Preview: Top 10 London Festivals 2016

Want to see lots of bands with just one ticket but don’t fancy camping?

Fear not, London is awash with festivals this summer. From a one-dayer hopping between venues around Shepherd’s Bush to must-see sets in Victoria Park, or sets interspersed with nature lectures, there’s really no need to dig out your tent.

Here’s our pick of the 10 best festivals coming to London this summer.


Guy Garvey curates this year's Meltdown

Guy Garvey curates this year’s Meltdown

10-19 June, Southbank Centre

What: Now in its 23rd year, Meltdown sees the Southbank Centre appoint a curator to bring their life to its stages. This year is the turn of Guy Garvey.

Why: Whoever’s at the helm, these 10 days are always fascinating. This year Garvey has assigned a day to addressing the refugee crisis, culminating in a star-studded concert featuring Robert Plant. The festival also sees Josh T Pearson’s Lift to Experience reunite for their first show in 15 years.

Who: Lift to Experience, Femi Kuti, I Am Kloot, The Staves, Laura Marling, This Is The Kit, Connan Mockasin, Robert Plant, Nick Mulvey.

Tickets: Various prices from


Field Day
11-12 June 2016, Victoria Park, London

What: Now in its 10th year, Field Day has grown into an east London summer institution. A two day, multi-stage event which grows in size every year, it can feel like a fashion shoot at times, as the cool kids descend en masse on Victoria Park to gorge on street food and craft ale.

Why: The quirky, village fête set-up gives Field Day a unique feel, but its line-up is the real clincher; programmers balance the fine-line between big-name crowd-pleasers and exciting up-and-coming acts, which makes wandering about between the stages a real adventure. This year they’ve excelled themselves, and the bill is up there with any of the bigger festivals.

Who: PJ Harvey, James Blake, Beach House, Sleaford Mods, John Grant, Wild Nothing, Youth Lagoon, Coves, Deerhunder, Goat, Fat White Family, Yeasayer, Four Tet, Gold Panda, Moon Duo, Mystery Jets, Parquet Courts, Steve Mason, Meilyr Jones, The Temper Trap, Thurston Moore.

Tickets: £54.50 per day or £94 for the weekend from


18 June 2016, various venues across Shepherd’s Bush

What: Now in its sixth year, this multi-venue festival, hosted by Communion, has already carved a reputation for spotting talent early on. Alumni include Daughter, Jack Garatt, George Ezra, Hozier and Lucy Rose.

Why: At a time when small music venues are closing down at a terrifying pace, this all-dayer is a brilliant reminder of what’s still out there if you look. From the gorgeous Bush Hall, to the lovely St Stephen’s Church and innovative outside space at K West, it’s a reminder that there’s more to Shepherd’s Bush than the Empire.

Who: Bear’s Den, Dan Croll, Palace, Hidden Charms, Albin Lee Meldau, Charlie Cunningham, Palace, Tempest, Vant, Harry Foxx, Marthagunn.

Tickets: £27.50 from

Carole King

Carole King will perform Tapestry at British Summer Time


British Summer Time
1-10 July, Hyde Park

What: A series of gigs in Hyde Park headlined by mega stars, with a supporting line-up so big, gates open from 1pm. This is the Wembley Stadium of London festivals.

Why: The headliners for BST are almost impossible to predict, and while Florence & The Machine and Take That would have been safe bets… Carole King? King will be performing her legendary 1971 album, Tapestry, in full, during what will be her first show in the UK for over 25 years. A genius piece of programming which further establishes BST as the big money live event of the summer.

Who: Carole King, Massive Attack (with Patti Smith, TV On The Radio, Warpaint, Ghostpoet), Florence & The Machine, Kendrick Lamar (with Jamie XX, Cat Power, Todd Terje and the Olsens, Blood Orange), Mumford And Sons (with Alabama Shakes, Wolf Alice, Mystery Jets, Nick Mulvey), Take That (with Olly Murs, Ella Eyre), Stevie Wonder.

Tickets: From £59.50 from

LCD Soundsystem headline this year's Lovebox

LCD Soundsystem headline this year’s Lovebox


15-16 July, Victoria Park

What: Continuing a busy festival season for the East End park, Lovebox returns for its 14th outing. One of the original city festivals, it attracts a mixed crowd and has a real party atmosphere.

Why: LCD Soundsystem! This will be LCD Soundsystem’s first UK show since announcing their reunion earlier this year, giving the festival a real boost, allowing it to assert its authority over the newer events which have nudged it from view slightly over the last few years. The rest of the line-up looks strong too. It’s refreshing to see a festival cling on to its personality so well for so long.

Who: LCD Soundsystem, Major Lazer, Chet Faker, Jack Garratt, Run The Jewels, Jungle, Mo, Miike Snow, David Rodigen, George Clinson Parliament Funkadelic, Jamie Woon, Stormzy.

Tickets: £49.50 per day from



They even take relaxing seriously at Citadel

17 July, Victoria Park

What: After its inaugural outing last year, Citadel returns with another packed day of music, theatre and arts. Its programme is split into sections including ‘dining and drinking,’ ‘workshops and classes,’ ‘sports and leisure,’ and ‘talks and debates.’ This is a festival that means business.

Why: There’s such a lot to fit into one day, it’ll be like a cultural trolley-dash, with none of those long, inbetweeny bits; as soon as a band’s over, you’ll need to sprint to catch Sunday Papers Live or the comedy tent hosted by Underbelly. Seriously – how are we going to fit it all in?

Who: Sigur Ros, Caribou, Lianne La Havas, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, Calexico, Matt Corby, Cat’s Eyes, Andrew Weatherall, Maribou State, Tinariwen, Susanne Sundfor, Matthew and The Atlas, Chaps Choir. 

Tickets: £49.50 from


Summer Series
7-17 July, Somerset House

What: A season of shows in the very genteel surroundings of Somerset House. The stage is in the courtyard, creating an intimate atmosphere which looks stunning as night falls.

Why: It’s just so pretty. It feels like the swankiest wedding reception you’ve ever been to, as you enter by the Thames, past the river-side bars and high class eateries. And then you see the guy wandering through the crowd selling bottles of cider. But even that’s lovely!

Who: Hiatus Kaiyote, Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, Benjamin Clementine, Laura Mvula, Everything Everything, James Morrison, Courtney Barnett, Caravan Palace, Jack Savoretti, St Germain, Unkle:Redux.

Tickets: £29.50 from

Somerset House is the picturesque setting for Summer Series

Somerset House is the picturesque setting for Summer Series

Super Furry Animals

Super Furry Animals headline at Caught By The River Thames


Caught By The River Thames
6-7 August 2016, Fulham Palace, London

What: “Part gig, part literary gathering, part nature symposium, part high-summer garden party,” reckons their website. This is a new two-dayer on the northern banks of the Thames, by Fulham Palace, which promises literary and nature-based discussions, poetry recitals and a beer festival, alongside an interesting musical line-up.

Why: Usually these sort of city-based cross-art type events pull in a musical line-up that struggles to raise a mildly interested eyebrow. But this one is commendably eclectic. As well as a thoughtful musical bill, aimed at a more mature festival-goer, look out for appearances from Chris Packham, Lauren Laverne, Kate Tempest in conversation with Miranda Sawyer, Will Self and an entire stage curated by the Canal and River Trust. Lovely.

Who: Low, Beth Orton, Super Furry Animals, Mulatu Astatke, Temples, Sun Ra Arkestra, Stealing Sheep, Gwenno, Darren Hayman.

Tickets: £55 from


6 August, Hackney

What: A one-dayer that takes in six Hackney venues: Oval Space, The Laundry, St John at Hackney Church, Space Gallery, Netil House Rooftop and London Fields Brewhouse. Now in its fourth year, it’s growing steadily, adding both to its bill and list of venues.

Why: It might be concentrated around the coolest part of the capital, but it’s not a self-congratulatory scene celebration. Some of the best moments at previous events have come courtesy of some distinctly uncool programming (hello, raucuous Andrew WK). As well as music, look out for exhibitions and installations from up-and-coming artists
and a food market.

Who: Young Fathers, Anna Calvi, Mykki Blanco, Lightning Bolt, Lindstrom, Gengahr, The Japanese House, Show Me The Body, Elf Kid.

Tickets: £30 from


10-11 September 2016, Blackheath, London

What: OnBlackheath is a bit of a confused beast. Part middle class cookery festival, part fabulously weirdly curated music event, in the heart of beautiful Blackheath.

Why: There aren’t many places you can watch an intense cookery demo a few minutes before throwing some shapes in a Heavenly-curated music tent. If you’re a foodie, there’s loads to enjoy here, with classes, three-course meals and an impressive array of street food. It’s also one of the most family-friendly festivals around; not only are there lots of activities aimed at little ones, it’s also small and chilled out.

Who: Belle and Sebastian, Primal Scream, James, Hot Chip, Lonelady, Roisin Murphy, Squeeze, Soak, Saint Etienne, Edywn Collins, Neneh Cherry, Don Letts

Tickets:£62 per day or £106 for the weekend from


OnBlackheath returns in September

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Preview: Top 10 London Festivals 2016