The 18 Best Boutique UK Music Festivals to Book Now
The UK is home to a number of unique boutique music festivals that pop up across the country to bring exciting talent, familiar and new, to spectacular settings. Here, we round-up the top contenders for your summer festival 2022 bucket list.
4 - 7 August
Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire
The four-day festival 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, wellness offerings including massages, yoga and a lakeside spa, and outdoor activities such as horse-riding and boating.
The music takes centre stage here, with Underworld, Jungle, Years & Years, and Roisin Murphy 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.
10 - 14 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 head, and is especially well-regarded for its reliably great line-up of musical acts spanning indie, rock, hip hop and dance.
This year, George Ezra, Disclosure and Kings of Leon are headlining, joined by an equally brilliant line-up that includes Bastille, Damian Marley, Bombay Bicycle Club and our former cover star, Joy Crooks. In between sets, outdoorsy types can take full advantage of offerings including surfing, kayaking and more, while the more relaxed can lounge on the sand with a Cornish pasty.
11 - 14 August
Houghton Hall, Kings Lynn, Norfolk
The return of the Houghton festival has been long anticipated — after having to cancel in 2019 due to bad weather, and for the following two years due to a certain pandemic, the Norfolk festival is back with a bang.
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.
We Out Here Festival
25 - 28 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 2022 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 The Comet Is Coming, Eddie Chacon, 15 years of Hessle Audio and more coming to bring their forward-thinking sounds to the Cambridgeshire pastoral landscape.
End of the Road Festival
1 - 4 September
A true outlier in the festival scene, this festival is a magical escape — think a more rambunctious Green Man Festival. Tucked 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 escape.
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 Pixies, Fleet Foxes, Bright Eyes, The Magnetic Fields and Khruangbin all descending 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
18 - 21 August
Brecon Beacons, Wales
Steadfastly artsy, creative and occasionally outrageous despite its growing popularity, Green Man Festival arguably benefits from the best setting for a music festival in the 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 spirituality and artistic core of the event. The Nature Nurture area provides a space to recoup from the dancing with yoga, restorative massages, meditation and slightly more unusual tonics, while Fortune Falls invites attendees to stumble upon fantastical artworks and wild, interactive installations.
Music-wise, the line-up is a mood-matching mix of indie, folk and alternative rock, with Michael Kiwanuka, Beach House, Metronomy and Valerie June amongst the names scheduled to appear.
Jupiter Rising Festival
26 - 28 August
Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh
Housed in the iconic setting of Jupiter Artland, the world-renowned sculpture park just outside Edinburgh, Scotland’s newest small art and music festival returns this year for a weekend celebrating art, music and nature.
This year’s line-up is guest curated by Young Fathers’ Alloysious Massaquoi and Hen Hoose’s Tamara Schlesinger, who have brought together an intriguing group that includes both local and international talents including Emma Pollock, MALKA, Poster Paints and Djana Gabrielle. Overnight stays can be arranged if you fancy sleeping under the stars and camping in the surrounding wildflower meadowland, where tents are kitted out with four camp mattresses, a waterproof carpeted floor, and electric lighting.
21 - 24 July
Jodrell Bank Observatory, Cheshire
A great pick for families, this Cheshire music festival takes inspiration from its location in the grounds of 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. There’s even a dedicated Space Camp for the kids to get involved with the experiments. 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 a star of the affair. This year sees Groove Armada, Mogwai, Metronomy, Tim Peake — and very excitingly — Björk with the Hallé Orchestra headlining the main stage, with an extensive list of genre-crossing other acts also booked to appear.
Nozstock The Hidden Valley Festival
21 - 24 July
Founded at the turn of the millennium by a group of family and friends, The Hidden Valley has grown into a bubbly and fun-loving festival with 11 stages of entertainment 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, Sister Sledge is the main musical event, alongside comedian and musician Bill Bailey. Huey Morgan, Flava D and many more also join the musical line-up, while activities include a clay workshop, yoga, poetry workshop and DJ classes for little ones.
17 - 19 June
Claydon Estate, Buckinghamshire
Billing itself as the UK’s first craft beer festival, this Buckinghamshire festival debuted last year with top beer makers such as Deya, The Kernel Brewery and Northern Monk appearing alongside an enviable music line-up. For its second iteration, the team is pulling out all the stops, with an impressive roster of musicians and a bevy of acclaimed breweries.
Headlining this year’s festival are a genre mix of Happy Mondays, Caribou and Khruangbin, who are joined by the likes of DJ Harvey, Snapped Ankles, Maya Jane Coles and more. Alongside pints of craft beer, the festival has also recruited top culinary names to provide the feast, with Acme Fire Cult, 10 Greek Street, Bone Daddies and more all cooking up a storm.
21 - 24 July
Henham Park, Suffolk
Since its founding 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 Phoebe Bridgers, Lewis Capaldi, Foals and Snow Patrol joined by Little Simz, Maggie Rogers, Manic Street Preachers and many more. On the non-music side, Russell Howard is headlining the comedy stage, while Women’s Prize for Fiction and Public Sector Poetry are amongst the names bringing a dose of literary culture to the proceedings.
28 - 31 July
Lulworth Castle, Dorset
While the iconic Bestival festival 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.
Rudimental, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man and Sister Sledge lead the music stage, with Razorlight, Example and Kool & The Gang also set to perform. There are also numerous DJ sets, while Ed Bryne will bring his dry wit to the comedy stage. Get the young ones on the dance floor with the silent family disco before taking them to the farmyard circus to enjoy some serious parental brownie points.
Lost Village Festival
25 - 28 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 Jamie XX, who is headlining the surreal festival alongside Bonobo and Tom Misch. If you need a break from exploring, The Energy Garden offers everything you could need to relax and unwind, with hot tubs, Finnish sauna, massage and yoga sessions all available.
25 - 28 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
14 - 17 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.
Patti Smith and The Band, Belle & Sebastian and Amy Macdonald 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
26 - 28 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 on its tenth anniversary, you can expect plenty of treats. 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 Anne-Marie, Stereophonics, Sugarbabes and Basement Jaxx, bringing a mix of nostalgia and dance-floor tunes. The chef line-up is equally tempting, with Thomasina Miers, Robin Gill and James Cochran all set to appear.
28 - 31 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 festival 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 The Flaming Lips, Angelique, Kidjo ‘Remain In Light,’ Kae Tempest and Fatoumata Diawara 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.