, and this year is promising “the staycation of the century”. On offer at Lulworth Castle in Dorset is a line-up featuring Fatboy Slim, Groove Armada, Becky Hill, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Kelis and the Sugarhill Gang, along with kid-friendly acts like Dick and Dom. You can book tickets now.
EFG London Jazz
The 2021 festival – which usually takes place across the city, from big venues like the Barbican and Royal Festival Hall to clubs such as Ronnie Scott’s – is reportedly going to be a combination of live and digital work, with the exact details TBC. But we do know it's planned for November 12-21.
Jazz lovers can also head to this funky festival at Glynde Place, East Sussex, with tickets now on sale. It takes place on July 2-4, and the line-up includes TLC, The Isley Brothers, Sister Sledge, Candi Staton, Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes, Kokoroko, and The Brand New Heavies.
Set in the luxurious surrounds of Alexandra Park and Palace, and with panoramic London views, this one-day festival is planned for July 24. This year’s line-up features Groove Armada, Norman Jay, House Gospel Choir, The Coral, Phil Wang and Sophie Duker. Tickets are on sale now.
South London’s celebration of club culture and dance music has confirmed new dates: July 31-August 1, changed from May. Existing purchasers can roll their tickets over. This independent festival takes place in Peckham Rye Park, and the line-up is yet to be announced.
Scheduled for the bank holiday weekend (August 26-29), the electronic music festival takes place at Daresbury Estate in Cheshire, between Liverpool and Manchester – and tickets have sold out already. Acts include Tiesto, Sigma, Jax Jones and Eric Prydz.
The Manchester festival changed dates to September 11-12 earlier this year, so is well positioned with the roadmap. You can now pre-register for tickets, with the line-up TBC. It’s the largest metropolitan festival in the UK, and usually scores big names across multiple genres.
BST Hyde Park
Organisers of the London concert series have yet to comment since the roadmap announcement, but it’s planned for July 9-11. Artists this year include Pearl Jam, Pixies, Idles, Duran Duran, Grace Jones, Nile Rodgers and Chic, and tickets are now on sale.
The inclusive pop festival – which features fun elements like alternative club nights, cabaret, vogueing troupes and secret discos – returns on September 4 in London’s Brockwell Park, and you can book tickets now. The line-up includes Cheryl, Becky Hill, En Vogue, Eve, Gabrielle, Atomic Kitten, C&C Music Factory, Whigfield and Lisa Maffia.
Norfolk & Norwich Festival
Featuring music, performance, visual arts and literature this low-key festival has been pushed back just three days by the roadmap announcement – it will now take place between 17-30 May. The programme is being finalised, but for tickets and more info, head here.
What can I expect at a festival in 2021?
Ally Wolf, manager of Clapham Grand and festival director of Mighty Hoopla, notes that we’re all – organisers and attendees alike – awaiting detailed guidance from the Government on what measures will be necessary to reopen big events. Will that involve vaccine certificates, testing, masks, sanitiser – or all, or none? If the vaccine rollout goes as planned, will festivals be back to ‘normal’?
Earlier this year, Wolf made the decision to move Hoopla back from June to September, and feels confident that “it’s a realistic target.” He’s expecting to reopen Clapham Grand with social distancing initially, but isn’t sure how that would be possible at a festival. “Maybe we lower capacity to allow more space? But it’s very different to a seated event.”
He thinks the main thing will be ensuring plenty of space around the entrance to a festival, so that “you can do temperature checks or lateral flow tests, or check vaccine certificates – whatever it winds up being – without causing a problem for the local area.”
There may still be some optional measures like providing hand sanitiser at festivals, he suggests, depending on current health advice.
But he’s certain that it will all be possible. “This is what we do! We organise large-scale events with customer safety integral to our planning, and without ruining the fun experience.”
The main message he wants to share is that customers can now book with confidence and “look forward to having an amazing time.”
Which festivals aren’t taking place in 2021?
Glastonbury is the big name absent from this year’s line-up, although founder Michael Eavis recently told LBC that he was considering staging a much smaller event in the autumn – “around the anniversary date of when we started, which was September 18, 1970.”
Download Festival was originally planned for June 4-6, which is too early according to the roadmap plan. Organisers have now confirmed it will be cancelled for the second year running.