9 Music Festivals That Will Make Your Summer

Missed out on Glastonbury? Here's the best of the rest

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So you've failed to get a Glastonbury ticket. Again.

Now you're contemplating a depressing weekend watching everyone you know who's going (they put it on Facebook, remember?) on the television, bouncing up and down in the sun while you try to console yourself with the thought of taking a warm shower and going to bed.

Of course, it doesn't have to be that way. The UK is overflowing with summer music festivals of all sizes and persuasions. Yes, many of them are just an excuse for a bunch of students to take MDMA and trip over each other's mud-encrusted tents, but not all. 

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Here, Esquire rounds up eight festivals that avoid the cliches and offer something special. Maybe not Pyramid Stage-special, but special nonetheless. So forget about Pilton and start booking some tickets – it's what summer in the UK is all about.

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Field Day, 7-8 June
Best for: A blast from the past
fielddayfestivals.com
This relatively new London festival has scored a major coup by securing The Pixies as their headliner. We know, we know – there’s no Kim Deal and new album is pretty average, but the chance to hear Debaser in the sun (hopefully) is still a huge pull. The rest of the acts aren’t too shabby either, with Metronomy, Danny Brown and Blood Orange joining an eclectic mix.

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James Lavelle’s Meltdown, 13-22 June
Best for: Intellectual electronica
southbankcentre.co.uk
The Southbank centre is the first venue that springs to mind for electronic music, but this year’s Meltdown festival, curated by James Lavelle (owner of the legendary label Mo Wax Records and one half of UNKLE) is all about treating dance music with the respect it deserves With the likes of UNKLE (obviously), Grandmaster Flash and Tom Vek on the lineup, this is one for the guys who fancy seeing some top-notch leftfield music this summer.


Camden Crawl, 20-21 June
Best for: Discovering new music
thecamdencrawl.com
The Crawl is the most unique of London’s festival, mainly because it takes place across 21 venues in its home borough rather than on one site. The beauty of this weekend is that you can wander around discovering music from a dizzying array of genres whilst also enjoying a pub crawl (with no dodgy golf attire in sight). D/R/U/G/S, Mumdance and Shabazz Palaces are among those on the bill.


Wireless Festival, 04-06 July
Best for: Mainstream magnificence
wirelessfestival.co.uk
Unashamedly populist and all the better for it, London’s biggest festival offers the rare opportunity to see Kanye West, Pharrell Williams and Drake all in the space of 72 hours. With the likes of Basement Jaxx, Chance the Rapper and J Cole further down on the lineup, this is one not to miss out on.


Love Box, 18-19 July
Best for: Hip hop heads
loveboxfestival.com
Always one of the highlights of the summer in London, this year’s Lovebox has its greatest line up yet – particularly if you’re partial to a spot of hip hop, both classic and contemporary. Nas will be performing one of the greatest rap albums of all time, Illmatic, with A$AP Rocky and MIA also on the bill. It’s not all spitting bars though: Bonobo, Sub Focus and Chase & Status are around to satisfy the beat lovers.


Latitude – 17-20 July
Best for: art lovers
latitudefestival.com
On a similar scale to Bestival or Leeds / Reading, Latitude’s USP is that it puts theatre, poetry and comedy front and centre (rather than stuck out in a tent somewhere near the campsite). As man has long discovered, the arts have a civilizing affect on our savage souls, meaning the atmosphere at Latitude is rarely anything but lovely. Aside from the truly stunning non-musical line up, Two Door Cinema Club, Damon Albarn and The Black Keys headline the excellent, chilled out audio offering.


Jabberwocky, 15-16 August
Best for: Serious musos
atpfestival.com
From the guys behind ATP, Primavera and the Pitchfork (the unashamedly snobbey and usually spot-on music website) comes Jabberwocky, a two day event based at London’s Excel Centre. The focus here is definitely on quality music and discovering new acts, an attitude reflected in a line up that includes James Blake, Neutral Milk Hotel and Caribou. Less pissed sing-a-long, more head-nodding and note-taking.


South West Four, 23-24 August
Best for: Putting your hand in the air like you just don’t care, etc.
southwestfour.com
South West Four has the perfect home in Clapham Common: both the festival and the area attract people looking for a good time without worrying about what London’s trendier set think of them. Billing itself as the capital’s premier electronic music festival, big hitters such as Above & Beyond and Eric Prydz are joined by up and coming artists such as Boddika, Seth Troxler and Maya Jane Coles. Glowsticks at the ready.


Bestival, 4-7 September
Best for: A proper music festival (outside of Pilton)
2014.bestival.net
Put simply: this is the best major music festival in Britain that isn’t Glastonbury. Situated in a gorgeous park on the Isle of Wight, Bestival combines huge acts with boutique charm, where your vibe is neither ruined by Reading-style commercialism or Secret Garden-style hipster pretention. Beck, Outkast and Foals are this year’s headliners, but away from the main stage, there is magic to be found in the tree-lined poetry amphitheater to the buzzing comedy tent to beyond. It’s also the last major festival of the year, making it the perfect way to conclude the summer.


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