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Music

The five best budget-friendly festivals

I would be lying if I put on my old man voice and said, “Ooh, I remember the days when you could walk into Glastonbury for nowt more than a thrupeny bit.” Alas, I am relatively young, but it seems that even in my decade or two of festival attendance, prices have traversed to the wackier side of barmy. 

Nowadays, a weekend festival ticket for £150 would be regarded as one of the cheaper ones available. Ostensibly, organisers for the top-flight festivals such as Glastonbury, Coachella and Primavera know how desperately fond of the festival season we are and look to exploit that to their whim. To attend Glastonbury in the mid-1990s, one would have the delight of beholding acts like Radiohead, Primal Scream and Oasis in their prime for around £60. This year, if you want to see Paul McCartney (not in his prime) alongside Billie Eilish and Kendrick Lamar, you will be paying £285 for your trouble.

Admittedly, these top-flight festivals are rammed to the rafters with exciting acts, and they offer unforgettable experiences for those lucky and affluent enough to attend. Though, realistically, for many of us, it isn’t financially viable to head to such festivals year upon year. I urge everyone to get yourselves to one of these big festivals once in a while, but in between, we might be better off getting our fix from some of the smaller festivals. The benefits are threefold, firstly, you will make handsome savings; secondly, you will discover and support exciting new acts; and thirdly, you will support smaller independent organisations and venues.

Today, we explore some of the greatest festivals the UK has to offer for under £100. For this price range, we’re sadly going to have to rule out any headline acts from ageing Beatles or chart-topping sensations; but if you’re anything like me and love to find a hidden gem packed with up and coming acts, then I implore you to read on. 

The five best budget-friendly festivals:

Stockton Calling – Stockton on Tees

If you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful day festival in the north of England, then you can’t go far wrong with Stockton Calling. The festival runs early in the season, with the 2022 instalment coming up on Saturday, April 16th. The festival takes place across several venues, including the fantastic The Georgian Theatre.

The tickets for this year’s event come at the wallet-pleasing price of £31. So while you fondle your mammoth savings, you can feast your eyes and ears on headline acts, including The Pigeon Detectives, Reytons and Self Esteem and have enough of your budget left to hit the beer tents and buy your friends a round.

The Great Escape – Brighton 

If you’re looking to get the best out of your £100 budget this festival season, then Brighton could be the place for you. The Great Escape festival was founded in 2006 and can no longer be described as a hidden gem. Still, the festival has kept its priorities in order offering opportunities to up and coming acts while supporting smaller venues.

This year’s festival will take place over the weekend of May 11th – 14th. The festival sprawls countless acts across three days for the head-turning price of £90. What’s more, you can make handsome savings if you purchase tickets as a group of five, bringing the cost per ticket down to just £75. Heading to Brighton this year are exciting acts such as Katy J Pearson, Keg, Crows, Ditz, English Teacher, Yard Act and Goat Girl.

Humber Street Sesh – Hull

Another hidden gem for the savvy in the north of the country is Hull’s Humber Street Sesh. Sadly, the event has been cancelled for the last two years due to the Covid-19 measures imposed at the time. However, the festival looks to make a triumphant return this summer on August 2nd and 3rd.

The festival takes place on the Hull Marina that will bustle with life this August, provided the weather is on our side. Much of the lineup is yet to be announced, but the organisers like to focus on supporting rising musicians alongside a scattering of more well-established names. Details for the 2022 edition are set to arrive soon.

Godiva Festival – Coventry

Coventry’s Godiva Festival is something of a hidden gem in the heart of the country. Over the past couple of years, the festival has attracted attention in the local area for drawing in some big names, including Supergrass, Sister Sledge, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, and Sophie Ellis-Bextor. However, the organisers also focus on providing a platform to support a diverse range of local newcomers. 

This year’s instalment will take place on September 2nd-4th in Coventry’s War Memorial Park. Line-ups and ticket prices haven’t been unveiled yet, but last years’ came in at just under £20 for an adult weekend ticket. Based on last year’s pricing, you could be swimming in savings while enjoying a brilliantly diverse line-up. Keep an eye on the website for updates over the coming months.

Dot To Dot Festival – Bristol / Nottingham

Dot To Dot festival comes as one of the more accessible festivals a tight wallet can afford, with two separate dates across two cities. The vast array of artists is spread across venues big and small, dotted around the cities, with all of the performances occurring on one day. The festival supports some of the country’s most promising emerging acts.

This year the two dates will be blessed with appearances from Feet, Swim Deep, Bob Vylan, Jessica Winter, Squid, Baby Queen, Ghetts and Alfie Templeman, among many others. The Bristol date is scheduled for Saturday, May 28th. The acts will then travel north to Nottingham to play on Sunday, May 29th. Tickets come a healthy margin below our budget at just £15 face value, although at this late juncture, we find ourselves on the final release, which brings the price to just under £30, including booking fees for each date.