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The best UK Festival reviews written by expert fans

We are a respected independent website that features festival news & festival reviews. We also cover the bands that make festivals great.

Our team have been attending festivals across the UK and elsewhere for the last 25 years. We haven’t just stood in the crowd. We’ve run our own events, and booked bands, managed stages, and provided online web presence.  This has been for festivals including Glastonbury, Leeds, Beautiful Days, Download, and more.

This is a non-commercial website with no affiliations to particular events beyond the fact that we know many of the people behind them. We are always amazed by the hard work and passion that goes into putting them on.

Note – no advertising!

Festival reviews

We try to write honest and sometimes challenging reviews. If things are perfect, we’ll celebrate that. If things could be done better we’ll make suggestions in a positive spirit.

Do you feel you have a similar perspective and would like to share your own impressions of events you attend? If you do, please do get in touch as we’d love to carry more content than we can produce ourselves on zero income…but 100% love for the spirit of festivals.

We also host and run our own micro-listing and reviews hyper-local music website for Hastings: www.hastingsflyer.com. This model could easily be applied to any other town in the UK… so if you fancy running something similar please get in touch.

  • BODEGA launch their new album and 70-day world tour from Brighton’s most intimate venue, The Albert
    Watching BODEGA launch their new album (‘Broken Equipment’) was a must-see event. I go to a lot of gigs. Maybe not as many gigs as a few people I know of course, but way more than is probably healthy for a 50+ year-old who really ought to know better. That said, on the age thing, I’m more than a little concerned that I’m finding myself at the younger end of the age scale when I’m out to watch bands that my 16-year-old self would have chewed his own arm off to be at. It really makes me wonder what the…
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  • Hastings Fat Tuesday: an amazing Mardi Gras-on-sea (best bands)
    Words: John Bownas, Pictures: Sara Bowrey What else are you doing at the end of February that is more important than a great five-day party by the seaside – at Hastings Fat Tuesday? And Hastings has this covered…because, in preparation for the solemn start of Lent, the town throws caution to the wind in the name of Mardi Gras… or ‘Fat Tuesday’ as it’s better known to non-French speakers. Now we know there are Mardi Gras celebrations all around the world, but Hastings really extends the concept into a Mardi Marathon, because the doors open to the fun factory on…
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  • Emtombed Festival 2022 – a brutally beautiful earbashing
    Review and photos by Sara Bowrey ENTOMBED 2022 Entombed was brought to Hastings by Toxit Wotsit (the team behind Wotsit Called Festival) and local live promoters, Infected Umbrella. It was a festival dedicated to all things heavy, and for fans of noise this was the ideal way to blow away the January/COVID blues. Centred mainly around The Crypt and with an aftershow gig for late-night revels on Saturday night over at The Pig, Entombed was a simple mix of back-to-back bands and festival themed cocktails. DAY ONE – Friday at The Crypt London-based Shooting Daggers are Wotsit Called Festival favourites…
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  • All Points East 2021 CELEBRATES THE BEST OF UK MUSIC AND BEYOND
    NED DYLAN reports from the field…with photos by Sara-Louise Bowrey Last weekend All Points East returned to London with a line up that celebrated the best of UK music and beyond. With a capacity of 40,000 All Points East is a well-sized festival in Victoria Park, which makes for a great site. This year the All Points East crowd were friendly and relaxed but also brought a lot of energy to almost every set I watched, helping to create a brilliant atmosphere all weekend. SONS OF KEMET AND LOYLE CARNER STAND OUT On Friday for me there were two main…
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  • Camp Bestival 2021 – the best bits…
    We’ve always had a soft spot for Camp Bestival – despite not fitting the target demographic for which the event is most famous. That is to say, we’re not the proud parents of 2.2 five-to-seven year-olds. We are, however, of the right sort of age to appreciate the heavily 90’s-led line-ups. And it’s always great to think that this early exposure to live music might help create new generations of fans – and, of course, new generations of musicians. It’s not been plain sailing over recent years for the good ship Bestival though – with financial woes seeing it change…
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  • Tramlines Festival 2021 hailed as ‘huge success’ by artists and audiences
    Early bird tickets on sale 6pm, Monday 26th July Tramlines, Sheffield’s biggest festival of music, art and comedy, has come to a close, marking a landmark moment for the city and the UK live events industry. 40,000 revellers attended the sold-out event at Hillsborough Park each day from 23rd to 25th July as Tramlines became the largest festival to return in Western Europe and among the first to join the Government’s Events Research Programme. Highlight performances over the weekend included The Streets, whose frontman Mike Skinner popped a bottle of champagne on Sarah Nulty’s Main Stage in celebration of crowds…
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  • Latitude 2021 – first photos from Friday – and is there any point in COVID trial events?
    It’s been a long, long time, but arriving at Latitude Festival 2021 felt like coming home. Despite what is still going on in the outside world some sense of normality appeared to have been achieved. OK, so the event lost a couple of acts due to self-isolation issues (but given that resulted in Sports Team grabbing a main stage set on Saturday that was no bad thing) – and there is a need to submit valid negative COVID tests to be on site – but other than that things feel pretty much as we remembered festivals being like back before…
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  • Bigfoot Festival review 2021– the bubbles may have burst…
    After so many months without even a sniff of a festival, Bigfoot was a breath of fresh air. A genuine feeling that normality will soon be resumed…as soon as anyone can work out exactly what ‘normal’ is these days. At only 4,000 capacity it was only four-fifths the audience of a sold-out show at Brixton Academy. But its importance in the current climate of restrictions and uncertainty cannot be understated. LEAVE YOUR OWN REVIEW OF BIGFOOT FESTIVAL HERE Alongside the ‘Download experiment’ it is the first UK festival to take place within COVID restrictions since the pandemic swept the live…
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  • In Cider 2020 – In Photos
    All photos by Sara-Louise Bowrey Gaz Brookfield and the Company of Thieves – In Cider Festival 2020 by John Bownas February 5, 2020 by John Bownas February 5, 2020 Surfin’ Turnips – In Cider Festival 2020 by John Bownas February 5, 2020 by John Bownas February 5, 2020 Samantics – In Cider Festival 2020 by John Bownas February 5, 2020 by John Bownas February 5, 2020 Dakka Skanks – In Cider Festival 2020 by John Bownas February 5, 2020 by John Bownas February 5, 2020 Neck – In Cider Festival 2020 by John Bownas February 5, 2020 by John Bownas…
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  • The Great Escape 2020 – First 50
    The Great Escape 2020 – First 50 PHOTOS BY WWW.SARABOWREYPHOTOS.COM So November 2019 isn’t even half-way through and already we are enjoying the first swathe of festival sets for 2020… Brighton’s Great Escape Festival jumped the gun and decided to take itself up to London to show the capital how it’s going to be done by the seaside next year – and with fifty acts over two nights their ‘First Fifty’ showcase does exactly what it says on the tin…gets in first with a half-century of could-be big-hitters. It was a tough call as to which venues to go for,…
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  • Wotsit Called Festival 2019
      WOTSIT CALLED FESTIVAL 2019 Three days of grass-roots ‘punken’ delights Deep in the darkest depths of East Sussex, Hastings is home to a crazy world of hardcore music fans who thrive on the loudest and most raucous sounds around. Born into a town where deprivation is masked by the relative affluence of the ever more gentrified neighbourhoods that clamour for attention from the lifestyle sections of the Sunday broadsheets, these nu-anarchists are a true throwback to the earliest days of punk. And they don’t just pay lip service to the punk ethic as a fashion statement – they live…
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  • Boomtown Fair 2019 – windy but wonderful as ever
    With tickets selling out over the weekend, Boomtown 2019 saw some 66,000 guests, performers and crew descend once more on the hills and forests of the Winchester countryside. Yet again, the immersive storyline rolled on, and for those who love to play out the fabled fiction of the ever-changing chapters there was plenty of opportunity to become a part of the machine that cannot be stopped. Of course alongside the big-name bands this year’s headline had to have been the wind. With Boardmasters cancelled Boomtown’s organisers must have thought long and hard about whether their intricate infrastructure was up to…
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  • Cornbury 2019 – review
    With idyllic settings in the Cotswolds and a history of artists any festival would die for, this festival is one that’s been on the hitlist for us for quite a while. Established back in 2004 and originally called ‘Poshstock’ in the press, the festival boasts attendees at 20,000 per cycle. The top echelons of musical talent including Robert Plant, Susanne Vega, Ray Davies, Elvis Costello and Jools Holland have all frequented the festival at one time or another, this year was no exception with headliners catering for all including The Specials, Keane and The Beach Boys. The festival is very…
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  • CUD – life affirming and 100% genuine
    If every gig sounded this good the world would be a joyous place. CUD’s return to the Islington Academy some ten years and a handful of months after their triumphant explosion back onto the live scene was a treat for the ears – as well as the eyes. Flamboyant as ever, and basking in the confidence that having a whole set of ‘no filler’ tracks makes fully justified, the CUD band’s sound engineer dialed in his best stadium sound settings and unleashed a pure pop beast… Blasting through their best songs – many as chosen by ‘tens of thousands’ of…
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  • Ragged Bear 2018 – in photos
    When your love of festivals is purely about the music look no further than Ragged Bear. No overpriced food – just pop across the road for a Subway. No overpriced beer – it’s all at that under-£4 price point we love, and they have real ale coming out of their ears. No staggering back to try and find your tent – this is a city centre event in the very epicentre of the UK. Nuneaton. And did we mention the music? The line-up never fails to delight… and here’s our gallery of photos to show what a lovely little festival…
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  • The Funking Barstewards – Hastings Fish and Wine Festival 2018
    The Funking Barstewards have been putting smiles on the faces of festival crowds since they first graced a big stage at Phoenix Festival back in 1993. Still funking it up after all these years with a greatest hits back catalogue of disco classics, the Barstewards’ most recent foray into festival land was at the annual Hastings Seafood and Wine Festival. Headining the Saturday night they lit up the tent with a set that kept young and old alike dancing from start to finish
  • The Sweetchunks Band – your new favourite festival experience
    We pride ourselves in knowing a thing or two about what makes a great festival act. And The Sweetchunks Band tick all our boxes. After 25 years of walking the fields and experiencing all of the highs and lows of festival life there’s no questioning that we’ve seen and heard some truly awful stuff in our day. Inappropriate bookings like Daphne and Celeste at Reading Festival spring to mind. And then there have been moments when global megastars have been caught out doing really bad karaoke…don’t remind us about the Kanye West cover of Bohemian Rhapsody… URGH… So whenever we…
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  • Boomtown – the machine that won’t be stopped (2018 reviewed)
    We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, Boomtown – we salute you! [by John Bownas and Ali Ryland] In a day and age where festivals are seemingly popped out of the same-old jelly moulds to a Jamie Oliver 30-minute recipe, Boomtown excels in delivering a dish of unknown pleasures that Heston himself would be proud of and that feels as if has been years in the planning. So what if the weather was unkind for this chapter of the story…we stood in the biblical downpour and revelled in the majesty of Fishbone. We careered and cavorted as our…
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  • Y-Not 2018 : rocking your socks off…
    The sun is shining, there’s plenty of glitter, beer and band T-Shirts and everyone seems suitably excited for four days of indie/rock/alt-action at this years Y-Not Festival in Derby.   The weekend boasts an impressive bill featuring the likes of Jamiroquia, Catfish And The Bottlemen and Kaiser Chiefs to name but a few of the 100+ bands on the line up.   Following a shaky 2017, the pressure is on this year for the festival to deliver and, despite some atrocious weather, suffice to say Y Not 2018 fulfils its promises this time around.   Opening up the Giant Squid…
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  • Grace Petrie at Latitude 2018
    Fired up with every flame that was ever fanned by the power of folk music… Grace Petrie
  • Gaffa Tape Sandy at Latitude 2018
    Hats off to Gaffa Tape Sandy played Latitude 2018 in every possible way. They fly-posted the site before their Alcove set and it paid off with a packed and energised crowd who crashed the barriers and raised the energy levels as high as they could go on a sweltering weekend of dry dust and sunburn.
  • Into the Wild 2018 – a little slice of perfection
    If the big festivals are starting to leave you feeling bloated and overwhelmed it might be time to consider something a little lighter – because a little less is sometimes a whole lot more. And Into the Wild (not to be confused with Into the Wild Gathering) could be just what the doctor ordered…but do watch out for 2019 tickets and grab them quick, because this a strictly limited capacity affair. Set on a large estate just a short drive out of North London, Into the Wild beckoned quietly to us as a warm-up to next weekend’s Latitude extravaganza. With…
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  • Hastings Fringe Comedy Festival 2018 – retrospective
    It’s safe to say that this is one fringe with real benefits… principle amongst which are (1) it’s in Hastings (2) it’s 99% free entry and (3) the quality of the acts is top notch. Hastings Fringe Comedy Festival is a real labour of love for it’s organisers. Run on a shoestring, it somehow manages to pack a serious punch without any sense of corners being cut. Venues are small and intimate – which is always a plus (unless you are the shy and retiring audience type who doesn’t fancy getting picked out for some gentle ribbing from time to…
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  • Long Division: Warehouse 23, 2018 (review)
    Steve White writes… So, after a week of almost constant sunshine Saturday decides to be wet, windy and miserable. Wakefield is damp and grey when we arrive but beginning to brighten up both weather-wise and event wise. Long Division Festival started in 2011, is an annual event (although organisers took a break from duties in 2017) and over the years has played host to The Cribs, British Sea Power, The Fall, Gang of Four, Ash and a whole load of others. Spread over five days the festival features a diverse range of music, spoken word and exhibitions with the main…
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  • The Magic Numbers and Penelope Isles: Brighton Old Market
    Opening up for The Magic Numbers at Brighton’s Old Market are a starry-eyed young band called Penelope Isles. Somewhat confusingly none of the band members are called Penelope Isles – but two of them are called Jack. One of the Jacks is the brother of Lily, and then there’s Becky to make up the magic number four. Penelope Isles have a strong Brighton following, but the hark from the Isle of Man – until now best known as the birthplace of The Bee Gees. As well as the brother/sister thing, musically they share a lot in common with the Magic…
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  • Why are Alabama 3 still able to be so good?
    On paper a 20-year-old hash-up of country styled techno tunes delivered by nine blokes of a certain age doing occasional choreographed dad-dance routines should be growing tired – some might question how it ever worked in the first place. But far, far, far from it. What The Alabama 3 have held on to over two decades is the ability to perform – not just deliver their songs in a neatly polished package – but we mean PERFORM!! In the sense of breathing new life into every note and every word with every show they play. If there is a genuine…
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  • Bestival 2017 review: mopping up and reflecting
    It’s so hard to separate a festival from its weather or any tragedy that happens within its gates. Regardless of anything else, extremes of hot or cold, wet or dry always tend to define an event – as do those terrible moments that happen every day in the real world but seem to have no place at festivals (and so capture undue media attention). So, while Bestival’s post-event headlines should be how it managed its move from its spiritual home on the Isle of Wight to its sister-site in Dorset, this year’s write-ups will inevitable major on Sunday’s show-stopping winds,…
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  • Boardmasters 2017 – REVIEW
    Firstly, I’d like to take a moment for the people of Boardmasters who had their makeup and mirrors taken away on entry. We all thought there was some sort of clause to the “No Glass” rule that would allow for L’Oreal True Match – but evidently not. I like to think the excessive glitter around the festival was due to it being used as an alternative. Boardmasters Festival is the biggest music festival in Cornwall, with up to 50,000 people in attendance this year. What attracted me to Boardmasters other than the lineup was how they incorporated one of the…
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  • Boomtown 2017 – 97% fun, 86% safe
    Once again Boomtown has shown the world how to really ‘produce’ a festival. As Rome announced during the stupendously amazing Sublime with Rome show on Sunday night – “You guys really know how to have a party – we just ain’t got nothing like this back in the States…” The point is that for a festival to stand out from the crowd these days it has to be so much more than a few hundred bands playing on a few stages for three days. There has to be an energy and the ever-present chance of discovering something amazing. And there…
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  • Bloodstock Festival 2017 Review
    So it’s been a week since Bloodstock and it’s took that long to take in what we saw. It kicked off Thursday with the Sophie Lancaster Stage but it was Friday when they heavyweights made an appearance. It wasn’t Whitechapels (6) day on the main stage as it seemed front man Phil Bozeman was concentrating more on holding his towel than delivering a solid performance. Moving over to the New Blood stage to see the end of Blood Thread (7) gave a much needed boost in what Bloodstock is about. Things only got better when we popped over to the…
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Festival reviews
Put smiles on their faces!

What makes our festival reviews score highly?

There are five things that really make a difference regarding whether a festival stands out from the crowd, and you should know these because they are what makes you want to keep coming back. We focus here on music-based mutli-day camping events:

Range of artists

We know not every event has a huge budget to pull in the big names, but there are tonnes of really excellent bands around the UK too, who can put on shows so that your event can rival those with the biggest names in the business. Do your reaserch, have an open mind, and have the courage to book innovative acts – because this is what will leave your audience wanting more.

What to do between the bands?

It’s not all about the music because guests have to eat and sleep and may want to escape the bands for a while. Ensure your food and drink vendors are of the best quality and offer a good variety and value for money. Craft ales and good-sized portions score highly in our eyes. Try and offer camping to suit different lifestyles. Some late-night party animals like to keep the action going into the small hours, whilst other people prefer an early night. If you have the space have sections for both. And don’t skimp on site art and tents where people can do more than listen to music.

Production values

There is no point having great bands performing if nobody can hear them. Invest in good quality PA systems run by people who understand festival environments. And put money into good lights and screens for when the sun goes down.

Communication and information

Your audience are your customers and you have lots of them. If they need to know something make it as easy as possible to find out the answer. If they can’t find it on your website make it easy to get in touch…and answer their questions quickly. On site make sure all staff are fully briefed…and have comms channels so if someone doesn’t know an answer they can quickly find out.

Organised chaos

The best festivals feel chaotic but are safe and well-rganised at the same time. This is a really difficulty trick to pull off, but remember that going to a festival is, for many people, and escape from normality. Let them let their hair down, but don’t take risks.

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