Festivals! From all-nighters to family-friendly fun via considered, thought provoking weekends, we pick out the best experiences in the North.
For some, probably (but not exclusively) younger readers, summer is synonymous with late nights enjoying music in what’s usually a farmers field, possibly even rubbing elbows with strangers in an increasingly boggy dance tent until dawn, then repeating it all over again the next day and the next with a stop-off at a motorway services on the way home the only light at the end of the tunnel.
For others, that just sounds too exhausting to even think about. While we fully endorse party-sized weekends that require their own holiday from which to recover, it’s not for everyone.
The brighter months are also about family experiences and the sort of pop-up, weekend-long events that you can get good and lost in together.
Scanning the festival calendar for the cream of the crop, we’ve selected our top picks for summer 2020. From hedonistic weekends of underground music like
Sounds From the Other City to immersive family festivals Just So to rural film festivals ( Hinterlands), we’ve got all bases covered.
Here’s our guide to the best Summer Festivals taking place in a field or on the streets near you.
Here are our picks
Aerial Festival at
St Mary's Parish Church Ambleside, Cumbria, 24–27 September 2020, from £12 - Book now
Aerial is a new festival of contemporary music, literature and performance, taking place in and around the Lake District town of Ambleside.
Courtesy of Leeds International Festival
Leeds International Festival at
Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds, 30 April–19 May 2020, from £00.00 - Find Out More
Leeds International Festival, the UK’s leading metropolitan festival of new ideas and innovation, is back for its third year.
Sounds From The Other City 2018 - Jody Hartley
Sounds From the Other City 2020, 2 May 2020, from £27.75 -
One of the country’s foremost festivals showcasing new and emerging talent, Sounds From The Other City will soon be back for its 16th edition.
Hinterlands Film Festival at
Plaza Cinema, Skipton, 14–17 May 2020, from £6.5 - Book now
Hinterlands International Rural Film Festival celebrates rural film in dramatic ways across the landscapes of the Lakes and Dales.
Neighbourhood Weekender 2020 at
Victoria Park, Southport, 23–24 May 2020, from £64.25 - Book now
The Neighbourhood Weekender returns to Warrington for its third outing this May bank holiday. We make our top five picks from the line-up.
Cathedral Gardens, Cathedral Quarter, 26–28 June 2020, free entry - Find Out More
The much-loved Góbéfest returns this June with a joyous showcase of the arts, culture, food and drink of the fabled-region of Transylvania.
Manchester Histories Festival 2020 at
Manchester Central Library, Manchester, 4–7 September 2020, free entry - Find Out More
Celebrating the city’s diverse and notoriously radical past, Manchester Histories Festival returns with an inspired programme of free talks, guided walks, film screenings, activities and performances.
King Street Festival at
King Street Manchester, City Centre, 6–7 June 2020, free entry - Find Out More
Manchester’s most fashionable summer event, the King Street Festival, returns with a celebration of the past, present and future of Manchester’s iconic, historic street.
Parklife 2020 at
Heaton Park, Manchester, 13–14 June 2020, from £69.50 - Book now
Parklife celebrates its 10th anniversary in June 2020, when it will showcase a diverse lineup of underground dance and alternative music in Manchester’s Heaton Park.
Courtesy Luke Jerram
Timber Festival at
Feanedock, 3–6 July 2020, from £84.80 - Find Out More
Timber Festival weaves music, art, philosophy and sustainability into a wondrous weekend in the heart of the National Forest.
Buxton International Festival
Buxton International Festival 2020 at
Buxton Opera House, 3–19 July 2020, from £12 - Book now
One of the UK’s leading arts events, Buxton International Festival is a summertime celebration of opera, music and books.
Bluedot Festival 2020 at
Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, 23–26 July 2020, from £59.75 - Book now
Entering its fifth year in 2020, Bluedot is a festival of discovery located in the shadow of the world-renowned Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank.
Kendal Calling at
Lowther Castle and Gardens, Cumbria, 30 July–3 August 2020, from £22.00 - Book now
Featuring over 200 artists and performers, immersive arts experiences and kids activities, Kendal Calling is a great, family-friendly festival set in the stunning Lake District.
Underneath The Stars Festival
Underneath The Stars Festival at
Cinderhill Farm, Barnsley, 31 July–2 August 2020, from £55 - Book now
Underneath The Stars Festival is a cracking weekend of folk in the South Yorkshire countryside. Paul Carrack, Kate Rusby and Suzanne Vega headline in 2020.
Caribbean Carnival of Manchester
Caribbean Carnival of Manchester at
Alexandra Park, Manchester, 8–9 August 2020, free entry - Find Out More
All are welcome to join in the revelry of the region’s largest festival of Caribbean music and carnival arts, in the stunning setting of Alexander Park.
Pillow Fight at Just So Fesival courtesy of Chris Payne
Just So Festival at
Rode Hall, Cheshire, 21–23 August 2020, from £20 - Book now
The best family festival in the UK returns for its 11th outing. Pillow fights, paddle-boarding, woodland opera, and the best new outdoor arts for families.
Image courtesy of Vintage by the Sea
Vintage by the Sea at
Midland Hotel, Morecambe, 5–6 September 2020, free entry - Find Out More
Vintage by the Sea celebrates the brilliance of 20th century design, fashion, vehicles and entertainment at this award-winning festival set around Morecambe’s famous art deco Midland Hotel.
The Good Life Experience at
Hawarden Estate, 10–13 September 2020, from £119 - Book now
Set in the shadows of two castles on the Hawarden Estate in Flintshire, The Good Life Experience returns for its seventh outing in 2020.
Manchester Folk Festival 202015 - 18 October 2020 at
HOME Manchester, Manchester, 15–18 October 2020, from £6.00 - Book now
In October 2020, Manchester Folk Festival will be back with another joyous celebration of the best in English folk.
Because of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, we are unable to bring you our usual recommendations for things to do in Manchester and the North. Our thoughts at this time are with our readers and with the organisations and businesses who make the North of England a great place to live and visit. We hope you stay well and look forward to sharing more unmissable events and places with you later in the year.
Here’s our guide to
supporting organisations in Manchester and the North.
Please note – many of the venues on our site will be closed and events either postponed or cancelled. Please check the venue website for details.