London Festival Guide 2016

Chris Lockie
By Chris Lockie Last edited 96 months ago

Last Updated 29 June 2016

London Festival Guide 2016

This is usually where the introduction to a piece goes, but if you don’t already know what this is about you haven’t read the headline. It’s right there above, look. There you go, you've got it, festivals! Loads of them too, because London is excellent.



When: 7-8 May
Where: The Dome, Tufnell Park
Who: Marduk, Dark Funeral, Immolation
How: Weekend tickets from £48

The first of numerous mini-festivals at the under-rated Tufnell Park venue, evidently given a new lease of life by the reopening of the tube station and its brand new lifts that look exactly the same as the old ones. Incineration is for fans of death metal and its offshoots, so while you can expect The Dome to be rammed with nutters this weekend you'll probably find it easier to get a pint at the Devonshire Arms than ever before.


When: 28-29 May
Where: Airfield Of Dreams at Damyn's Hall, Upminster
Who: Fatboy Slim, Steve Angello, Shy FX, Sven Vath
How: Weekend tickets from £112.50; day tickets from £58

Yes, it annoys us too, ‘FSTVL’. Primal Scream got away with it on XTRMNTR and half the acts on the dance-heavy bill probably weren't even born when it came out. Fatboy Slim was of course, very much so, and the venerable turntablist is an interesting headline choice for this strangely expensive weekender out east. Lovely setting though.

Raw Power

When: 27-29 May
Where: The Dome, Tufnell Park
Who: Melt-Banana, Part Chimp (Chart Pimp), Selvhenter, Teeth Of The Sea
How: Weekend tickets from £60; day tickets from £15

Another at the Dome, this time over Friday to Sunday of the second May Bank Holiday (Monday to recover, presumably). Raw Power focuses on the more esoteric end of the rock scale, as proven by the presence of bewildering Japanese outfit Melt-Banana. The maniacal Part Chimp are also on the bill, which allows us to reminisce about their wonderfully titled album from years ago, Part Chimp. There’s a little chimp in all of us and, as far as we know, they haven’t made a cream for that yet.


Image: Paul Woods

London FolkFest

When: 2-5 June
Where: The Bedford, Balham
Who: Luke Concannon, Beau Box Belles, Blair Dunlop, Noble Jacks
How: Full pass £27.50; day tickets from £12.50 (but the Sunday is free)

Melt-Banana will not be appearing at the London FolkFest, as far as we know. Laid-back late spring meanderings from lesser-known folk folks is the order of the day across this elongated festival at the Bedford. The weekend is pitched perfectly for relaxation between the end of the football season and the start of the Euros. Sunday is free entry if we're understanding the blurb correctly.

Spitalfields Music Summer Festival

When: 2-26 June
Where: Spitalfields Music, E1
Who: A wide range of opera, folk, jazz and contemporary events
How: Tickets from £5-£60

Goes on a long time and has too eclectic a bill for us to properly describe it to you, so head over to the website to see if there's anything that takes your fancy. The mildly disturbing 'contemporary events' suggests there may be dance and 'performance' involved as well, just to warn you, but then given tickets start at just a fiver for some events maybe it’s time you left that comfort zone of yours.

Junction 2

When: 4 June
Where: Boston Manor Park, Brentford
Who: Nina Kraviz, Carl Craig, Mano Le Tough, Scuba
How: Tickets from £42.50

A brand new event for London, described thusly: "Junction 2 merges natural beauty, green fields, rambling rivers, woodland pathways and hidden enclaves – all dominated by striking industrial features that will make the site iconic." Which tells us a lot more about Boston Manor Park than the festival, but it does sound lovely. The key fact is this is a techno festival, and if people still bliss out to techno then this seems the perfect setting to do so, though we're old and they may use a different verb for it now.

Born & Bred

When: 4-5 June
Where: Haggerston Park, Hackney
Who: ILOVEMAKONNEN, Azelia Banks, Wiley + Slimzee, Novelist
How: Weekend tickets from £40; day tickets from £25

Part of the Found series of events, in association with Rinse FM, Born & Bred is very much in tune with the part of London it's being staged in. A "rave-inspired dance music and soundsystem culture – from grime, hip-hop and drum 'n' bass to house, techno, garage and beyond", it will be a filthy cool study of the London music scene of 2016, and if you don't like the sound of that you might want to scroll down to where it says 'Stone Free' below.

Camden Rocks

When: 4 June
Where: Various Camden venues
Who: The Cribs, Billy Bragg, We Are The Ocean, Escape The Fate
How: Tickets from £35

One Saturday every year, Camden's debauchery reaches new heights and thank God for that. The thousands of tourists browsing for crap t-shirts and quickening their pace past those individuals making a questionable living on the bridge over the canal are faced with an additional terror — drunken gig goers lurching from venue to venue in a celebration of indie rock and alcohol. The Cribs and Billy Bragg are stalwarts of the line-up but there's an enormous number of bands, many of them quite splendid, all with guitars. Truly, it's a wonderful thing.

Found Festival

When: 11 June
Where: Brockwell Park, Brixton
Who: Kerri Chandler, Theo Parrish, Mood II Swing
How: Tickets from £30

A fourth instalment of Found Festival and a continuation of their promotion of the freshest electronic music in the capital. They promise six stages of house, techno, disco and more. And there's a picture on their website of a massive melting pink ice cream, which may be a little optimistic for the first half of June, but then again, global warming.

Field Day

When: 11-12 June
Where: Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets
Who: PJ Harvey, James Blake, Air, Brian Jonestown Massacre
How: Weekend tickets from £94; day tickets from £49.50

A faintly disappointing line-up for this year's Field Day, following the glories of Ride, Patti Smith and the rest last time. The suspicion remains that Field Day is a little too knowing and clever for its own good, but there are some gems to be found on the bill, and Victoria Park is an excellent place for a festival if you can find the entrance and don't mind walking for hours afterwards to find a sensible station. PJ Harvey's return is welcome, though Air must be stopped.

Stone Free

When: 18-19 June
Where: The O2, Greenwich
Who: Alice Cooper, Rick Wakeman, The Darkness, Therapy?
How: Day tickets from £66.50

Rawk, as opposed to rock. In the curious surroundings of The O2 various acts will be trying to out-hair each other and Rick Wakeman will continue to confound expectations that serious music fans will at some point realise he's a pony. Tickets are not cheap but organisers evidently suspect there’s an untapped audience in London for music made of leather, and they may well be right.

FOLD Festival

When: 24-26 June
Where: Fulham Palace
Who: Beck, Chic, Labrinth
How: Day tickets from £55

Nile Rodgers presents a FreakOut! Festival. Yes that's right, Nile Rogers of Chic, who did a song in 1977 called Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah), so you know what you're getting. And you’re getting it every night, as Nile and his comrades are playing three times at Fulham Palace. Beck headlines one night to reprise his exceptional performance in Hyde Park last summer. Alison Moyet is also on the bill. Hmm.


Barclaycard British Summer Time

When: 2-9 July
Where: Hyde Park
Who: Massive Attack, Florence + the Machine, Mumford & Sons, Take That, Stevie Wonder
How: Tickets from £59.50

A credit card taking over a public park for a week might hint at the state of western life in 2016, or it may simply remind us that some of the finest musicians in the world, and Mumford & Sons, grace our grass every summer. Massive Attack could be the hit of the summer if they pull it off, though anyone’s whose eyes aren't drawn to the presence of the God-like Stevie Wonder on the bill probably have similar ocular issues to the man himself.

Kew The Music

When: 12-17 July
Where: Kew Gardens
Who: Simply Red, Will Young, The Corrs
How: Tickets from £40

Kew Gardens hosts a series of concerts within its wonderful grounds and that is as far as the compliments go from Londonist we're afraid. We're sure we read somewhere that Mick Hucknall is absolutely minted so why he still needs to be peddling Simply Red is anyone's guess. And few people have been calling for a return of The Corrs to the best of our knowledge. That said, Will Young is a very nice man. And the gardens are lovely.


When: 8-10 July
Where: Finsbury Park
Who: Calvin Harris, Chase & Status, Kygo, Boy Better Know
How: Weekend tickets from £155; day tickets from £60

One Twitter user, upon the announcement of this year's Wireless line-up, declared: "Looking like a weekend full of year 10's walking around drunk off Smirnoff Ice". And not in a good way, though there are a few decent acts on the bill now that it's been fleshed out a little more. Then again the thing might not even go ahead if the 'Friends of Finsbury Park' succeed in getting a judicial review to stop what they perceive as louts louting around their green spaces.

Let’s Rock London!

When: 16 July
Where: Clapham Common
Who: Belinda Carlisle! Nik Kershaw! Living in a Box!
How: Tickets from £45

Now this is more like it. While we may be dismissive of festivals that foist MOR horrors like Simply Red upon us when so many deserving acts get shunted off to The Dome, and not the O2 one, Let’s Rock London! makes no attempt to disguise what it is. Old-school pop and cheesy outrages mostly from the 1980s, exactly the type of thing that fills the nightmares of anyone considering Camden Rocks, but which deliver an entirely acceptable if guilty pleasure to, well, mums. Jimmy Somerville! Then Jericho! ABC!

Summer Series at Somerset House

When: 7-17 July
Where: Somerset House
Who: James Morrison, Benjamin Clementine, Laura Mvula, Everything Everything
How: See what's left

The usual series of intriguing gigs at Somerset House — the Summer Series seems to spread a solid festival line-up over many gigs, whereas the actual festivals seem to struggle to match the series' cohesion. Edmonton's Benjamin Clementine is a welcome sight on the bill, likely still flying high from his Mercury Prize triumph last year. Some shows are or soon will be sold out, so get on it.


When: 15-16 July
Where: Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets
Who: Major Lazer, LCD Soundsystem, Run The Jewels, Jungle
How: Weekend tickets from £85; day tickets from £49.50

A solid line-up for Lovebox this year, including everyone's favourite hip hop supergroup Run The Jewels. LCD Soundsystem was supposed to have packed it in a few years ago but thankfully saw the light, and the rest of the bill is peppered with various acts who have yet to reach that point at which they become uncool. Take note, Wireless.


When: 17 July
Where: Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets
Who: Sigur Ros, Caribou, Lianne La Havas
How: Tickets from £49.50

An unlikely appearance from Icelandic legends Sigur Ros has elevated Citadel to new heights, and Caribou's a worthy B-side. Citadel had a successful debut last year, mixing music, theatre and speaking events with the usual staggeringly expensive artisan burgers presumably made from actual caribou given the cost. Hiding beneath the rampant commercialism there's a nice festival in there waving frantically for your attention.


When: 9 July
Where: Brockwell Park, Brixton
Who: Jamie XX, Goldie, Joy Orbison
How: Tickets from £55

A number of these festivals seem to have chosen almost identical designs for their websites. You don't care about this of course, but you might care about what it says: "Reflecting the many sounds of London and beyond, Sunfall's music policy will span jazz, electronica, house, hip hop, dubstep, techno, soul, drum & bass and disco." And we’re very glad it says that, because from the line-up this is going to be a hard one to pin down, and could go either way. Brought to you by the heads behind XOYO, Dimensions, The Nest, Outlook Festival and Phonox, it says here.

Garage Nation

When: 9 July
Where: Streatham Common
Who: Heartless Crew, Kele Le Roc, Shola Ama
How: Tickets from £49.95

Garage Nation does precisely what you would expect it to — deliver garage tunes to an expectant nation, represented by Londoners in Streatham. From what we can gather Heartless Crew are headlining but information isn't as solid as we'd like it to be about this one. Note that there is some kind of karaoke happening before the main event kicks off for the day, in case you need to get in early/avoid like plague.

One Dance

When: 10 July
Where: Streatham Common
Who: Wookie, Oxide & Neutrino, DJ Luck & MC Neat
How: Tickets from £19.95

A sister event to Garage Nation, and it's not immediately obvious where one ends and the other begins. Anyway, it looks like you can buy a two-day ticket to cover both. At any rate Wookie, Oxide & Neutrino and a vast range of dance acts and producers will be making a mess of Streatham Common for the second day running.


When: 2 July
Where: The Dome, Tufnell Park
Who: Consumed, Midway Still, Ducking Punches
How: Tickets from £20

Another one-dayer at Tuffers Dome, this time with a focus on punk. It’s organised by an outfit called Wonk Unit, who'll be performing themselves, as will duelling food-based acts known as Pizza Tramp and Murderburgers. The highlight of the bill for us are Midway Still, former Peel favourites who once put out a single with a very rude name.


Caught By The River Thames

When: 6-7 August
Where: Fulham Palace
Who: Low, Super Furry Animals, Beth Orton, Temples
How: Weekend tickets from £99; day tickets from £55

Another low-key event hardly being thrust down our throats but with an excellent line-up. American miserablists Low are usually found playing in places like the Barbican so it'll be interesting to see how the great outdoors takes to them. Super Furry Animals will doubtless dedicate their set, and perhaps their careers, to the late Howard Marks, and landing Beth Orton is a nice coup for the organisers.

51st State

When: 6 August
Where: Trent Country Park, Enfield
Who: Kings of House, Soul II Soul, Todd Terry
How: Tickets from £45

A second outing for 51st State, which aims to stare intently at the spot at which British music meets its counterparts over the western waters. House, garage, soul, funk, dub, dancehall and disco is the game, making this another of those festivals in danger of spreading itself too thin, but hopefully the blend of UK and US artists will strike a chord in the pleasant surrounds of Trent Country Park.


When: 6 August
Where: Six Hackney venues
Who: Young Fathers, Anna Calvi, Lindstrom, Gengahr
How: Tickets from £30

Though there’s an actual bill of actual musical acts on the website, Visions seems intent on marketing itself as a 'street food and craft beer festival'. Whether craft beer is capable of outliving ice cold lager as the drink of the sweating festival-going masses is up for debate, but if one thing's certain it's that drinking is encouraged and Young Fathers, Lightning Bolt, Elf Kid and others will be smiling down on an audience absolutely off their nuts.

South West Four

When: 27-28 August
Where: Clapham Common
Who: The Chemical Brothers, Rudimental, Above & Beyond
How: Weekend tickets from £117.50; day tickets from £59.50

It's almost worth going to this for the Chemical Brothers alone in our view, which is perhaps just as well as the rest of South West Four's line-up this year is a little uninspiring. Dizzee Rascal's about, Netsky, Four Tet, but beyond that you're looking at a number of the usual EDM suspects. Still, the Chemical Brothers.

Madness presents House of Common

When: 29 August
Where: Clapham Common
Who: Madness, Madness, Madness
How: Tickets from £37

Of course there are many other acts appearing on the bill for this Madness-curated extravaganza, but everyone will be there for Madness. Silly hats, trumpets, baggy trous{COUGH} sorry, the cliches overwhelmed us there for a minute. But mercifully they're all about the tunes, and the tunes are halfway to half decent half the time. Toots and the Maytals, Norman Jay, Ms Dynamite and others will be staring adoringly at Suggs from the wings.


One Love

When: 2-4 September
Where: Hainault Forest Country Park, Chigwell
Who: Line-up TBC
How: Weekend tickets from £140; day tickets from £47

London's foremost reggae and dub festival takes place in the rather special surrounds of Hainault Country Park. Headliners include Lee Scratch Perry (obvs), Junior Reid, and Max Romeo, but there's also a trouser-worrying daily "Battle of the Dubplates". Irie.

Star Shaped

When: 3 September
Where: The Garage, Highbury
Who: Sort of Shed Seven, Sort of Republica, Sort of The Seahorses
How: Tickets from £36.50

It's a bloody cheek, that's what it is. Various indie bands from the 90s are rocking up to the Garage for a 'festival', but only half the members or less of each are turning up and they're not even plugging in. Rick and another one from Shed Seven are doing an acoustic set, Saffron of Republica is turning up ready to go all alone, and it's only the singer from the Seahorses, and he was shit. Hurricane #1 are turning up in their entirety though. So that's good.

On Blackheath

When: 10-11 September
Where: Blackheath
Who: Primal Scream, Belle & Sebastian, Hot Chip, James
How: Weekend tickets from £99; day tickets from £52.50

On Blackheath seems to bookend the summer fairly well and the line-up is a decent one this year. Primal Scream have moved back on up the bill thanks to a well-received new album, Belle & Sebastian are possibly the perfect way to see in the autumn and Hot Chip are rarely anything other than good value. Our name's Londonist and we approve this festival.


When: 25 September
Where: Finsbury Park
Who: Grand Master Flash, DJ Hype, Slipmatt, Sasasas
How: Tickets from £27.50

They're not doing the best job of marketing this one — we came across it almost by accident. Tranz-mission is all about rave, representing the past, present and future of the rave scene in London, so they say. The line-up is pretty packed, with Grand Master Flash sitting proudly atop it. Could be one of the events of the summer if they play their cards right and preceding Finsbury Park events don't wind up the neighbours too much.


EFG London Jazz Festival

11-20 November
Various London venues
YolanDa Brown, Lizz Wright, Wayne Shorter Quartet
Tickets from £10

Jazz luminaries abound at the EFG-sponsored shindig, and if you love jazz then (a) you'll almost certainly love this festival, and (b) God help you. But don’t let Londonist's pathetic opinion prevent you from enjoying the likes of Lizz Wright, The Bad Plus and many, many saxophones. Perhaps jazz makes sense in November, when little else does.

Ticket prices shown are for a single adult general admission ticket and do not include fees.