The festival game is hotting up year after year, with even the newest names on the circuit now able to snap up artists only available to the biggies in the past. The likes of Glastonbury and Reading/Leeds are arguably the go-to festivals here in the UK, but with each year we see countless new festivals introduced into the summer's lineup. Some events skimp on trimmings to focus more on the music itself, some are all about the presentation and execution, while others collide the two to create an all-out celebration of the arts. With the festival calendar growing and growing, competing against each other for your presence, I've helped delineate the ones that you should be going to in 2016.
When: 11-18 August
Price: £170 (incl. camping)
Headliners: Madness, Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley, Leftfield
Boomtown is renowned for its extravagant appreciation of all art forms- this isn't just a few stages in a field, and Boomtown isn't just a cool name. Split up into nine different 'districts', each more elaborate than the last, Boomtown's fields and stages each carry a theme, aura, vibe and execution, from 'the mosaic of senses' found at ChinaTown, to the Mad Max-recalling Scrapyard. With each district or stage featuring a intricately curated lineup to fit the vibe of the area, each part of the festival is a completely new experience in itself.
Where: Pula, Croatia
When: 1-5 September
Price: £130 (excl. camping)
Headliners: Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley, Andy C, Stormzy, Joey Bada$$, Noisia
Outlook Festival, found on the sunny shores of Pula, Croatia, is a celebration of sound system culture - drum and bass, hip-hop, grime, house, electronica, reggae, and dub-step. Year after year, Outlook continues to cater to its niche audience with consistently impressive lineups. This year's shindig is home to performances from the likes of Andy C, David Rodigan, Kano, High Contrast and Joey Bada$$. Lineup aside, Outlook is a aesthetically-eloquent event, with the location set at an old Roman Fort, the festival is built around the natural beauty of it's surroundings- incorporating sun-kissed elements such as beaches, boat parties and an opening concert at an ancient amphitheatre.
Where: Isle of Wight
When: 8-11 September
Price: £200 (incl. camping)
Headliners: Hot Chip, The Cure, Major Lazer, TBA
I went to Bestival for the first time last year, and after my experience in 2015, it was one of the first places I'd booked into my calendar for 2016, even before the first lineup announcement. With an easy-going aura, and organic laid-back vibe, not to mention the diverse range of music on offer, Bestival has quickly cemented itself as an essential event within the UK festival circuit. Under the theme of 'the future', on offer at this year's four-day event are headliners The Cure, Major Lazer and Hot Chip, as well as legendary house DJ- Carl Cox, reggae pioneer Damian Marley, grime poster boy Skepta, and all-energy rockers Wolf Alice.
Where: Victoria Park, London
When: 15-16 July
Price: £93.50 (no camping)
Headliners: LCD Soundsystem, Major Lazer
While my preference for festivals is to have camping across the weekend, two-day non-camping events are also a very attractive alternative. For all the Londoner's out there, or for those who can't cope with sleeping in a tent, Lovebox should be high on your list for this summer. Taking place at Victoria Park on the 15th and 16th of July, Lovebox boasts one of the most complete and diverse lineups of 2016. For under £100 a ticket, a weekend with appearances from LCD Soundsystem, Run The Jewels, Major Lazer, Jack Garratt and Chronixx can be yours.
Secret Garden Party
Where: Huntingdon (near Cambridge)
When: 21-24 July
Price: £180 (incl. camping)
Headliners: Primal Scream, Air, Caribou
Secret Garden Party has a similar reputation to Boomtown, with the appearance, execution and aesthetic of the event high on their list of priorities. A simple browse of Secret Garden Party's cryptically laid-out website gives you an indicator of what to expect [or what not to expect] at SGP 2016, with this year's theme taking the form of a futuristic-yet-secretive mission to 'have a bloody good time' under the theme of 'merriment'. On offer musically at this year's event are headliners Primal Scream, Air and Caribou, as well as Maribou State, The Temper Trap, Hot Since '82 and Rae Morris.
Where: Castellon, Spain
When: 14-17 July
Price: £117 (incl. camping)
Headliners: Major Lazer, Muse, The Chemical Brothers, Kendrick Lamar
Hands down the best lineup of this year, maybe even one of the best I've ever seen. Muse, Kendrick Lamar, The Chemical Brothers, Disclosure, Massive Attack, Major Lazer, Bloc Party, the list is endless. Benicassim has one of the most diverse and exciting lineups across Europe, it explores every genre and provides some huge names in each. Besides the lineup, being in Spain mid-summer- the chance of rain is pretty much non-existent, and for us Brits, this is already enough reason to part with our cash.
Electric Daisy Carnival
Where: Milton Keynes
When: 9 July
Price: £60 (no camping)
Headliners: Avicii, Axwell ^ Ingrosso
Electric Daisy Carnival is slightly different to the others appearing on this list, and you can't quite apply the term 'festival' to it. However, it's still an event that deserves a place on this list. Formed under a collaboration between EDM juggernauts Insomniac, and renowned festival figureheads Festival Republic (Reading/Leeds, Latitude, Download) EDC comes to the UK with a huge lineup to accompany it. With a lineup boasting Andy C, Eric Prydz, Axwell Ingrosso, Noisia, Pendulum and Martin Garrix, as well as the recently retiring Avicii, every spectrum of electronic music is covered.
X Music Festival
When: 3-4 June
Price: £59 (no camping)
Headliners: Craig David, Annie Mac
X Music Festival is another event to focus less on camping, and more on the music. X Music Festival is all about electronic music, and runs as a city festival rivalling the likes of Love Saves The Day in Bristol, Wireless in London, as well as the aforementioned Lovebox and EDC. X Music Festival is a seriously impressive assortment of electronic sounds, from the always reliable Craig David, Andy C and Annie Mac, to some of the industry's freshest sounds such as vibey hip-hop-inspired house from Snakehips, or the glistening experimental genre-crossing material from Flume.
When: 1-2 July
Price: £106 (incl. camping)
Headliners: Dizzee Rascal, Everything Everything
Another low-key weekend event based in rural Hampshire, Blissfields has been quietly operating since as early as 2001. Renowned for its easy-going and welcoming aura, the two-day festival particularly pertains to families, with attractions and facilities laboured over for all walks of life. On offer at this year's event are headliners Dizzee Rascal and Everything Everything, as well as Shy FX, Norman Jay, Dub Pistols and Swim Deep. A ticket can be yours for as little as £105 including camping.
Nozstock: The Hidden Valley
When: 22-24 July
Price: £115 (adult) £85 (teen) (incl. camping)
Headliners: Jurassic 5, Imelda May
Nozstock: The Hidden Valley is a quaint little get-together located in Herefordshire, West Midlands. Renowned for its intimate and tightly-knit community of regulars, Nozstock is a family-run festival whose friends and acquaintances became part of the patchwork of the event. As such, what still stands as a lowkey-yet-essential UK festival, is a homely and family welcoming event capable of snagging some big names to match. At Nozstock this year are legendary rap group Jurassic 5, the soulful Imelda May, punchy ravers Foreign Beggars, ska outfit Gentleman's Dub Club, and newly-crowned MBE- Goldie.