10 British Summer Music Festivals You Need to Know About Now

Illustration by Sean McCabe
British Summer Music Festivals Preview

Amid Britain's castles, parks and farms, British fans revel in an endless summer of music.

Decades before American music fans flocked to Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza, the United Kingdom already boasted a thriving and diverse festival scene, one that has only increased in size, scope and ambition in recent years.

This summer there are more than 500 different music festivals scheduled across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, ranging from family-run events to the granddaddy of them all -- Glastonbury, now in its 33rd edition.

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"We've been doing festivals here longer than a lot of other countries," says Alt-J vocalist Gus Unger-Hamilton, whose band will headline the Latitude Festival on July 17. "People in the U.K. really get what they are about. We have an instinctive feeling for them -- relaxing, getting drunk, ­having fun and seeing bands." Beginning with Glastonbury, 10 of the best -- amid castles, parks and farms -- to consider hitting:

Glastonbury
June 24-28; Pilton, Somerset

What is it? Europe's largest music and arts festival (135,000 attendance) is held in the rolling fields of the Eavis family's Worthy Farm, 130 miles west of London -- and often beset by torrential rain. Historic gigs include Orbital in 1994, Radiohead in 1997, David Bowie in 2000, Jay Z in 2008 and The Rolling Stones in 2013.

Who's headlining? Foo Fighters, Kanye West, The Who

How much? £225 ($340) for general admission tickets

Who else should I see? Florence & The Machine, Lionel Richie, Deadmau5, Mary J. Blige, Patti Smith, Hozier, FKA Twigs

The crowd? Ranges from wide-eyed EDM freaks to 70-year-old hippies

Where should I stay? Tipi Village offers luxury camping at a premium, £950 ($1,400). Off-site "glamping" options include The Pop-Up Hotel (up to $10,000 for a "Tenthouse Suite").

Where can I eat one good meal? With more than 500 food vendors on site, take your pick.

Celebrity sightings? In 2014, Bradley Cooper, Sam Smith, Noel Gallagher, Rita Ora and Stella McCartney partied ­backstage. Kate Moss is a regular.

Isle Of Wight Festival
June 11-14; Seaclose Park, Isle Of Wight

What is it?  The modern incarnation of the historic counterculture festival made famous by Bob Dylan, The Who and Jimi Hendrix in the late '60s and early '70s. A three-hour drive south from London.

Who's headlining? Blur, Fleetwood Mac, The Black Keys, The Prodigy

How much? £208 ($312) for weekend camping; VIP package £558 ($840)

Who else should I see? Pharrell Williams, Paolo Nutini, James Bay, Jessie Ware, Suzanne Vega

The crowd? Fresh-faced teens, 20-­somethings and day-tripping parents

Where should I stay? If standard camping isn't your style, splurge on a luxury glamping package, including Winnebago, cabin or yurt options and backstage access. Packages start at $2,000.

Where can I eat one good meal? A good range of locally sourced food and produce is available on-site, including the near-legendary Festival Fish Finger Sandwich, complete with homemade tartar sauce.

Best all-time moment? Dylan's 1969 comeback show -- his first since his 1966 motorcycle accident -- backed by The Band.

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June 12-14, Donington Park, Leicestershire

What is it? The United Kingdom's biggest rock and metal festival, 150 miles north of London, where its forerunner Monsters of Rock was staged, from 1980 to 1996

Who's headlining? Slipknot, Muse, Kiss

How much? £82.50 ($124) for a one-day ticket; RIP (Rest in Peace) packages start at £445 ($670)

Who else should I see? Judas Priest, Faith No More, Motley Crue, Black Stone Cherry, Marilyn Manson, Enter Shikari

The crowd? Moshers, cyber-punks, head-bangers and emo kids

Where should I stay? Metal Meadow, an exclusive campsite boasting its own ­convenience shop (Little Shop of Horrors) and refreshments area (Hell's Kitchen)

Best all-time moment? Iron Maiden's Spitfire flyover in 2013 or AC/DC in 2010 exploding a train through its custom-built stage during "Rock N Roll Train."

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June 18-28; London

What is it? A series of outdoor music and comedy gigs held in central London's iconic Hyde Park.

Who's headlining? The Strokes, Blur, Kylie, The Who, Taylor Swift

How much? Day tickets start at £53 ($80); VIP Terrace access up to £250 ($375)

Who else should I see? Beck, Grace Jones, Paul Weller, Ellie Goulding, Johnny Marr

The crowd? Depending on who's on stage, expect either grizzled rock fans, hipster indie kids or hyper-excited pop tweens.

Where should I stay? The Dorchester overlooks Hyde Park and exudes luxury with rooms starting at £655 ($980).

Where can I eat one good meal? Head to Burger & Lobster in nearby Mayfair, where -- like the New York branch -- you can dine on a burger or lobster, both served with a substantial salad and fries, for £20 ($30).

Celebrity sightings? Kelly Osbourne, Jennifer Lopez, Cara Delevingne and Florence Welch have all been spotted ­soaking up the backstage hospitality.

Best all-time moment? The Stones' spell-binding 2013 show took place almost 44 years to the day since the band's legendary 1969 free concert at the same venue.

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July 3-5, London

What is it? An increasingly urban and EDM-themed three-day event, which moved in 2014 to Finsbury Park, North London, after previous residencies at Hyde Park and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Who's headlining? Drake, Avicii, David Guetta

How much? Three-day general ­admission £210 ($315); VIP options start at £130 ($195) per day

Who else should I see? A$AP Rocky, Major Lazer, Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, Nicki Minaj, Stromae

The crowd? Cool hip-hop kids and glow stick-waving EDM fans

Where should I stay? The Rose & Crown in Stoke Newington, a stylish boutique guest house above a charming wood-paneled pub, is just a short cab ride from Finsbury Park. £110 ($167) per night.

Best all-time moment? Kanye West's 15-minute mid-set rant in 2014, which drew loud boos from the crowd

In The Park
July 10-12, Strathallan Castle, Perthshire, Scotland

What is it? Scotland's biggest music ­festival moves this year to the 1,000-acre grounds of the grand 19th-century Strathallan Castle, a seven-plus-hour drive from London.

Who's headlining? Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, The Libertines, Kasabian

How much? £204 ($308) for general admission tickets and camping

Who else should I see? St. Vincent, Avicii, The Prodigy, David Guetta, Years & Years, The Proclaimers

The crowd? The loudest and most lively ­audiences in Europe. (It is Scotland after all.)

Where should I stay? Inside a Cloud House. It's basically a semi-furnished, slightly larger tent supposedly based on an ancient Persian design. Regardless, "I'm staying in a Cloud House" sounds far better than "Come back to my tent." Prices start at £1,200 ($1,800).

Where can I eat one good meal? Strathallan Castle is around 30 minutes from Perth and Stirling, where you can find a good supply of traditional Scottish grub (haggis with neeps and tatties is a local favorite). Otherwise, it's regular festival vendor food.

Celebrity sightings? In 2014 Susan Boyle watched Pharrell Williams from the side of the stage.

Best all-time moment? Brandon Flowers joining New Order to sing "Crystal" (The Killers took their name from the song's video) in 2005.

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Latitude
July 16-19; Southwold, Suffolk

What is it? An eclectic, multi-arts ­program of music, comedy, film, theater and more set in the idyllic Henham Park, two-plus hours northeast of London

Who's headlining? Alt-J, Portishead, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

How much? £85 ($128) for a day pass; £200 ($300) for weekend camping

Who else should I see? SBTRKT, Laura Marling, National Theatre Live, George the Poet, Sadler's Wells dance company, John Cooper Clarke and the numerous sheep -- dyed multiple colors by locals -- that dot the landscape

The crowd? Sartre-quoting, 30-­something culture vultures interspersed with poshly accented college kids

Where should I stay? Forgo sweating inside an under-sized nylon tent for the comfort of a pre-pitched 'podpad' or 'luxpad,' complete with decent toilets, proper showers and 24-hour security. From £495 ($750).

Where can I eat one good meal? Everything from ostrich burgers to Loch Fyne oysters are available on the grounds.

Celebrity sightings? Steve Coogan, Eddie Izzard, Vivienne Westwood and models Alexa Chung and Daisy Lowe have all been spotted in previous years.

Best all-time moment? Arcade Fire's triumphant, firework-accompanied closing set of 2007's second edition of the festival.

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V Festival
Aug. 22-23, Hylands Park, Chelmsford & Weston Park, Staffordshire

What is it? Like Reading/Leeds, V Festival takes place on the same ­weekend on two separate sites in Chelmsford (40 miles from London) and Staffordshire (150 miles).

Who's headlining? Calvin Harris, Sam Smith, Kasabian, Stereophonics

How much? General ­admission £200 ($300); VIP camping £304 ($460)

Who else should I see? Ellie Goulding, Paloma Faith, Tom Jones, acerbic stand-up comedian Frankie Boyle

The crowd? Festival first-timers, nitrous oxide-inhaling day trippers and glamorous faux hippies wearing flower crowns

Where should I stay? Embrace the posh boho vibe by hiring a two-person Gypsy Caravan or the Arabian tent motif of the Exotic Bedouin rooms that sleep four. Prices start at £2,000 ($3,000).

Celebrity sightings? Chloe Moretz, Rupert Grint, one-time Dr. Who actor Matt Smith and One Direction's Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan and Harry Styles have all previously attended.

Best all-time moment? Fresh from ­topping the charts with The Fat of the Land, The Prodigy delivered a barnstorming 1997 headline set, which Liam Howlett later called one of the band's best-ever gigs.

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Reading/Leeds Festival
Aug. 28-30, Reading & Bremham Park, Near Leeds

What is it? A dual-site, three-day festival with a traditionally rock- and indie-leaning bill, staged in Reading, an hour west of London, and Leeds, three-plus hours north.

Who's headlining? Mumford & Sons, Metallica, The Libertines

How much? £67 ($101) for a day pass; £213 ($320) weekend camping

Who else should I see? Kendrick Lamar, Jamie T, Bastille, Royal Blood, Bring Me the Horizon, Django Django, Tyler, The Creator

The crowd? Long-haired teens ­wearing Metallica T-shirts bought from Urban Outfitters

Where should I stay? Camp -- unless you want a peaceful night's sleep. Then, find a hotel off-site. Travelodge, Holiday Inn and Ibis offer cheap rooms in both Reading and Leeds starting at £29 ($45) per night.

Celebrity sightings? If Carey Mulligan doesn't accompany Marcus Mumford, there's generally a handful of British TV Z-listers milling about backstage.

Best all-time moment? Kurt Cobain, as a prank, onstage in a wheelchair at Reading in 1992 for Nirvana's final U.K. appearance.

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Bestival
Sept. 10-13, Robin Hill Country Park, Isle Of Wight

What is it? An award-winning four-day boutique festival curated by DJ and former Radio 1 host Rob Da Bank and wife Rosie, staged in a leafy country park in the heart of the Isle of Wight

Who's headlining? The Chemical Brothers, Underworld, Duran Duran

How much? £195 ($295) general ­admission; Lucky Cat Hospitality package £450 ($680)

Who else should I see? Tame Impala, The Jacksons, Skrillex, Mark Ronson, Jungle, Hudson Mohawke, Future Islands, Jamie xx, Kate Tempest

The crowd? Saturday night at Bestival is a gigantic costume party. The theme for this year is "Summer of Love," so expect to see plenty of flared trousers, caftans, long-haired wigs and nudity.

Where should I stay? If you don't fancy camping, check in to the four-star Royal Hotel in Ventnor, a short drive from the festival site. Weekend packages start at £672 ($1,000) per person.

Where can I eat one good meal? The Feast Collective, situated in the festival's Grassy Hill zone, brings together a mouth-watering array of exotic street food and other culinary delights.

Best all-time moment? Elton John in 2013, for his first U.K. festival appearance in more than 30 years.

This story originally appeared in the May 23 issue of Billboard.