Rain or shine, Londoners love a music festival – and there’s no shortage in this city. We’ve picked five highlights, but there are plenty more to choose from: Southbank’s muso-curated Meltdown, say, or the pop-fuelled, playful Mighty Hoopla. With so much competition, events have upped their game, with curated line-ups, slick production values and increasingly upscale catering. Unsurprisingly, given the urban setting, camping isn’t an option – so you can party all the harder, knowing you’re destined for a comfortable bed.
This slick new addition to the scene made its debut in 2018, with an epic, indie-leaning line-up (think Björk, Nick Cave and The xx). Set in Victoria Park, it’s strong on good-time vibes, with multiple stages, a laidback crowd, and street food curated by Sourced Market. Between two weekends of ticketed gigs, check out four days of free events, from movie screenings to kids’ theatre.
Best for: The discerning festival fan
Headline highlights: Bon Iver, Christine and the Queens, The Chemical Brothers
Dates: 24 May-2 June 2019
Ticket prices: Day tickets from £60
Field Day’s programming is always ahead of the curve, cannily spotting bands on the brink of mega-stardom. (In 2009, the soon-to-be-huge xx played a 500-capacity tent.) Originally based in Victoria Park, it’s now moved north to a sprawling former gasworks in Enfield. There’s more of a warehouse vibe, though the line-up’s still gleefully eclectic: grime, afrobeat, electronica and more.
Best for: Cool kids
Headline highlights: Jorja Smith, Skepta, Diplo, Todd Terje, Mahalia
Dates: 7-8 June 2019
Ticket prices: Day tickets from £44
Gigs don’t get much bigger than this; a vast stage in the centre of Hyde Park, with 65,000 fans. Doors open around lunchtime, while headliners hit the leafy Great Oak stage as the sun goes down. Think pop legends and rock gods (from Taylor Swift to the Rolling Stones). During the week, meanwhile, it’s free entry, with street food, al-fresco films and the latest from Wimbledon.
Best for: Rocking out in a Royal Park
Headline highlights: Florence + the Machine, Stevie Wonder, Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand
Dates: July 5-14 2019
Ticket prices: Day tickets from £74
This club night-turned-festival attracts a lively, youthful crowd. Initially, the line-up was dance-focused (its co-founders were Groove Armada), but these days it’s more about rap, house and R&B. Don’t miss the Noisey Presents stage, a showcase for hyped new names, or the chance to wow the crowd with some hip-hop karaoke. Still going strong? Its after-parties are the stuff of legend.
Best for: 24-hour party people
Headline highlights: Chance the Rapper, Solange, Giggs, Cypress Hill
Dates: 12-13 July
Ticket prices: Day tickets from £65; free under-11s
Rap’s heavyweights turn out in force at this two-day event, from stateside superstars to scene-stealing Brits. Grime, drill and R&B also have a place on the bill, though there’s work to be done when it comes to showcasing female artists. Finally, look out for extra-special guests: in 2018, Madonna joined Migos on stage, while Drake closed the festival with a surprise, six-song set.
Best for: Rap aficionados
Headline highlights: Cardi B, A$AP Rocky, Migos, Travis Scott
Dates: 5-7 July 2019
Ticket prices: Day tickets from £65
To save you from nocturnal goose-chases, try these after-hours London addresses
From live jazz to DJ sets, catch gigs for free across the city
With its hip brunch spots and riotous nights out, London’s more fun with friends in tow
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