Obviously we’re known for our impeccable music taste here in Manchester, what with so many successful musicians, genres and movements coming out of our city. With this in mind, we seem to also be building an impressive repertoire of music festivals showcasing that in and around our city, gaining national and even global acclaim once more. Here’s our guide to the best music festivals in and around Manchester to hype you up for the summer months.
1. Highest Point, Lancaster (Thursday 11th – Saturday 14th May)
Highest Point is possibly one of the prettiest festivals in the North West, set ever so nonchalantly in the grounds of Williamson Park, culminating at Ashton Memorial where festival-goers can pan across the gorgeous view of Lancaster. This year the line-up for 11th – 13th May includes Bastille, Anne-Marie and Craig Charles, but the festival offers so much more in the form of woodland walks and play areas as well as a massive amount of food, drink and things to do.
As well as the music, there’ll be stand-up comedy shows, live poetry recitals, ‘in conversation’ panels and even things to do for the younger festival-goers, promising a wholesome weekend for all ages. Now, obviously this one’s outside of Manchester, but Lancaster luckily has great public transport connections to Manchester, and is still in the North West region, so we’re letting it slide. You can find tickets here.
2. Kendal Calling, Lake District (Thursday 27th – Sunday 30th July)
Also a fair journey from Manchester, but still in the region, is Kendal Calling. Over the past 10 years, Kendal has become a staple for many indie music fans, showcasing the best of legendary musicians and small bands alike. Kendal is known above all else as a lot of fun, with a massively diverse crowd and so much to do over the weekend, and of course is set in the beautiful the Lake District, boasting beautiful woodlands and gorgeous lakes.
The epic lineup this year includes Kasabian, Royal Blood and Blossoms, so expect it to be the best one yet! Find and remaining tickets here.
3. Bluedot, Jodrell Bank Observatory (Thursday 20th – Saturday 23rd July)
Bluedot is perhaps the festival that Greater Manchester is most proud of, bringing together amazing music and important science education and environmentalism. With headliners such as Róisín Murphy, Pavement and Grace Jones this year, the music is, as usual, well taken care of, and of course the rest of the schedule is jam-packed too.
The arts and culture section will provide award-winning visual arts and exclusive commissions, side-splitting comedy and insightful debate, whilst the science set-up will allow visitors to observe, explore and experiment with iconic science speakers and cutting-edge researchers. Partner that with a whole lot of crafted food and drink from amazing independent traders, and a wonderful atmosphere, and you’ve got heaven! Find tickets here.
4. Neighbourhood Weekender, Warrington (Saturday 27th – Sunday 28th May)
Another decidedly indie festival, Neighbourhood Weekender is a fairly new player in the festival field but has grown at a mad rate. Stemming from the Manchester City Centre festival Neighbourhood, which still annually takes over small venues all the way up to the Manchester Albert Hall, Neighbourhood Weekender was created to bring the same type of music to audiences who prefer a traditional muddy field festival experience.
Just outside of Manchester in Victoria Park, Warrington, the festival will this year be welcoming the likes of Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, The Kooks and Pulp, treating visitors to the full experience with fairground rides, masses of food and drink, and even its very own pub! The vibes are always immaculate, so see if you can get yourself a ticket here.
5. Parklife, Heaton Park (Saturday 10th – Sunday 11th June)
Parklife really needs no introduction, and the pop, house and dance festival is now synonymous with Manchester. The brainchild of Warehouse Project founder and Manchester nighttime economy advisor Sacha Lord, Parklife hosts some of the biggest names in dance music, as well as pop, annually at Manchester’s beloved Heaton Park.
This year will see the likes of The 1975, Aitch, The Prodigy, Little Simz and Wu-Tang Clan tread the grass of Prestwich, in addition to incredible DJs and Parklife veterans including Groove Armada, Honey Dijon and Annie Mac. First and foremost, Parklife is often seen as one of the younger person’s music festivals, but really it’s all about the music and can be a great Manchester day out for anyone who’s enthusiastic! Find any remaining tickets here.
6. Moovin Festival, Stockport (Friday 25th August)
Moovin is one of the most sustainable music festivals in Manchester, aiming to achieve carbon neutrality. They say: “For the last few years, zero waste from the festival has gone to landfill, it goes to the tip, gets sorted into recycling as much as possible by a machine, and then the rest gets taken to a place where it is incinerated to produce energy and electricity.” Of course, it’s first and foremost a music festival, and the growing list of local and acclaimed artists is pretty impressive for the little farm. The likes of Craig Charles, Hacienda legend DJ Paulette and Graeme Park are on the line up this year, ensuring a day full of dancing and fun for all the family. Find tickets here.
7. Creamfields North, Warrington (Thursday 24th – Sunday 27th August)
Creamfields is one for the ravers, bringing the biggest names in house, trance and electronic music to Warrington. Expect the likes of Calvin Harris, David Guetta and Peggy Gou to be filling the field with banging tunes, and a crowd to dance with all weekend long. It’s a camping festival, so don’t forget to sling a tent over your shoulder, and as such there’s a huge range of food, drink and entertainment all weekend long. It’s one of the Manchester music festivals taking place on August bank holiday weekend, so choose wisely and hope for the best weather possible – it’s always a toss up. Find limited resale tickets here.
8. Sounds of the City, City Centre (Thursday 29th June – Sunday 9th July)
Sounds of the City is the beloved summer series that takes over Castlefield Bowl in Manchester city centre every year. There’s always a cracking line up with local artists ecstatic to play, and this year is no exception. Headliners include Hacienda Classical, Blossoms and Bastille, all of which will certainly pack out the heart of the industrial area of Castlefield with adoring Mancs.
The setting is always beautiful, set up on the cobbles under the shadow of the viaduct, with the stage elevated above the leg of the canal that houses local boats in the Bowl. There’s absolutely no better feeling for a Manchester music fan than standing in Castlefield Bowl with the sun shining, pint in hand, canopy looming, and the best musicians around serenading. Get yourself a slice of heaven in the form of a ticket here.