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Student festival guide 2020

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...

festivals lovebox all points east reading leeds sziget

Credit: (left) Monkey Business Images – Shutterstock

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 and are subject to availability. However, we have included booking fees so you don't get any nasty surprises when you get to the checkout.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of these may be cancelled for 2020. We suggest you visit each festival's individual webpage to find out whether or not they will be going ahead.

Top 22 UK festivals 2020

Here are the best student festivals that will be at the top of our list this summer:

  1. Parklife – Heaton Park, Manchester

    parklife festival logo

    Dates: 13th – 14th June
    Headliners: Lewis Capaldi, Jorja Smith, Khalid, Skepta, Tyler the Creator
    Cost: £125 (weekend ticket), £69.50 (day ticket).

    Manchester's favourite music festival is, unsurprisingly, also a favourite with the city's massive student population.

    The weekend features a top drawer line-up with acts like Giggs, Hot Chip, Robyn and Charlie XCX alongside the big headliners.

    You can also pay an additional £44.50 for a weekend VIP upgrade (which includes access to 'The VIP Colonnade', an exclusive backstage garden!) or £27.50 if you're going for just one day.

    Buy tickets »

  2. Latitude – Henham Park, Southwold

    latitude festival logo

    Dates: 16th – 19th July
    Haim, Liam Gallagher, The Chemical Brothers

    Cost: £226.80 (weekend ticket with standard camping), £84.50 (day ticket).

    Latitude is one of the pricier festivals out there, but the line up justifies the dollar. The festival boasts artists like La Roux, Snow Patrol and Charli XCX alongside its main headliners.

    This year the line-up boasts some huge comedy headliners too: Bill Bailey and Simon Amstell!

    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.

    Oh, and there's also pink sheep.

    Buy tickets »

  3. Wireless – Finsbury Park, London

    wireless festival logo

    Dates: 3rd – 5th July
    Headliners: A$AP ROCKY, Skepta, Meek Mill
    Cost: £210 (three-day ticket), £150.50 (two-day ticket), £81.20 (one- day ticket)

    We're still in a bit of a grump with Wireless for cutting the Birmingham leg of the festival, making it a London-only affair.

    Wireless hosts the sounds of grime, hip-hop, rap and R&B in North London's Finsbury Park, with the likes of Young Thug, Burna Baby and A$AP Gerg making appearances too!

    Wireless isn't a camping festival, so you'll have to factor in the price of London accommodation for this one.

    Buy tickets »

  4. Lovebox – Gunnersbury Park, London

    lovebox festival logo

    Dates: 12th – 14th June
    Headliners: Tyler the Creator, Disclosure, Khalid, 
    Cost: £166.25 (three-day ticket), £146.25 (Saturday and Sunday ticket), £136.25 (Friday and Saturday ticket, Friday and Sunday ticket), £81.25 (day ticket).

    Following Citadel's demise, Lovebox has expanded and is now bringing musical mayhem for three days instead of two (Citadel festival, Lovebox's indie twin, used to be held on the same site on the Sunday).

    Lovebox boasts a brilliant line-up every year, this time featuring Jorja Smith, Chase & Status, and Fatboy Slim along with the above headliners. Again, this isn't a camping festival so you'll have to seek out a friend who's willing to let you crash on their sofa for a night or two.

    It's set to be a big one, so make sure to grab those tickets quick!

    Buy tickets »

  5. Download – Donington Park, Derby

    download festival logo

    Dates: 12th – 14th June
    Headliners: Kiss, Iron Maiden, System of a Down
    Cost: £250 (weekend ticket plus five nights standard camping), £243 (weekend ticket plus three nights standard camping), £216.00 (weekend ticket no camping).

    Download is the UK festival for rock, metal and punk lovers.

    For the last 15 years, Download has been bringing the biggest and loudest names in rock to Leicestershire, and 2020 is definitely no exception.

    With Korn, Funeral for a Friend and The Offspring 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 WALTER, Kay Lee Ray and many more, as well as the UK Air Guitar Championships. Rock on!

    Buy tickets »

  6. Reading and Leeds – Richfield Avenue and Bramham Park

    reading leeds festival logo

    Dates: 28th – 30th August
    Headliners: Stormzy, Rage Against the Machine, Liam Gallagher
    Cost: £232.20 (weekend camping pass), £81.50 (Friday day ticket and Saturday day ticket), £86.50 (Sunday day ticket).

    As two of the longest-running music festivals in the world, Reading and Leeds are somewhat of an institution in the UK.

    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 Two Door Cinema Club, Courteeners, Sam Fender and much more.

    Buy tickets »

  7. Camp Bestival – Lulworth Estate, Dorset

    camp bestival festival logo

    Dates: 30th July – 2nd August
    Headliners: Fatboy Slim, Groove Armada, Liam Payne
    Cost: £195 (student weekend ticket).

    Camp Bestival, the little sister of Bestival (RIP), is a confirmed unmissable date in the UK festival calendar, and its line-up never fails to get us excited.

    Although the festival used to take place on the Isle of Wight, it has now been relocated to the Lulworth Estate in Dorset.

    This year the stonking line-up features Sophie Ellis Bexter, Friendly FiresTina, Jo and Bradley of S Club 7 and so much more!

    Buy tickets »

  8. Creamfields – Daresbury Estate, Cheshire

    creamfields festival logo

    Dates: 27th – 30th August
    Headliners: Gorgon City, Basement Jaxx, Roger Sanchez, Purple Disco Machine
    Cost: £71.50 (Friday ticket), £93.50 (Saturday ticket), £99 (Sunday ticket), £165 (Friday and Saturday without camping), £192.50 (Saturday and Sunday without camping), £260 (Friday, Saturday and Sunday without camping), £214.50 (two-day camping pass), £240 (three-day camping pass), £260 (four-day camping pass).

    Creamfields is a raver's paradise, with some of the biggest DJs in the business making appearances every year. The line-up is absolutely huge, and basically reads like 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. The payment plans don't charge interest, but there is a fee to use this service which varies depending on how much your ticket is worth.

    Plus, like most major festivals these days, they offer boutique camping in the form of Dreamfields.

    Buy tickets »

  9. Victorious – Southsea Seafront, Portsmouth

    victorious festival logo

    Dates: 28th – 30th August
    Headliners: Ian Brown, The Streets, Royal Blood
    Cost: £33 (early bird price for Friday day ticket, £44 (early bird price for Saturday and Sunday day tickets), £111 (early bird price for a weekend pass without camping), £137.50 (weekend camping ticket).

    This one is for the indie fans out there, with a brilliant big-name line-up considering this is still a relatively little known festival.

    Since there are so many big acts, it's also a pretty cost-effective option too, although you'll need to pay extra for off-site camping.

    Best of all, the Castle Stage is situated in front of the stunning Southsea Castle, making this one of the most picturesque festivals around.

    Buy tickets »

  10. Isle of Wight Festival – Newport

    isle of wight festival logo

    Dates: 11th – 14th June
    Headliners: Lionel Richie, Lewis Capaldi, Snow Patrol, The Chemical Brothers, Duran Duran
    Cost: £181.50 (student weekend pass with or without camping), £75.20 (day ticket).

    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 Becky Hill, Sam Fender, Supergrass and Dido.

    Buy tickets »

  11. Mighty Hoopla – Brockwell Park

    mighty hoopla festival

    Date: 6th June
    Headliner: Cheryl Cole
    Cost: £55.

    The pop-tastic Mighty Hoopla is back again this year in Brockwell Park, celebrating all things glitz and glam!

    The main headliner will be accompanied by the likes of Natasha Bedingfield, Atomic Kitten, Becky Hill and many more.

    Buy tickets »

  12. We Are FSTVL – Upminster, London

    we are fstvl festival logo

    Dates: 23rd – 24th May
    Headliners: Carl Cox, Nina Kraviz, CamelPhat, Alan Fitzpatrick, Charlotte de Witte, Andy C, The Black Madonna, Jamie Jones, Sub Focus
    Cost: £144.50 (weekend pass), £72.42 (day ticket).

    One of the best EDM festivals around, We Are FSTVL always guarantees a stellar line-up, big beats and jewels – lots of jewels.

    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.

    Buy tickets »

  13. TRNSMT Festival – Glasgow Green, Glasgow

    trnsmt festival

    Dates: 10th – 12th July
    Headliners: Lewis Capaldi, Liam Gallagher, Courteeners
    Cost: £183 (weekend pass), £134.50 (two-day pass), £70.25 (Friday day ticket and Saturday day ticket).

    TRNSMT festival started life as a replacement to T in the Park, but has grown into a hugely popular festival in its own right.

    It's spread out over a weekend, right slap bang 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.

    Buy tickets »

  14. Field Day – Meridian Water, London

    field day festival logo

    Date: 11th July
    Headliners: Bicep, Tale of Us, Floorplan, Floating Points, Mall Grab, Ross from Friends, DJ Seinfeld, George FitzGerald
    Cost:  £60.50.

    Field Day is back this year, but for one day only. But don't fret, the line-up includes some of the best names on the techno scene.

    You'll be able to catch your usual insanely eclectic mix of acts, including Artwork, IMOGEN, Josey Rebelle and Prospa. Have a read of what we thought of it in 2019!

    Buy tickets »

  15. Boomtown – Matterley Estate, Winchester

    boomtown festival logo

    Dates: 12th – 16th August
    Headliners: Wu-Tang Clan, Underworld, Kano, Kelis, The Libertines, Mura Musa, Pendulum Trinity, Kool & The Gang, Orbital, Squarepusher, Damian Marley
    Cost: £261.50 – £271.50 (festival entry and Boomtown Springs camping).

    It's chapter 12 of this completely unique and bonkers festival, and it's titled New Beginnings.

    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.

    Although Boomtown is about so much more than the music, they do have an impressive line-up set to perform this year.

    Buy tickets »

  16. Green Man – Brecon Beacons, Wales

    greenman festival logo

    Dates: 20th – 23rd August
    Headliners: Caribou, Mac DeMarco, Michael Kiwanuka, Little Dragon
    Cost: £178.75 (student weekend pass including camping).

    If you fancy a more chilled and laid back vibe, then Green Man might be more up your street.

    This folk festival takes place against a backdrop of stunning Welsh mountains, with fewer beats and more acoustic guitars. There are 10 different areas with something for everyone to enjoy, be it literature, comedy, science and/or Welsh beer!

    Buy tickets »

  17. Boardmasters – Newquay, Cornwall

    boardmasters festival logo

    Dates: 5th – 9th August
    Headliners: Skepta, Kings of Leon, The 1975
    Cost: £197 (weekend camping pass), £192 (weekend without camping), £69 (Friday day ticket), £84 (Saturday day ticket), £79 (Sunday day ticket).

    If you're looking for some good old British beach fun (yes, this exists), then look no further than Boardmasters in Newquay.

    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!

    Buy tickets »

  18. NASS Festival – Shepton Mallet, Bristol

    nass festival logo

    Dates: 9th – 12th July
    Headliners: Chase & Status, The Streets, Lily Allen
    Cost: £164.50 (four-day camping ticket), £144.50 (three-day camping pass), £59.50 (day ticket).

    NASS in Bristol is one for all the adrenaline-junky skateboarders and BMXers out there.

    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.

    Buy tickets »

  19. Shambala – Secret Location, Northampton

    shambala festival logo

    Dates: 27th – 30th August
    Headliners: TBA
    Cost: £215.95 (tier three weekend ticket).

    If you're on the hunt for something a little bit different with your festival experience, then it's well worth checking out Shambala in Northampton.

    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.

    It's also one of the most eco-friendly festivals around. They've already got rid of single-use plastics like cups and straws, and 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.

    Buy tickets »

  20. Beautiful Days – Escot Park, Devon

    beautiful days festival logo

    Dates: 21st – 23rd August 
    Travis, Flogging Molly, Levellers

    Cost: £153.48 (full weekend camping only).

    Set up in 2003 by rock band the Levellers, Beautiful Days prides itself in being a completely independent festival: no sponsorship, no advertising and an extremely chilled-out vibe.

    Although more acts are still to be announced, this year has already got some great headliners and, of course, the Levellers themselves!

    Buy tickets »

  21. British Summer Time Hyde Park, London

    british summer time bst hyde park logo

    Dates: 2nd July – 11th July
    Headliners: Post Malone, Little Mix, Kendrick Lamar, Pearl Jam, Taylor Swift
    Cost: £78.95 (one-day ticket).

    The institution that is BST Hyde Park started back in 2013 and generally includes a line-up of international superstars and epic supporting acts (this year Little Mix are supported by Rita Ora, Zara Larsson and Kesha!).

    The festival is held across 10 days, including two weekends with six concert days in total (Friday to Sunday) and a four-day midweek programmed called Open House which features free outdoor movie nights, live music and street food.

    Buy tickets »

  22. All Points East, Victoria Park, London

    all points east festival logo

    Dates: 22nd – 31st May
    Headliners: Tame Impala, Massive Attack, Craftwerk 3D, The Kooks, The Wombats
    Cost: £73.30 (one-day ticket).

    A similar set-up to BST Hyde Park, All Points East is also a London-based festival spread over 10 days. The concert days are spread over Friday, Saturday and Sunday and there's an 'In the Neighbourhood' midweek programme offering up music, food, entertainment and more summer fun in Victoria Park for free!

    Announced supporting acts include Jake Bugg, Iggy Pop, Glass Animals and a whole lot more...

    Buy tickets »

Check TicketSwap if you're struggling to find tickets to your favourite festivals (and for last-minute bargains!).

Best European music festivals

music festival beach

Credit: Gary Brown - Wikimedia

If you're thinking about summer holidays in Europe, or even doing some budget-friendly interrailing during the summer break, why not factor in a music festival somewhere along the way?

Here are our top picks for 2020!

  1. Sziget – Óbuda Island, Budapest

    sziget festival logo

    Dates: 5th – 11th August
    Headliners: Calvin Harris, Dua Lipa, Kings of Leon, Major Lazer, The Strokes, A$AP Rocky, Khalid, Stormzy, Lewis Capaldi, Stormzy
    Cost: €299 (seven-day pass), €269 (five-day pass), €199 three-day pass), €69 (day tickets).

    Sziget has got a huge reputation for being one of the best music festivals in the world – and you can see why.

    It's bursting with world-class headliners, and along with the ones above you'll also get to see Foals, Diplo, Foster the People and Mark Ronson 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.

    Buy tickets »

  2. Hideout – Zrće Beach, Croatia

    hideout festival logo

    Dates: 21st – 25th June 
    Headliners: Andy C, Chase & Status, Hannah Wants, Hot Since 82, Mall Grab, Patrick Topping, Shy FX, Skream
    Cost: £163.90 – £185.90.

    The Croatian isles are quickly overtaking Ibiza as the number one beach clubbing destination, and Hideout is becoming the hottest event.

    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?

    Buy tickets »

  3. Festival Internacional de Benicàssim – Benicàssim, Spain

    benicassim festival logo

    Dates: 16th – 19th July
    Headliners: Khalid, Liam Gallagher, Armin Van Buuren, Martin Garrix, Vampire Weekend, Two Door Cinema Club
    Cost: €71.50 (four-day entry ticket not including camping), €27.50 (camping ticket).

    Benicassim takes place in a coastal town (called Benicassim, surprisingly enough) between Barcelona and Valencia.

    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 The Kooks, Rita Ora, The Libertines and Example 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. Just a heads up, though – the festival ticket does not include camping and has to be bought separately.

    Buy tickets »

  4. Dekmantel – Amsterdam, the Netherlands

    dekmantel festival logo

    Dates: 30th July – 2nd August
    Headliners: Floating Points, Helena Hauff, Theo Parrish, DJ Stingray and DJ Harvey
    Cost: €32 (Wednesday day ticket), €50 (four-day camping pass), €60 (five-day camping pass).

    With each year that passes, Dekmantel seems to be getting bigger and better.

    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.

    The event has been such a success that the organisers usually host fringe events which are ticketed separately, so check for these too.

    Buy tickets »

  5. Primavera Sound – Barcelona, Spain

    primavera festival logo

    Dates: 3rd – 7th June
    Headliners: Massive Attack, The Strokes, Lana del Rey, Bad Bunny, The National, Tyler, the Creator, Pavement, Bikini Kill, Disclosure, Iggy Pop, Kacey Musgraves and Young Thug
    Cost: €205 (four-day ticket), €87 (prices for day tickets on Thursday, Friday and Saturday), €49.50 (Sunday day ticket).

    One of the biggest indie festivals in the world, Primavera Sound puts on an impressive line-up year after year. There are two Primavera festivals in Europe, but Barcelona is the main event.

    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.

    Buy tickets »

  6. Primavera Sound – Porto, Portugal

    primavera festival logo

    Date: 11th – 13th June
    Headliners:  Lana del Rey, Tyler, the Creator, Pavement, Beck, FKA  Twigs, Pavement, King Krule
    Cost: €127.75 (three-day ticket), €64.75 (prices for day tickets on Thursday, Friday and Saturday).

    The second Primavera festival is held in Porto and is slightly smaller than its sister in Barcelona, lasting three days instead of four.

    The headliners are similar to Barcelona's with a few additions (and subtractions). It's also just over €77 cheaper. Pasteis de nata, anyone?!

    Buy tickets »

  7. Tomorrowland – Boom, Belgium

    tomorrowland festival logo

    Dates: 17th – 19th July and 24th – 26th July
    Headliners: Afrojack, David Guetta, Dimitri Vegas, Like Mike, Marshmello, Amelie Lens, Adam Beyer, Carl Cox, Eric Prydz
    Cost: €314.50 (one-weekend three-day pass), €128.50 (day ticket)

    Tomorrowland is the biggest electronic music festival in the world – and it knows it.

    The event is known to be of epic proportions, and its slogan, "Live Today, Love Tomorrow, Unite Forever", gives you an idea of how momentous the experience is.

    Tickets can be difficult to get a hold of – they've been known to sell out in an hour, but you can join the waiting list for any that come available.

    Buy tickets »

  8. Boom Festival, Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal

    boom festival logo

    Date: 28th July – 4th August
    Cost: €230

    Boom Festival is a biennial festival (a festival that occurs once every two years) next to a lake in Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal. It's been going since 1997 and is a little different than the festivals previously mentioned as it's more of an experience/activity-based festival than a typical music festival (although there will be plenty of that too).

    There's something for everyone at Boom: dance music, yoga, film screenings, art workshops and installations, a Bike Village and a Dance Temple for those who love to boogie. It's basically a European take on Burning Man, but less desert and more lake!

    Buy tickets »

Tip: if you can't afford to buy a ticket to your dream festival, you could always go as a volunteer!


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