the west review: the uk festival guide 2018

It’s almost upon us, once again the time is nearly here, festival season is officially just around the corner. The UK festival circuit ups its game every year, with new independent festivals popping up out of nowhere seemingly by the week. Now more than ever before, some of the country’s newest music events manage to snag some very respectable names, from newly established events like Bluedot nabbing The Chemical Brothers, or Lovebox reeling in not just Childish Gambino and SZA, but Wu-Tang Clan as well. From the South West, to up North, to London, to Northern Ireland, here’s our 2018 festival guide.

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Boomtown Fair
When: 9th-12th August
Where: Hampshire
Who: Gorillaz, Die Antwoord, Limp Bizkit
Price: SOLD OUT

Easily and comfortably the recipient of our Best Festival of the year award, Boomtown Fair is the best festival in the country. Renowned for its extravagant appreciation of all art forms, music is such a small part of the all-encompassing celebration of culture, freedom and art. Split up into nine different ‘districts’, each more elaborate than the last, Boomtown’s fields and stages each carry a theme, aura, vibe and execution. With each district or stage also featuring its own intricately curated lineup to fit the vibe, each part of the festival is a completely new experience in itself.

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Farr Festival
When: 5th-7th July
Where: Hertfordshire
Who: Maribou State, Mount Kimbie, Daphni
Price: £100-£150 (incl. camping)

Farr Festival has quietly been going about its business for the best part of nine years now, and throughout its lifetime, has consistently established itself as a champion of low-key and up-and-coming electronic music. Across its history, Farr Festival has played host to a catalogue of now-established artists, from Booka Shade, Floating Points and Bicep, to NAO, Andrew Weatherall and Daniel Avery. And with the ninth edition of the event, Farr looks set to push the boat out even further, blurring the lines between underground DJs and established innovators, celebrating an even broader spectrum of electronic music than before.

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Arcadia 10th Anniversary Festival
When: 5th-6th May
Where: London
Who: Leftfield, Rudimental, Dusky, Noisia
Price: £95.50 (weekend, no camping)

Bone-shaking bass, an ear-piercing speaker system, faultless lighting and production values, extravagant theatre and performance, all topped off with a lick of flame- Arcadia is an unrivalled spectacle of performance, music, construction and production. To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Arcadia and its world-famous ‘spider’, the live events specialist will be hosting a very special two-day event later this year. Leftfield, Dusky, Rudimental, Noisia, Sven Vath and a RAM Records showcase are just a handful of artists set to perform at London’s Olympic Park in a few weeks time.

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Field Day
When: 1st-2nd June
Where: London
Who: Erykah Badu, Earl Sweatshirt, Four Tet
Price: £89 (tier 2, weekend ticket, no camping)

For those of you who shudder at the thought of sleeping in a leaky Argos tent, city festivals are a very attractive alternative. And so for those of you, as well as all the Londoners out there, Field Day should be high on your list for this summer. Renowned for often being ahead of the curve, and recognising and championing tomorrow’s talents before anyone else, Field Day hits the sweet spot between established and up-and-coming. Foals, Florence and The Machine, The xx, Warpaint, and SBTRKT are just a handful of names to have previously performed at Field Day, and this year’s event boasts not only Four Tet, Earl Sweatshirt and Mount Kimbie, but also the queen herself- Erykah Badu.

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Love Saves The Day
When: 26th-27th May
Where: Bristol
Who: Fatboy Slim, Sampha, Bicep, Andy C
Price: £82.50 (fourth release weekend ticket, no camping)

Love Saves The Day is an incredible two-day metropolitan festival based in Bristol, one that’s continued to stay true to its roots and is eloquently unbudging on its originality. Loosely focused on electronic music, the festival also caters to fans of grime, indie and alternative, with past performers including Bonobo, Hot Chip and Dizzee Rascal. Last year, Love Saves The Day narrowly missed out on the metropolitan festival of the year award, and by the looks of it, LSTD seems dead set on scooping up the award this year, with its 2018 instalment already shaping up as one of the season’s best.

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Lovebox
When: 13th-14th July
Where: London
Who: N.E.R.D., Skepta, Childish Gambino, SZA
Price: £115 (weekend, no camping)

While certain preferences scream out for camping across a festival, city-based non-camping events are also a very attractive alternative. Taking place at Victoria Park on the 13th and 14th of July, Lovebox boasts one of the most complete and diverse lineups of 2018. Split across two days expect headline outings from the likes of Skepta, The Wu-Tang Clan, SZA, N.E.R.D., and something of a real coup, a rare European outing from Childish Gambino.

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Bluedot
When: 20th-22nd July
Where: Cheshire
Who: The Chemical Brothers, Flaming Lips, Future Islands
Price: £178 (weekend, incl. camping)

In today’s busy bustling festival circuit, each event needs its niche, its USP, its defining factor, and Bluedot Festival in Cheshire is perhaps the pick of the bunch. Space-themed and astronomically-centred, the four-day event is hosted at an actual observatory, with headline performances from Future Islands, The Flaming Lips, and the original superstar DJ’s- The Chemical Brothers. Another one of Bluedot’s highlights for 2018 is a UK exclusive experience of BBC’s Blue Planet, with music provided by the Hallé Orchestra, with accompanying footage from the show.

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The Biggest Weekend: Belfast
When: 25th-26th May
Where: Belfast
Who: Underworld, Beck, Ash, Goldie
Price: £22.50 (day ticket, no camping)

Acting in lieu of Radio 1’s Big Weekend, BBC Music’s The Biggest Weekend are four different festivals hosted across each of the four nations in the UK. Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift head to Wales, Noel Gallagher tops the Scottish leg, while brother Liam leads proceedings in Coventry. The pick of the bunch goes to Northern Ireland, with headliners Underworld and Orbital, alongside unmissable support from the likes of Beck, Young Fathers, Goldie, Manic Street Preachers and Ash to name a few.

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Simple Things Festival
When: October
Where: Various venues across Bristol
Who: TBA
Price: TBA

No plans, details or information has been released for Simple Things 2018 yet, which makes it hard to include within a festival guide for 2018. However, Simple Things is the best metropolitan festival in the country, and consistently among the most exciting and challenging lineups out there. Hosted across a multitude of venues within Bristol, Simple Things offers a diverse range of genres and movements, perfecting the combination of established meeting up-and-coming. Past performers have included the likes of Leftfield, Skepta, Jamie xx, IDLES, Death Grips, Omar Souleyman and Squarepusher, so who knows what surprises Simple Things 2018 will bring.

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Hospitality In The Park
When: 22nd September
Where: Finsbury Park, London
Who: High Contrast live, Goldie, Etherwood live
Price: £33.95 (no camping)

The closest thing the UK has to Czech Republic’s Let It Roll- an entire festival dedicated to drum and bass. Organised, orchestrated and envisioned by the legendary dnb label Hospital under its Hospitality brand, expect DJ sets and live performances from some of the world’s most influential figures of dnb, jungle and breakbeat. High Contrast brings his acclaimed live set to head up the bill alongside a debut outing of Etherwood’s live show, while Goldie sits atop of the Outlook Stage alongside Foreign Beggars and Dillinja. Elsewhere you’ll see sets from label-head London Elektricity, RAM’s Calyx & Teebee, dbridge b2b Nu:Tone, and a whole lot more across seven different stages.

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