Top 10 alternative UK music festivals

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Reading. Leeds. V Fest. And of course the infamous Glastonbury. Summer has become such an important time for music, with more UK music festivals than ever before. But some people might be put off by the big crowds and even bigger price tags.

So we scoured the scene to find you the ten best lesser known ventures. Here’s what we got.

Our top alternative UK music festivals


The Wickerman

The Wickerman Festival takes place in the far south-west of Scotland and has been running for over 13 years. It’s a family affair, inspired by the cult British horror film, The Wicker Man, which was set in the surrounding area.

The festival is billed as “Scotland’s alternative music festival” and has been likened to a smaller version of Glastonbury. There’s a range of comedy, dance, food and music, with previous acts including The Scissor Sisters, Feeder and Dizzee Rascal.

The festival culminates, as you’d expect, in the ceremonial burning of a giant 30ft tall wicker man (minus sacrifice).

Dates: 24/07/2015 to 25/07/2015
Price: £57.50 per day



Womad is a three-day festival at Charlton Park near Swindon, with a focus on global culture. Expect a menagerie of international experiences that include wellbeing treatments, food stalls, art, poetry and music.

The lineup this year features acts as diverse as 80s hip-hop legends De La Soul, to dub and jungle mastermind ShyFX and Australian ska superstars The Cat Empire. With seven stages and a smattering of DJ bars, there’s something for everyone.

There’s no doubt you’ll leave Womad with an aftertaste of the international.

Dates: 24/07/2015 to 26/07/2015
Price: £55 per day


Cambridge Folk Festival

The clue’s really in the name with this one. Cambridge Folk Festival is the longest running festival of its kind in the world. Now celebrating its 51st year, the festival has grown from a tiny gathering to attracting the world’s most renowned folk stars.

Past artists include Van Morrison, KT Tunstall and The Proclaimers, with sets this year from Passenger, Joan Baez and Frank Turner. As well as folk, expect an eclectic mix of bluegrass, gospel, cajun, zydeco, jazz, world, klezmer and ceilidhs.

If you’re into folk, Cambridge is the only place to be this summer.

Dates: 30/07/2015 to 2/08/2015
Price: £37.50 per day


Boomtown Fair

Every August a mysterious mining town springs up on the outskirts of Winchester. Complete with winding streets, town square and village green, Boomtown is an homage to a gold rush era fayre, where all that glistens isn’t gold and things are not quite as they seem.

Populated by beatniks, freaks and bohemians from across the country, this seriously alternative festival experience will transport you to another world. Watch out for pirate ships, psychedelic forests and steampunk, firebreathing steel spiders.

You’ll never see the high street in quite the same way again.

Dates: 13/08/2015 to 16/08/2015
Price: £42.75 per day



Described by The Guardian as “a place where art, intellectualism and fantastic gastronomy share equal billing with music,” Wilderness is a festival fit for the most famous university town in the world… That’s Oxford, by the way (sorry Cambridge).

As well as internationally acclaimed artists such as Björk and Ben Howards, Wilderness offers a compelling series of talks, debates, open forums, poetry and theatre. Topics span a wide range, from economics and environment to philosophy and wellbeing.

One for the eggheads, this truly is the thinking (wo)man’s festival.

Dates: 24/07/2015 to 25/07/2015
Price: £57.50 per day



One of the original and truly alternative music festivals, Shambala is a celebration of food, music and creativity that takes place every August bank holiday at a secret location in Northamptonshire.

Featuring dazzling variety for its size, the festival boasts 200 diverse musical acts across 12 live stages, world-class cabaret, engaging workshops, comedy, inspirational talks and debates, jaw-dropping circus and acrobatic acts, poetry and interactive theatre.

So get your mates together and have a truly shambalic weekend.

Dates: 27/08/2015 to 30/08/2015
Price: £51.66 per day



The only festival on our list with a sea view, Victorious takes place over the bank holiday weekend at Southsea, Portsmouth. It’s a great event that’s recently been shortlisted by the Festival Awards for the best family festival.

The festival is a bit more “normal”, for want of a better word, than some of the other weird and wonderful events on this list. Expect an eclectic mix of rock, pop and hip-hop, with acts like Flaming Lips, Basement Jaxx and Tinie Tempah scheduled for this year.

If you’re looking for a cheap, fun and easy weekend, Victorious is a sure win.

Dates: 29/08/2015 to 30/08/2015
Price: £27 per day


The Garden Party

So alternative it doesn’t even have a YouTube account!

The Garden Party is two days of food, art and dance music in one of Britain’s biggest party cities, Leeds. The city’s clubs have teamed up with renowned Manchester ravers The Warehouse Project to bring you an August bank holiday to remember.

Acts this year range across the spectrum of dance, from super influential hip-hop artist Mos Def to house legend Todd Terje and indie electro masters Little Dragon. Sure, everything’s cheaper up north, but how such talent can be on offer for such value is really beyond us.

All the benefits of a garden rave, with none of the cleaning up.

Dates: 29/08/2015 to 30/08/2015
Price: £25 per day


One Love

The UK’s number one reggae and dub festival takes its name from the legendary concert organised by Bob Marley, which took place in Kingston, Jamaica, 1978. It was his attempt to unite two feuding political parties and he succeeded by getting the rival party leaders to join hands before the capacity crowd.

The Winchester festival has been running for eight years and attracts some of the most influential dub and reggae artists from across the globe.

One love. One life. Let’s get together and feel all right.

Dates: 04/09/2015 to 06/09/2015
Price: £43.33 per day



Set on London’s most beautiful open grassland, OnBlackheath promises a celebration of music, food, magic, arts, entertainment and activities.

This year features three sound stages where you can expect acts like Elbow, Madness and the Manic Street Preachers. There’s also a food village, a children’s playground and - most unique of all - a programme of illusion and magic curated by world-famous master illusionist, Dynamo.

This is one heath where you’ll enjoy hanging around.

Dates: 12/09/2015 to 13/09/2015
Price: £44.50 per day


Fancy going abroad?

Although UK festivals may be more convenient, rising costs in the business mean ticket prices get steeper every year. Not to mention, there's always a risk that it's going to be a washout, no matter the season.

In some cases it may even end up being cheaper to fly abroad to a festival than go to one here in the UK. Take a look at this interactive map of festivals happening soon around the world and see if anything takes your fancy.

Images via Eva Rinaldi and Tom Blackwell