Glastonbury Festival hillside, England, UK Festival calendar. Photo Edward Simpson.
UK Festival calendar: England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland
Needless to say Covid-19 has caused many changes and cancellations so once you’ve selected a festival you want to attend and know the approximate date, go to the festival website to check it’s happening and view new regulations that may not suit you such as social distancing, mandatory masks etc. Hopefully 2021 will see successful vaccines and a new world order (group hugs?!)
We will update festival information when the pandemic situation has eased and events become stabilised.
January Festival Calendar
30 Dec – 1 January
SCOTLAND, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay – one of world’s best New Year Celebrations, a truly wild and wooly underwear occasion, with a torchlight procession, a Fire Festival, fireworks, concerts and much insobriety, in a city dark yet strangely light. . .
31 Dec – 1 January
(Same days every year)
ENGLAND, London, New Year’s Eve, awesome fireworks. The best position is on the north bank of the Thames River, opposite the Millennium Wheel, get there 2/3 hours beforehand.
The New Year’s Day Parade and Festival – the latter one at 12 noon, 1st January. Sadly the best part of the parade is the non-English marching bands and floats!
the last Tuesday in January
SCOTLAND, Up Helly Aa – ‘Europe’s largest fire festival’, a spectacular community tradition celebrating their rich Viking heritage, annually held in Lerwick, Shetland. Costume marches, torchlight parades, burning a viking boat and the parties go on and on long after the last flames fade away. Scottish Islands Pictures
12 February 2021
England, China Town, London, Chinese New Year – the largest New Year celebration outside Asia, at Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Shaftesbury Avenue and Chinatown, with traditional costumes, spectacles, fireworks and processions.
14 – 18 March
(Parade at 9:00am on 17th)
IRELAND, Dublin St Patrick’s Festival and St Patrick’s Day Parade – a wild, green five days, including a huge parade. PS What’s the difference between an Irish wedding and a funeral? There’s one less drunk person at the funeral.
5 – 10 May
ENGLAND, Gloucestershire, Cheltenham International Jazz Festival – the UK’s top jazz fest in a lovely location.
2 – 24 May
ENGLAND Brighton Festival – a 3 week annual outdoor celebration of all kind of arts. It is regarded as England’s biggest curated mixed arts festival which attracts some of the most innovative artist and companies from UK and the would as well as some of the most adventurous audiences.
19 – 23 May
ENGLAND, London, RHS Chelsea Flower Show – 11 acres of the UK’s (and arguably Europe’s) best flowers and gardens event, with plenty of original, even wacky ideas.
22 May – 7 June
ENGLAND Ageas Salisbury International Festival – an high-standard, award winning multi-arts festival, ending with fireworks display in the Cathedral Close. It is one of UK’s leading arts festivals known for its creative program and the excellent economic value, despite over half the audience enjoying the festival through free events and activities.
30 May – 12 June
The race days;
6, 8, 10 and 12 June
BRITISH ISLES, Isle of Man TT Races. The ultimate of UK Festivals for bikers. Watch racers on 37 miles of narrow, winding, stone walled roads travelling at way over 150mph, then get out there yourself. Death is no stranger to this event.
(Late Spring Bank Holiday Monday)
ENGLAND, Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling near Brockworth in Gloucester, Gloucestershire – dozens of brave and/or insane people fling themselves down a precipitous hill (1-in-2 gradient ) attempting to catch huge, rolling rounds of Gloucester cheese. Bones get broken regularly, a few people faint just watching the event, so this is a remarkable sight in the nanny state of England, but parking is a nightmare – 15, 000 spectators rolled up in 2009. This is the craziest of crazy UK Festivals.
30 May – 12 June
The race days;
6, 8, 10 and 12 June
BRITISH ISLES, Isle of Man TT Races, as above until late June.
12 – 14 June
ENGLAND, Download Festival – the UK’s largest rock and metal music festival, held at Donington Park, Derby, near East Midlands Airport.
Download is known for its relaxed community feel. Weekend tickets include camping; also available are Day tickets, Family tickets, Kids offers and Early Bird specials.
16 – 20 June
ENGLAND, Ascot, Berkshire Royal Ascot Horse Racing – this 250 year old horse racing/social occasion is the poshest of posh UK events, with mad hats de rigeur for ladies and tails for gents.
19 June – 4 July
ENGLAND, GDIF Greenwich and Docklands International Festival – a 9-day free outdoor arts festival in southeast London, with the 3-day Greenwich Fair, a jamboree of street performances.
ENGLAND, Wiltshire Stonehenge Summer Solstice – one of the weird and unique UK festivals involving a midsummer night ritual with all sorts of druids, hippies and new age wackos. Fascinating and this is your ONLY chance to touch the Neolithically transformed stones, normally they’re out of bounds.
11 – 14 June
ENGLAND, Isle of Wight Festival – the revived legendary festival of the late 60’s is now held annually at Seaclose Park, Newport since 2002.
24 – 28 June
ENGLAND, Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, England – a massive, multiple music event and the biggest UK festival, with different stages featuring different music, but heavy on rock variations. The closest to Woodstock most of us will ever get. Camping is fine. . . but why does it always rain? Tickets are VERY difficult to acquire so book many months ahead!
29 June – 12 July
ENGLAND, London, Wimbledon Tennis Championships – one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, is the oldest and most prestigious one in the world. The games are played on the grass courts at the All England Club.
13 – 26 July
IRELAND, Galway Galway Arts Festival – Ireland’s biggest arts jamboree, with all kinds of entertainment, street, theatre, music, kid’s, exhibitions, concerts. . .
23 – 26 July
ENGLAND, Charlton Park, Malmesbury, Wiltshire WOMAD – (World of Music Arts and Dance) impressive world music festival, with 70 artists from 30 countries on 7 stages. Family friendly.
30 July – 2 August
ENGLAND, Cambridge, Cambridge Folk Festival – one of world’s longest running folk events – the real deal for the folks who like the music. ‘A festival with a prestigious reputation for quality music in intimate surroundings’ in Cherry Hinton Hall. Family friendly.
7 – 31 August
SCOTLAND, Edinburgh International Festival, and Edinburgh Festival Fringe – over a thousand shows of all kinds, ranging from opera to stand-up comedy, from near porn to mere corn. A true European art attack in great Edinburgh city. Our personal favourite out of all UK Festivals.
2 – 4 August
IRELAND, Waterford Spraoi Street Festival – 3 days of free music, street theatre, parade and fireworks in Ireland’s biggest street party.
6 – 16 August
IRELAND, Kilkenny Arts Festival- music, theatre, dance, exhibitions set in superb surroundings.
in August, maybe!
(2019 was cancelled)
ENGLAND, Bognor Birdman in Bognor Regis, West Sussex – wildly costumed nutters jump-fly off Bognor pier attempting to win a big distance prize, or just 15 seconds of celebrity. Audiences chill on the beach.
10 – 12 August
IRELAND, Puck Fair in Killorglin, County Kerry. A large and loony street fair with plenty of singing, dancing and horse shows, and all overseen by King Puck – a goat.
1 August 2021
IRELAND Fleadh Cheoil – a huge celebration of Ireland’s music, dance and arts, with over 10, 000 musicians roaming and playing all over the place. It is also know for its Irish music competition run by Comhaltas. Hosted by a different town every year: 2021 is in Mullingar.
20 – 23 August
WALES, Brecon Beacons, Green Man Festival – a 3 day live music fiesta held annually at the Glanusk Park Estate in the Usk Valley. This no-sponsors event is environmentally conscious and modestly anti-establishment. The line-ups vary from folk to dance, Indie to Americana but also feature comedy, film and theatre.
21 – 25 August
IRELAND, Tralee, Country Kerry, Rose of Tralee International Festival – a massive party celebrating Irish communities and romance!
22 – 25 August
ENGLAND, Daresbury, Creamfields in Cheshire – the UK’s biggest dance music festival, also held in other European places such as Andalucia, Prague and Lisbon (dates vary). Creamfields has been so successful that it stages events across the world – Sydney, Istanbul, Buenos Aires and more.
28 – 30 August
ENGLAND, Reading Festival, Richfield Avenue in Berkshire – the oldest of all UK festivals of popular music. It started in 1961 as the National Jazz and Blues Festival. Reading attracts more than 80, 000 people annually, has campsites and weekend tickets that include camping, but day tickets are also available.
28 – 30 August
ENGLAND, Leeds Festival in West Yorkshire – a rock and pop music festival, held in Bramham Park near Wetherby, with campsite. It is run by the same organization as the Reading Festival. The weekend tickets include camping; day tickets are also sold.
30 – 31 August
ENGLAND, London, Notting Hill Carnival – fiesta with music, dance, and parade by London’s Caribbean community. Sponsored by the London Pickpocket Support Group.
(1st Saturday in Sept. )
SCOTLAND, the Braemar Gathering (Highland Games) – traditionally odd Scottish sporting events and massed pipers in a scenic setting in Scotland.
2 – 5
ENGLAND, Lulworth, Dorset, Bestival – a 4-day boutique music festival and party set at the Lulworth Estate, a wooded country estate on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast. Bestival is one of the best UK festivals for the range of weirdly dressed participants, so make sure to dress suitably strangely. It is kid-friendly, too.
22 October – 3 November
IRELAND, Wexford Opera Festival – a small but perfectly formed and positively regarded event in a brand new Opera House on a new date.
22 October – 3 November
IRELAND, Wexford Opera Festival – a tiny but positively regarded event in a brand new Opera House on a new date.
ENGLAND, London to Brighton Veteran Car Run (LBVCR) – the world’s longest running motoring event and best vintage car UK festival. Ancient car lovers will need to find a comfortable viewing location for this London (Hyde Park) to Brighton (Madeira Drive) event for hundreds of pre-1905 vehicles; it starts at dawn and motors will begin to fart across the finish line from about 10 am.
ENGLAND, Devon, Ottery St. Mary Tar Barrels – huge flaming barrels are carried around this little rural town. The procession and fireworks are on the Saturday before the 5th of November.
UNITED KINGDOM, and some of its former colonies including Canada and New Zealand, Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night – an annual nationwide event with fireworks displays and lighting bonfires.
30 December – 1 January
SCOTLAND, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay – one of world’s best New year Celebrations, a truly wild and wooly underwear occasion with a torchlight procession, a Fire Festival, fireworks, concerts and much insobriety, in a city dark yet strangely light. .
ENGLAND, London, New Year’s Eve awesome fireworks. The best position is on the north bank of the Thames River, opposite the Millennium Wheel, though now you have to pay for your position.
The New Year’s Day Parade and Festival – the latter one at 12 noon, 1st January. Not one of the best UK Festivals! Sadly the best part of the parade is the non-English marching bands and floats!