Music festival guide 2018: where to be and what to see this summer

Like the bands that play at them, music festivals go in and out of fashion. There’s fierce competition which means the summer festivals popular last year won’t necessarily be popular next.

But don’t lose hope, dear reader! We have tracked down the best festivals, all of which are gloriously LGBT+ friendly, and require instant booking.

You’ll find no trashy tat here, only the music festivals we truly back.

Choose where you’ll have your hedonistic time this summer with our festival guide, divided into categories for what each festival does best.

The LGBT+ One: The Mighty Hoopla

What is it? London’s wildest club nights and biggest music personalities are putting on the Mighty Hoopla festival this summer. Mighty Hoopla festival premiered last year in Victoria Park but is changing venues and making its debut in Brixton’s Brockwell Park for 2018, where alternative club nights Sink the Pink, Guilty Pleasures, Bongo’s Bingo and Ultimate Power will unite.

Why go? Artists confirmed for the day include legendary R&B headliners TLC, chav turned mum icon Lily Allen, who also headlines, Nineties normcore queen Louise, X Factor winner Louisa Johnson and Spice Girl Mel C.

How do I get to Mighty Hoopla?

The Gastronomic One: Wilderness

What is it? An expansive festival in the lush woodlands of Oxfordshire, Wilderness has a couple of focal points. One being the swimming lake, and the other a cricket lawn, which isn’t really a cricket lawn, it’s a village fete-style meeting point for bizarre team games and tomfoolery. Music acts are left-field, to suit the earnest Oxfordshire audience.

Why go? The other string to Wilderness’ bow are the Banquet Feasts, which involve the biggest names in food and drink cooking multi-course feasts for dozens of guests in luxurious tents.

Related: Green Man festival will reveal what makes people gay as part of 2018’s line up

How do I get to Wilderness?

The Arts One: Latitude

What is it? A multi-disciplinary arts festival in a stunning countryside setting, set around a swimming lake. Areas of the site are specifically dedicated to poetry, literature, theatre, film and, of course music.

Why go? If you’re into theatre, Latitude has the most ambitious and forward-thinking theatre scheduling of any camping festival, which all takes place under the canopies of the lush woodland vegetation.

How do I get to Latitude?

The Hot New Tip: Lost Village

What is it? The general consensus when Secret Garden Party came to an end last year was that its crowd would transfer to Lost Village. Set amid dense woodland, the dance music crossover festival has community at its heart, and is – like Secret Garden was – as much about the experience of exploring the festival as it is about the music.

Why go? Immersive entertainment seeps into every aspect of the thoughtful curation at Lost Village – expect live acting while you eat banquet feasts, as well as theatre hidden deep within the canopies of the forest. A boutique at 5,000 capacity, the fest is heading into its third year.

Related: Mighty Hoopla: Catch TLC, Sink The Pink, Glitterbox and London’s best club nights all in a field this summer

How do I get to Lost Village?

Field Day

What is it? The jewel in the hipster festival crown, Field Day has moved this year from its home in east London’s Victoria Park to Brockwell Park, near Brixton. The festival is a celebration of all the breaking and emerging acts in alternative music, with headliners including Erykah Badu.

Why go? For the widest spread of diverse musical sounds on the festival circuit. International acts flock to field day from ever genre going, so relax to experimental unplugged sounds, or rave to the latest club beats.


What is it? Forward-thinking arts and culture festival absolutely jam-packed with things to do, for a festival of its size.

Why go? To interact with the crowd, who are some of the most loyal festival crowds in the UK and go year in, year out. Sadly, the festival for 2018 has already sold out, so get your creative juices flowing to nab a ticket.

How do I get to Shambala?


What is it? Genuinely innovative is what it is – rather than spending money on famous acts, Boomtown construct a whole fake community, with stages bigger than you’ve ever seen and employ hundreds of actors to interact with guests throughout the day.

Why go? Visit Mayfair, The Old Town, The Wild West…and engage with historical characters from the districts in a sublime and surreal updating of the way festivals work. Brilliant stuff.

How do I get to Boomtown?

The Happy Couple: Lovebox & Citadel

What is it? These two sibling festivals go back-to-back in their brand new home of Gunnersbury Park in Ealing. Lovebox, on the 13th and 14th of July and Citadel on 15th July celebrate the depth and breadth of classic and contemporary music, and this year headliners include Chvrches, Fat White Family, Skepta and Childish Gambino & N.E.R.D.

Why go? Lots of day festivals struggle to capture the essence of a proper camping festival – Citadel and Lovebox join the likes of Field Day by feeling like a truly authentic celebration of music, rather than just a piss up.

How do I get to Lovebox & Citadel?


What is it? One of the first festivals to be about the experience, rather than just the line-up Bestival generally books nostalgic acts, mixed with current buzz bands in a colourful, interactive setting.

Why go? For the stirring, atmospheric surroundings which features an actual real castle, and a youthful, party-heavy vibe. The fun extends to the festival’s weird-looking stages – one is even shaped like a full-scale army ship which Sink the Pink host parties on.

How do I get to Bestival?

Green Man

What is it? One you could take your mum to, if you’re so inclined – Green Man is a folk festival in Wales with a sensitive, folk sensibility. Set within the stirring foothills of the Brecon Beacons you can do pretty well anything here, from attending science talks to drinking at the festival’s own real ale festival.

Why go? For a thoughtful learning experience – or to genuinely switch off, chill out and do yoga and folk dancing on the edge of a mountain. Sheer pastoral bliss.

How do I get to Green Man?

The London One: All Points East

What is it? A new festival for London, All Points East over the May Bank Holiday runs over three days but without camping. Huge headliners confirmed include LCD Soundsytem, Lorde, Soulwax, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beck and Friendly Fires.

Why go? The festival itself is 10 whole days of culture – but the central music festival is just three out of the 10 days, so go along on the other days for free. Also, the fest is from the minds behind Coachella – need we say more?

Related: BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival transforms the capital into the ‘best queer venue in the world’

How do I get to All Points East?

The Dance Music One: Houghton

What is it? Another brand new dance festival, Houghton has an intensely committed fanbase of electronic music fans, who rave here in a vividly colourful woodland setting.

Why go? The festival work directly with electronic music gods Resident Advisor to curate their line-up, which includes some of the biggest names in dance music who play in an intimate and unusual environment.

How do I get to Houghton?


What is it? A pioneering new dance festival, Gottwood returns after a triumphant and award-nominated 2017 edition. Where sophisticated ravers holiday, the festival boasts a line-up of ‘underground’ electronic music.

Why go? If you’re into the London clubbing scene, you’ll appreciate this serene location for more of that euphoric feel.

How do I get to Gottwood?

Festival Number 6

What is it? A dreamer’s hideaway on the coast of West Wales in a neo-classical setting. The town where the festival is hosted was created as a tourist attraction in the mid-part of last Century and features unusual, eye-catching architecture that’s highly unusual for Wales. It’s a stirring and unique setting.

Why go? For paddle boarding, sea access and all-night partying, as well as wellness and daytime talks, combined with latest music in a truly unique setting.

How do I get to Festival Number 6?

End Of The Road

What is it? The festival music journalists go to on their down time. Rising buzz bands start their careers here, and real care is taken to curate an expert line-up of contemporary favourites to headline: this year, Vampire Weekend, St Vincent and Heist.

Why go? For a straightforward but excellent curation of of top music, literature, comedy, films and workshops in an unpretentious setting.

How do I get to End Of The Road?


The Family-Friendly One: Standon Calling

What is it? A family-friendly boutique festival with a swimming pool, good late-night partying and a diverse music of headlines which go from pop favourites to cult icons.

Why go? The festival’s nightlife hub, the Cow Shed, is literally what it sounds like. Out go the cows, in comes a serious sound system and a late licence with nightly takeovers from the likes of Sink the Pink and Hospitality.

How do I get to Standon Calling?