The 2023 festival line ups we're most looking forward to
It’s the same thing every year. Festivals across the world drop their line-ups onto social media and everyone promptly loses their minds.
It’s the same thing every year. Festivals across the world drop their line-ups onto social media and everyone promptly loses their minds. Who’s absolutely nailed the card from top to bottom? Who’s messed the bed? And, most importantly, which ones are you packing your bags for?
Obviously, sometimes it’s not as easy as just simply deciding which festival you want to go to and then bagging tickets for it. As anybody who’s ever frantically sat by a series of laptops and mobile phones frantically refreshing the Glastonbury homepage will attest.
But once the dust has settled and no one’s got the strength to debate which line up is the greatest or the worst in the history of live music any longer, there remains nothing more to do than simply ignoring all those debates and just deciding which ones we’re most looking forward to. Simple really.
From the UK to Europe to across the Atlantic and beyond, there is a kaleidoscopic concoction of artists and performers from all eras, backgrounds and genres taking to stages in front of crowds in varying degrees of euphoria and inebriation.
So who’s pulled out all the stops for this summer? Who’s line up runs deeper than just a set of attention grabbing headliners? Well luckily for you, we’ve pulled together a handy guide of which fests are stacked beyond belief this year and deserve all of our attention.
MAD COOL Madrid, 6-8 July
How does sipping sangria under the starlit sky of the Spanish capital while being serenaded by Janelle Monae sound? Or perhaps bouncing to bops from Lizzo and Lil Nas X into the early hours of the morning? Tearing around to Queens of The Stone Age, The Black Keys and The Prodigy more your speed? Mad Cool in Madrid is going to very much be your vibe.
Given how high the temperatures will soar in Madrid during the day, you can use the afternoon for exploring one of the world’s grandest cities or simply recovering from the night before. Then the evening is all about Nuevo Recinto de Festivales De Madrid. A beautiful space full of beautiful music and soon to be unforgettable memories. With a line up that also includes the likes of The 1975, Sigur Ros, Machine Gun Kelly, Liam Gallagher, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Primal Scream, Rina Sawayama, Jamie XX, Honey Dijon and King Princess, you’ll be kept in a constant state of idyllic revelry until you can’t dance or sway any longer.
ROCK EN SEINE Paris, 23-27 August
Just west of Paris, in the Château de Saint-Cloud’s park, inside the garden designed by André Le Nôtre, comes four days of non-stop bangers from a procession of elite level acts.
And when we say elite, we really mean elite; Billie Eilish, The Strokes, Florence and The Machine, The Chemical Brothers, Placebo, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Foals, Wet Leg and Bonobo to name but a few. Oui oui, tres bien.
ROCK WERCHTER Werchter, 29 June-2 July
Going strong since 1974, Belgium’s premier festival seldom disappoints, and this year’s edition is no different, hosting heavyweights such as Arctic Monkeys, Stormzy, The 1975, Kasabian, The Black Keys, Iggy Pop, Christine and The Queens, Muse, Fever Ray, Interpol, Anna Calvi, Sam Fender, Röyksopp, Rosalia and Dope Lemon.
Werchter is euro festival royalty and one which everyone should have scrawled onto their bucket list. This summer’s could be one of the very best.
PARKLIFE Manchester, 10-11 June
We mean, c’mon, Wu-Tang Clan AND Nas? Even if no one else had been announced this would already be can’t miss. Luckily, the Parklife lot are really spoiling us at Heaton Park this year and also laying on performances from the likes of Little Simz, Self Esteem, Aitch, Rudimental, Fred Again, Annie Mac, The 1975, Carl Cox, Groove Armada, Eliza Rose, Subfocus and Skrillex.
The North West’s finest fest never, ever misses, does it?
GLASTONBURY Somerset, 21-25 June
Yeah, alright, it’s an obvious one, but ELTON JOHN’S FAREWELL TOUR stops here for his big, emotional, triumphant final act as a Glastonbury headliner and for that reason alone Worthy Farm is going to be one big, fat, unmissable vibe this summer. Add to this iconic send off sets from the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Lana Del Ray, Guns ’N’ Roses, Carly Rae Jepsen, Blondie, Alt-J, Joey Bada$$, Hot Chip, Maggie Rogers, Candi Staton, Loyle Carner, Fatboy Slim, Lizzo, Lil Nas X, Wizkid, Kelis and Yusuf/Cat Stevens and you have yourselves an absolute humdinger of a week down Somerset way. Tiny Dancer, Rocket Man and Bennie and The Jets are going to GO…OFF.
PRIMAVERA SOUND Barcelona and Madrid, 31 May - 3 June
Prima has rapidly become the biggest, most anticipated festival in Europe over the last five or so years and this summer’s line up is a pretty good indicator of why that is.
Kendrick Lamar alone is a jaw dropping enough headline act, but throw in Blur, New Order, Pet Shop Boys, Halsey, Pusha T, Loyle Carner, Self Esteem, Alison Goldfrapp, Le Tigre, Depeche Mode, Bad Religion, Four Tet, Rosalia and Calvin Harris and there’s a weekend you will never forget, whether you’re enjoying it on the beaches of Barcelona or Arganda del Rey in Madrid.
OUTSIDE LANDS San Francisco, 11-13 August
A BIT further afield (an entire ocean and then the entire American land mass), is Outside Lands, a Californian festival that doesn’t get the same press as Coachella, but is just as heavy hitting when it comes to undefeated live acts.
How does Kendrick Lamar, Foo Fighters and Megan Thee Stallion grab you? Maybe Lana Del Rey, The 1975, Janelle Monae? Maggie Rogers, Lil Yachty, Father John Misty? Go on then, have yourselves a bit of J.I.D, Interpol and Odesza. Oh, and did we mention that ACTUAL SHAQUILLE O’NEAL is DJ’ing? Not to mention Zack Fox, and you know if there’s a cast member from Abbott Elementary on the bill then it’s well worth taking a 12 hour flight across the world for.
ALL POINTS EAST London, 18 - 28 August
While technically not a festival in the same sense as some of the others mentioned in this article, APE is still several weekends of outrageously wonderful live music from some of the greatest acts on earth.
Nah, that’s not even hyperbole, not when you’re staring down the barrel of a lineup that boasts The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Erykah Badu, Haim, Stormzy, Aphex Twin, Dermot Kennedy, Jungle and Confidence Man.
Whichever day you opt for at Victoria Park this August, there’s no going wrong.
WIRELESS London, 7-9 July
Finsbury Park is going to be cooking in early July when Wireless comes to town. Headed up by Playboi Carti and Travis Scott, the London based festival is, as always, reliably chocker with talent.
Lil Uzi Vert, Joey Bada$$, Ice Spice and Latto are all can’t miss, it goes without saying, but the real headline comes at the bottom of the lineup poster, where it is confirmed that this year’s special guest is going to be 50 ACTUAL CENT.
That’s a ‘price of admission alone’ sort of special guest, isn’t it?