Preview: Twelve Of The Best Value UK Music Festivals In 2019

on Friday, April 26, 2019
Words: Saam Das

Can you feel it coming? Festival season is almost well and truly under way so we figured we'd try to pick out some brilliant UK music festivals that we also think are brilliant value for money. On a per capita band basis, Glastonbury Festival and its behemoth of a line-up should probably be on here but with tickets around £250 quid, we've understandably opted more for smaller scale festivals for those with a lower budget.

The other great Reading festival. We've been big fans of Are You Listening? Festival over the last few years, bringing a fantastic day of music to the not-so-mean streets of Reading. Some choice picks from this year's iteration include the musical fusion of Flamingods, rising stars Another Sky, and the cheekily titled Peaness. It's also arguably the most worthy festival on this list, having raised over £60,000 for the local Reading Mencap charity.

It's a jam-packed early May Bank Holiday for festivals, with other good value musical shenanigans taking place at Leicester's Handmade, Salford's Sounds From The Other City, and Live At Leeds. Our pick for the weekend however is Liverpool's Sound City, which takes industry conference and music festival and rolls them into one. Headlined by the likes of Loyle Carner and Mabel, other tips include Clean Cut Kid and Confidence Man - two stylistically differing bands that'll nonetheless have you moving in no time at all. Great city, great music.

The big daddy of UK new music festivals, which has all but perfected the combined conference-festival format. We've been attending since its first iteration in 2006, watching it grow to the point that it's now inarguably our favourite music festival full stop. With a strong focus on upcoming artists rather than heavy hitters - albeit this year featuring actual chart-topper Lewis Capaldi - there is nonetheless definitely something on offer for everyone, with several hundred acts from across the world performing. There's even an accompanying Alternative Escape, with many free or cheap shows available.

Despite sounding more like a mildly threatening instruction to a nation than a successful music festival, Focus Wales has become an increasingly prominent conference-festival. With standard weekend passes from just £40 and with dazzling live performers like kung-fu poppers Boy Azooga and the gleefully bizarre Snapped Ankles, this is certainly one of the UK's best value music festivals.

Wakefield's Long Division Festival is a bit more than your average city-based music shindig, spanning a number of days and featuring comedian Richard Herring as well as family friendly activities. Its main attraction however is a fantastic day of music on 1 June, featuring a brilliantly diverse line up including iconic acts such as Asian Dub Foundation and Peter Hook & The Light, as well as the excellent Art Brut and We Are Scientists. For under 18s, it's just a quid for all that music!

One of our favourite London music festivals, Bushstock began in 2011, bringing exciting new talent to Shepherd's Bush in West London. Run by the expert minds at Communion Records, expect to see the next big thing in an intimate setting. Take the 2012 edition where we saw BASTILLE play in a small pub! Potentially also expect special secret sets, which have featured Lucy Rose, The Staves, and Michael Kiwanuka in recent years.

Formerly known as Evolution Emerging, we're hoping this rebrand continues the quality of its predecessor, which has previously showcased acts of the calibre of Sam Fender and Lanterns On The Lake over the years. 2019's version is headlined by Bill Ryder-Jones, formerly of The Coral, and with weekend early bird tickets at just £15, the debut Tipping Point Live is a bargain.

Last year's Citadel was somewhat marred by logistical issues as hundreds of attendees found themselves rather stuck in West London in a transport nightmare. We're hoping that lessons have been learned from that episode as this year's Citadel looks particularly impressive with BASTILLE and Catfish And The Bottlemen headlining amid a starring undercard of Friendly Fires, Bear's Den, Matt Corby, and the fearsome Fontaines DC.

Home to acts as disparate as Arctic Monkeys and Bring Me The Horizon, as well as the World Snooker Championship, it's no surprise that Sheffield is also home to a large-scale celebration of music in the form of Tramlines. Based over three days at Hillsborough Park, the 2019 festival features a slew of big names including the returning Doves, Two Door Cinema Club, Manic Street Preachers, and Nile Rodgers & Chic.

Probably the most unusual festival on this list (it's staged on a heritage steam railway site in Derbyshire!) but all the more worthy of a spot as a result. There's a strong DIY/indie pop outlook musically at Indietracks with this year's festival starring acts like Bis, Martha, and the more experimental Stealing Sheep. The festival's poster also mentions "real ale and owls", presumably not in combination despite our hopeful intrigue about the proposition.

We're not going to lie, the Dog Show at East London all-dayer Visions is one of the main attractions, and we're pleased to hear that it'll be returning for the 2019 installment. In terms of music, expect good things from Anna Meredith and White Denim at the top of the bill, but it's as much the smaller acts that should pique interest - 2018 Visions alumni Black Midi, for example, signing to Rough Trade in the following months. Good dogs, good music, what more could you want?

We managed to make our way down to Victorious Festival a few years ago back when it was hosted at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. They've now moved down the road by another attraction, Southsea Castle, and with a wide variety of acts such as The Hives, Plan B and New Order playing across three days, there can be few better ways to spend your August Bank Holiday weekend. Saturday's arguable centrepiece is a particular highlight in the UK festival calendar - Bloc Party playing their seminal 2005 debut album 'Silent Alarm' in full.

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