The UK has witnessed a veritable explosion of festivals popping all over the country in the last few decades. Being placed bang centre in the middle of the country has its advantages, one of which being the easy travelling distance to copious amounts of Summer rhythmic rivalry. From the Download’s monster’s of rock to Shambala’s bohemian jungle, from musical legends of Bearded Theory to the pop idols of Texfest, Great Central has built a list of 15 of the best Summer soirées still to come this year, all located less than 60 minutes drive from Leicester’s city centre. So start stocking the cooler, dust off the camp chair, dig out your favourite festival hat and break out the glitter, summer is coming. 

Bearded Theory’s Spring Gathering 

The unofficial gateway to Britain’s festival season, Bearded Theory has built a reputation among festival-goers as one of the best-organised events of the year. Probably why it never ceases to sell out months in advance. Among this year’s most anticipated acts are Robert Plant, former frontman of seminal British rock band Led Zeppelin, Jamaican ska and reggae icon, Jimmy Cliff, electro punks and social poets, Sleaford Mods, 80s alternative rock pioneers, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and wild Ulster rockers Therapy?.  Among these massive musical powerhouses, a few Leicester faces have managed to make their way onto the coveted Bearded Theory bill. The city’s favourite musical uncle Frank Benbini will be bashing the skins with his band the Fun Loving Criminals, reformed 80s indie punk rockers Crazy Head will be performing on the main stage on Sunday, and soulful gypsy punks The Brandy Thieves are set to steal the show on Friday.  

Bearded Theory’s Spring Gathering takes place 24th-27th May at Catton Hall, Walton-upon-Trent, 56 minutes drive from Leicester City Centre. Weekend tickets are priced at £120. 

Glastonbudget 

Now in its 14th year, Leicestershire’s very own tribute festival is back. Expect a line-up of the best tribute bands from the all over the UK with acts like of Antarctic Monkeys, Guns 2 Roses and the Four Fighters taking centre stage. In recent years the festival, which bears no connection to the world famous Glastonbury, has expanded to provide a showcase for a handful of original acts. Yet, these are still very much in the background because Glastonbudget is all about the tributes. 

Glastonbudget takes place 25th-27th May at Turnpost Farm, Wymeswold, 25 minutes drive from Leicester City Centre.  Weekend tickets are priced at £85. 

Download 

By far the biggest and most prestigious festival on this list, Download is simply massive, a true monster of rock.  Every year rockers from every corner of the globe make the journey to Britain’s most popular Rock and Metal Festival increasing the population of Derbyshire for the weekend by almost 10%. With over 120 acres of campsite and a recently increased capacity of 110,000 people, there’s just about room for them all.  A giant festival needs a giant line-up and with 5 stages and in excess of 100 bands, Download does not fail deliver. This year’s line-up is headed by multi-million selling rock outfit Guns N’ Roses, featuring the original trio of Axl Rose, Slash, and Duff McKagan as well as long time keyboardist, Dizzy Reed.  Californian heavy metal act Avenged Sevenfold headline Friday night and British rock legend, Ozzy Osboure takes the honours on Sunday. Other notable acts playing this year’s Download Festival are Marilyn Manson, Bullet for My Valentine, Blackstone Cherry, L7, Bad Religion and The Hives. 

Download takes place 8th-10th June at Donington Park, Castle Donington, 36 minutes drive from Leicester city centre. Weekend tickets are priced at £200. 

Hell ‘n’ Cat 

When punk festival G-Spot Alternative Gathering was forced into cancellation due to ill health of the organiser, the venue owners and local bands clubbed together to make sure the show goes on. The result is a surprisingly stellar line-up of local and national acts at a very affordable price. Headlining the festival are the mighty Urban Voodoo Machine. The London based  ‘Bourbon Soaked Gypsy Blues’ ensemble, who are a festival favourite across the UK and Europe, continually sell-out every Leicester concert they play. They are joined by local live favourites The Brandy Thieves and Goldwater, as well as a host of acts from across the country including The Hangmen, The Blue Carpet Band, Headsticks and The Dukes of Bordello.  With more acts to be added, Hell ‘n’ Cat already has a decidedly raucous feel, expect to get sweaty. 

Hell ‘n’ Cat takes place 15th-17th June at The Victoria Biker’s Club, Coalville, 28 minutes from Leicester City Centre. Weekend tickets are priced at £25. 

Texfest 

The baby of the bunch, Market Harborough’s Texfest is a brand new 3-day musical event with big hopes of taking the festival circuit by storm. Texfest has certainly pulled no punches with their line-up. Friday sees grime star Tinchy Stryder take stage along side Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw. Saturday’s highlights include Example & DJ Wire, The Hoosiers and The South. The festival wraps up with Beans on Toast, We are Scientists, The Pigeon Detectives, and The Fratellis. In addition, to these established acts, Texfest seems committed to providing a platform for local talent with The Brandy Thieves, Aztec Temples, Last Edition, and Charlotte Carpenter all set to take the stage. 

Texfest takes place 29th June-1st July at Market Harborough Show Grounds, 34 minutes drive from Leicester city centre.  Weekend tickets are priced at £75. 

Noisily Festival of Music & Arts

Nestled in the beautiful setting of Coney Woods, Noisily is a festival that claims ‘”to feed the mind, body and soul”. The festival’s musical roots lie with the UKs electronic music scene, with Techno, House, and Trance being the flavour of the weekend. Notable acts include Bristol producer and DJ Roni Size, Patrice Bäumel, the German purveyor of ‘Techno for Adults’, and acclaimed West Country DJ and production crew, The Stanton Warriors. But there is much more to Noisily than banging DJ beats. Jugglers, fire breathers, acrobats and aerialists lurk around every corner and incredible installations of art and creativity can be found hiding amongst the trees.  

Noisily takes place 5th-8th July, at Noseley Hall, Billesden, 31 minutes drive from Leicester City Centre. Weekend tickets are priced at £165. 

Western Park Festival 

It may not have the recognisable names of the other festivals featured on this list, but this delightful free one day family festival just a few miles from Leicester’s city centre certainly deserves a mention. Attracting thousands of locals each year, WPF boasts three stages of music in addition to workshops, arts and crafts, a cocktail and ale bar, and kid’s zone. Among this year’s line-up are hardworking grungers The Dedbeats; highly underrated blues rockers The Jav’lins, and popular local alt-folk band Bellatones. 

Western Park Festival takes place 7th July, at Western Park, 7 minutes drive from Leicester City Centre. Entrance is free but attendees are encouraged to make a donation. 

Deerstock 

This entirely non-profit boutique festival hidden in the Nottinghamshire countryside is certainly worth a punt. Coming into fruition in 2011, Deerstock continues to grow. This is highlighted by the fact that they have managed to bag hugely popular London punk rockers The King Blues to close 2018’s festivities. Also on the bill are power trio Blackballed, and cult icon John Otway. 

Deerstock takes place 20th-22nd July, at Newton Cross Country Course, Shelford, 38 minutes drive from Leicester City Centre. Weekend tickets are priced at £55. 

Mayhem at Mick’s

Oi! Who fancies some punk rock in a cowshed? Well that’s exactly what you will get if you head down to Farmer Mick’s in July. This DIY punk fest, now in its fourth year, takes place on an actual working farm and boasts of being one of the best-kept secrets in Punk Rock. This year’s line-up includes pioneers of street punk, Sham 69, trashy garage rockers Witchdoktors, and Celtic-punks, Mick O’Toole.   

Mayhem at Mick’s takes place 20th-21st July, at Rose Farm, Fleckney, 24 minutes drive from Leicester City Centre. Weekend tickets are priced at £35.

Splendour 

Nottingham’s Splendour Festival certainly gives Leicester something to envy. Now in its tenth year, this one-day affair never ceases to pull in its share of musical heavyweights. This year’s line-up features retro pop princess Paloma Faith, indie legends The Charlatans, alternative icons The Stranglers, and popular Mansfield folk punks Ferocious Dog. 

Splendour takes place 21st July at Wollaton Park, Nottingham, 48 minutes drive from Leicester City Centre. Day tickets are priced at £53.90. 

Barefoot Festival 

July comes to a close with the fabulous gem that is Barefoot. A festival of Art, Music, Dance and Yoga, Cabaret, and Burlesque, there is a decidedly theatrical feeling to the whole affair. Indeed Barefoot is all about escaping modern life for a weekend and just taking some time out. The Big Top hosts an array of performances, the highlight being ‘Talulah Blue’s Burlesque & Cabaret Extravaganza’. The outdoor grass arena witnesses spectacular moonlit fire performances. And the band tent features some of the most popular local acts around. This year’s headliners include raucous gypsy punk band The Brandy Thieves, widely regarded as one of the Midlands’s best live acts, and Leicester’s mighty blues rock monsters Goldwater. Other musical highlights are absolutely superb Siobhan Mazzei Band, local ska legends The Splitters, and indie rockers SuperEvolver. With a different fancy dress theme each day, workshops galore, and a circus atmosphere, Barefoot is perfect for the festival family.  

Barefoot Festival takes place 27th-29th July, at Prestwold Hall, Loughborough, 27 minutes drive from Leicester City Centre. Weekend tickets are priced at £69. 

110 Above

Awaken your inner hipster, 110 Above is here. This proudly independent Leicestershire music festival presents its patrons with cutting edge music from the rising stars of the indie scene. With the capacity is carefully limited to 1000 tickets, festival-goers are assured of a truly intimate musical experience. Acts at this year’s 110 Above include Fickle Friends, Peace, The Magic Gang, Blaenavon, and Eliza and the Bear. 

110 Above takes place 3rd-5th August, at Gopsall Hall Farm, Twycross, 45 minutes drive from Leicester City Centre. Weekend tickets are priced at £89.

Shambala

By far the most hedonistic of our 15, Shambala is a four-day, non-stop, unadulterated party. Impossible to sum up in a paragraph, Shambala is a cornucopia of artistry and activity, participation and creativity. Dance workshops, circus performances, comedy shows, classic cinema, poetry slams, woodland foraging, sunrise yoga, and all night raves, are just a few of the hundreds of adventures awaiting for you this August bank holiday weekend.  Music plays only one part of this unconventional triumph of imagination but no mean part nonetheless. The full line-up had not been released at the time of writing but highlights already include Ghanaian superstar Guy One, Gentleman’s Dub Club, the nine piece ska, reggae dub collective, and Indiana country blues outlaws The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. 

Shambala takes place 23rd -26th August at secret location, 39 minutes drive from Leicester City Centre. Weekend tickets are priced at £189. 

Greenbelt

Perhaps the most intriguing on our list, Greenbelt is a festival of activism and faith, of protest and spirituality. Established way back in 1974 by collective of farmers, artists, actors, musicians and theologians, Greenbelt may seem like an ensemble of unimaginable juxtapositions but somehow it all fits together. This year’s band in residence is no other than infamous Russian feminist punks Pussy Riot. Other musical highlights include LA Chicano fusion band Ozomatli, New York rockers We are Scientists, Northern Irish mutli-instrumentalist Duke Special, and Leicester’s own mistress of protest folk, Gracie Petrie. The musical line-up being supplemented by talks from likes of Jack Monroe and Micheal Eavis, Greenbelt is for those who seek a thought provoking weekend.  

Greenbelt takes place 24th-27th August at Boughton House, Kettering, 58 minutes drive from Leicester City Centre. Weekend tickets are priced at £190. 

Grey Dog

With three stages of music spread throughout picturesque woodlands and free admission, the inaugural Grey Dog Festival is already looking like a worthwhile shindig. An alcohol free festival aimed at raising awareness of metal illness among our youth, Grey Dog is the perfect place to drop the teenagers off for a taste supervised festival freedom. Music comes from popular local acts Stevie Jones and the Wildfires, GU-RU, The Siobhan Mazzei Band and headliners The Brandy Thieves.  

Grey Dog takes place 25th August at the Scouts Camping Ground, Overstone, 56 minutes drive from Leicester City Centre. Admission is free, weekend camping is charged at £20pp. 

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