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Student festival guide 2021

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 logos in front of crowd

Credit: 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.

Will festivals happen in 2021?

Yes, festivals will be going ahead in 2021! Well, some will at least.

Sadly, some big-name festivals like Glastonbury and Download have been cancelled for the second year in a row.

But the good news is that the vast majority of major festivals are still taking place in 2021, assuming we don't deviate too much from the government's planned roadmap for returning to normality.

So, that means you'll have the chance to go to Field Day, Reading/Leeds, Parklife or whatever festival you've got your eyes on this year.

There are a whole host of ways to save money at festivals – it doesn't have to be a choice between fun and frugal!

Top 20 UK festivals 2021

Here are the best student festivals in summer 2021:

  1. Parklife – Heaton Park, Manchester

    parklife festival logo

    Dates: 11th – 12th September
    Headliners: TBC
    Cost: SOLD OUT.

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

    The weekend usually features a top drawer line-up with loads of acts alongside a few big headliners.

    You can also pay more for a weekend VIP upgrade (which includes access to 'The VIP Colonnade', an exclusive backstage garden!).

    Buy tickets »

  2. Latitude – Henham Park, Southwold

    latitude festival logo

    Dates: 22nd – 25th July
    Lewis Capaldi, Bastille, First Aid Kit

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

    Latitude is one of the pricier festivals out there, but the line up normally justifies the dollar. The festival will boast big artists (TBC) alongside its main headliners.

    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: 10th - 12th September
    Headliners: TBC
    Cost: SOLD OUT.

    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.

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

  4. Lovebox – Gunnersbury Park, London

    lovebox festival logo

    Dates: TBC
    Headliners: TBC 
    Cost: TBC.

    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. 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.

  5. Reading and Leeds – Richfield Avenue and Bramham Park

    reading leeds festival logo

    Dates: 27th – 29th August
    Headliners: Stormzy, Post Malone, 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 Disclosure, Yungblud, Lewis Capaldi and much more.

    Buy tickets »

  6. Camp Bestival – Lulworth Estate, Dorset

    camp bestival festival logo

    Dates: 29th July – 1st August
    Headliners: Fatboy Slim, Groove Armada, Becky Hill
    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 FiresKelis, Vengaboys and so much more!

    Buy tickets »

  7. Creamfields – Daresbury Estate, Cheshire

    creamfields festival logo

    Dates: 26th – 29th August
    Headliners: deadmau5, Eric Prydz, Martin Garrix, Tiësto
    Cost: SOLD OUT.

    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 »

  8. Victorious – Southsea Seafront, Portsmouth

    victorious festival logo

    Dates: 27th – 29th August
    Headliners: TBC
    Cost: £30 (early bird price for Friday day ticket), £40 (early bird price for Saturday and Sunday day tickets), £105 (early bird price for a weekend pass without camping).

    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 »

  9. Isle of Wight Festival – Newport

    Isle of Wight 2021 festival logo

    Dates: 16th – 19th September
    Headliners: Liam Gallagher, Snow Patrol, David Guetta, 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 HillThe ScriptSam Fender and more.

    Buy tickets »

  10. Mighty Hoopla – Brockwell Park

    mighty hoopla festival

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

    The poptastic 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 Becky HillRAYE and Atomic Kitten.

    Buy tickets »

  11. We Are FSTVL – Upminster, London

    we are fstvl festival logo

    Dates: TBC
    Headliners: TBC
    Cost: TBC.

    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 »

  12. TRNSMT Festival – Glasgow Green, Glasgow

    trnsmt festival

    Dates: 9th – 11th July
    Headliners: Lewis Capaldi, Liam Gallagher, Courteeners
    Cost: £183 (weekend pass), £134.50 (two-day pass), £70.25 (one-day pass).

    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.

    There are payment plans available for the two-day and weekend passes, and if you're going for a one-day pass, just make sure all the acts you want to see are playing on the same day.

    Buy tickets »

  13. Field Day – Meridian Water, London

    field day festival logo

    Date: 10th July
    Headliners: Bicep, Tale of Us, Floorplan, Floating Points, Mall Grab, Maribou State, Ross from Friends, DJ Seinfeld, George FitzGerald
    Cost: SOLD OUT.

    Field Day is back this year, but for one day only (as the final day of All Points East). 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, Josey RebelleJungle and Prospa. Have a read of what we thought of it!

    Buy tickets »

  14. Green Man – Brecon Beacons, Wales

    Green Man festival logo

    Dates: 19th – 22nd August
    Headliners: TBC
    Cost: TBC.

    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 »

  15. Boardmasters – Newquay, Cornwall

    boardmasters festival logo

    Dates: 11th – 15th August
    Headliners: TBC
    Cost: SOLD OUT.

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

    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 »

  16. NASS Festival – Shepton Mallet, Somerset

    nass festival logo

    Dates: 8th – 11th July
    Headliners: The Streets, A.M.C. feat Phantom, Hybrid Minds
    Cost: SOLD OUT.

    NASS in Somerset 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 and bass, hip hop, grime and dance music lovers too.

    At NASS, you can expect some pretty big names in music – as well as appearances from some of the best pro BMXers and skateboarders.

    Buy tickets »

  17. Shambala – Secret Location, Northamptonshire

    shambala festival logo

    Dates: 26th – 29th August
    Headliners: TBC
    Cost: SOLD OUT.

    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 Northamptonshire.

    This laid back, intimate festival is all about creativity and participation – from yoga to flash mobs, theatre troupes and cabaret, Shambala 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. Plus, they don't allow glitter, encouraging you to use face paints or masks instead.

    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 »

  18. Beautiful Days – Escot Park, Devon

    beautiful days festival logo

    Dates: TBC

    Cost: TBC.

    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.

    At the time of writing, they're still to confirm whether the festival will go ahead this year.

  19. British Summer Time Hyde Park, London

    british summer time bst hyde park logo

    Dates: 9th July – 11th July
    Headliners: Pearl Jam, IDLES, Duran Duran
    Cost: £68.05 (Sunday one-day ticket), £78.25 (Friday or Saturday one-day ticket), £143 (Friday and Saturday two-day ticket).

    BST Hyde Park started back in 2013 and generally includes a line-up of international superstars and epic supporting acts.

    The festival is usually held for 10 days, but this year it currently looks like the festival will run for one weekend.

    Buy tickets »

  20. All Points East, Victoria Park, London

    all points east festival logo

    Dates: 27th – 29th August
    Headliners: Jamie xx, Tom Misch, Arlo Parks
    Cost: £73.30 (one-day ticket).

    All Points East is also a London-based festival spread over a weekend, with the final day (Sunday, obviously) now Field Day, as the two festivals have teamed up in 2021.

    Other acts announced include Slowthai and Kano.

    Buy tickets »

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

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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