Our 10 UK music festival picks for 2023

Posted on 21st June 2023 in Category: Blogs

At a seemingly record pace, the 2023 summer festival season is once again upon us. And after a year or two of uncertainty and cancellations in the post-COVID festival landscape, this year’s lineup of live music events is back with a serious bang.

In fact, a quick browse of online resources like the brilliant Music Festival Wizard demonstrates the sheer dizzying array of festival options on offer this summer. It seems like you’ll barely be able to take a step into the British countryside without stumbling into a few thousand cider-drinking, bucket hat adorned music lovers soaking up some live bands. And honestly? We simply cannot wait to get stuck in.

But with so many festival options available to you, where do you even start? Well we here at Kudos Audio thought we’d help you out with a select handful of our own UK music festival picks for this summer’s live music season. Because we’re nice like that.

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Kudos Audio’s 10 UK music festival picks for 2023

Our list of ten attempts to cover all the bases – from iconic names to lesser known gems, along with the odd curveball for the musically adventurous amongst you. To get you right in the mood, we’ve also compiled an accompanying playlist featuring a round up of the summer’s festival headliners, and some deep-bill choices that we love.

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Without further ado, let’s get stuck in.


The big festivals admittedly aren’t for everyone, but for sheer scale and spectacle, every music lover should submit themselves to a large-scale festival experience at least once in their lives. Here’s our three recommended household-name choices for 2023.


Glastonbury Festival – Somerset, 21st – 25th June 2023

Why we love it.

Ever heard of it?

Yes, we know, it could perhaps be seen as a little basic to start this list with the world’s most iconic live music event. But here’s the thing folks – there’s a reason that Glastonbury is the biggest, best known festival on the planet. Maybe you’re put off by the size and the potential for awful weather – we get that. But until you’re actually there, it’s difficult to express what a game-changing experience Glastonbury is for true music lovers.

By all means, go for the Pyramid stage headliners. But the real joy of Glastonbury comes in the moments when you’re wandering between smaller stages, truly losing yourself in the unimaginable vastness of live music. For one weekend every June, this farm in rural Somerset becomes one of the biggest cities in South West England – a city entirely dedicated to music. It’s a sight to behold, one that every music lover should experience at least once in their lives.

Our top line-up picks.

Headliners-wise, Guns & Roses will surely be tremendous fun – and Arctic Monkeys will probably provide this year’s iconic Pyramid Stage moments (provided Alex Turner’s voice returns in time!). But it’s deeper into the lineup that you’ll find some seriously exciting stuff. Maggie Rogers, The War On Drugs, Yaya Bey and Thundercat are all must-sees.


Boardmasters – Newquay, 9th – 13th August 2023

Why we love it.

Boardmasters used to be known as a festival that solely accommodated the gnarly music scenes that followed in the wake of its surfer-centric audience. This has totally changed in recent years, yet Boardmasters still carries a little bit of that ‘yeah dude!’ reputation. This is something of a shame, because there’s surely few better settings for a music festival anywhere on the planet.

Located across Cornwall’s imposing Fistral Beach and Watergate Bay, Boardmasters plays host to an eclectic and irresistible line up of big acts. Enjoy the competitive surfing, the great food, the awesome music, and the beautiful sea views – what’s not to like?

Our top line-up picks.

Of the headline acts, Lorde is probably our pick of the weekend. Like Glasto, true highlights of Boardmasters can be found across the smaller stages. Black Honey, and Bear’s Den are both worth your time, but our highlight has to be hefty alt-rockers Wunderhorse, who delivered one of the most exciting debut albums of last year.


TRNSMT – Glasgow, 7th – 9th July 2023

Why we love it.

TRNSMT has quickly and efficiently become the biggest and best large-scale live music festival in Scotland. Specialising in rock and alternative indie, the lineup is always packed with killer artists, catering to a broad range of ages and tastes. It’s also a little smaller and more ‘doable’ than the other two big hitters in this blog, so it’s a good way to knock an uber-festival off your list without having to worry about 40 minute waits at the shower block.

Our top line-up picks.

Headliner Sam Fender was quietly our favourite act of last year’s Glastonbury lineup, and always promises a great live show. Paul Heaton is ubiquitously brilliant live. But the real reason TRNSMT makes this list is because of Pulp. Seriously, go see Pulp. They’re one of the single best indie bands you’ll ever see live.

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Mid-sized festivals are brilliant. Family friendly, chilled, easy to navigate – and these days, they often boast just as mouth-watering a lineup as many of the big boys. Here’s three of our favourites for 2023.


Kendal Calling – Lake District, 27th – 30th June

Why we love it.

Feeling a little ‘north of thirty’ for Boardmasters? Then this one’s for you. Kendal Calling has become the mid-sized festival of choice for myriad music lovers over the last decade or so. This weekend of arts, music and standup comedy is a truly family-friendly event, with plenty for the kids to do whilst the parents get to grips with some great music lineups. It’s set in a stunning location in the north lakes, too, meaning there’s plenty going for this lovely weekend of music – one of the best UK music festival picks for all the family.

Our top line-up picks.

If you’re yet to see Nile Rogers & Chic, it’s not a show to be missed. Frank Turner and Reverend & The Makers always offer great festival fare too – then all that’s left is to dance the night away to The ABBA Disco.


Black Deer – Kent, 16th – 18th June 2023

Why we love it.

During COVID, Black Deer festival nearly vanished forever, but we’re so glad it managed to survive the hinterland of lockdown summers. Europe’s premier country and Americana festival has grown in size and reputation in recent years – propelled by the massive rise in popularity of the modern country genre. Black Deer manages to balance the old sound and the new very well – and you can see that deftness demonstrated in this year’s line up.

Our top line-up picks.

Steve Earl and Bonnie Raitt are the best of the classic acts, but the contemporary picks are extraordinary this year. Kurt Vile, The Teskey Brothers, and Bonny Light Horseman are all total must-sees.


Belladrum Tartan Heart  – Inverness, 27th – 29th July

Why we love it.

Belladrum festival is bursting with pretty much everything that’s great about mid-level festivals. Set across an entirely manageable seven stages, this weekend of music, art, comedy, and entertainment features something for the whole family – and that family friendly focus is backed up by Belladrum being free to all children under 12. It makes it a BIG draw for family festival-goers, so if that’s not your scene, this might be one to avoid.

Our top line-up picks.

Scottish classics Alabama 3 and Fatherson are great value for some top-tier festival memories, but our absolute must-see of Belladrum is the effortlessly brilliant Sigrid – another glittering highlight of last year’s Glastonbury festival.

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Whilst the likes of Glasto and Leeds take all the headlines, there’s literally hundreds of smaller festivals taking place across the country this summer – many of which are deeply worthy of your attention. Often these smaller festivals are independently run and financed, so your patronage really, truly makes a difference to their livelihoods. Here’s three small scale Uk music festival picks we absolutely love.


FolkEast – Suffolk, 18th – 20th August

Why we love it.

Like much of the UK’s brilliant and flourishing folk scene, FolkEast was built from the ground up (and paid for) by true lovers of music. Ten years ago, the organisers – a married couple – sold the family home to realise their dream of running their own festival. A big risk, but one that’s happily paid off.

Over the last decade, this cosy festival in the south east has ballooned in popularity and reputation, becoming one of folk music’s biggest and best summer festivals. There’s music everywhere at FolkEast – the acts on the bill are only the start. You’ll find sessions springing up across the site all weekend, with something for the whole family to get their teeth into and enjoy.

Our top line-up picks.

The Young’uns, Capercaillie and Bonfire Radicals all make FolkEast worth attending on their own – but Australian choral outfit The Spooky Men’s Chorale offer up a hilarious and truly entertaining live show that is simply not to be missed.


Smugglers Fest – Kent, 31st August – 3rd September

Why we love it.

True to its freebooting name, Smugglers Fest has a bit of an anarchic streak to it, setting it apart from most of the other festivals you’ll find in the UK this summer. You’ll get performances in-the-round from stages hidden deep in ancient woodland, delirious drum circles, frantic folk dancing, and plenty of brilliant alt-indie inspired acts to get stuck into. This is another festival the kids are sure to love.

Our top line-up picks.

The Moulettes are one of the most interesting alt-folk acts around, and their headline set certainly shouldn’t disappoint. Other, exciting additions include the truly wild ‘Flamingods’, and the brilliant Rozie Plain.

Sidmouth Folk Week – Devon, 4th – 11th August

Why we love it.

Whilst most of the festivals on this list take place in a single, self contained area requiring significant financial outlay for tickets, Sidmouth Folk Week somewhat bucks that trend. Whilst you can purchase tickets for their main performance spaces, Sidmouth Festival sprawls right across the entire town. Every pub, cafe, and street corner is teeming with live music – all day for five straight days. It’s become a staple of the folk music calendar, and is absolutely worth a visit. Be prepared for a serious amount of Morris Dancing, though. You’ve been forewarned.

Our top line-up picks.

Show of Hands, Seth Lakeman and The Unthanks are all unmissable folk headline choices for Sidmouth 2023 – but the best way to experience Sidmouth is to simply wander the streets and soak in the literal hundreds of acts you’re likely to stumble upon.



Feeling adventurous? Our wild card UK music festival picks this year is not for the faint hearted – but guarantees a pretty epic weekend of live music for those willing to dive in.


Knockengorroch Festival – Dumfries & Galloway, 9th – 11th July

Why we love it.

Knockengorroch festival combines two musical artforms that you rarely see on the same bill – techno, and the traditional Scottish Ceilidh. Nope, that is not a typo. Celebrating its 25th year, Knockengorroch Festival is a true celebration of the spirit of traditional Scottish dance music (and its unmistakable rebel spirit) – brought steaming into the 21st century by some of techno’s biggest acts. You’re tempted, aren’t you?

Our top line-up picks.

Of the techno acts, Zentone is probably the biggest hitter you’ll find. And of the Scottish folk acts, The Brothers Gillespie is well worth your time. If you’re feeling slightly whiplashed just looking at those two acts next to each other in a single paragraph, maybe stick to Sidmouth instead.