London Music Festival Guide 2020

Harry Rosehill
By Harry Rosehill Last edited 34 months ago

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London Music Festival Guide 2020
The War On Drugs at All Points East 2018. Photo: All Points East

Every summer London is awash with music festivals. There are so many that it can be hard to differentiate them and know which is right for you. That's why we've decided to make things a bit easier on you, and sum up each event in a few pithy sentences. Enjoy:

RE-TEXTURED: After a successful debut last year, the electronic music festival centred around brutalist architecture is back. Time for some ear-shattering tunes in London's boldest buildings. There are plenty of memorable nights (and days) on offer, but the all-dayer at Tobacco Dock is a murderer's row of the top live performers in techno with a few favourite DJs sprinkled in. Various venues across London, prices vary, book ahead, 2-5 April

LONDON LATIN MUSIC FESTIVAL: This 10-day festival celebrates its 20th year, with a bumper edition showcasing the best of the Latin music world. Whether you grew up with Latin music or have never knowingly listened to any — apart from the inescapable Despacito — you're welcome to party at this series of gigs. Various locations and prices, book ahead, 15 April-4 May

BRIXTON DISCO FESTIVAL: A disco festival in Brixton. What else could you possibly need to know? Okay. There's a rooftop party. Legendary group Crazy P are performing live. There's London's coolest Orchestra, Brixton Chamber Orchestra, getting your body moving. There's film screenings, talks... okay, it turns out there was a lot of other stuff you needed to know. Brixton (various venues), £22.50, book ahead, 2 May

Photo: Brixton Disco Festival

ALL POINTS EAST: Victoria Park is ground zero for London in terms of the city's park-based day festivals. All Points East continues the area's traditions with two weekends of supremely curated music. Only two of the six(?!) day's line-ups have been announced at time of writing, but my, do these acts whet the appetite. Tame Impala, Caribou, Kelly Lee Owens, Kraftwerk, Iggy Pop, Kim Gordon, Chromatics, Grandmaster Flash... aaaand we're out of breath. Victoria Park, £65+, book ahead, 22 May-31 May

WE ARE FSTVL: Common knowledge dictates that London's outdoor day festivals tend to be a tad cramped. It's all squeezed into a park, where tunes can't be played too loud, for fear of angering the neighbours. Dance music extravaganza We Are FSTVL aims to prove all of that wrong. How so? By taking place in the part of London lots of people don't consider to be London. Upminster. Two days of non-stop bangers and the punters won't care where they are (as long as there aren't disastrous queues this year). Upminster, £45-£145, book ahead, 23-24 May

Photo: Gala

GALA: South London's Gala turns five, and has gifted itself the best birthday prezzie possible: an extra day of partying! The only announcements thus far are of each day's 'hosts' — curators, essentially. London favourites like Horse Meat Disco, Rhythm Section and Worldwide FM are all in there. It's not all about the tunes at Gala, as just as much focus is placed on the food. An excellent idea considering how many calories you'll burn off with all those shapes you're going to be cutting. Peckham Rye Park, £40-£88, book ahead 23-24 May

THE ENDS: The Ends returns to Croydon for its sophomore edition, after a raucously successful debut. The festival positions itself as a competitor to the juggernaut Wireless, by focusing on black music genres. Apart from that, details are currently thin on the ground, so keep your eyes peeled. Also, we'll repeat what we said last year: if no one plays Are You Really From The Ends, it's a travesty. Croydon, price TBC, book ahead, date TBC

CAMDEN ROCKS: Trawl around the pubs of Camden to watch the most exciting rock bands the city has to offer. There are usually hundreds of bands squeezed in around 20 venues in just two days, so the key is to see as much as possible. No line-up or ticket details just yet, though there's a mailing list you can join if you want to be the first to find out about that. One pro tip though — don't try rushing to wherever a headliner is playing minutes before their show. There's a strong chance you won't get in. Camden, price TBC, book ahead, date TBC

Photo: Junction 2

HAMPTON COURT PALACE FESTIVAL: Are you ready to be Dancing on the Ceiling of a Tudor palace? That's right, Lionel Richie is one of this year's headliners at Hampton Court Palace Festival. Also on the line-up? The original meme, Rick Astley. Enough said. Hampton Court Palace, £59+, book ahead, June 4-19

JUNCTION 2: One of many dance music festivals gracing London this summer, Junction 2 stands out thanks to the quality of its line-up. Avalon Emerson, DJ Koze, Nina Kraviz and Leon Vynehall are all names to drive proper dance music heads wild. And you'll be going wild in the most wonderful surroundings, Boston Manor Park is a bucolic gem. Boston Manor Park, £40+, book ahead, 5-6 June

MIGHTY HOOPLA: People don't think of pop music as cool. But who gives a damn what people think when you're having the time of your life? That's the mood at Mighty Hoopla, a festival that just wants people to have a hell of a lot of fun. Anastacia, Gabrielle, Atomic Kitten and Natasha Bedingfield are some of the first names out on this nostalgic line-up in south London. Brockwell Park, £55, book ahead, 6 June

Photo: Hampton Court Palace Festival

CROSS THE TRACKS: If you stick around Brockwell Park the following day, there's a rather different festival to Mighty Hoopla. At Cross The Tracks, funk, jazz and some classic soul is the order of the day — if you love The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show (a favourite at Londonist Towers), this could be one for you. Absolute legends Sister Sledge headline, but don't think it's all golden oldies. Cross The Tracks has plenty of acts crafting the future of jazz, funk and electronic music, through alchemic genre fusions. If that's what you're going for, be sure to see Tinariwen. Brockwell Park, £30+, book ahead, 7 June

MELTDOWN: Despite carrying a name that's best associated with nuclear disasters, Meltdown festival is a far more civilised affair than the majority of events on this list. One legendary artist curates a week of gigs at the Southbank Centre. Recent curators include M.I.A. and Robert Smith, and this year the honour falls to 80s icon Grace Jones. Her line-up is yet to be announced, but here's if it's got people who are half as talented as she, we're in for a treat. Southbank Centre, price TBC, book ahead, 12-21 June

WIRELESS: London's annual urban music festival returns to Finsbury Park for the sixth year running. Actually we say that, but historically Wireless was an entirely different beast — David Gray once headlined the festival up in Leeds. Don't worry hip-hop heads, even though we're still waiting on a line-up, we promise that won't be happening this year. Also it's worth booking ahead for this one, as soon as the line-up comes out, these tickets go fast. Finsbury Park, £70-£190, book ahead, 3-5 July

Photo: British Summer Time

BRITISH SUMMER TIME: The big-hitter in the heart of London. Entertaining the masses in Hyde Park this year are Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift, Little Mix and Pearl Jam (who've already sold out). In between the two weekends of musical brilliance comes BST Open House, when you can wander into the site for free and enjoy cinema screenings, pop-up bars, circus, cabaret and much more. Hyde Park, various prices, book ahead, 4-11 July

FIELD DAY: A juggernaut of London's day festival scene, and one of the genre's originators. The name isn't quite so accurate anymore as it has ditched the field for three giant, connected warehouses in Enfield. That's not the only seismic change for Field Day, this year it's straying far from its 'four guys and guitars' past, and wholly committing to dance music. Bicep, Josey Rebelle, Mount Kimbie, Floorplan and Ross From Friends provide the soundtrack to the grooving. Meridian Water, £45+, book ahead, 11 July

LOVEBOX: Another one of the London mainstays, this is the ideal festival for people who like to dance, but want the songs that make them dance to have lyrics. Ok, that's reductive — there are quite a few straight up rappers, electronic music artists and popstars here — Charli XCX falls into that last category and is a must-see. However, Lovebox always shows plenty of love to the R&B scene, and representatives from the genre this year include Khalid and Jorja Smith. Dress code is colourful but cool — see what vintage Fila or Adidas you can get your hands on at a second hand shop. Gunnersbury Park, £73-£150, book ahead, 12-14 July

Photo: Field Day

LONDON INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL: And now for something completely different. London International Music Festival brings together young musicians from around the globe to perform in some of London's most prestigious venues — Central Hall Westminster, Southwark Cathedral, Conway Hall and more — in a supportive environment. Various locations, free entry, just turn up, 13-16 July

INNERVISIONS: A multi-venue soul, funk, jazz and blues festival, that has a history of pulling in big names — think Van Morrison and Mavis Staples. No word just yet on what those names are in 2020, but apparently announcements are coming soon. In all honesty, calling Innervisions a festival shows the diverse use of that term today — this is more a series of similarly-themed gigs across the city. Various locations, various prices, book ahead, 17-19 July

LIVESTOCK: A music festival that keeps it local. Run entirely by volunteers on the picturesque Forty Hall Farm — hence the name — in Enfield, Livestock is in its impressive eighth year. The festival is especially family-friendly, under-12s go free and it's just £5 for teens, and the kids can hang out with the animals in between bands. Forty Hall Farm, free-£30, book ahead, 25 July

Photo: Lovebox

51ST STATE: There will be plenty of sniggering ravers at the start of August as they ride the Piccadilly line to Cockfosters for 51st State. Held in the leafy Green Belt, this year marks the fest's sixth birthday, and even though there's as of yet no line-up announced, you can be sure of what to expect. Masses of house music with a dash of garage, a hint of soul and a dollop of disco across seven stages. Trent Park, £32+, book ahead, 1 August

EASTERN ELECTRICS: From the end of the Piccadilly line, we move on to the end of the Northern line, Morden. This is another festival dedicated to making your body move but Eastern Electrics has a hard edge. Expect bass. The kind that may leave your ears ringing for a week. Yes, we're extremely confident of that prediction despite the current lack of announcements. That's just what these guys do best. Morden Park, price TBC, book ahead, dates TBC

SOUTH WEST FOUR: Mega. That's the one word that sums up Clapham Common's EDM/grime/garage/whatever-the-hell-people-want-to-dance-to end of summer weekender. The line-up is massive. Dance music is a broad church, so if you and your mates all have differing tastes this could be the festival for you — there's at least one act on this behemoth of this line-up that everyone will go crazy for. What's ours? Tough choice, but Kano has never let us down before. Clapham Common, ticket prices TBC, book ahead, 29-30 August

Photo: 51st State

MAIDEN VOYAGE: Three Mills Island was the east London spot to be for intimate one day festivals last summer. Thus far only one has announced its return for 2020 — Maiden Voyage, the festival from the team at Camden's Jazz Cafe. Despite the name, the venue's tastes are a bit broader than just jazz, and include hip hop, afrobeat and funk. We're not saying that's a bad thing. Especially when it means you can squeeze such an eclectic mix of acts onto the same line-up. Three Mills Island, £30, book ahead, 30 August

SOUTHPORT WEEKENDER: Despite having a Merseyside town in its name, Southport Weekender is in south London. Crystal Palace to be precise (it's also worth pointing out that it's just one day...). The reason for the name lies in the festival's origins, a R&B, garage, house and soul weekend in Southport Pontins. The team have brought the self-proclaimed 'world's friendliest party' vibe down to the Big Smoke, for a few years now. No line-up announced at the time of writing. Crystal Palace Park, price TBC, book ahead, 5 September

DEFECTED LONDON FSTVL: Veterans of the house music scene, Defected returns to Dagenham's Central Park. Pioneers of modern club culture, expect plenty of big stages and equally whopper names to entertain you. Except, there's currently no word of who those names are. As it comes in September, this is the ideal day to help you get over you festival season nostalgia. Central Park, price TBC, book ahead, 12 September

Photo: Defected FSTVL

BBC PROMS IN THE PARK: The BBC Proms culminate in Britain's biggest outdoor classical music event. It's September, so by this point the British weather is even less reliable than for everything else on this list. Pack an anorak. Even if the forecast is clear. Trust us. Hyde Park, price TBC, book ahead, date TBC

EFG LONDON JAZZ FESTIVAL: Do you ever get to November and have a real hankering for a music festival to lift those winter blues? EFG has you covered, with glorious jazz to make everything feel alright again. Set across plenty of venues across London, EFG tends to go for a more the merrier approach — countless different acts in a diverse set of venues. No line-up as of yet. Various locations, various prices, book ahead, 13-22 November

Know any others we've missed out? Add it to the comments below or get in touch. We will update this article as more events are announced.

Last Updated 24 January 2020