The 18 Best Boutique UK Music Festivals to Book Now
This summer sees a raft of exciting boutique music festivals happening across the country. These independent music events are bringing outstanding talent, both new and established, to spectacular surrounds, as well as offering cultural extravaganzas and otherworldly experiences that set them apart from many of the more mainstream offerings. From DJ sets in the grounds of stately homes to woodland raves, these are the best independent festivals to add to your bucket list.
3 - 6 August
Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire
One of the UK’s top boutique music festivals 2023, the four-day event returns to the idyllic Oxfordshire countryside with a packed schedule of music, theatre and arts performances, feasts and debates. The Soho Farmhouse of countryside music festivals, the pastoral scene is given a luxe upgrade with decadent gastronomic delights from the likes of Olia Hercules and Jeremy Lee, wellness offerings including massages, aerial yoga and a lakeside spa, and outdoor activities such as wild swimming and boating.
But despite all that the music still takes centre stage here, with The Chemical Brothers, Christine and the Queens, Fatboy Slim and Arlo Parks all confirmed to appear. Sound-wise, expect laid back performances with an alt-indie influence — all making for a suitably relaxing yet deliciously fun experience.
Secret Garden Party
20 - 23 July
When Secret Garden Party was first launched by Fred Fellowes and James Whewell in 2004, it set the benchmark for boutique music festivals across the land. The music world mourned its loss when it announced it would be winding down in 2017, but last year it made a triumphant return to celebrate its 20th anniversary and it’s set to be back with a bang in 2023.
Known for its eccentric and creative approach, the theme for this year’s festival is Episode XVII: A New Hope, ushered in by suitably space-aged visuals. Headliners announced so far include The Libertines, Underworld and Fat Freddy’s Drop, while there’ll also be appearances from 2ManyDJs, Peaches and De La Soul.
6 – 9 July
Eastnor Castle Deer Park, Herefordshire
There’s something for everyone at this gloriously wacky boutique music festival, which boasts stages including the Sassçienda – described as a Moulin Rouge-inspired tent where anything goes – and Treasure Island, a floating stage in the middle of a lake that keeps the party going into the small hours. You’ll also find dodgems, Disney karaoke and circus workshops dotted around the parkland.
The music is as fun-loving as the rest of the festival, with performances from KC and the Sunshine Band, Maverick Sabre and nostalgic 90s wonders Vengaboys lined up for the weekend. New for this year is their wild spa experience, Calm Springs, where you can relax in a wood-fired hot tub before throwing yourself back into the action.
9 – 13 August
Secret Location, Hampshire
If you like your musical festivals truly immersive, Boomtown is the event for you. A cross between a festival, a theatre show and a video game, the producers behind Boomtown create an entire parallel universe for the weekend, split into eight districts for revellers to explore. Expect to take part in treasure hunts, puzzle solving and live action replays, all set against the backdrop of established, new and emerging underground music from across the globe.
Though the line-up is kept secret until just before the festival, Boomtown prides itself on having one of the most diverse musical offerings around, celebrating the best in reggae, roots, folk and world music as well as being a home for ska, metal and punk. Meander through the Botanica district, a utopia of flourishing greenery, before exploring the vivid techtopia of Metropolis and finally ending up in Area 404, a party hub modelled around a futuristic industrial quadrant.
30 June – 2 July
Glynde Place, East Sussex
While Love Supreme primarily bills itself as a jazz festival, you don’t have to be a jazz aficionado to have a great weekend here. Soul, funk, blues, reggae and R&B are also on offer, as well as upbeat DJ sets to ensure the party carries on long into the night. Previous names at the festival have included Lauryn Hill, Gladys Knight and Louie Vega, and this year’s line-up boasts big names including Little Simz, Grace Jones and Emeli Sandé, all on hand to help celebrate the festival’s 10 year anniversary.
As well as great music there’s also first-rate food at Darby’s Restaurant, where you can feast banquet-style on seasonal dishes and vegan brunch, a wellbeing space for yoga and massages, and a Rough Trades record store where you can pick up new vinyls and have them signed by your favourite artists.
9 - 13 August
Fistral Beach and Watergate Bay, Newquay, Cornwall
For those who want to combine the joys of the seaside with the exhilaration of live music, look no further than Boardmasters. Sprawled across the sandy Cornish coastline, this festival is popular amongst surfer types and Londoners looking to escape the city, and is particularly well-regarded for its reliably great line-up of musical acts spanning indie, rock, hip hop and dance.
This year, Lorde, Liam Gallagher and Florence + The Machine are headlining, joined by an equally brilliant line-up that includes Ben Howard, Little Simz, Raye and Cypress Hill. In between sets, outdoorsy types can take full advantage of offerings including surfing, kayaking and paddleboarding, while the more relaxed can lounge on the sand with a Cornish pasty in hand.
10 - 13 August
Houghton Hall, Kings Lynn, Norfolk
Founded by Craig Richards, the man behind legendary London club Fabric, and some of the talent behind the Gottwood festival, Houghton is a brilliant celebration of electronic music in the grounds of a historic estate. This year, the festival is bringing a stellar line-up of DJs and producers to supercharge the countryside setting with a weekend of underground house, techno, disco and leftfield beats.
There’s also the chance to explore Houghton Hall’s renowned sculpture garden, where you can spot works by James Turrell, Rachel Whiteread and Richard Long, book in for a massage or meditation session in the Orchard wellness space and dine al fresco on Houghton Lake in the floating Turntable & Napkin Restaurant. New for this year, the food is being handled by acclaimed caterers Wolf & Lamb, so expectations are sky-high.
We Out Here Festival
10 - 14 August
Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire
Despite only launching in 2019, We Out Here has already garnered a loyal crowd of followers who are eagerly anticipating its 2023 iteration. Acclaimed DJ and broadcaster Gilles Peterson, alongside his Brownswood Recordings crew and Worldwide FM, has curated an impressive line-up that celebrates UK club culture and young jazz scene.
Pioneers and rising stars from the jazz, house, Afrobeat, disco, soul and drum’n’bass scene take over the serene countryside setting, with attendees also able to explore one of the best record collections in the world in between live sets. This year sees the likes of Ezra Collective, Knucks, Nia Archives and more coming to bring their forward-thinking sounds to Dorset’s lush wooded parkland.
End of the Road Festival
31 August - 3 September
A true outlier in the festival scene, End of the Road is a magical escape — think a more rambunctious Green Man Festival. Tucked away in an overgrown Dorset estate where peacocks roam and ancient trees are adorned with art installations, this idiosyncratic festival is perfect for those who really want to get away from it all.
Expertly curated, with every detail thought through to keep the sense of magic alive, the music line-up is suitably atmospheric and avant-garde. This year sees King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Future Islands, Wilco, Unkown Mortal Orchestra and Angel Olsen all descend on the wilderness, amongst other intriguing names. Be sure to seek out the Piano Stage if you do go — it’s a secret spot hidden away amongst the trees where surprise acts show up for intimate sets.
Green Man Festival
17 - 20 August
Brecon Beacons, Wales
Steadfastly artsy, creative and occasionally outrageous (despite its growing popularity), Green Man arguably benefits from the best setting for a music festival in the entire country. The organisers take full advantage of the striking setting in the wilds of the Brecon Beacons, providing wellness and artistic offerings that encourage attendees to really tap into the spiritual core of the event.
The Nature Nurture area provides a space to recoup from dancing with yoga, restorative massages, meditation and slightly more unusual tonics, while Fortune Falls invites attendees to stumble upon fantastical artworks and interactive installations. Music-wise, the line-up is a mood-matching mix of indie, folk and alternative rock, with First Aid Kit, Devo, Metronomy and Spiritualized amongst the names scheduled to appear.
20 - 23 July
Jodrell Bank Observatory, Cheshire
A great pick for families, this Cheshire music festival takes inspiration from its location in the grounds of an observatory and brings a touch of science to the experience. In addition to the big performances on the main stage, the kid-friendly event hosts numerous mind-boggling experiments, as well as talks and discussions. And at night, the site comes to life, with The Outer Space areas illuminated with a series of light sculptures.
None of this comes at the cost of the music, which is still very much the star of the affair. This year sees Róisín Murphy, Django Django, Pavement and Grace Jones headlining the main stage, with an extensive list of genre-crossing other acts also booked to appear.
Nozstock The Hidden Valley Festival
20 - 23 July
Founded at the turn of the millennium by a group of family and friends, The Hidden Valley has grown into a fun-loving festival with 11 stages of entertainment suitable for the whole family. The festival has made a deliberate effort to cater to everyone and be as inclusive as possible, with experiences and activities to suit kids, grandparents and ravers alike.
This year, Fat Freddy’s Drop is the main musical event, alongside reggae legends The Wailers, Shy FX Ft. Stamina FC, Grandmaster Flash on the musical line-up, while activities include a clay workshop, yoga, poetry workshop and DJ classes for little ones.
21 - 23 July
Henham Park, Suffolk
Since its founding over 15 years ago, Latitude has become a go-to for those looking for a more relaxed, inclusive and creative experience. Blending music, the literary world and excellent food and drink, Latitude is a brilliant escape, hosting an impressive line-up of talents in its lush woodland setting.
This year, the musical acts are particularly stellar, with headliners Pulp, Paolo Nutini, George Ezra and James joined by Metronomy, The Kooks, Mimi Webb and many more. On the non-music side, Ed Gamble, Sara Pascoe and Romesh Ranganathan are headlining the comedy stage, while Tim Burgess will be hosting one of his popular Listening Parties with James Acaster.
27 - 30 July
Lulworth Castle, Dorset
While the iconic Bestival may be no more, its little sister, Camp Bestival, is a worthy substitute. Organised by DJ Rob da Bank and his wife Josie (the originators of Bestival), this is a more family-centric version of the once wild festival, with a mix of live music performances, theatre shows, comedy, talks and activities for all ages.
Grace Jones, Craig David and The Kooks lead the music stage, with Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Melanie C and Sam Ryder also set to perform. There are also numerous DJ sets, while there’ll be talks from Munroe Bergdorf, Fearne Cotton and Chris Packham. Get the young ones on the dance floor with the silent family disco before taking them to the Bigtopmania kids circus to enjoy some serious parental brownie points.
Lost Village Festival
24 - 27 August
Witham St Hughs, Lincolnshire
Get truly lost in the wilderness in this wild and wonderful festival in Lincolnshire. Once you arrive, you’ll spend four days wandering down winding woodland paths, uncovering abandoned houses, mysterious scenes and incredible performances as you go.
This year’s star musical attraction is Avalon Emerson & The Charm, who are headlining the surreal festival alongside Bárbara Boeing and Barry Can’t Swim. If you want a break from exploring, The Energy Garden offers everything you could need to relax and unwind, with wood-fired hot tubs, Finnish saunas, massage and holistic sound therapies.
24 - 27 August
Combining spirituality with full blown partying, Shambala is a truly unique festival offering. Sustainability is also a key focus, with the organisers ensuring that the power is renewable and no single-use plastic is used on site (foodies should note that the festival has been meat and fish-free since 2016).
For entertainment, the festival blends live music with cabaret, circus performances, poetry readings, debates and talks, creating a diverse roster of activities and experiences to explore. The line-up and exact location is still under wraps, but if previous years are anything to go by, it’s sure to be equal parts eclectic and exhilarating.
Doune The Rabbit Hole
21 - 23 July
Cardross Estate, Stirling
Hosted in the grounds of this Scottish estate, Doune the Rabbit Hole is an intimate and seriously impressive boutique festival with four music stages. In between visits to yoga classes, jam sessions, talks and a range of workshops, the weekend festival offers an impressive line-up of musical acts, which is already boasting an enviable roster of talent.
Spiritualized, Thurston Moore Group and Black Grape are just a few of the names headlining the festival’s main stage, Jabberwocky, while Baino — which used to be the main stage — has gone al fresco to offer more space to dance. The Warren Dance Arena is spread between woodland and open fields, while the Whistleblower tent offers a more intimate dance party space.
The Big Feastival
25 - 27 August
Alex James’ Farm, The Cotswolds
Blur bassist Alex Jones has used his Cotswolds farm as the site for a decadent food and music festival since 2012, and it’s been a mainstay on the festival calendar ever since. Taking place over the August bank holiday weekend, the festival brings together the UK’s biggest artists, Michelin-star chefs, award-winning street food and an exciting array of family activities, ensuring there really is something for everyone.
This year, the musical acts include the likes of Sigrid, Tom Grennan, Blossoms and Rick Astley, bringing a mix of nostalgia and dance-floor tunes. The chef line-up is equally tempting, with Asma Khan, Nathan Outlaw and Anna Haugh all set to appear.
27 - 30 July
Charlton Park, Wiltshire
Forty years in, Womad festival knows how to put on a party. The creative arts and world music festival has long stood out from the crowd for its championing of all styles of music from across the globe and original sounds. A true delight for those who like to explore through music, this dynamic festival brings every genre to the stage, with Femi Kuti and the Positive Force, Bombay Bicycle Club, Kate Rusby, Mariza, Horace Andy with Dub Asante Band and Comet is Coming all headlining this year.
On top of the music, the festival extends international education through over 80 free workshops, culinary experiences, poetry readings and more. And, when it comes time to decompress, there are yoga sessions, Tai-Chi and an on-site spa offering massage, saunas, hot tubs and treatments.