Trackhunter's Top 10 UK Dance Festivals for 2023
Wednesday, May 3, 2023
As I write this article in late April there’s still a damp coldness in the air as often found with the first half of Spring. Nevertheless, the promise of countless summer festivals is enough to bring a sense of optimism to one’s soul. It has been a tough winter, not just the overhang of the pandemic but the added pressures brought on by the cost of living crisis. Ever since going to my first festival in 1990 I have long realised that they are an escape from the world and subsequent stresses that come with it. Of course, I was lucky in that mobile phones were not about, so you were totally cut off from the modern world, which in the case of Reading was just a mile or two away when I was sitting in a field watching the likes of The Cramps do their thing. They are an important part of our culture, we must enjoy and celebrate them if we can, especially as they are one of the entertainment sectors that have been hardest hit by the events of the last three years. As we do at Trackhunter every year about now, we've picked out ten festivals for you to explore. The following have a range of ticket prices, as not everyone can afford to spend the £250 plus ticket price most notable festivals now charge.
Forbidden Forest - Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire - 2nd-4th June - £160.50
You will need to be quick to grab one of the remaining tickets for one of the year’s first festivals as a superb line up heads to Belvoir Castle and the Forbidden Forest. Set across five areas, you can expect to hear sets from Todd Terry, Hot Since 82, Horse Meat Disco, Groove Armada and Andy C. If you do not fancy setting up a tent and camping, day tickets are available for Saturday and Friday.
Gottwood - Carreglwyd Estate, Anglesey, Wales - 8-11th June - £204.30
Another great festival in June takes place on the lush green and mythical island of Anglesey. A comprehensive line up across several areas, which over four days cater for most tastes at this lovely boutique festival. Highlights include Crazy P Soundsystem, Move D, Channel One (Live), Jerome Hill, Ruf Dug, Luke Una and 2 Bad Mice. This is without a special festival and one that is well worth a trip across the Menai Strait for.
Kelburn Garden Party, Kelburn Castle, Fairlie, Scotland - 30th June to 3rd July - £169.95 plus booking fee
Set on the beautiful West Coast of Scotland, just a 45 minute drive from Glasgow, Kelburn has been going since 2009 and has a varied selection of music and arts for all ages. Among the DJs and live acts you can expect to see live sets from Radioactive Man live, Rival Consoles and DJ sets from Crazy P Soundsystem and Auntie Flo. The Scotsman newspaper called Kelburn ‘A distinctly magical atmosphere’, and it certainly looks it.
Mostly Jazz Festival - Moseley Park, Birmingham, Warwickshire - 7-9th July - £156.60 weekend (day tickets available)
I’ve only ever been to Mostly Jazz Festival once and that was about ten years ago to see a fantastic line up that was topped by the Sun Ra Arkestra. Whilst not a banging rave festival, Mostly is a weekend of really sweet vibes and a wonderful crowd. Set in the urban settings of south Birmingham, it always managed to pull together a stellar line up of international artists. The festival happens over the course of three days, and whilst there is no camping, you can buy a weekend ticket at a reduced price from the three separate tickets. This year some of the must-see acts include KC And The Sunshine Band, Fred Wesley & The New JBs, Goldie, Jungle playing a DJ set, Norman Jay, Mr Scruff and Boca 45, plus many more.
Bluedot - Jodrell Bank, Cheshire - 20-23rd July £219.25 (day tickets available)
As impressive settings go, Bluedot is up there with the best, not because of the lovely setting but because it resides amongst an impressive array of telescopes, with the Lovell Telescope being the centre attraction on site. Whilst not a pure dance festival, it does historically have a strong leaning towards electronic music. This year offers a rare chance to see the incredibly unique talent of Grace Jones alongside some heavyweights of dance music. Leading the pack are Leftfield, Róisín Murphy, 2ManyDJs, Erol Alkan, David Holmes, and Max Cooper delivering his 3D AV show.
Houghton - Houghton Hall, Norfolk - 10-13th August - £265
We could not compile this list without including the rather impressive Houghton festival. I attended the first two iterations of this epic weekend and loved it, and strongly suggest you investigate further. Which acts are playing? It would take all day to tell you due to the very long roster of DJs and live performers. Here are our picks for the weekend, in terms of live acts we’d suggest you check out Carl Finlow, DMX Krew, Higher Intelligence Agency, Monolake, Osibisa and of course, Roy Ayers. DJ set picks include Red Axes, Justin Robertson, Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy and Sean Johnston and his A.L.F.O.S incarnation. Houghton is truly a special setting and we suggest you make time to catch the land train to visit the many sculptures on display on the estate. If anything, you’ll enjoy the absolute silence for an hour or so before getting back to the party.
We Out Here - Wimborne St Giles, Dorset - 10-14th August - £210
It is really hard not to feature We Out Here in our top ten as it is the one festival I hear good reviews from by various friends time after time. It is the one festival I wished was a little nearer to where I live and one that I hope to get to one day. The line up is always impressive and clearly a lot of thought goes into curating this forward thinking festival that also has a keen eye on history. The aforementioned Sun Ra Arkestra play alongside other incredible acts including the seminal British funk group Cymande. The masters of one of the greatest mixes ever curated are in attendance with Kruder & Dorfneister and drum & bass legends LTJ Bukem and Roni Size play.
Lost Village - Lincolnshire - 24-27th August - £305 plus booking fee
A festival not too far from me which has gone from strength to strength over the last few years. Very much casting its own identity among the corpus of UK festivals, this year’s line-up has lots to digest with new and old artists on the roster. Some of our picks include Awesome Tapes, Nightmares on Wax, Geggy Gou, Gerd Jansen, Mr Scruff and Róisín Murphy.
We Are FSTVL - Daymns Hall, Essex - 25-27th August - £160 + booking fee (day tickets available)
With a lot of the tickets already gone for this Bank Holiday banger, so you need to act quick if you want to see the likes of The Prodigy, Adam Beyer, Green Velvet, Honey Dijon, Kerri Chandler, Carl Cox, Seth Troxler and Marco Carola; plus many more big names at this three day mega party. Day tickets are available for all three days.
Illusive Festival - Corby - 8th-10th September - £183.75
One of the last festivals of the summer as Illusive enters its ninth year and is set out across eight stages with a large line up of DJs and live performers. Some of the picks for this year include genuine old skool rave royalty with Bryan Gee, Chris Liberator, DJ Rap, Ragga Twins Crew and Nicky Blackmarket. Also worth checking out are the evergreen Scratch Perverts, Rennie Pilgrim and Juno Reactor. An energetic way to see off the last of the summer sun.
https://illusive-festival.co.uk/ Discover new digital dance music with Trackhunter