The ‘Must See’ Rock Festivals in the U.K.

Music Concert

It’s not a secret that several of the biggest and music festivals happen each year in the United Kingdom. You’ll find that the summers are hot with music throughout Britannia, especially if you are into rock, indie, alternative or metal. With a storied record that stretches back to the “open air” time of band concerts like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the Who, the U.K. has been at the festival game longer than anyone and the country knows how to get it right.

Reading and Leeds

You can’t talk concert festivals without discussing the most famous pair of conjoined festivals in history: Reading and Leeds. Held each year on the last week of August and in celebration of the three-day banking holiday, the festivals themselves are legendary. These festivals have played host to some of the biggest names in music over the years. Reading and Leeds share the same bill – that is, they are a concerted effort, with multiple stages at each venue. The first day of the event, Friday, is usually a showcase of up-and-coming acts. The final two nights of the concert play host to superstar of rock, alternative and indie acts. Headliners have included Foo Fighters, The Who, Muse, Guns N’ Roses, Radiohead, Metallica, Page and Plant and of course, Nirvana, who gave an incendiary performance of legendary proportions in 1992. Legendary performances are what Reading and Leeds are all about and the festival is a must to attend.

T in the Park

Held each year in Scotland, T in the Park is another massive music festival native to the U.K. Typically held in July, the event plays host to some of the biggest names in popular music. The festival grounds allow camping and campers usually arrive the day before the actual concert is slated to start. Held in Balado, Kinross-shire, the festival is named for its main sponsor, lager-maker Tennents. Prior performers have included Oasis, R.E.M., The Darkness, Foo Fighters and Green Day, and each year draws the biggest names in contemporary rock music.


Another great annual U.K. concert is the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts. Held in the area of Pilton, Somerset, the Glastonbury Festival (as it is often called) is quite large, spanning as many as four days each year. The organizers donate considerable proceeds to charitable causes each year. Hosted at Worthy Farm, a real working dairy in south west England, the Glastonbury festival has played included performances from many great acts in its four decades of operation. Among the past headliners are Oasis, Muse, Blur, Peter Gabriel, U2, and Sir Paul McCartney.

Download Festival

Rounding out our look at the U.K. concert circuit is the Download Festival. Operated by concert-promoting company Live Nation, the festival takes place over three days and focuses on the harder side of rock music. Held the first week of June each year in Donington Park, England, the festival is a relative newcomer to the summer festival scene, having started in 2003. The line-up is decidedly centred on aggression, with the first year being headlined by Iron Maiden and Marilyn Manson. Other acts appearing at Glastonbury include: Audioslave, NOFX, Linkin Park, Metallica, Tool, Gins N’ Roses, and Korn. Each year, thousands of fans gather to check out the festival. If hard rock and metal is your thing, Download is a festival not to be missed.

Sharon Freeman is an Australian freelance writer and blogger.  Since 2007 she has been writing about weddings, fashion, and music and articles for

2 Responses to “The ‘Must See’ Rock Festivals in the U.K.”
  1. itsallgrooovy says:

    Reading and Leeds is a must attend if you’re 16 years old! There are much much better UK festivals out there! Check out Kendal Calling, WOMAD, Rockness, Isle of Wight…..Glastonbury is now every two years as it got too big to hold every year.

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