Festival | ELLE UK

The Ultimate ELLE Festival Guide 2018

Because if you’re going to party hard in a field, you've got to do it in style

The sun gently dancing its freckled footsteps across your nose as you bask on a bed of newly trodden grass.

The dulcet sweet tones of Sampha and The Internet with the faint echo of drum & bass sounds from Noisia mixed with the EDM beats of Marshmello fill the air.

Thankfully, the taste of summer is now synonymous with the world's best festivals and we for one can't wait for it.

And far from the muddy, rain-coated budget-saving weekenders of our youth, festivals can be anything you want it to be nowadays – a confetti-filled costume party, a chic boutique soiree, an ultra-hip Euro hideaway … or even just some good old-fashioned mud-based merriment.


Fortunately for us Brits, they're right on our doorstep.

We bring you our favourite festivals from the UK and Europe.

Grab your Hunters and loo roll, because we're going in...


Wilderness, Oxfordshire, 2-5 August

IN A NUTSHELL: Sure, Wilderness has its middle-class niceties. But while it's true that you can eat at Yotam Ottolenghi before heading to the Veuve Cliquot champagne bar, there's so much more to it than that. The rolling site (complete with swimmable lake) has a magical vibe all of its own, and hosts a huge array of performance art, talks and plays as well as sets from Nile Rodgers & Chic, Bastille, Groove Armada. Besides, who doesn't like sipping on a chilled Sipsmith gin and chopping down on Homeslice pizza?

THE USP: It may be the only festival where you'll see a man in chinos next to someone dressed up as a unicorn. And they'll both be eating artisan hotdogs.

GO IF: You own chinos. Or a unicorn costume.

Wilderness, general campsite tickets from £179.50

End of the Road, Dorset, 30 August - 2 September

IN A NUTSHELL: Remember when festivals used to be about the music, man? Well the bookings team at EOTR evidently do, curating a yearly line-up covering the finest in alt-rock, indie, folk and Americana. This year's bill includes Vampire Weekend, St. Vincent and Feist. Prepare to nod earnestly and agree that yes, their secret B-side demo sessions were totally seminal. Man.

THE USP: This fest is known for putting plenty of women on the bill.

GO IF: You buy albums on vinyl. For the sleeve artwork, y'know.

End of the Road, adult weekend tickets from £195

Livewire, Blackpool, UK; 23-26 August

Would you sing or no? 🤣

A post shared by BoyzIIMen (@boyziimen) on


IN A NUTSHELL: Returning to the famous seaside resort, the festival sees headline acts including Boyz II Men & Matt Goss grace the stage. Despite it being only in its second year, it most famously saw Will Smith & DJ Jazzy Jeff's make their first UK performance last year, seeing out to a 20,000 capacity crowd.

THE USP: You can eat a bag of fish and chips and listen to BOYS II MEN at the same time. What more do you want?

GO IF: You like grinding to 90s R&B.

Livewire, tickets start at £40 with VIP costing £200

Shambala, Northants, 23-26 August

IN A NUTSHELL: If you like your festivals a little more on the cosmic side, step this way. For this friendly shindig is the place to break out the tie-dye and bindies and learn how to make a dreamcatcher in the Craft Area (an ssential life skill, you'll agree). It's also home to an eclectic line-up of music (to be announced on the spring equinox, naturally 20 March), theatre, performance art and food – and there's a cocktail bar by the hot tub.

From spending the night dancing to the afrobeat and funk tunes in Chai Wallah and dining in The Garden o' Feeden's sumptuous banquet hall of a tent, to getting zen with meditation and yoga at the Healing Meadows, it's all you want in a festival.

THE USP:The festival is 100 per cent renewably powered went vegetarian in 2016.

GO IF: You know what chakras are. Or would like to.

Shambala, full weekend adult ticket costs £195.50

Soul Circus, Cotswolds, UK; 17-19 August

IN A NUTSHELL: Inspired by the ever-growing lifestyle trend of yoga and restorative health mediums, the Soul Circus yoga and wellness festival offers the perfect alternative for festival-goers who don't want to get off their faces and suffer the consequences for days.

Working in collaboration with Equinox - one of the world's hottest fitness brands - Soul Circus offers visitors the chance to sweat their stuff at expert-run Equinox HIIT and Pilates – from Fusion to Barre to Heated – sessions, as well as a diverse range of group fitness classes.


Soul Circus will also welcome Vinyasa Classes, working closely with chakra and elemental theories, Ayurveda, dance fitness classes. Meanwhile, healthy ice-cream Oppo will be on hand in the evenings to accompany soothing acoustics and beautiful gongs.

THE USP: Expert yogis on hand to transform your form and mind

GO IF: You're all about that yoga-loving, turmeric latte and lycra life

Soul Circus, Prices start at £79

The Big Feastival, Cotswolds, UK; 24-26 August

IN A NUTSHELL: A family-fun day out is sure to be had at this gloriously British festival at Blur guitarist Alex James' farm in the Cotswolds. With headline acts last year including Olly Murs and Madness, guests can be sure to enjoy the likes of tree climbing, vintage funfairs, cooking experiences as well as a Veuve Clicquot VIP Lounge. With feasts and banquets, street food and fire pits aplenty, we can't imagine a better way to sign off the summer than with a piece of James' famous cheese and the dulcet tones of Hacienda Classical.

THE USP: There's a sh*t load of cheese on offer

GO IF: Your perfect festival involves a pint of craft ale and a Friday Night Supper Club

The Big Feastival, day ticket prices start at £64 (adult) with weekend camping tickets reaching £179.50.


NOS Alive, Lisbon; 7-9 July


IN A NUTSHELL: With previous headliners including the likes of Radiohead, Chemical Brothers, Arcade Fire and Foals, you know you're going to get a lot of big-band bang for your buck at this festival. This year sees Arctic Monkey make their grand return to the stage along with Friendly Fires, Wold Alice and Sampha, set amid the backdrop of the beautiful coast of Oeiras.

As one of Europe's most respected indie, rock and alternative music festivals, the festival combines an eclectic line-up with the feel of a summer getaway, golden sands and glorious weather.

THE USP: Ten minutes from downtown Lisbon and in easy reach of the coast, it's a city break/festival/beach holiday three-for-one.

GO IF: You fancy dancing till sunrise in flip-flops. Flip-flops!

Nos Alive; Day tickets £63.99 and weekend and two day ticket is priced at £120.92

Øya, Oslo; 8-12 August

IN A NUTSHELL: Scandi is shorthand for effortless cool – and here it is in festival form. Filling the leafy Tøyenparken with huge acts such as Kendrick Lamar, Arctic Monkeys, Arcade Fire and Patti Smith, here Nordic efficiency means that everything (bar/loo queues, recycling, food stalls) just WORKS. Weave through the crowd stress-free, have space to sip a chilled sauv blanc down the front, and make friends with the universally friendly folk. This is how to festival, Scandi-style.

THE USP: Much as we talk about festival-chic in the UK, here it really EXISTS. Imagine the Glastonbury crowd dressed by Acne Studios and you're getting there.

GO IF: Nonchalant Nordic cool is your thing.

Oya Festival, day tickets approximately £90

Soundwave, Tisno, Croatia; 26-30 July

IN A NUTSHELL: Feeling blue? Well you will be once you've had a dip in the dazzling Mediterranean ocean before swaying your hips to the soul-infused sounds of reggae and hip hop, house and drum & bass. Set in a secluded cove, festival-goers will be welcomed with DJ sets from the likes of Loyle Carner, Mr Scruff, Romare, and Jordan Rakei, beach parties and boat parties. Get that bikini ready - we'll see you aboard the Argonaughty.


THE USP: 2018 sees Soundwave Croatia celebrate its tenth and final ever festival.

GO IF: You want to make festival history (and a fair few fuzzy memories)

Soundwave, tickets for second release £119

Sonar, Barcelona; 14-16 June

IN A NUTSHELL: The daddy of dance music festivals is still the coolest. This multi-location bash takes over the whole of Barca for three days of cutting-edge beats, bass and 'advanced' dance music. Basically if someone's doing exciting things with digital sounds, they're on the bill – Diplo, Gorillaz, Cornelius – to name but a few. Split into Sonar By Day and Sonar By Night, and with offshoot parties popping up all over the city, there really is no excuse not to be dancing at any given moment.

THE USP: It may be massive, but cult cool remains at Sonar's core. Bragging rights assured.

GO IF: You prefer clubbing to camping.

Sonar; day tickets start at €£58-79

Primavera Sound, Barcelona, 30 June - 3 July

IN A NUTSHELL: Oh Barca, how you spoil us. Because the Catalan capital also hosts Europe's biggest draw for fans of rock, indie and all things alternative: Primavera. This year's monster line-up features A$AP Rocky, Björk, Lorde and Tyler, The Creator … the list goes on (and on, and on). Not that electro lovers go begging for beats – Dj Seinfeld and DJ Koze are among those making damn sure of that. With timings stretching through the night, recover in the Spanish sun before doing it all again.

THE USP: Where else are you going to find the likes of Haim and Migos?

GO IF: You like any music of any genre of any era… Erm, just go, then.

Primavera, full festival tickets from £200 until sold out

Defected Croatia, Tisno, Croatia; 9-14 August


IN A NUTSHELL: How does 3,000 House heads from around the world creating six glorious days of house music heaven sound to you?

With acts a Basement Jaxx DJ set and the likes of Derrick Carter, Dimitri from Paris, Masters At Work and Horse Meat Disco on the line-up, it's no wonder Defected Croatia is becoming known as the ultimate dance festival experience in Europe.

Expect boat parties, daytime beach parties, sunset sessions and after parties hosted by world-renowned DJs on the pebbled beach of Tisno.

THE USP: You can dance throughout the night thanks to the 'Sunrise Sessions' post-Barbarella kicking off around dawn.

GO IF: You like jumping off the side of boats to the tunes of CamelPhat.

Defected Croatia, full festival day and night ticket including Barbarellas at £185

Melt! Festival, Germany, 13-15 July

IN A NUTSHELL: Who says a festival has to be in a field, huh, huh? Here hay bales are swapped for huge industrial machinery – and boy, is it cool. Taking over a former surface mining site and filling it with 20,000 ravers, this electronic fest is as atmospheric as they come – the perfect backdrop to a host of beat-laden acts including The XX, Florence + The Machine, The Internet And Fever Ray. What's more, there's a lake you can swim in and a vintage train you can sleep in. True story.

THE USP: True to its name, The Sleepless Floor stays open from the minute the festival opens until the minute it ends. Consider it a challenge.

GO IF: Your favourite city in the world is Berlin. You'll know why.

Melt! Ferropolis, weekend ticket including camping from €129


Field Day, Victoria Park, London; 1-3 June

Morning.... #everythingecstatic #lush #thereisloveinyou @fourtetkieran

A post shared by Field Day (@fielddayfestivals) on


IN A NUTSHELL: So you want bands and beats and bushy beards? Then this is the festival for you, alliteration fans. With the muddy-marvellous feel of a traditional fest, yet still just a Tube-ride home, Field Day (or DAYS, more accurately, now it has evolved across Saturday as well), brings impeccably curated indie, rock and the cooler end of dance to Victoria Park. Headliner-wise, we have Erykah Badu on the line-up, while Charlotte Gainsbourg and BRIT Award nominated Loyle Carner have tunes to spare. As for the beards? The suitably hip crowd are sure to take care of those, don't you worry.

THE USP: Fancy having a go at a human steeplechase? How about a duck-egg-and-spoon race? All is possible at the Village Green…

GO IF: You like the idea of Glastonbury but the prospect of your own bed more.

Field Day, day tickets from £39.50

Love Saves The Day, Bristol; 26-27 May

IN A NUTSHELL: From a field in Glastonbury to a fully-fledged two-day dance fest, my hasn't Love Saves The Day grown? This year's line-up is surely its finest yet, covering a sonic spectrum from Fatboy Slim and Four Tet to Feel The Real and Bicep.

THE USP: Sampha in Bristol. Need we say more?

GO IF: You spend all your time at festivals in the dance tent.

Loves Save the Day, early bird day tickets £27.50

Citadel, Victoria Park, London; 15 July

We found some of the glitteriest people at #Citadel17... ✨

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IN A NUTSHELL: Everyone loves a Sunday social – and there's none finer than this one-dayer with its lo-fi, folksy vibe. Music comes from UK exclusive headliners Tame Impala, marking their performance as their first show in London since their two sold out Alexandra Palace shows in February 2016.

USP: This fest has a pop-up pampering boutique, a mass yoga session – and we did mention disco dodgeball, right?!

GO IF: You like to take things easy like Sunday morning. And afternoon. And evening.

Citadel, day tickets now £49.50

Parklife, Manchester; 9-10 June

@denissulta Palm House sessions 🌴

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IN A NUTSHELL: It's not just the south that know how to throw a day festival; Manchester does it in style too, ta very much. The team behind the Warehouse Project take over Heaton Park for two days of electro hedonism and eclectic indie sounds, this year starring The XX, Jessie Ware, Giggs, Bonobo, Eric Prydz and N.E.R.D.

USP: Liam Gallagher and Skepta are gracing the Parklife Stage. I mean, enough said.

GO IF: You've ever been to a Warehouse Project – and fancy supersizing it.

Parklife, day tickets £65, weekend tickets £109.50

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