Britain Rocks: Top 10 UK music events
With so many UK music events to choose from, every year millions of music lovers travel around Britain armed with tents, sunscreen and “wellies” to check out some of the world’s biggest acts. It’s no secret that when it comes to music, Britain rocks! From Adele to Coldplay to the Beatles, and yes, One Direction, Britain is home to some of the world’s biggest music legends. Here are some of our favorite music events in the UK.
1. Liverpool: the Beatles way
It’s a pilgrimage that must be made at least once in a music fan’s lifetime. Liverpool, the home of the Beatles. See where it all began with a tour of the childhood homes of Lennon and McCartney, then stop by the Beatles Story to relive their journey from the Casbah Coffee Club through to Beatlemania and the break-up. Later, dance the night away to some great British live music in the legendary Cavern Club where the Beatles were spotted by their future manager, before turning in at the Beatles-inspired Hard Day’s Night Hotel next door.
2. Knebworth House
This beautiful gothic mansion in the Hertfordshire countryside is also known as ‘the stately home of rock.” It’s here that Led Zeppelin played their last-ever UK gig with the original line-up. It’s where Queen played their last gig with Freddie Mercury, and it’s where Oasis headlined the fastest-selling concert in British history. Knebworth is still the best place to catch some of rock’s biggest stars in concert, and is also home to the Sonisphere Festival.
3. Proms in the Park
The BBC Proms is a summer institution for music lovers in Britain, and is one of the world’s greatest classical music festivals. The highlight is the “Last Night of the Proms”– Proms in the Park events take place all over the country in which people pack a picnic and settle in for live performances via a live feed of the concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
4. Celtic Connections
If folk music is more your style, head to Glasgow – UNESCO City of Music – for Celtic Connections, the UK’s premier Celtic music festival in which 2,000 artists from all over the world come together for 18 days of traditional, folk, jazz, Americana, indie and world music. Also during the festival, you’ll also find ceilidhs (a traditional Gaelic social gathering, which usually involves playing Gaelic folk music and dancing), talks, free events, workshops and late-night jam sessions in various venues across the city.
5. Belfast Music Tour
Take a trip through the heart of a great rock and roll city on the Belfast Music Tour. Visit the Ulster Hall where Led Zeppelin played Stairway To Heaven for the first time; stop by Van Morrison’s childhood home; see the site of the old Wizard Studios where the song Teenage Kicks was recorded for just £200, and discover the other legends of the city’s music scene at the Belfast Music Exhibition.
6. Notting Hill Carnival
On the last weekend of August, crowds from all over the world flock to West London for the Notting Hill Carnival. This is one of the world’s greatest street festivals, where a kaleidoscope of vibrant bands parade and perform to the sound of Soca, Calypso, reggae and traditional steel bands.
7. English Heritage Picnic Concerts
The English Heritage Picnic Concerts take place every summer at Kenwood House in London (one of the country’s beautiful stately homes) and at Audley End in Essex, featuring performances from world-class artists across the genres from from rock and pop to jazz and classical.
8. Somerset House Summer Series
At the Somerset House Summer Series, you can watch the likes of Basement Jaxx, Pendulum and Ellie Goulding perform in the spectacular 18th-century courtyard of Somerset House – one of London’s most beautiful live music venues.
9. British Music Experience
Tucked inside the dome of The O2 in London, The British Music Experience is no ordinary museum. This interactive experience lets you play, sing and dance your way through the last 60 years of British music. And with over 600 items of rare memorabilia from Britain’s biggest music stars – including John Lennon’s iconic glasses to Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack dress and Marc Bolan’s Gibson guitar – there’s something for everyone.
10. The festival scene
Last but definitely not least, if you’re looking for an unforgettable music experience, make sure there’s a British music festival at the top of your to-do list. Whatever your taste in music, there’s something for everyone.
The likes of Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder, Coldplay and Jay-Z have graced the iconic Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in recent years, but many other smaller acts will please your music soul as well. “Glasto” is the largest greenfield music and performing arts festival in the world, and the highlight of the festival season in the UK.
V Festival and the Isle of Wight Festival are always popular choices on the festival circuit. With acts like Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon and Florence and the Machine flocking to play them, it’s no surprise these are well-attended music events. In Scotland, T In The Park is the event of the year, drawing crowds of 85,000 people and stellar line-ups that include names like Lady Gaga and The Stone Roses.
Rock and indie fans should check out Leeds and Reading festivals, and for something a little more eclectic, check out some of the more boutique, quirky festivals, like The Secret Garden Party, The Big Chill, or Bestival on the Isle of Wight. A weekend of fancy attire and eclectic music (think: Pendulum, Bjork, The Prodigy, Dizzee Rascal), Bestival is one of the most unusual campsite experiences on the festival scene. There’s even an inflatable church where you can get married! Just don’t forget your wellies! (aka Wellington boots, for the non-British)
Wondering what music festivals to hit this year? Check out the GREAT British Festival Map, featuring hundreds of festivals taking place across the the UK!