Student festival guide 2023
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 in the UK, 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. Keep in mind that there could also be additional booking fees (usually a few quid) on top of the ticket prices.
Top 19 UK festivals 2023
Here are the best student festivals in summer 2023:
Parklife – Heaton Park, Manchester
- Dates – 10th – 11th June
- Headliners – The 1975, Skrillex and Aitch
- Cost – From £149.50 (weekend ticket), from £84.50 (one day ticket).
Manchester's favourite music festival is, unsurprisingly, 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. You can't camp at Parklife, so you also have to factor in accommodation in Manchester – there are tickets available that include hotel accommodation in the city centre though.
Latitude – Henham Park, Southwold
- Dates – 20th – 23rd July
- Headliners – Pulp, Paolo Nutini and George Ezra
- Cost – £286.45 (weekend ticket with standard camping), from £90.75 (one day ticket).
Latitude is one of the pricier festivals out there, but the lineup normally justifies the dollar. The festival will boast big artists 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.
Wireless – Finsbury Park, London
- Dates – 7th – 9th July
- Headliners – Playboi Carti, Travis Scott and 50 Cent
- Cost – From £248.39 (weekend ticket), from £167.40 (two-day ticket) or from £88 (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.
Wireless isn't a camping festival, so you'll have to factor in the price of London accommodation for this one.
Reading and Leeds – Richfield Avenue and Bramham Park
- Dates – 25th – 27th August
- Headliners – Sam Fender, the Killers, Lewis Capaldi, Billie Eilish and Foals
- Cost – £286.20 (weekend ticket with camping), £101.20 (one day ticket).
As two of the longest-running music festivals in the world, Reading and Leeds are something 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).
Camp Bestival – Lulworth Castle, Dorset and Weston Park, Shropshire
- Dates – 27th – 30th July (Dorset) and 17th – 20th August (Shropshire)
- Headliners – Graces Jones and The Kooks (Dorest), Primal Scream and Rudimental (Shropshire)
- Cost – £226.80 (weekend ticket with camping in Dorset), £194.50 (weekend ticket with camping in Shropshire).
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 Lulworth Castle in Dorset. And since 2022, they also have a version of the festival in Shropshire a few weeks after the Dorset event – keep in mind that the lineup is different though.
Creamfields – Daresbury Estate, Cheshire (North) and Hylands Park, Chelmsford (South)
- Dates – 24th – 27th August (Creamfields North), 26th – 28th May (Creamfields South)
- Headliners – Swedish House Mafia (Creamfields North), Tiesto and Calvin Harris (Creamfields South)
- Cost – From £260 (Creamfields North, 4-day camping ticket), from £260 (Creamfields South, 3-day camping ticket).
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–Z of the industry.
Creamfields is hosting two festivals – Creamfields North in Daresbury Estate, Cheshire, and Creamfields South in Hylands Park, Chelmsford.
Tickets are on the pricier side of things, 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.
Victorious – Southsea Seafront, Portsmouth
- Dates – 25th – 27th August
- Headliners – Jamiroquai, Kasabian and Ben Howard
- Cost – £180 (weekend ticket with camping), £60 (day 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.
Best of all, the 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
- Dates – 15th – 18th June
- Headliners –Pulp, George Ezra, The Chemical Brothers and Robbie Williams
- Cost – From £205 (student weekend pass with or without camping), from £99 (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 Courteeners, Niall Horman, Sam Ryder and more.
Mighty Hoopla – Brockwell Park
- Date – 3rd – 4th June
- Headliners – Kelly Rowland, Years & Years and Aqua
- Cost – From £114.50 (weekend ticket), from £59.50 (day ticket).
The poptastic Mighty Hoopla is back again this year in Brockwell Park, celebrating all things glitz and glam! This year, the festival is spread over two days.
The main headliner will be accompanied by the likes of Natasha Bedingfield, Dagny and Kelis.
We Are FSTVL – Upminster, London
- Dates – 25th – 27th August
- Headliners – The Prodigy, Carl Cox and Purple Disco Machine
- Cost – From £110 (weekend ticket), from £46.50 (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 place 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
- Dates – 7th – 9th July
- Headliners – Pulp, George Ezra, Sam Fender and The 1975
- Cost – £182.50 (weekend pass), £145 (two-day pass), from £79 (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.
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.
Field Day – Victoria Park, London
- Date – 19th August
- Headliners – Aphex Twin, Bonobo, Arca, and Fever Ray
- Cost – From £75.
Field Day is back this year, but for one day only. Don't fret though – 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. Check out our Field Day review to see what we thought of it.
Green Man – Brecon Beacons, Wales
- Dates – 17th – 20th August
- Headliners – TBA
- Cost – SOLD OUT.
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.
Boardmasters – Newquay, Cornwall
- Dates – 9th – 13th August
- Headliners – Lorde, Liam Gallagher and Florence + The Machine
- Cost – £249 (3-day no camping), from £84.50 (day ticket).
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!
NASS Festival – Shepton Mallet, Somerset
- Dates – 6th – 9th July
- Headliners – Chase & Status, Wu-Tang Clan and Little Simz
- Cost – From £160 (3-day ticket with camping), from £69.50 (day ticket).
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.
Shambala – Secret Location, Northamptonshire
- Dates – 24th – 27th August
- Headliners – TBC
- Cost – From £199 (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 Northamptonshire.
This laid-back and 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.
Beautiful Days – Escot Park, Devon
- Dates – 18th – 20th August
- Headliners – Suede, Primal Scream, Levellers and Johnny Marr
- Cost – £175 (weekend ticket with camping).
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.
The festival site even has a Walkabout Theatre, family camping, real ale bars and Folk Sessions.
British Summer Time Hyde Park, London
- Dates – 24th June – 10th July
- Headliners – P!nk, Guns N' Roses, Take That, BLACKPINK, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel
- Cost – From £95.75 (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 held over quite a few days, with various fantastic acts performing across different dates. If you're only going for one day, make sure you don't miss any of the acts you really want to see! Plus, they offer a payment plan to spread the cost of the tickets.
All Points East, Victoria Park, London
- Dates – 18th – 25th August
- Headliners – Stormzy, The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs
- Cost – From £79.45 (one-day ticket).
All Points East is also a London-based festival spread over multiple days. There are tons of free activities during the week, but if you want to see some of the headliners during the weekends, you'll have to get a ticket.
How to reduce festival waste
Festivals are great fun, but did you know that they generate 25,800 tonnes of waste each year? From broken tents to single-use plastic cups, all of this waste causes a lot of harm to the environment.
Many festivals are already tackling some of these issues by banning glitter and getting rid of plastic cups, but there are things you can do to help.
Here are some tips to reduce waste when going to a festival:
- Get a quality tent – Instead of buying a cheap tent that will likely break at the festival, try to get a quality one you can reuse instead. It's estimated that 250,000 tents are left at UK festivals every year – that's a lot of plastic going to landfills.
- Wear pre-loved festival outfits – Rather than getting a brand-new outfit, see what you already have at home. Or check out your local charity shop for some pre-loved outfits.
- Bring a refillable water bottle – This can help you cut down on all the single-use plastic cups you'll use. Just check the festival's website beforehand to make sure you're allowed to bring these with you.
- Volunteer to clean up litter – One of the best summer jobs for students is to volunteer at a festival in exchange for free tickets. Picking up litter is a common voluntary role – good for the environment and your bank account.
- Take everything home – Don't leave stuff at the festival. Bring everything home with you and try to recycle as much as possible. Things left at festivals likely won't be recycled and could end up in a landfill.
Don't forget to read our tips on how to save money at festivals before you go!