by Sam Skilton
It has reached that time of year once again – festival line-ups are being announced on almost every turn of the clock, and the almighty scramble for this year’s hottest tickets is set to begin. But in an age when many people can only realistically afford to splash out the cash for one festival per summer, the big question is: which is the one to go for?
Not everybody is lucky enough to get their hands on tickets for Glastonbury, but what other options are there?
Isle of Wight Festival (13-17 June)
The first major festival of the year is Isle of Wight, taking place in mid-June, and as a result the line-up is pretty much already confirmed. Kicking off on Thursday 13th June with Happy Mondays taking the headline slot, it features Paul Weller, Jake Bugg, The Maccabees, Bloc Party, and Bob Geldof’s Boomtown Rats who have reformed exclusively to play on the Sunday.
The festival’s three main headliners are Madchester heroes The Stone Roses on the Friday, indie rock and rollers The Killers on the Saturday, and Bon Jovi closing on the Sunday.
Positives: The line-up has already been confirmed, and over the course of four days and nights, there is something for everyone.
Negatives: Being the first festival of the year, it’ll all be over before you know it. Rather than enjoying the anticipation of a festival throughout the summer, you’ll be sitting in your living room with festival-blues as you watch the rest play out on TV, longing to be back in that muddy field.
The Ferris wheel lights up the night sky at Isle of Wight Festival where The Stone Roses, The Killers and Bon Jovi will headline this year
Glastonbury (26-30 June)
Last year the UK’s oldest and biggest major festival was on its hiatus year due to the London 2012 Olympic Games. As a result this year’s line-up is expected to be full of big names.
Festival co-organiser Emily Eavis has already ruled out The Stone Roses, but since then everybody from Lady Gaga to Fleetwood Mac have been rumoured at some point.
The Rolling Stones are widely tipped to take to the Pyramid Stage though, with Mick Jagger recently dropping a big hint that they will close the festival this year. When asked about Glastonbury in an interview with NME he said: “But isn’t it going to be rainy on the Sunday? Isn’t it nearly always rainy on the Sunday?”
Having never previously played at Worthy Farm, the Stones have reportedly been offered £1million to headline the festival. Arctic Monkeys are also strongly rumoured.
But, if the lure of the world’s biggest acts is not enough then there is a multitude of eccentric entertainment on offer too, from the theatrical to the downright bizarre. If you ever get offered the opportunity to go to Glastonbury then we advise you to snatch it with both hands.
Positives: Glastonbury is undoubtedly the biggest and best festival in Britain and has been running since 1970. Worthy Farm is huge, and it boasts countless stages which play host to thousands of acts over the weekend.
Negatives: We’re not really sure if there are any negatives about Glastonbury. All we can really think of is the difficulty of getting hold of tickets.
The Rolling Stones are widely tipped to close this year’s Glastonbury by headlining the Pyramid Stage on Sunday 30th June
T in the Park (12-14 July)
It’s fair to say that the reaction to the T in the Park line-up announcement at the start of December was not wholly positive. Some fans felt that Mumford & Sons – or ‘Rock’n’roll without the attitude’ as The Telegraph’s Seven Magazine branded them a while back – were not headline material.
While The Killers made up for that, the confirmation that Rihanna would also be one of the three big names provoked the reaction from one frustrated fan that he would ‘rather die’.
Positives: Usually attracts some of the most passionate crowds in the country. Bands are always full of praise for the Scots.
Negatives: It’s in Scotland, which means that there is a strong possibility that the weather could be a wee bit cold, wet or windy. Maybe we’re just stereotyping…
Despite torrential rain, festival goers donned their ponchos and enjoyed the atmosphere at T in the Park last year
V Festival (17-18 August)
V Festival is quickly becoming one of the UK’s major festivals. Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker played a major part in the formation of the festival in 1996, and since then it has grown a reputation for being the cleanest and best organised event on the calendar.
Last year its reputation was tainted somewhat by two deaths at the Staffordshire (Weston Park) event and one in close proximity to the one in Chelmsford (Hylands Park).
Nothing has been confirmed line-up wise as of yet, and rumours are so widespread that it is impossible to tell who will be the main headline acts. The announcement will take place on Monday 25th February.
Positives: Hylands Park is a glorious location for a festival with its infamous old trees adorning the 4Music Stage, and Weston Park doesn’t look bad either. In the heat of the summer last year it was notably easy to get hold of free water from various taps in the arena.
Negatives: There’s the potential risk that Joey Essex and his chums might turn up at Chelmsford. Last year Cher Lloyd walked off stage after somebody launched a bottle of piss at her. Actually, that’s a positive thing.
The sun sets at V Festival in Chelmsford as Noel Gallagher takes to the Main Stage on one of the hottest weekends of 2012
Reading and Leeds Festivals (23-25 August)
Taking its August Bank Holiday weekend slot as always, Reading & Leeds is alongside Glastonbury as a festival steeped in history, originating in 1961. Traditionally, the festivals tend to focus on three main headliners: a major rock artist, and indie band, and a metal/alternative act.
It also features the Radio 1/NME Stage for less well known acts, the Festival Republic Stage for breakthrough artists, the Lock Up Stage for punk and hardcore acts and the recently added Dance Tent. This year Reading & Leeds will also feature a Radio 1 Extra Stage.
There’s a risk of this one deserting its rock routes and becoming a chav-fest though after Eminem was announced as the first of three Main Stage headliners. The next announcement is due this Monday (4th February).
Other rumours have included Arctic Monkeys, Black Sabbath, Blur and Mumford & Sons, but Biffy Clyro are widely tipped to be the next major confirmation. Deftones, Alt-J, Sub Focus and Boy Better Know have also been confirmed as part of the bill so far, so nothing particularly exhilarating.
Positives: Usually a great atmosphere, especially for young people who are going to a festival for the first time. The ‘Reading Riots’ appear to be a thing of the past with less trouble in recent years.
Negatives: When it comes to the loos, the term ‘shithole’ has never been more appropriate than at Reading and Leeds – that is literally what they are. Also, Eminem is headlining. The main stage that is, not the toilets.
Pulp shared a joint headline slot with The Strokes at Reading & Leeds Festivals in 2011, and this year’s line-up is announced on Monday
Bestival (5-8 September)
Bestival is quickly becoming the best of the medium-sized music festivals. Formed in 2004, it is the last event on the calendar, taking place over four days in early September.
This year’s line-up is certainly diverse, featuring 65-year-old Elton John alongside hip-hop/reggae rapper Snoop Dog. Franz Ferdinand, Bombay Bicycle Club, Johnny Marr and The Strypes are also confirmed acts.
Positives: The quirky entertainment on offer at Bestival is probably second only to Glastonbury – it really is the second hippie-fest. It’s cheap too, although there are fewer big names on the line-up.
Negatives: It’s the last festival of the year, which providing we have our usual ‘Indian Summer’ is not too much of a problem.
Bestival has grown into the biggest of the medium-sized festivals in recent times, and its quirkiness always draws a good crowd
Top Tip: Whatever the weather forecast, remember to bring your wellies!