The best urban festivals in the UK for 2016
Field Day

Guys – we’ve all had a meeting and decided that wellies are so overrated.

Seriously, they hurt your ankles, kill your rhythm and are a nightmare to detach from your feet in a muddy tent. That’s why this year we’re advocating that you shun those field-based outfits in favour of one of these inner-city festivals happening right on your doorstep for half the price.

Take look at these urban festivals happening near you and plan your Summer accordingly.

(Note: We’re only joking, big musical festivals. We still love you too)


Swn Festival, Cardiff


Where: Various venues, Cardiff
When: 9 April, 2016
Who’s playing: Everything Everything, Hooton Tennis Club, Protomartyr
What’s it like: The Cardiff festival founded by Radio DJ Huw Stephens reaches its tenth year of celebrating the best in local talent, kicking things off in April with shows at Cardiff venues such as Clwb Ifor Bach, Gwdihw and Ten Feet Tall. Expect faces you know and new ones that will blow you away.
How much: TBC

Live at Leeds

Live at Leeds
Anthony Longstaff / WOW247

Where: Various venues, Leeds
When: 30 April, 2016
Who’s playing: Jess Glynne, Ghostpoet, We Are Scientists
What’s it like: You’d think Leeds would keep their inner-city offerings fairly low-key being that they host one of the UK’s biggest outdoor festivals – but Live At Leeds is a festival well worth its decade anniversary. After partnering with Leeds Digital Festival this year, it would be safe to expect something as visually interesting too.
How much: £32.50

Stag & Dagger

Slow Club
Slow Club – credit: Paul Carless / CC

Where: Various venues, Glasgow
When: 1 May, 2016
Who’s playing: Band of Skulls, Emma Pollock, Deaf Havana, We Are Scientists, Slow Club
What’s it like: This Bank Holiday gig crawl covering eight venues is a cut-price way of checking out a clutch of hyped indie acts. And it’s centred around Sauchiehall Street, so there’s no shortage of pubs and eateries to keep you fuelled along the way.
How much: £22

Dot to Dot Festival

Dot To Dot Festival


Where: Various venues, Manchester/Bristol/Nottingham
When: 27-29 May, 2016
Who’s playing: TBC
What’s it like: Making its way across the UK in three days, and bringing some of the most interesting names in music along for the ride, Dot to Dot began in Nottingham nearly a decade ago but now has added shows in Manchester and Bristol to boot. Pay attention in the next few weeks to their line-up of up-and-coming acts – and here’s how we enjoyed last year’s Manchester event.
How much: £11-£25

Sound City

Sound City, Liverpool


Where: Bramley-Moore Dock, Liverpool
When: 28-29 May, 2016
Who’s playing: Hot Chip (DJ Set), Leftfield, Sleaford Mods
What’s it like: There’s no way Liverpool was going to sit by and let Manchester have all the inner-city festival fun. The Merseyside offering Sound City boasts a line-up blurring the lines between indie rock gig and all-out dance rave, all taking place on the sunny banks of Bramley-Moore Dock.
How much: £77

Slam Dunk

Credit: Giles Smith (via iLikePress)

Giles Smith

Where: Various venues, Leeds / Birmingham / Hatfield
When: 28-30 May, 2016
Who’s playing: Panic! At The Disco, New Found Glory, Yellowcard
What’s it like: If you are one of those for whom the music of mid-2000s was a life defining few years, you really need to get yourself to Slam Dunk. The festival is celebrating its  tenth anniversary with three days of events starting in Leeds City Centre, heading on Birmingham’s NEC and out to The Forum in Hatfield. Expect swishy fringes, tight black jeans and plenty of wailing along to emotional lyrics from your teens.
How much: £46.20


Parklife FB


Where: Heaton Park, Manchester, M25 2SW
When: June 11-12
Who’s playing: The Chemical Brothers, Jamie xx, Skepta
What’s it like: One of the biggest inner city offerings of them all, dripping in big names from the world of dance, electronica, dubstep, grime and hip-hop. Manchester’s first weekend in June could go head-to-head with many of the higher-prices festivals across the country and easily come out on top.
How much: £89.50


Guy Garvey's Meltdown

Where: Southbank Centre, London
When: 10-19 June, 2016
Who’s playing: TBC
What’s it like: The thinking-man’s inner city festival. Meltdown at London’s Southbank Centre is a line-up hand-picked by a ‘guest curator’ – with Elbow’s Guy Garvey joining a prestigious list including David Byrne, Nick Cave, Patti Smith and David Bowie to name a few.
How much: TBC

Field Day

Field Day, London

CC / Flickr / Peter Collins

Where: Victoria Park, London
When: 11-12 June, 2016
Who’s playing: PJ Harvey, Beach House, Wild Nothing
What’s it like: Mixing the vibes of a big indie music festival with those of a local village fete (minus the biggest marrow competition), Field Day has become of the most anticipated weekends in London’s Summer calendar and never fails to attract some truly stellar names to Victoria Park.
How much: £81

Wild Life

Wild Life Festival, Brighton


Where: Brighton City Airport, Shoreham-by-Sea
When: 11-12 June, 2016
Who’s playing: Disclosure, Ice Cube, Stormzy
What’s it like: Parklife’s Southern sister has only one year on the festival scene under its belt, but is already establishing itself as one of the finest offerings on the South coast. Whilst sharing a number of names with the Mancunian festival, Wild Life still goes some way to creating its own vibes of dance, house, electronica, hip-hop and more.
How much: £115.50

Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival

Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival


Where: Various venues, Edinburgh
When: 15-24 July, 2016
Who’s playing: Jools Holland & his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, The Average White Band, Lee Fields & The Expressions
What’s it like: Something of a curve-ball on a list full of guitar bands, DJs and rappers – Edinburgh’s Jazz festival is always an eclectic programme of old favourites from the genre as well as interesting acts currently pushing the envelope. The festival has so far shared the news that both Jools Holland and The Average White Band are set to play the 2016 edition and don’t be surprised if they are joined by some obscure gems and contemporary trend-setters.
How much: TBC


Tramlines Sheffield


Where: Various venues, Sheffield
When: 22-24 July, 2016
Who’s playing: Dizzee Rascal, Young Fathers, Goldie
What’s it like: Tramlines has grown into a vibe of its own over the last few years which stands separate from other Yorkshire offerings. This year boasts a selection of interesting headliners who can be found across venues such as The Leadmill, Plug and City Hall – at a very affordable price.
How much: £42

Victorious Festival

Victorious Festival


Where: Southsea Seafront, Portsmouth
When: 27-28 August, 2016
Who’s playing: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Manic Street Preachers, The Coral
What’s it like: Portsmouth’s flagship music festival returns for another year, making the most of the sunny seaside weather and a strong line-up of festival favourites including Noel Gallagher, the Manics and Mark Ronson.
How much: £20-35

2016: Festival Guide

Main image: Carolina Faruolo / Field Day