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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…music festival crowd

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.

You'll probably get a much better deal if you book in advance and bag early bird tickets, and make sure to check out our tips on securing cheaper train tickets, coaches and flights too.

Make sure you also check out our insider tips on how to save money at music festivals to see your cash stretch further!

Top 20 UK festivals 2018

  1. 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)

    Parklife festivalManchester'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 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!).

    Buy tickets »

  2. Latitude – Henham Park, Southwold

    Date: 12th – 15th July
    Headliners:
    The Killers, Solange, alt-J

    Cost: £213.30 (weekend pass), £84.50 (day pass)

    Latitude festivalLatitude is one of the pricier festivals out there, but it wasn't awarded Best Major Festival in 2017 for nothing.

    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.

    Buy tickets »

  3. Wireless – Finsbury Park, London

    Date: 6th – 8th July
    Headliners: J. Cole, Stormzy, DJ Khaled and friends
    Cost: SOLD OUT

    Wireless_Festival-1-200-200-100-cropWe're still in a bit of a grump with Wireless for cutting the Birmingham leg of the festival, making it a London-only affair.

    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.

    SOLD OUT

  4. 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)

    loveboxAnother big festival in London, Lovebox has moved from Victoria Park and this year will be held in glorious Gunnersbury Park.

    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!

    Buy tickets »

  5. 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)

    download logo 2017Download is the UK festival for rock, metal and punk lovers.

    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.

    Buy tickets »

  6. 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)

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

    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.

    Buy tickets for Leeds »

    Buy tickets for Reading »

  7. Bestival – Lulworth Estate, Dorset

    Date: 2nd – 5th August
    Headliners: London Grammar, Silk City (Diplo & Mark Ronson), M.I.A
    Cost: £162 (student weekend pass)

    bestivalBestival 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 (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.

    Buy tickets »

  8. 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)

    Creamfields FestivalCreamfields 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 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.

    Buy tickets »

  9. 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)

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

    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.

    Buy tickets »

  10. 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)

    isle of wight festivalThis year marks the festival's Golden Jubilee, so they're inviting all festival-goers to adorn themselves in gold and jewels for the celebrations – which, lets face it, you would be doing anyway.

    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.

    Buy tickets »

  11. 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)

    we are fstvlOne 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 »

  12. 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)

    TRNSMTTRNSMT 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 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.

    Buy tickets »

  13. 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)

    field dayField Day is back, and it's bigger and better than ever. After downsizing to a one-day event last year, it's back as a full weekender in South London's Brockwell Park.

    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.

    Buy tickets »

  14. Blisscamp – Vicarage Farm, Winchester

    Date: 5th – 8th July
    Headliners: Gold Panda, Baxter Dury, Mr Jukes
    Cost: £105 (weekend pass), £20 – £65 (day pass)

    Blisscamp festivalBlissfields 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.

    Buy tickets »

  15. Boomtown – Matterley Estate, Winchester

    Date: 9th – 12th August
    Headliners: Gorrilaz, Die Antwood, Limp Bizkit, Enter Shikari
    Cost: £490 (festival entry and Boomtown Springs camping)

    boomtown festivalIt's chapter 10 of this completely unique and bonkers festival, and it's titled The Machine Cannot Be Stopped.

    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.

    Buy tickets »

  16. 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)

    Green Man festivalIf 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 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.

    Buy tickets »

  17. 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)

    Boardmasters festivalIf 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 – 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)

    NASS-2016_Website_Logo_Desktop_216x122NASS 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

    Date: 23rd – 26th August
    Headliners: Smiley & the Underclass, Night, Smerins Anti-Social Club
    Cost: SOLD OUT

    Shambala FestivalIf 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.

    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.

    SOLD OUT

  20. 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)

    Beautiful_DaysSet 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 »

 

Best European music festivals

European music festivals

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's our top picks for 2018!

  1. 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)

    sziget festivalSziget festival 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 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.

    Get tickets »

  2. Hideout – Zrće Beach, Croatia

    Date: 25th – 29th June (note this festival runs Monday – Friday)
    Headliners: Chase & Status, Andy C, Bugzy Malone and AJ Tracey
    Cost: £185.90

    hideout_2012_logo1The 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. Benicassim – Spain

    Date: 19th – 22nd July
    Headliners: The Killers, Liam Gallagher, Travis Scott and Petshop Boys
    Cost: €167.40 (four day camping ticket)

    benicassimlogoBenicassim 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 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.

    Buy tickets »

  4. Dekmantel – Amsterdam, the Netherlands

    Date: 1st – 5th August
    Headliners: Four Tet, Joy Orbison, Floating Points, James Holden & The Animal Spirits
    Cost: SOLD OUT

    dekmantel-logo-squareIn just its fifth year now, Dekmantel is a relatively new festival, but with each year that passes is seems to be getting bigger and better (and the tickets are selling out faster and faster!).

    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.

    SOLD OUT

  5. 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)

    primavera soundOne of the biggest indie festivals in the world, Primavera Sound puts on an impressive line-up year after year.

    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.

    Get tickets »

  6. Tomorrowland – Boom, Belgium

    Date: 20th – 22nd and 27th – 29th July
    Headliners: Afrojack, Alan Walker, Benny Benassi, Blasterjaxx, Chuckie, Duke Dumont, Galantis
    Cost: SOLD OUT

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

    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.

    SOLD OUT

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!

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