Together Again! Your essential list of the events which matter this summer.
by: Tony Inglis
15 May 2022
Illustration: Ben The Illustrator
Where last year saw some festivals tentatively dip their toes into the post-Covid waters, in 2022 the river is full and the banks are breaking. This year is the true return of that great weekend outing, the festival; the chance to experience music, literature, food, film and art with thousands of other people of varying levels of giddiness and intoxication.
The pandemic stole away the idea that culture can, and should, be experienced communally, that feeling of ambling up to a random stage in a field and finding your new favourite band, or making fast friends on a campsite that you’ll sing along with for one night only.
The following listings show that festival season is back and perhaps bigger than ever as Covid restrictions have been ramped down. The most notable names – Glastonbury, Green Man, the Edinburgh Festival – are at their full, expansive best once again.
Subscribe to The Big Issue
Take a print or digital subscription to The Big Issue and provide a critical lifeline to our work.
Brilliant, bespoke, and new, small festivals have appeared in the shadow of the drought (the likes of Leisure in Margate and Kite in Oxfordshire). Whether you want to headbang at Download or rap along at Longitude, there’s something on offer for all ages, all means, and all tastes.
Get ready – the biggest act making a comeback this summer is normality.
May 16-July 5
The Eden Project, Cornwall
Ticket prices vary
Set to the sci-fi backdrop of the atmospheric Eden Project, this series of huge concerts runs for almost two months. Newly reunited emos My Chemical Romance are the main draw here, but there’s also Nine Inch Nails, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Diana Ross, Bryan Adams and Stereophonics.
On the banks of the Water of Deugh sits this scenic world ceilidh of a festival, which seeks to celebrate the ‘finest music from the Celtic diaspora’, proving that Scottish music doesn’t have to be what you expect. On the line-up is Scottish BLM leader Joseph Malik, rapper and political activist Lowkey, SAY Award winner Nova and experimental rocker Callum Easter.
This brilliant and innovative festival from promoters 432 allows attendees to savour a varied line-up in multiple world-class small venues across a single day for an affordable price. Announced so far for this year are Kathryn Joseph, Free Love, bdrmm and Anna B Savage among others. Check out its Glasgow sibling, The Great Western, in November.
Jazz Stroud 2022 returns to its usual calendar date at the end of May. Four days of live music and clubs in Stroud town centre spread across seven venues with a spectrum of jazz-related live music and groove-based live events profiling some of the most talented of the UK’s emerging and established musicians and DJs. The line-up includes Matthew Halsall, Gilles Peterson, Ego Ella May, Footshooter, Onipa, The Colours That Rise, Neue Grafik, Zenel, Jelly Cleaver, Queen Colobus, Snowboy, Geno Washington and so many more.
Expanding to two days after an inaugural one day-er last year, Wide Awake is placing a focus on environmental sustainability. It offers a melting pot of genres – day one is focused on some of the most exciting names in electronic music including Bicep, Caribou, Loraine James and Sofia Kourtesis. On day two, the likes of Floating Points will be joined by classic rock (Primal Scream), shouty post-punk (Yard Act), sparkling synths (Boy Harsher) and loads more.
The Totnes music scene is boldly represented by this festival put on by local record store Drift, and promises memorable showcases for intimate audiences, set in everything from a 16th-century guildhall to a 550-year-old church. This year catch Chilly Gonzales, Porridge Radio, Tim Burgess, ambient textures from Lucy Gooch and swelling post-rock from Caroline in similarly stunning venues.
The 10th iteration of Love Saves the Day moves to a new location, but the city itself has always been an eclectic home for a festival that deals mainly in dance. Bicep and Chase & Status headline, but also appearing will be hyperpop queen Caroline Polachek and the soft indie vibes of Arlo Parks.
There is no bigger name in the world of techno and dance festivals than Creamfields. The rave scene took an enormous hit from the effects of the pandemic, with some reports of unsanctioned outdoor get-togethers for those who really couldn’t go without. Creamfields South (and its northern sister festival in Cheshire in August) boasts an unrivalled set of DJs and producers to get back on the dancefloor like David Guetta, Fatboy Slim, Calvin Harris and Deadmau5. Name your favourite and they’ll likely be there.
The handsome but abandoned Old Royal High on Calton Hill is being brought to life for a vibrant mix of live music, art, dance, theatre and spoken word. The warren of rooms will be transformed into truly unique performance spaces, with audiences allowed to explore the nooks and crannies of the historic site. Afterwards, the building will continue its resurrection, becoming Scotland’s new National Centre for Music.
A new boutique festival, Beyond The Pale has music and arts running parallel in an expertly curated fashion. Programme director Jennifer Jennings leads the arts thread, while the music skews electronic on its top line with Orbital, Bonobo and Four Tet, and then gets diverse in the undercard with Belarusian post-punk (Molchat Doma), cosmic jazz (The Comet is Coming), legendary ambient (William Basinski), and much more.
Download, synonymous with black T-shirts and their jaggy fonts, is out on its own as the UK’s best hard rock festival. To an outsider it might seem somewhat samey, but open up and look closer and you’ll find a line-up as musically varied as any other – the camp of Kiss, the monstrous fury of Iron Maiden, the homespun pop-rock of Biffy Clyro, the post-rock shoegaze of Deftones or the emo-y pop punk of Funeral for a Friend. That only scratches the surface.
A refreshing new festival established by the minds behind the jazz powerhouse of Love Supreme, Kite brings together modern music and modern ideas. Self Esteem’s feminist pop as well as Black Country, New Road’s articulate fusion of noise and lyrics stand side-by-side with gripping public conversations with everyone from artists (Ai Weiwei), political figures (David Miliband), drag queens (Bimini) and polarising thinkers (Richard Dawkins).
The artist-curated series of events is this year helmed by the inimitable Grace Jones, who in doing so follows in the footsteps of other legends including Robert Smith and Nile Rodgers. This year’s Meltdown festival run – held over after Covid put plans for the 2020 event on hold – includes performances from feminist pop icon Peaches as well as post-punk’s poet laureate Florence Shaw. Dry Cleaning, the elusive Sky Ferreira, and curator Jones herself all make appearances too, plus plenty more.
Despite its wacky poster, Parklife doesn’t have anything to hide. It’s a city festival which means great accessibility and a host of accommodation options not tethered to a muddy field in the middle of nowhere, and its line-up boasts huge names. It’s 50 Cent’s only UK festival slot if he’s your bag, but also has other huge names like Tyler, the Creator and Megan Thee Stallion alongside TikTok star PinkPantheress and the gleaming disco of Jessie Ware.
If you want to feel like you’re going away for a festival but not leave the UK, you could do worse than head to the long-running Isle of Wight. Home of viral sensations Wet Leg, this will be a homecoming for them. They’re joined on the line-up by Big Issue supporters Muse, Lewis Capaldi and festival stalwarts Kasabian.
There are few things as thrilling as a crisp pint as the sun goes down while your favourite band plays – even better if it’s not your standard overpriced lager. The first craft beer music festival, this promises to pair the best drinks with your musical memories. The line-up is interesting: Khruangbin, Caribou and Happy Mondays headline, plus a line-up of taps keeping thirsts quenched.
The shadow of American music is long, and Black Deer’s billing as a festival of Americana shows how genres that originated in and were made famous by the US have lived on. James, Wilco, The Waterboys and Van Morrison headline, but the undercard has everything from Drive-By Truckers and Courtney Marie Andrews to Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.
The most famous music and culture festival in the world, nothing written here will entice you to go. If you know about it, you probably already are unless you couldn’t get a ticket. In any case, here’s what you need to know: Billie Eilish, Paul McCartney and Kendrick Lamar headline, pretty much everyone else plays at some other point, and if it rains you will get very muddy.
A series of concerts on Bristol’s Harbourside, including one of the few shows from Paolo Nutini after a long time away. Also featured are Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Elbow, Jungle, First Aid Kit and The War On Drugs.
Perhaps the most influential market for documentary film projects, it celebrates the best non-fiction cinema being made today. Through screenings, exhibitions, talks, and panels. The full line-up is yet to be announced but it’s almost always regarded in the highest esteem.
Set in a vintage theme park by the seaside, the line-up for this brand new attraction is anything but retro as indie promoters Bird on the Wire bring a modern and forward-thinking set of acts, from the experimental R&B of L’Rain to the mammoth indie pop of Mitski.
Set in some remarkable venues along the Fife coast from Crail to Anstruther, it features a collection of world-renowned classical musicians, including the Pavel Haas Quartet and also Pavel Kolesnikov and Samson Tsoy performing as part of their recital a piano working of The Rite of Spring. A gem of a small festival.
The Irish capital hosts the best rap festival on these islands. Soundcloud rap, drill, mumblecore, viral TikTok hits and some of the biggest stars in modern pop will be represented. See Dave, Tyler, the Creator, A$AP Rocky, Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat and more.
The cream of modern and classical music converge at this quality-laden jazz, funk and soul festival. Erykah Badu, Gregory Porter and TLC headline, but an exclusive pairing of Sons of Kemet and Nubya Garcia in an exclusive set collaboration is the real draw.
Those who were in the throes of adolescence in the early to mid-2000s will feel right at home at 2000 Trees. The pop-punk and emo-heavy line-up will allow you to relive the chipped black nail polish of your youth with headliners Jimmy Eat World and You Me At Six, but offers much more too. The festival wouldn’t be complete without new hardcore legends Turnstile. Acts like self-aware punks Pup mean the festival retains a sense of the contemporary.
Cornbury’s organiser Hugh Phillimore has announced that this will be the final ever run for the festival. As such, this last hurrah plays to the crowd. Bryan Adams, James Blunt, Ronan Keating, Jools Holland, The Waterboys and The Darkness are in the big poster fonts.
The 16th iteration of this mind-bending and sonically noisy experimental music festival, this time moving to Digbeth on the outskirts of the city and seeking to create a safe, inclusive and immersive music experience. The diverse line-up includes scene mainstays like June of 44 and top current names like Big Brave, No Home and Divide and Dissolve.
Scotland has some competition for festivals this year, but TRNSMT in Glasgow’s east end is particularly enticing this year thanks to the return of Paolo Nutini from a long hiatus. Sam Fender, The Strokes, Wolf Alice and Lewis Capaldi promise this may be a step up from last year.
Ever gone to a cheesy pop night at university? Then Kubix Festival’s Pop & Dance Day is for you. It’s a ’90s and 2000s pop time machine with Steps, Aqua and Vengaboys. If you want something retro but with a little less kitsch, the festival’s Rock & Indie Weekend the following Saturday and Sunday has the Happy Mondays and UB40.
Billed as a ‘mini Glastonbury’, Doune the Rabbit Hole’s remote party vibe lives up to the description. The line-up has something for all generations, from Boney M and Patti Smith, to Goat Girl and Porridge Radio. Its series of parallel talks and workshops, as well as access to yoga and wellness sessions, signal it as something of a retreat.
One of the country’s most sprawling festivals outside Worthy Farm, Latitude has always touched on more than just music, with comedy and literary events just as integral to its appeal. This year is no different – Russell Howard and David O’Doherty are among the cohort looking to raise a laugh. The music is most exciting below the top line (Lewis Capaldi, Foals and Snow Patrol) and away from the main stage. Look to Phoebe Bridgers, Hurray For The Riff Raff, Nilüfer Yanya and Let’s Eat Grandma.
This festival plays up its intimate English charm, situated around an old Tudor farmhouse on the side of the valley. Its line-up certainly doesn’t discriminate against genre or form, with legends Sister Sledge sharing headlining duties with comedian Bill Bailey. They are joined by Ibibio Sound Machine and Utah Saints. Find others including Craig Charles and plenty more on offer at the event this summer.
This now long-running festival in the Scottish Highlands, themed this year as ‘Myths and Legends’, mixes good-hearted local flair with big names. With a fine dining restaurant and bespoke family area, it is a thoroughly adult affair. Line-up includes Nile Rodgers & Chic, The Fratellis, Shed Seven, Walt Disco and more.
Two smaller festivals that split off from the larger Bestival, organised by radio DJ Rob da Bank, the poster gives off a family-friendly vibe. In the Dorset leg, CBBC legends Dick and Dom are leading the ‘Family Fun’ strand. For adults, Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, Example, Faithless and Shed Seven are pulling double duty, with Kool & The Gang (Dorset) and Fatboy Slim and Self Esteem (Shropshire) the other big draws.
Where most festival line-ups can feel repetitive and derivative, Womad always comes up with a set of acts eager to blow your mind. This global music celebration has now been going for 40 years, and it continues to be daring and imaginative. This year welcomes Beninese legend Angélique Kidjo reimagining Talking Heads’ classic album Remain In Light, American psychedelic rockers The Flaming Lips, Malian singer-songwriter Fatoumata Diawara (pictured below left), British spoken word performer Kae Tempest and other artists from far and wide.
Like many this festival season, All Together Now is bigging up a return to normality with its tagline, ‘Back to where you once belonged’. With 18 stages of music, spoken word, comedy, theatre, debate, art, workshops and wellness, if ever there was an extravaganza to remind you that fun can be had once more, it’s this. The line-up includes Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Underworld, Sinead O’Connor, Floating Points, a rare appearance from new age cult figure Beverly Glenn-Copeland and more.
This exceptionally cool little festival in Baldersby Park runs the gamut from music to science. In its 12th iteration, this time with the theme of ‘Pocket Planet’, a quick browse of the programme makes clear that this is a festival put together with love. John Grant, Dry Cleaning, Django Django and Self Esteem are the top acts here, with Stewart Lee and Richard Herring in the comedy thread.
Billed as the UK’s biggest reggae festival, this celebration of reggae, dub and dancehall is stacked. Julian Marley and The Uprising, Shaggy, Black Uhuru and Janet Kay stand out on the poster. The festival offers further Caribbean authenticity with its steel pan band and food village.
Billed as the largest independent punk festival in the UK, the line-up boasts six indoor stages, 300 bands and an art exhibition. To revisit your misspent youth look to Sham 69, Buzzcocks and Stiff Little Fingers. Squeeze, Bad Religion, The Stranglers and Gary Numan join them.
Widely considered the best celebration of the LGBTQ+ community in the UK, if not the world, Brighton Pride this year features numerous events, parades and parties across the city, combined with fundraising calls and campaigning to create a celebratory atmosphere balanced with a call to action. The main event, FABULOSO In The Park, will host names such as Christina Aguilera, Bimini and Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears.
Boomtown is a city to be explored more than a festival to attend. The publicity makes it look like stepping into a game of D&D. The festival organisers have completely revamped the offering, calling this 2022 event ‘Chapter One: The Gathering’. However, that’s as much information as you’ll get for now – the most polarising aspect of this new approach is the fact that the line-up will not be released until just before it goes ahead. In 2019, headline acts included Lauryn Hill, The Streets and Prophets of Rage. It’s up to you whether to trust its team of bookers.
Almost everyone has heard of the Edinburgh International Festival, its comedy wing The Fringe and its other parallel arts and culture celebrations such as the city’s film festival. The book festival is perhaps the jewel in the crown, regularly attracting the best, most potent writers currently working for events you can’t get anywhere else. The full line-up is yet to be announced, but it always delivers.
Green Man may be much larger now than when it started out 20 years ago, but despite its stature, it still favours independent, eclectic (and sometimes eccentric) songwriters and bands. Kraftwerk, Beach House, Metronomy, Bicep and Michael Kiwanuka headline, but the undercard is absolutely stacked. Expect to see Cate Le Bon (at home in her native Wales after releasing the best album of her career), Parquet Courts, Jenny Hval and Mdou Moctar, as well as Alex G, Arooj Aftab and Cassandra Jenkins – to name only a few.
If you didn’t manage to get tickets to Primavera Sound in Barcelona, this likely less warm festival will scratch the same itch with a line-up that varies in genre. Headliners include Gorillaz, The Chemical Brothers, Kraftwerk and The National, but the stacked undercard – Yves Tumor, Self Esteem, Sleaford Mods, Aldous Harding and Low, among many others – is where the real quality lies.
In Connect’s first guise in the late 2000s, it was the cool alternative to Scotland’s other (now defunct) big festival, T in the Park. Now it’s returning, and it’s taking on a similar counterpoint to the much more mainstream TRSNMT in Glasgow. Making its home on the outskirts of Edinburgh, on a site that will allow the festival to be environmentally sustainable, Connect will bring the likes of The National, Massive Attack, and The Chemical Brothers together with Scottish legends (Mogwai, The Twilight Sad) and local up-and-comers (Cloth, Swim School).
Few festivals stand out like Jupiter Rising. Set in the Jupiter Artland sculpture park, which is home to works from Antony Gormley, Andy Goldsworthy and Anish Kapoor, there could be few more beautiful environments for music. The small but diverse line-up matches that. So far announced are Tamara Schlesinger, Malka, Young Fathers’ Alloysious Massaquoi and more.
With stages set against seaside views, this coastal offering is the ideal end to the summer festival season. To soundtrack the location is a line-up of consistency including headliners Stereophonics, Paolo Nutini and Sam Fender. There are some gems if you go exploring too, from SOAK and Anna Calvi to Sugababes and Suede. There’s also a special guest appearance on the Sunday afternoon from The Libertines.
The folk tradition lives on in Shrewsbury thanks to this festival, which welcomes back international artists after a Covid-forced hiatus. Judy Collins leads that pack. She’s joined by musicians representing folk leanings from their parts of the world. Artists from Spain (Carlos Núñez), Zimbabwe (Black Umfolosi), Haiti (Moonlight Benjamin) and Canada (Stephen Fearing and The Sentimentals) are making the trek.
This chilled out mid-size outlier provides a calming but quality- filled final chance to see some of the best independent artists in modern music. Headlined by surrealist rockers Pixies, folk bastions Fleet Foxes, emo balladeers Bright Eyes and funked-up Khruangbin, the depth of undercard can’t even be rivalled by bigger, more established events. Battles, The Magnetic Fields, Sudan Archives and Rosali are all worth checking out, but so is the rest.
It’s rare to see a festival so steeped in the historic traditions of folk music be so forward- thinking. Moseley Folk Festival boasts the bayou blues of Seasick Steve and beat poetry of John Cooper Clarke, but it’s also showcasing the fuzzed-out jams of Kurt Vile, the paranoid eco-nightmares of The Weather Station, and the youth of tomorrow in Billie Marten alongside veteran headliners Supergrass. It also boasts a Q&A with folk legend Vashti Bunyan.
This brilliant short film festival spotlights established and emerging talent from women and non-binary directors, writers and producers. With both in-person and online events, it’s one of the best chances to see a glut of lovingly curated work from varying cinematic genres.
As its name suggests, this newcomer (brought by AEG Presents, one of the world’s largest tour promoters) to the slate promises to be a forward-thinking event, one that mixes good music with a sense of social purpose and responsibility. So far, only the music side has been announced, and it’s a mix of the urgent and timely (Little Simz, Sleaford Mods, Khruangbin, Roisin Murphy) and floorfillers (Jamie xx and The Chemical Brothers).
This small festival of ‘music, food, fire and ideas’ provides an extremely specialised programme, with chefs receiving top billing even over musicians. It promises a ‘mellow’ time, the opportunity to forage amid bonfires and mist, and the chance to see H. Hawkline and Molly Linen.
Set in the Stirlingshire countryside, this food festival is about more than tasty delights. Dedicated to the practice of foraging, cooking by fire and other elements of wild cooking, the gathering allows people of all ages to step outside and learn about what we can consume safely from our surroundings.
‘Scotland’s National Book Town’, the tiny populace of Wigtown has become synonymous with bookshops and literature after its regeneration in the mid-’90s. In 1999, the festival was established, and has become one of the most anticipated literary events of the year. Even without glancing at the line-up, the picturesque placement of the town and its array of quaint and quirky stores make it an essential visit.
This small festival in Stroud –established by local independent arts magazine Good On Paper – presents the opportunity to witness rare live performances from contemporary classical and avant-garde composers. Closing the festival will be Radiohead guitarist and film score pioneer Jonny Greenwood, a huge get for the festival. Elsewhere, Scottish multi-instrumentalist Erland Cooper will play works inspired by his home of Orkney, and there will be an appearance from classically trained Poppy Ackroyd.
Your local vendor is at the sharp end of the cost-of-living crisis this Christmas. Prices of energy and food are rising rapidly. As is the cost of rent. All at their highest rate in 40 years. Vendors are amongst the most vulnerable people affected. Support our vendors to earn as much as they can and give them a fighting chance this Christmas.