The NME Festival Guide 2023
It seems to roll around sooner every year, doesn’t it? Yes, festival season is once again upon us, and we here at NME can’t wait for the gates to finally open. After all, what better way could there be to enjoy the summer months than spending it in the company of your favourite bands and artists in an idyllic field or converted city space?
It’s about time, then, that you started digging out your tent, sorting your travel plans and getting ready to party for the next four months. If you’re in need of any extra inspiration for getting involved in festival season this summer, then NME has got you covered: here’s our handy guide to the biggest and best music festivals that are happening across the globe in 2023.
Bilbao BBK Live
When: July 6-8
Where: Kobetamendi, Bilbao, Spain
Headliners: The Chemical Brothers, Pavement, Arctic Monkeys
Where better to start our guide than with a festival that’s staged half-way up a mountain in the Basque Country? Bilbao BBK Live is just that, given that it’s situated in the beautiful grounds of the natural park at Kobetamendi (Basque for Mount Cobetas). The views? Spectacular, naturally. Fortunately, the music and entertainment on offer is always strong enough to draw your gaze away from constantly gawping at the view, with the likes of The Killers, The Strokes and Tame Impala all among Bilbao BBK Live’s previous top-tier headliners.
Cala Mijas Festival
When: August 31 – September 2
Where: Mijas, Málaga, Spain
Headliners: Arcade Fire, The Strokes, Florence + The Machine
The Málaga weekender may take place towards the end of the peak summer months, but this recent newcomer to the European festival circuit is well worth factoring into your plans. As well as enjoying the benefits of southern Spain’s sun-soaked weather, Cala Mijas is once again offering a strong line-up after debuting in 2022 with headline sets from Arctic Monkeys, Liam Gallagher and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. The festival will return in 2023 with sets from The Strokes, Florence + The Machine, IDLES, Foals and Lil Yachty.
End Of The Road Festival
When: August 31 – September 3
Where: Larmer Tree Gardens, Blandford Forum, Dorset
Headliners: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Future Islands, Angel Olsen
This picturesque Dorset event has become something of a cult favourite among many UK festivalgoers since its 2006 inception, with NME describing last year’s festival as “excellently idiosyncratic”. Taking place at the tail end of festival season, EOTR offers a largely indie-focused line-up – previous editions have featured the likes of Pixies, Father John Misty and St. Vincent – as well as a rich programme of workshops, comedy, film and literature. There’s even a Healing Garden on hand to help you push through that fourth-day festival fatigue.
When: August 11-13
Where: Suvilahti, Helsinki, Finland
Headliners: Lorde, Blur, Wizkid
2023 will be the last year that this Finnish festival will be staged in the former Suvilahti power plant area, where Flow first set up shop in 2007 three years after the festival was founded. A brand new venue in the country’s capital Helsinki will be announced following this year’s festival, meaning that there’s still one last chance to enjoy Suvilahti’s unique architecture this summer. Flow will welcome around 150 artists – including the recently reunited Blur – from the worlds of pop, indie, DJ, club and experimental music for their highly promising 2023 edition.
When: June 21-25
Where: Worthy Farm, Pilton
Headliners: Arctic Monkeys, Guns N’ Roses, Elton John
Does Glastonbury need much of an introduction? Arguably the world’s most famous music festival, Michael and Emily Eavis’ annual Pilton party boasts without fail one of the festival circuit’s strongest and most varied line-ups. And it’s not all about the Pyramid Stage headliners, either (who are usually stadium-level artists, let’s not forget): there’s a multitude of stages and areas dotted all across Worthy Farm to get lost in all weekend long. It’s no wonder that tickets for the Somerset festival sell out in minutes each and every year.
The Governors Ball
When: June 9-11
Where: Flushing Meadows Corona Park, New York City, USA
Headliners: Lizzo, Odesza, Kendrick Lamar
Proudly billed as “New York’s biggest party”, Governors Ball has grown in prominence in recent years to become one of the US’s top festivals, thanks in large part to its inner-city location and often world-beating line-up. Since it launched in 2011 – when it was held on Governors Island off Manhattan, hence the name – the likes of Jack White, Kanye West, Drake, Billie Eilish, The Strokes and Halsey have all topped the bill. It should also be noted that 2023 will mark the first edition of Governors Ball to be held at its new venue, Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens.
Life Is Beautiful
When: September 22-24
Where: Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Headliners: The Killers, Kendrick Lamar, Odesza
We head cross-country next to downtown Las Vegas, where Life is Beautiful has been staged across 18 city blocks since 2013. The festival has successfully managed in that time to draw its punters away from the nearby bright lights and casinos with line-ups that consistently deliver: Foo Fighters, Stevie Wonder, The Weeknd, Green Day and Tame Impala have all headlined over the years. Hometown heroes The Killers will return to Life Is Beautiful this September to headline for the first time since the festival debuted a decade ago.
Mad Cool Festival
When: July 6-8
Where: Madrid, Spain
Headliners: Robbie Williams, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lil Nas X
Madrid’s Mad Cool Festival has welcomed some pretty major headliners since its debut in 2016: Metallica, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, The Cure and Depeche Mode have all conquered the Spanish capital in the past seven years. The sun-soaked annual festival will welcome four headliners a day during its 2023 edition, with big names from the pop world – Lizzo, Lil Nas X and Sam Smith – joining the likes of Queens Of The Stone Age, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Liam Gallagher in topping the bill this year.
When: August 31 – September 2
Where: Parque da Bela Vista, Lisbon, Portugal
Headliners: Arcade Fire, Aphex Twin, Florence + The Machine
Another Iberian festival that is taking place towards the end of this year’s season is Lisbon’s MEO Kalorama, which made its bow in 2022. A festival which prizes music, art and sustainability in equal measure, the Portuguese event’s five stages – including PANORAMA, a new area that will be exclusively dedicated to all things electronic music – will once again showcase an array of artists, including Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lil Yachty and Siouxsie Sioux.
When: June 3-4
Where: Brockwell Park, London
Headliners: Kelly Rowland, Years & Years
If pop music is your jam, then south London’s Mighty Hoopla will be the ideal place for you this summer. Set to welcome 30,000 festivalgoers over two days “of music, fun and fashion”, this festival prides itself on celebrating the best of pop, alternative and queer culture – indeed, Mighty Hoopla say they are committed to uplifting “emerging and established LGBTQ+ artists and performers, as well as delivering a safe and welcoming event for our diverse audience and attendees”. 2023 will see the likes of Years & Years, Confidence Man, Kelis and, er, Gemma Collins all flock to Brockwell Park to join in the party.
When: June 28 – July 1
Where: Gdynia-Kosakowo Airport, Gdynia, Poland
Headliners: Arctic Monkeys, SZA, Kendrick Lamar
Off we go now to Poland for Open’er, who you can always rely on for delivering one of the strongest festival line-ups in Europe year-on-year. Since kicking off in 2002 in Warsaw with a headline slot from The Chemical Brothers, Open’er has gone from strength-to-strength by booking the likes of Radiohead, Prince, Jay-Z, Coldplay, Björk, Beastie Boys and The White Stripes to top its bill over the years. Now based in Gdynia in northern Poland, Open’er still stands tall as one of the best value-for-money festivals around.
When: June 10-11
Where: Heaton Park, Manchester
Headliners: The 1975, Aitch, The Prodigy
Manchester’s vibrant Parklife has become a firm favourite on the UK festival scene since its inaugural edition took place in 2010. It’s been staged in Heaton Park – which has previously put on huge headline gigs by the likes of Oasis and The Stone Roses – since 2013, and is always reliable when it comes to serving up a strong and eclectic line-up: Tyler, the Creator, Megan Thee Stallion, Dave, Lorde, The xx and N.E.R.D have all performed at Parklife in recent years.
Primavera Sound Barcelona
When: May 29 – June 4
Where: Parc del Fòrum, Barcelona, Spain
Headliners: Blur, Kendrick Lamar, Rosalía
One of the first major events in the festival calendar, Primavera Sound Barcelona has increasingly become a destination for festivalgoers from across the world – and not just for the stunning sea views. With an incredible city to explore in the day time, punters can then make their way to Parc del Fòrum in the early evening for a packed line-up that almost always features some of the biggest acts around, mixed in with the best new bands, local artists and a host of cherished old favourites. Primavera is such a success that sister festivals in Madrid, Porto, Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Bogotá and Asunción have been launched in recent years.
Reading and Leeds
When: August 25-27
Where: Richfield Avenue, Reading / Bramham Park, Leeds
Headliners: Sam Fender, Billie Eilish, The Killers
An August bank holiday tradition in the UK, the renowned twin festivals have diversified from their rock and guitar music-heavy heritage in recent years. Some of the current biggest names from the worlds of pop, hip-hop and dance music have moved up the still-reliably packed R&L bill in recent years, illustrating the festivals’ necessary evolution to remain a major player in the UK festival scene. Punters are now treated to six main headliners across the weekend instead of the traditional three bill-toppers, with a rich array of supporting talent spread across each festival’s five stages.
Splendour in the Grass
When: July 21-23
Where: Ngarindjin / North Byron Parklands, New South Wales, Australia
Headliners: Lizzo, Flume, Mumford & Sons
Now in its 21st year, the New South Wales festival is promising “three days and nights of hella good times dedicated to music lovers” in 2023. If the prospect of seeing the likes of Sam Fender, Tove Lo, Arlo Parks and 100 gecs in one weekend isn’t enough, then how about the opportunity to experience Splendour’s “beating heart” The Forest, where tops DJs, mind-bending light shows and inspiring performance art will combine forces to ensure you’ll dance the night away? That’s just one of a number of immersive areas at Splendour in the Grass that will make it a weekend to remember.
When: August 10-15
Where: Óbuda Island, Budapest, Hungary
Headliners: Billie Eilish, Lorde, Sam Fender
Having previously booked David Bowie, Radiohead and Prince as headliners, Sziget naturally has some serious clout in the festival world. Previously praised by NME as “Europe’s answer to Glastonbury”, the Hungarian festival has welcomed nearly 10 million visitors through its gates since its inaugural 1993 edition and offered some hugely memorable line-ups in the years since. It’s not just about the music, either: Sziget proudly supports a number of worthy causes, including its longstanding alliance with the LGBTQIA+ community, the refugee-focused ‘Tent Without Borders’ program and a prolonged commitment to organising a festival that is environmentally sustainable.
We The Fest
When: July 21-23
Where: GBK Sports Complex Senayan, Jakarta, Indonesia
Headliners: The Strokes, The 1975, Lewis Capaldi
Having made its debut back in 2014, We The Fest has gone on to become Jakarta’s foremost celebration of music, arts, fashion and food. In terms of the live music on offer, international acts such as Lorde, SZA and Phoenix have all graced the annual event’s line-up over the years alongside Indonesian acts like Potret, NAIF and Stars and Rabbit. This year’s festival at GBK Sports Complex Senayan looks set to enhance We The Fest’s standing further, with sets from the likes of The Strokes, The Kid Laroi and Lewis Capaldi promised.
Weverse Con Festival
When: June 10-11
Where: Olympic Park, Seoul, South Korea
Headliners: Tomorrow x Together, ENHYPEN, NewJeans
Organised by the music fan community app Weverse, which is owned by the K-pop agency HYBE, this “music and fan life festival” brings together a host of big names in Seoul. While tickets to Weverse Con are naturally in high demand due to the calibre of popular acts on the bill, those who miss out can join in on the fun by watching official livestreams from the event.
Detailed Information on 2023 Weverse Con Festival Final Line-up & Tickets
For more information, please refer to the Weverse Zone Community on Weverse.
See you in June 🎶#WeverseConFestival pic.twitter.com/Lizq19uPYO
— Weverse (@weverseofficial) April 26, 2023
Even some of its performers dial in: last year saw Justin Bieber deliver a virtual appearance at the festival.