Student festival guide 2018
Music festivals are the ultimate summer experience, but they're not known for being student budget-friendly. We review this year's hottest festivals, with one eye on cost…
With so many festivals taking place across the UK and Europe, it's getting trickier every year to decide which ones to go to – and more importantly, which ones you can actually afford.
No music festival is going to be cheap, but if the line-up features lots of your favourite artists, they can be cheaper than going to lots of individual gigs.
Plus, some festivals offer once in a lifetime experiences that are worth the money. Remember, the artists themselves are only part of the full package; the atmosphere, food, surroundings and other activities are all things to take into account.
Note that the prices indicated for these festivals are just for tickets and/or camping, so they don't include travel to and from each festival. However, we have included booking fees so you don't get any nasty surprises when you get to the checkout.
Top 20 UK festivals 2018
Parklife – Heaton Park, Manchester
Date: 9th – 10th June
Headliners: The XX, Liam Gallagher, Skepta, N.E.R.D
Cost: £131.45 (weekend pass), £71.50 (day pass)
The weekend features a top drawer line-up with acts like Lorde, Bonobo, Jamie XX and Chvrches along with the big headliners.
Get buying those tickets ASAP – early birds are already sold out!
You can also pay an additional £40 for a VIP upgrade (which includes access to ‘The VIP Colonnade', an exclusive backstage garden!).
Latitude – Henham Park, Southwold
Date: 12th – 15th July
Headliners: The Killers, Solange, alt-J
Cost: £213.30 (weekend pass), £84.50 (day pass)
This year the line-up boasts some huge headliners, as well as The Vaccines, Wolf Alice and Jessie Ware.
It's a great all-rounder festival, where you can get back to nature by camping and lake swimming before dancing to DJs until the early hours. Plus, there's theatre and comedy if you fancy a break from the beats.
Oh, and there's also pink sheep.
Wireless – Finsbury Park, London
Date: 6th – 8th July
Headliners: J. Cole, Stormzy, DJ Khaled and friends
Cost: SOLD OUT
But it's still one of most popular festivals in the UK, evident in the fact that tickets have already sold out!
This year, Wireless will be hosting the sounds of grime, hip-hop, rap and R&B in North London's Finsbury Park.
This isn't a camping festival, so you'll have to factor in the price of London accommodation for this one.
Lovebox – Gunnersbury Park, London
Date: 13th – 14th July
Headliners: Childish Gambino, Skepta, N.E.R.D
Cost: £126.25 (weekend pass), £66.25 (Friday pass), £83.25 (Saturday pass)
Originally the vision of electronic duo Groove Armada, Lovebox boasts a brilliant line-up every year, this time featuring Diplo, Annie Mac and Mura Masa along with the above headliners.
It looks like it's set to be a big one, so make sure to grab those tickets quick!
Download – Donington Park, Derby
Date: 8th – 10th June
Headliners: Avenged Sevenfold, Guns N' Roses, Ozzy Osbourne
Cost: £189 (weekend day ticket), £216 – £226.80 (weekend camping), £88.45 – £102.60 (day pass)
For the last 13 years, Download has been bringing the biggest and loudest names in rock to Leicestershire, and 2018 is definitely no exception.
With Bullet For My Valentine, Marilyn Manson and Parkway Drive all appearing this year, it's set to be a big one and guaranteed to leave a ringing in your ears for a good while afterwards.
This year will also see the return of the WWE NXT wrestling tent featuring Aleister Black, Adam Cole, Velveteen Dream, Ricochet and many more.
Reading and Leeds – Richfield Avenue & Bramham Park
Date: 24th – 26th August
Headliners: Fall Out Boy, Kendrick Lamar, Kings of Leon
Cost: £221.40 (weekend camping pass), £76.50 (day pass)
Taking place each year on the August bank holiday weekend, the festivals run the same line-up alternating between Richfield Avenue in Reading and Bramham Park in Leeds.
Reading and Leeds started out a lot more rock, metal and punk-focused, but over the years they've become a bit more open to mainstream hip hop and dance music (causing a bit of controversy among loyal fans).
This year's eclectic line-up features everything from Dua Lipa, Panic! At The Disco, Post Malone, Courteeners, Skepta and much more.
Bestival – Lulworth Estate, Dorset
Date: 2nd – 5th August
Headliners: London Grammar, Silk City (Diplo & Mark Ronson), M.I.A
Cost: £162 (student weekend pass)
Although the festival used to take place on the Isle of Wight, it has now been relocated to the Lulworth Estate in Dorset (also home to Bestival's little sister, Camp Bestival).
This year the stonking line-up features Grace Jones, Plan B, Chaka Khan and so much more.
Bestival also offer a weekly payment plan, where you can sign up to pay for your tickets at around £16/week instead of the full wack in one go.
Creamfields – Daresbury Estate, Cheshire
Date: 23rd – 26th August
Headliners: Carl Cox, Eric Prydz, Martin Garrix, Tiësto, Diplo
Cost: £93.50 – £192.50 (non-camping passes), £203.50 – £250 (camping passes ranging from two to four days)
The line-up is absolutely huge, and basically reads as an A to Z of the industry.
Tickets are on the upper end of the price scale, but they do offer payment plans to help you spread out the cost.
Plus, like most major festivals these days, they offer boutique camping in the form of Dreamfields.
Victorious – Southsea Seafront, Portsmouth
Date: 24th – 26th August
Headliners: The Libertines, Kaiser Chiefs, Paul Weller, Paloma Faith, The Prodigy, Years & Years
Cost: £33 – £49.50 (day passes)
Since there's so many big acts, it's also a pretty cost effective option too, although you'll need to pay extra for offsite camping.
Their Castle Stage is situated in front of the stunning Southsea Castle, making this one of the most picturesque festivals around.
Isle of Wight Festival – Newport
Date: 21st – 24th June
Headliners: Kasabian, Depeche Mode, Liam Gallagher, The Killers
Cost: £186.90 (student weekend pass), £69.80 – £80-50 (day passes)
Situated just off the South coast (not far from Portsmouth and Bournemouth), the Isle of Wight might be a slightly trickier destination to get to, but it's well worth the trip for such an amazing line-up.
As well as the main headliners, you can also look forward to Travis, The Wombats, Sigrid and Rak-Su.
We Are FSTVL – Upminster, London
Date: 25th – 27th May
Headliners: Andy C, Carl Cox, DJ Ez, Eric Prydz, Jamie Jones, Gorgon City
Cost: £169.68 (weekend pass), £78.88 (day pass)
It takes places on the Airfield of Dreams (a.k.a. Damyn's Hall Aerodrome) in London, and unlike a lot of festivals in the capital, you can get the full camping experience.
TRNSMT Festival – Glasgow Green, Glasgow
Date: 29th June – 1st July, 6th July, 8th July
Headliners: Liam Gallagher, Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, Queen & Adam Lambert, Stereophonics
Cost: £260 (five day pass), £164.95 (three day pass), £65.45 – £70.95 (day passes)
It's spread out over quite a few days, right slap in the centre of Glasgow, designed for you to spend time exploring the city as well as enjoying the festival.
Just make sure to check that all the artists you want to see are playing on the same weekend.
Field Day – Brockwell Park, London
Date: 1st – 2nd June
Headliners: Erykah Badu, Four Tet, AJ Tracey, Loyle Carner
Cost: £97.90 (weekend pass), £48.95 – £54.45 (day pass)
You'll be able to catch your usual insanely eclectic mix of acts, now in a brand new location, as the festival moves away from Victoria Park for the first time in 11 years.
Blisscamp – Vicarage Farm, Winchester
Date: 5th – 8th July
Headliners: Gold Panda, Baxter Dury, Mr Jukes
Cost: £105 (weekend pass), £20 – £65 (day pass)
Blissfields have been bringing festival vibes to the Hampshire countryside since 2001, but this year they're stripping things back to bring you Blisscamp – an intimate micro-festival with a capacity of just 2,000.
The event is being sold as a ‘Best of Blissfields', bringing all the best bits of the original festival together across four stages in the chilled out scenery of Vicarage Farm.
This year's line-up includes a range of artists, along with a whole bunch of fun extras including bonfires, a real beach and an aerial circus.
You can take your own tent or splash out on the 'boutique camping' option for a more sophisticated festival experience.
Boomtown – Matterley Estate, Winchester
Date: 9th – 12th August
Headliners: Gorrilaz, Die Antwood, Limp Bizkit, Enter Shikari
Cost: £490 (festival entry and Boomtown Springs camping)
The festival is basically a whole city in itself, with locations including the Town Centre, Old Town, Paradise Heights and Copper Country. If you're looking for a festival that's going to make your Instagram pop, this is the one to go for.
Unfortunately standard entry tickets (£243.50 each) have sold out, but if you're desperate to go you could splash out and camp in the exclusive Boomtown Springs theatrical suburb – but it's going to set you back nearly half a grand.
Although Boomtown is about so much more than the music, they do have an impressive line-up set to perform this year.
Green Man – Brecon Beacons, Wales
Date: 16th – 19th August
Headliners: The War on Drugs, Fleet Foxes, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, John Grant
Cost: £189 (weekend pass)
This folk festival takes place against a backdrop of stunning Welsh mountains, with less beats and more acoustic guitars
Unfortunately student tickets have now sold out, but you can use a payment plan to help spread out the cost of a full price one.
Boardmasters – Newquay, Cornwall
Date: 8th – 12th August
Headliners: Catfish and the Bottlemen, The Chemical Brothers, George Ezra
Cost: £169-179 (weekend camping), £59 – 69 (day ticket)
With surfing competitions, surf art and intimate gigs on the beach, it's an outdoor-lovers dream.
Snap your tickets up now, and cross your fingers for some sunshine!
NASS Festival – Royal Bath & West Showground, Bristol
Date: 5th – 8th July
Headliners: Dizzee Rascal, Run DMC, Andy C, Sigma
Cost: £115-135 (weekend ticket), £39 (day pass)
Whether you want to take part in the action or just watch from the sidelines, NASS is a great weekend for drum ‘n' bass, hip hop, grime and dance music lovers too.
This year NASS is hosting the sounds of some pretty big names – as well as appearances from some of the best pro BMXers and skateboarders.
Shambala – Secret Location, Northampton
Date: 23rd – 26th August
Headliners: Smiley & the Underclass, Night, Smerins Anti-Social Club
Cost: SOLD OUT
This laid back, intimate festival is all about creativity and participation – from yoga to flash mobs, theatre troupes and cabaret, this festival is more than just music.
They're also one of the most eco-friendly festivals around. They've already got rid of single-use plastics like cups and straws, and this year they're banning glitter too (unless it's environmentally friendly).
Music ranges from funk, soul, disco and reggae to drum and bass, so there's guaranteed to be something to suit your taste somewhere.
Beautiful Days – Escot Park, Devon
Date: 17th – 19th August
Headliners: Manic Street Preachers, Gogol Bordello, Shed Seven, Feeder
Cost: £142.50 (full weekend camping only)
Although more acts are still to be announced, this year has already got some great headliners and of course – the Levellers themselves!
Best European music festivals
Here's our top picks for 2018!
Sziget – Óbuda Island, Budapest
Date: 8th – 15th August
Headliners: Arctic Monkeys, Dua Lipa, Gorillaz, Kendrick Lamar, Kygo, Lana Del Rey
Cost: €317 (seven day pass), €202 (three day pass) €77 (one day pass)
It's bursting with world class headliners, and along with the ones above you'll also get to see Mumford and Sons, Shawn Mendes, Liam Gallagher, Bastille and Stormzy to name just a few.
Compared to other festivals, the tickets are fairly inexpensive and Budapest itself is a super cheap location to stay in.
Hideout – Zrće Beach, Croatia
Date: 25th – 29th June (note this festival runs Monday – Friday)
Headliners: Chase & Status, Andy C, Bugzy Malone and AJ Tracey
With drink and accommodation prices really low in Croatia, this is a student favourite.
This year you'll be able to catch the big headliners on the beachfront, as well as a stellar line-up on a range of boat parties – what better way to enjoy a festival?
Benicassim – Spain
Date: 19th – 22nd July
Headliners: The Killers, Liam Gallagher, Travis Scott and Petshop Boys
Cost: €167.40 (four day camping ticket)
Although Barcelona is known for playing host to some of the best music festivals in Europe such as Sonar and Primavera, Benicassim is a really nice alternative for a more out-of-town festival experience.
Along with the big headliners, the likes of Justice, Two Door Cinema Club, Bastille and Eric Prydz will also be playing, and you're pretty much guaranteed blistering sunshine, which makes this one a sure-fire winner!
Benicassim is also much cheaper than some of the bigger, more well known festivals, if you're looking to save some cash.
Dekmantel – Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Date: 1st – 5th August
Headliners: Four Tet, Joy Orbison, Floating Points, James Holden & The Animal Spirits
Cost: SOLD OUT
Set in the stunning Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam forest), you're also just a short bus ride away from the centre of Amsterdam, where a whole load of additional night events will be taking place over the Dekmantel weekend.
Tickets for the actual festival are pretty much sold out now, but the event has been such a success that there are multiple fringe events happening that are ticketed separately (and cost around €18), so check for these too.
Primavera Sound – Parc Del Fòrum, Barcelona
Date: 30th May – 3rd June
Headliners: Arctic Monkeys, Lorde, Björk, The National, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Cost: €220 (full festival pass), €85 (day passes)
It's set in a sprawling waterfront complex, and there's a big emphasis on food – you'll be treated to pop-up restaurants, street food stalls and plenty of culinary delights.
It's on the more expensive side, but you will get to enjoy all the sights Barcelona has to offer while you're there.
Tomorrowland – Boom, Belgium
Date: 20th – 22nd and 27th – 29th July
Headliners: Afrojack, Alan Walker, Benny Benassi, Blasterjaxx, Chuckie, Duke Dumont, Galantis
Cost: SOLD OUT
The event is known to be of epic proportions, and it's slogan “Live Today, Love Tomorrow, Unite Forever” gives you an idea of how momentous the experience is.
Tickets are difficult to get a hold of – they sold out in an hour this year, but you can join the waiting list for any that come available.
Which festivals have you got on the calendar this year? If you reckon we've missed any out that are worth mentioning – let us know in the comments below!