Summer music festivals in the UK have become big business over the last decade. Nowadays it feels like you can’t move for them all when the sun shines and the temperature soars. And, thanks to the festival industry booming, it’s opened up to offer increasing variety and choice. What does this mean? Well, for visitors to London this summer, it means you won’t need to travel halfway across the country and stand in a (potentially) muddy field in the middle of nowhere to see, listen to and cheer on your favorite band, dance DJ, hip-hop megastar, singer-songwriter or classical-crossover duo. Glastonbury, move over; London’s shouldered its way on to the festival scene! Here are some top festival suggestions should you find yourself in the capital this summer…
British Summer Time Hyde Park
(July 1st-10th/ Hyde Park, W2 2UH)
Following the worldwide-broadcast Live8 event just over a decade ago, clearly someone realized that Hyde Park was an ideal venue for a rock-pop festival. As such, over the last few years this unashamedly mainstream effort (sponsored by Barclay-card as it is, after all) has emerged to massive success, packing big names and hordes of adoring punters into the environs of Central London’s biggest space of natural green. This summer, Take That, Florence + The Machine, Pharrell Williams, Carole King, Mumford and Sons, Don Henley, Massive Attack and, yes, Stevie Wonder are just some of the acts on the 10-day-long festival’s line-up.
(July 18th-19th/ Victoria Park, The Bow Brook E3 5TB)
Combining underground names with big-time mainstream acts, this well established festival offers a genuine melting pot of funky dancing fodder. Featuring DJs, electronic acts and live bands, this year’s line-up will include terrific electro duo Chase & Status – expect many more exciting acts to be announced. In past years, the likes of LCD Sound system and Major Lazer wowed the revellers at this East London summer institution.
(June 11th-12th/ Victoria Park, The Bow Brook E3 5TB)
Taking place (again at Victoria Park) across an entire weekend for the first time, this indie-themed effort offers the greatest in alternative rock, pop and dance acts, not least beloved ’90s giant PJ Harvey and singer-songwriter James Blake. It’s a great showcase for new and emerging talent, which you can discover by strolling between the stages and soaking up the atmosphere, especially if you’re already visiting London (and staying at nearby accommodation such as, say, The Montcalm hotel at The Brewery London City and not wanting to travel all the way to the Reading or Leeds Festivals or, yes, to the West Country for Glastonbury. Indeed, you might say then, it’s the second best thing – and, best of all, it takes place right in the heart of the UK capital.
Hampton Court Palace Festival
(June 9th-23rd/ Hampton Court Palace, East MoleseySurreyKT8 9AU)
Nicely reflecting – and respecting – the magnificently ornate Royal property just meters away from where it’s staged, this festival feels a little more sedate and even ‘establishment’ than many of the others that fill out the London summer festivals schedule. Each year, there’s something of a BBC Radio 2 vibe to the line-up, for sure (this year’s featuring Sir Tom Jones, Van Morrison, Katherine Jenkins, Jools Holland and Anastacia), but with such quality acts, who really cares? If this is your thing – and given the spectacularly atmospheric setting, why shouldn’t it be? – you’re sure to enjoy a night (or more) to remember.
(July 4th-6th/ Finsbury Park, Endymion Rd, London N4 1EE)
Should you choose such a modern word as ‘Wireless’as your festival’s name, you’ve got to be sure it’s going to be hip and happening, but year-in, year-out this R&B hip-hop-serving event certainly delivers. Past versions have been blessed by mega names Kanye West and Pharrell Williams; expect similar ones this summer as it takes up residence at its new home at the North London park.
Greenwich Music Time
(July 5th-10th/ Old Naval College, King William Walk, SE10 9NN)
Finally, the undeniably atmospheric surroundings of the triumphant tourist-trap that’s Greenwich make for a fine backdrop for this festival offering an eclectic clutch of performers. And this summer’s no exception, with the likes of retro hit-makers Seal, 10CC and Roxette, as well as today’s jazz maestro Jamie Cullum, Croatian classical-crossover duo2Cellos and blues hero Joe Bonamassa in attendance.