UK Music Festivals In 2012: The Rise Of The Rock Festival


Is it just me or has anyone else noticed the meteoric rise in not only the number, but also the quality of annual UK music festivals in the past 10 years? Actually that goes for all of Europe but if I were to get into that then we would be here all week!

As a youth I remember getting really excited by the oncoming Monsters Of Rock Festival (now named Download Festival) as well as the Reading Festival (and later the Leeds Festival). They were the only 2 that I went to year on year for a time and as a rock/metal music fan were really the only full-scale weekend festivals that existed playing that kind of music back in the 90’s/early 2000’s. I guess the other big name music fests of the time would be Glastonbury Festival, T In The Park and the V Festival but these have always been way more mainstream playing a wide range of pop, indie, rock and world music.

So sticking with the rock/metal festival theme; it really does blow my mind just how many more festivals there are to choose from in 2012. Here is a list of the main ones:

Download (formerly Monsters Of Rock)
Sonisphere
Reading/Leeds
Bloodstock
High Voltage
Hard Rock Calling (formerly Hyde Park Calling)
Hammerfest
Damnation
Supersonic (music, art and film)
Ghostfest
Hevy

And I’m sure I will be missing 1 or 2 others……

It seems to me that spread across this huge list of festivals are some insanely good line-ups. Maybe it’s just that there are simply more and more bands to choose from year on year with new bands constantly breaking through on top of the abundance of already established bands. I guess the more music mankind churns out the more platforms we need for showcasing it all year on year.

The main thing that I have really noticed about the current festival circuit is the sheer spread of genres available across the board. Pretty much every style is catered for at one festival or another. Back in the day it was hard to find a festival that could cater for your wide range of tastes let alone fests that were catering for some of the more niche genres. I’m not saying that any one festival currently covers everything as that’s going to be nigh on impossible for somebody that has very wide musical taste but some of them are getting pretty close and if you can afford to go to 2 or 3 fests during the year then you are getting pretty close to seeing everything that you would wish while in a festival environment. Your major fests like Reading/Leeds, Download and Sonisphere cater for a massive array of indie, rock, metal and extreme genres hosting bands of all sizes from new up and comers through to the biggest bands on the planet while smaller more niche fests like Damnation, Bloodstock, Supersonic and Hammerfest cover the more straight up metal, alternative, avant-garde and extreme end of the spectrum. Then High Voltage and Hard Rock Calling do a superb job at catering for the classic rock, prog and AOR fans among us. And for the modern metal, hardcore and extreme metal heads we have the rapidly rising Ghostfest and Hevy festivals.

Also, it’s been noted that the past few years have been the best I’ve known for reformations of classic bands and these reformations are being offered top dollar by festival promoters to bag the exclusive shows and give their festivals top billing. Over the past few years we have had comebacks from Black Sabbath, System Of A Down, Soundgarden, Queen, Faith No More, Alice In Chains, At The Gates, Carcass, The Mars Volta, Refused and many more. These returning big names manage to generate real excitement and buzz for a festival and add a whole new level of excitement to the experience. For a lot of people it will be the first chance they have had to see these legends live and to watch them in a festival environment is a really great experience.

Well, that’s our thought for the day. I guess the past week of great sunshine and warm weather as well as countless festival line-up updates across the online news sites has got my brain switched into festival mode. Maybe I’ll set up a tent in the back garden and start camping out there for the next few weeks listening to loud music and drinking cider.

If anyone notices festivals that we have missed then drop us a comment and let us know.
For reference, you can find out more about all the festivals listed above by visiting their Wikipedia pages here:

Download (formerly Monsters Of Rock)
Sonisphere
Reading/Leeds
Bloodstock
High Voltage
Hard Rock Calling (formerly Hyde Park Calling)
Hammerfest
Damnation
Supersonic
Ghostfest
Hevy

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