What is a music festival without a little political and cultural rebellion? From the hippie Glasto' summers of the 60's, to the glam-rock of Live Aid in 1985, the UK's music festivals have been a platform for social expression for the best part of sixty years. True, the sound systems may have come on leaps and bounds since the Rolling Stones first kicked amplifiers around an outdoor stage, but the freedom, rain dancing and mud-slinging are still as much a part of the festival experience as they were eons ago. Whether it's dubstep, folksy blues or thrash metal, our pick has pretty much every genre covered!
Green Man, Breacon Beacons National Park, Wales
Voted 'Best Medium-sized Festival' at the 2010 UK Festival Awards, Green Man shows little sign of petering out like many a wayward folk-fest; in fact, Glanusk Park adopted a few guitar riding prog rock artists in 2011 - just for the young'uns. Set amid a spell-binding amphitheatre of rolling hills and jagged terrain, Green Man steals the show for best acoustics in situ, and some of the cleanest loos you'll come across! 2011 host to the prestigious Gruff Rhys of 'Hotel Shampoo' fame, Green Man's Far Out stage was one to watch for emerging psych-folk artists, including Treefight For Sunlight, all the way from Denmark. Speculation is rife regarding headliners for the next two years, but with the likes of Spiritualized, Jarvis Cocker and Robert Plant all vying for an annual spot, you can pretty much guarantee a mind-boggling lineup!
Bestival, Newport, Isle of Wight
If beer-swilling and electro-funk are your thing, Bestival promises a rip-roaring weekend of debauchery - albeit in a gentrified country manner. Brainchild of Radio 1 DJ Rob Da Bank, Bestival is a boutique music-fest with a cartoon-ish twist. For starters there is a dress code. In 2011, organisers announced the Pop Stars and Divas concept, whetting the appetite of thousands in anticipation of yet another fancy dress extravaganza, where more really is..well, it gets you noticed! We never quite heard Pendulum's take on the sea of Lady Gaga's who flocked to their Friday night set, but judging by the encore, they weren't in the least bit freaked. Celebrating her Mercury Award victory with a spectacularly ethereal 2 hours, PJ Harvey paved the way for old timers The Cure, who proceeded to hypnotise the crowd with 180 minutes of uninterrupted ego pop. It's this mix of graceful songstrels and formidable pop giants that has made Bestival what it is today; a weekend of electro-fueled immersion into a pool of ripening and sage music genres. Just remember to pack your bunny ears! www.bestival.net
Download, Donington Park, Derbyshire
Donington Park has long dominated headlines for its gaudy prog rock headliners and late night hedonism, but in reality, its so much more than just a giant mosh pit. 2011 saw the much anticipated return of Def Leppard, with a 30,000 strong crowd bagging hot spots 24 hours prior to the kick-off, as well as Cheap Trick, Twisted Sister and Alice Cooper. But this isn't just a rock-fest for old-timers unpacking their greatest hits. Young upstarts Linkin Park are a frequent attraction at Download, often taking the reigns from metal-heads System of A Down, or bass-blasting Pendulum. Attracting a mixed conglomeration of tattooed beer-guzzlers, trendy Mods and whippet-like student types, there is no upper age limit for Download! www.downloadfestival.co.uk
Creamfields, Daresbury Estate, Cheshire
From its humble roots as a rent-a-field summer rave event, Creamfields has evolved into a no-holds barred dance festival attracting some of the most iconic DJ's on the planet. Rumours were rife in 2010 that Creamfields may be scrapped due to the sale of the Daresbury Estate, however, 2011 put paid to such musings. Caspa, Joker and Mista Jam kicked off proceedings with high octane Drum n Bass for the masses, followed by Joris Vorn and Eric Prydz. Like Glastonbury, Creamfields has a reputation for being a mud-fest and 2011 was no exception. For die-hard festival goers, mud is little obstacle when the likes of Tiesto, Paul Van Dyk and Swedish House Mafia are primed for the main stage. If you can handle a little precipitation and sludge, Daresbury Estate is as good as it gets for the classic Creamfields experience! www.creamfields.com
Whats your favourite music festival?