Decades before the festival boom changed the touring landscape in America, music fairs already were an industry mainstay in the United Kingdom, providing prime plays for acts and immersive experiences for fans. The 10 largest jamborees in the country attract about 800,000 fans combined. Many more draw audiences in the 10,000-to-15,000 range, and an estimated 2 million fans attend the United Kingdom's outdoor events each year, according to Billboard. Here, ahead of the legendary 44th Glastonbury Festival (June 25-29), arguably the epicenter of the festival explosion - and often cited as the inspiration for Bonnaroo and Coachella - a survey of some of the biggest and most unique festivals in Britain.

FIELD DAY (June 7-8)

London's East End The Victoria Park event launched in 2007 with a village aesthetic that aspires to tap into the sense of community pervasive in indie rock and, as evidenced by this year's lineup, EDM. In its first year as a two-day festival, Field Day enjoyed perfect weather and robust attendance, with headliners Metronomy and Pixies. Other Field Day events take place in Amsterdam, Paris and Turin, Italy.


Isle of Wight Launched in 1968, Isle of Wight is one of the world's most legendary music fairs - it hosted Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and The Who in its epic third year (estimated attendance: 600,000). This year's lineup included Fall Out Boy, The Specials, Passenger, Kings of Leon and Calvin Harris. Single-day tickets sold out well in advance, with the Saturday date, headlined by the Red Hot Chili Peppers in their only U.K. appearance this year, going first.


Leicestershire Conceived as the successor to the Monsters of Rock mega-shows held at Donington Park in the 1980s and 1990s, Download in its current incarnation began in 2003 and is among the most respected hard rock festivals in the world. The Live Nation festival this year included Aerosmith, Avenged Sevenfold and Linkin Park; attendance was in the 90,000 range each day.


Anglesey, Wales Sold out in advance in its fifth year, Gottwood is an independent boutique EDM fest boasting the mantra "No sponsors, no 'corporate-ness,' just a great time getting lost in the woods." How does it manage that? By avoiding a burdensome talent budget and instead featuring an expansive lineup of indie underground acts.


Pilton, Somerset, England With a perimeter of 8.5 miles, Glasto is the largest green-field music fair in the world. It routinely moves more than 150,000 tickets - and can sell out based on the experience alone, as opposed to being headliner-driven. This year's lineup at Worthy Farm includes Arcade Fire, Metallica, Pixies, Chromeo and Jack White.

Illustration by David Saracino


London and Birmingham Now in its 11th year, Wireless is one of Live Nation's premier U.K./Euro music fairs. Held at Finsbury Park in London and Perry Park in Birmingham, the 2014 event leans toward an urban/R&B lineup, featuring Kanye West, Bruno Mars, Outkast and Iggy Azalea alternating between the two sites.

T IN THE PARK (July 11-13)

Balado, Kinross-shire, Scotland Produced by DF Concerts, this rowdy festival, now in its 20th year, is headlined by Arctic Monkeys, Biffy Clyro, Calvin Harris, Pixies, Ed Sheeran and Paolo Nutini this year.


Salisbury (on the Wiltshire-Dorset border) With a lineup that includes Tom Jones, Frank Turner, Squeeze and a full slate of comics, Larmer Tree bills itself as the "happiest, friendliest, quirkiest festival in the land." Proudly sponsor-free, the event has been recognized for its family atmosphere - and even its squeaky-clean toilets.


Stratford-upon-Avon With a focus on cutting-edge production values and an international array of A-list DJs, Global Gathering has become a critical play on the international EDM fest circuit. Performers this year include Alesso, David Guetta and The Prodigy.


Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge While its attendance of about 10,000 is dwarfed by mega-fests, the Cambridge Folk Festival holds a special place in the heart of folkies worldwide. This year it celebrates its 50th anniversary with headliners Van Morrison, Sinead O'Connor and Rosanne Cash.


Walton-on-Trent, Derbyshire Bloodstock is the biggest independent metal festival in the United Kingdom. This year's bill features Megadeth, Hatebreed and Children of Bodom among its 100 acts, with headliners performing on the Ronnie James Dio stage, named for the late, great metal frontman.



Glanusk, Wales Green Man's site, in the Black Mountains, is considered one of the most beautiful festival spots in the United Kingdom, with 10 stages, 24-hour entertainment and 1,500 performances including musicians, comics, poets, authors, artists, cinema and lecturers. The festival, in its 12th year, is incredibly immersive, with a deep focus on sustainability and philanthropic causes. The eclectic music lineup features Beirut, Neutral Milk Hotel and Mercury Rev.

V FESTIVAL (Aug. 16-17)

South Staffordshire and Chelmsford With two festival sites (in Weston Park and Hylands Park) and hopscotching lineups, V Festival, produced by Virgin Group and sponsored by Virgin Media, is the biggest of Richard Branson's music festivals and led to spinoff events Virgin Mobile FreeFest, in Washington, D.C., and V Fest Australia. The 2014 jamboree hosts Justin Timberlake, Ed Sheeran, The Killers and Lily Allen.

CREAMFIELDS (Aug. 22-24)

Daresbury, England Camping and hospitality/VIP tickets are already sold out, driven by an engaging fan experience and a powerful lineup of EDM stars, including Avicii, Deadmau5, Steve Angello and Tiesto. Held annually on Bank Holiday weekend, Creamfields, which began 15 years ago as an offshoot of Liverpool's famed Cream nightclub, has been a gem among international dance festivals.


Reading and Leeds Two of the United Kingdom's most storied fests, Reading and Leeds - which are in the Live Nation portfolio - take place simultaneously on Bank Holiday weekend and share the same bill. Performing this year are Arctic Monkeys, Blink-182 and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.