Since founding this magazine in 2012, we’ve seen the local festival scene explode far beyond what we once imagined possible. This year, in true Bristol style, we’re met with a plethora of summer parties as diverse as the city itself.
Southwest institutions like End of The Road and Dot-to-Dot are back, each checking off much of your 2019 to-see lists nicely. Farmfest returns from a year off, with a line-up that says they’re sorry they ever left us. The lovely folks at Barn on the Farm celebrate their 10th birthday, and do so by punching above their boutique festival weight and doing us all proud once more.
A few things have changed, mind. Bristol Craft Beer Festival and The Downs have both moved to the summer, adding to our now-dizzying calendar, while Pride moves up to the Downs site too. The ever-growing Bristol Psych Fest is under a new banner: Astral Festival. All this, plus choice new additions like Bristol’s Booze Cruise – an offshoot from the legendary Hamburg event – and Triptych, stepping it up from last year to a proud first spot in our guide.
Summer in Bristol is loud, intimate, danceable, messy and moving all at once, and we’ve never been more proud of where we live. Read on to plan the best part of the year.
BRISTOL AND SOUTHWEST
End of The Road – Aug 29th-Sep 1st
Don’t miss: Serpentwithfeet, Courtney Barnett, Black Midi, Mitski.
The word ‘idyllic’ gets thrown around on the festival circuit, doesn’t it? End of The Road, however, with its dappled sun breaking through the woodlands and, well, actual peacocks, personifies this well. Situated just over an hour outside of Bristol, it’s a Southwest gem that seems to get better with age.
This year, there are so many of In Stereo’s favourite acts on the bill to tell you about that hand-eye coordination is starting to suffer. Unique wordsmiths like Courtney Barnett or Sleaford Mods will engage; the sublime beauty of Serpentwithfeet or Beirut will transport you several planes of existence upwards; and stalwarts like Spiritualized, Jarvis Cocker or Wire will steep you in the richness of British music history.
Elsewhere, Mitski, Black Midi, Goat Girl, Sasami, Jessica Pratt, The Beths and countless more lead the charge of new music’s most adored breakthroughs from the last couple of years. The vibe is earthy, but fearless, with offerings that sit well for a sunny weekend, but hold a depth that stays with you all year round. Perhaps this is the reason End of The Road has sold out on every instalment since 2008…
endoftheroadfestival.com // fb/EOTRfestival // @EOTR
Dot-to-Dot – May 25th
Don’t miss: Dream Wife, Crystal Fighters, Wasuremono, Swimming Girls
Sometimes a festival becomes more than a festival – it becomes a friend. This title, reserved for the few, is one earned by Dot-to-Dot through years of supporting new music, bringing Bristol’s venues to life and filling people like us with a sense of pure spring wonder.
2019 will see the festival nod its head to the decade-long contributions of Crystal Fighters, by welcoming them as headliners. The smooth Jordan Rakei also heads up the bill, with Dream Wife, whose wry, feminist punk is impossible to ignore, not far behind. We at BiS are set to present not one, but two stages this year, as we take over both floors of The Louisiana. Expect touring acts upstairs, and ten of our favourite local artists in the bar. Line-up out soon.
But what really makes D2D special? The acts you didn’t plan to see. Brand-new favourite bands, sent your way with a touch of festival magic.
dottodotfestival.co.uk // fb/dottodotfestival // @d2dbristol
Green Man – Aug 15-18th
Don’t Miss: Sharon Van Etten, Aldous Harding, Father John Misty, Big Thief, IDLES, Gwenno
Our closest 20k+ festival, Green Man is one of the best-curated out there, marrying the buzz of a larger event with a cavalcade of the artists who matter. This year’s line-up – and its ability to tick-off team BiS’ collective to-see list – is something to behold and well-worth combing in full.
The fest boasts non-corporate, ethical vibes, and we’d have to agree. In addition to the music, there’s a leftfield programme of literature, arts, comedy and even science on offer during the day. We also wouldn’t pass up their offer to ‘Hug a Chicken’ at some point over the weekend, if only as a reminder that we’re from the West Country.
Not only is South Wales’ gorgeous Brecon Beacons a mere hour from Bristol, but some legend has done us all the favour of filling it to the brim with our favourite bands. Shut up and take my money.
Greenman.net // fb/greenmanfestival // @greenmanfest
The Downs – Aug 31st
Don’t miss: Loyle Carner, IDLES, Lauryn Hill, Nightmares on Wax
Okay, we’re just going to come out and say it: this is the best Downs line-up to date. Hitting tons of genres and with previous BiS cover acts like Loyle Carner and IDLES sitting proudly among the headliners, we’re excited – and there’s still heaps TBA. The Downs may have come out strong when joining our summer calendar a couple of years back, but now they’re really hitting their stride, straddling ‘city fest’ and ‘field-based fun’ perfectly.
thedownsbristol.com // fb/thedownsbristol // @thedownsbristol
Bristol Craft Beer Festival – Jun 7-8th
Don’t miss: Flava D, Jamz Supernova, Saffron Records DJs, 40 independent brewers
Beer and music. Recently moved to the summer, Bristol Craft Beer Festival kicks ass in both arenas. This year’s sounds lean on a keenly-curated line-up of all-female DJs, headed up by Flava D. First announced on International Women’s Day, the fest is intent on highlighting quality acts that may have been overlooked – an event after our own hearts. The ticket includes the beers; repeat, the ticket includes the beers.
bristolcraftbeerfestival.co.uk // fb/BristolCBF // @BristolCBF
Bristol’s Booze Cruise – May 24-26th
Don’t miss: Apologies, I Have None, Cultdreams (pictured above), Mobina Galore, Oxygen Thief
Team Booze Cruise are all about river-town partying, both on and by the water. An offshoot of the successful Hamburg event, this is their first UK helping, and what better place than Bristol? Line-ups will be split across Exchange, The Stag & Hounds and a boat, the details of which are soon TBA. A new summer home for punk that fills the shoes of the defunkt Deadpunk all-dayer well.
bristol.boozecruise.de // fb/boozecruise
Love Saves The Day – May 25-26th
Don’t miss: Jimothy Lacoste, Little Simz, Slowthai, Elder Island
This is honestly our favourite Love Saves line-up to date, striking the balance between student-friendly blowout and high-quality underground artists well. There are no less than three of our recent cover acts – Little Simz, Flohio and Bristol’s own Elder Island – set to play, plus plenty of our ‘ones to watch’ for 2019 too. Old standbys like Bonobo, Lily Allen and Chase & Status round off the upper section of the bill neatly. Bristol’s ever-popular park party just upped their game for the best year yet.
lovesavestheday.org // fb/lovesavesthedaybristol // @LSTDBristol
Bristol Pride – Jul 13th
Don’t miss: Melanie C, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Sonique (yes, really)
It’s excitement overload this year, as Bristol Pride both hits its 10th anniversary and moves to The Downs. This means that the festival has not only doubled its previous capacity, but the new site also opens up a fresh world of field-based fun, with new stages and areas on the way. Pride Day will feature a formidable live line-up, but don’t forget that the full Pride celebrations run from July 1st, all the way to the 14th!
Bristolpride.co.uk // fb/brispride // @bristolpride
Triptych – Jun 8th
Don’t miss: Hey Colossus, Pet Shimmers, Poisonous Birds, USA Nails, MXLX (pictured above)
In its second instalment, but making its first appearance in our guide, Gravy Train presents the dark and intriguing Triptych. It’s a slew of forward-thinking guitar music, from the sludge-y psych of Hey Colossus, to the quirky art-nerdery of Pet Shimmers and the math-indebted boundary-pushing of Poisonous Birds. Expect 25+ acts, a strong Bristol leaning and a serious step up from their already-impressive inaugural year.
exchangebristol.com // fb/gravytrainrecs // @gravytrainrecs
Farmfest – Jul 26-28th
Don’t miss: James Holden, Cousin Kula, Morcheeba, Scalping
Having no Farmfest last year felt like someone stealing Christmas. But in the summer. And they had already told us they were taking a year off. Forget this analogy – they’re back! 2019 sees the triumphant return of a decade-strong local treasure, complete with a huge and diverse line-up. Some of our favourite forward-thinking Bristol bands get in on the action too, with the likes of Scalping, LICE and even Waldo’s Gift (of Galli fame), who rework Aphex Twin. If you can imagine such a thing.
farmfestival.co.uk // fb/farmfestival // @farmfestival
NASS – Jul 11-14th
Don’t miss: Loyle Carner, Giggs, Rudimental, IAMDDB
NASS is the UK’s biggest celebration of music, street art, skate and BMX – and it’s just outside Bristol. Headliners for 2019 include the legendary Giggs, stratospheric drum’n’bass act, Rudimental, and OGs, Cypress Hill. On the extreme sport side, expect pro and open competitions, along with access to a custom-built pro skatepark. Meanwhile, a mix of local and international street artists will give the whole place a good seeing to.
nassfestival.com // fb/nassfestival // @nassfestival
Astral Festival – Jul 6th
Don’t miss: Thurston Moore (pictured above), Bo Ningen, The Naturals, The Grey Area DJs
There’s something inimitable about an event built organically out of someone’s personal passion. That’s exactly the story here. Starting out as a pub-floor all-dayer and growing over the years into a high-profile event, Bristol Psych Fest returns for 2019 as Astral Fest. Transcending the psych label, this is its most inclusive year yet – but don’t fret, spacey guitar-work still abounds. Geddit, fret?
astralfestival.com // fb/astralfestivalbristol // @astralfestival
Barn on the Farm – Jul 4-7th
Don’t miss: Maggie Rogers, Maverick Sabre, Grace Carter, Swim Deep
Celebrating a decade at it this year, we’re darn proud of the barn. Ten years ago, a nineteen-year-old uni student had a literal dream about running a music festival with his mates that was made a reality. Year two saw a young Ed Sheeran headline his first fest; later, the guys won Best Independent Festival at the AIM Awards. The Southwest success story continues this year, with a special birthday and an extensive line-up topped by Maggie Rogers, Lewis Capaldi, Maverick Sabre and more. Party hats on.
barnonthefarm.co.uk // fb/barnonthefarm // @barnonthefarm
Simple Things (TBA) – Forward-thinking music line-ups after our own heart, curated with help from our friends at Crack Magazine.
simplethingsfestival.co.uk // fb/simplethingsfestival // @simplethingsuk
Tokyo World (TBA) – A huge annual party for bass music, held in Eastville Park and marking the end of the summer season.
tokyoworld.org // fb/tokyoworldofficial // @tokyoworlduk
Harbour Festival (TBA) – Free summer fest around the open spaces and music venues of the harbour. Louisiana and Thekla always a highlight.
bristolharbourfestival.co.uk // fb/bristolharbourfestival // @bristolharbfest
St Paul’s Carnival (TBA) – A community celebration of Caribbean and soundsystem culture, which returned last year after a significant break.
stpaulscarnival.net // fb/stpaulscrnvl // @stpaulscrnvl
The Great Escape – May 9-11th
Don’t miss: Kwengface, Black Midi, Elder Island, Chaouche, Greentea Peng
Probably the biggest parading of nascent acts on British soil, attempting to load the full line-up online shatters any sub-par internet connection. Highlights so far include the delivering-well-on-their-hype Black Midi and queen of our 2019 ones to watch, Flohio, along with Greentea Peng, Kwengface, Lazy Day, Our Girl, Pumarosa and Self Esteem. Bristol is storming TGE this year, with Elder Island, Chaouche, Kayla Painter, Scalping, Swimming Girls and Wasuremono all playing. In Stereo stage TBA.
greatescapefestival.com // fb/greatescapefestival // @thegreatescape
All Points East – May 24th-Jun 2nd
Don’t miss: Christine and the Queens (pictured above), James Blake, Metronomy, Mac DeMarco, Bon Iver
Virtually every inch of this festival is populated by must-see acts. One night you’re wavily watching The Chemical Brothers supported by Primal Scream. Another, Christine and the Queens with James Blake and Metronomy in tow, before Bon Iver and Mac DeMarco close the year in a bittersweet haze. And looking down the bill, it’s all gold. They’re kind of cheating by having two weekends, but this could be one of the best festival line-ups of all time.
allpointseastfestival.com // fb/allpointseastuk // @allpointseastuk
Latitude – Jul 18th-21st
Don’t miss: Marina (pictured above), Loyle Carner, Sigrid, MØ, Let’s Eat Grandma.
Latitude is a ‘big festival’ that consistently leads in both meaningful line-ups and friendly vibes. This year is an alt-pop paradise, with a seemingly-endless list of greats on the bill. Marina (of prior Diamonds fame), MØ, Aurora, Sigrid, Let’s Eat Grandma and CHVRCHES are all currently packing their suncream, with a wealth of diverse acts further down the bill.
latitudefestival.com // fb/latitudefestival // @latitudefest
Field Day – Jun 7-8th
Don’t miss: Jorja Smith, Skepta, Death Grips, Flohio, HAAi, Kelly Lee Owens
For years, field-based fun in the thick of London has been ruled by one fest: Field Day. With a new home this year, it’s more important than ever that we show them our love and gratitude. Yet again, they offer the acts that new music nerds like us are falling over ourselves to see, with highlights including Jorja Smith, Flohio, HAAi and Charlotte Adigéry. And once you’re a few drinks deep, Modeselektor, Jungle, Todd Terje and pop music’s dad, Diplo, have you covered for party vibes.
fielddayfestivals.com // fb/fielddaylondon // @fielddaylondon
Lost Village – Aug 22nd-25th
Don’t miss: Bicep, Slowthai, Superorganism, Richie Hawtin, Peggy Gou
The organisers knew what they were doing when naming their festival Lost Village. It’s an event far beyond a straight-up festival, rather an immersive, narrative experience complete with a large cast of actors and stages with names like the Abandoned Chapel or Lake of Tranquility. Line-up-wise, it’s electronically-leaning, with Bicep, Maribou State and Richie Hawtin all up top. Superorganism, Slowthai and The Orielles further down show there’s plenty more on offer. Four days of mysterious adventure in the Lincolnshire woodlands, why not.
lostvillagefestival.com // fb/lostvillagefestival // @lostvillagefestival
Electric Fields – Jul 4-6th
Don’t miss: Metronomy, Our Girl, Nadine Shah, Iceage, Sleaford Mods
There are many reasons to go to Scotland. Whisky. Natural beauty. Sipping whisky while overlooking natural beauty. Electric Fields allows for this, set in the stunning grounds of Drumlanrig Castle. A strong line-up effort; lots of leftfield festival staples and nascent faves. Our Girl had one of our 2018 albums of the year, previous cover stars Metronomy and Nadine Shah are always spellbinding, and Sleaford Mods are, well, Sleaford Mods.
electricfieldsfestival.com // fb/electricfieldsfestival // @elec_fields
Melt Festival – Jul 19th-21st
Don’t miss: Four Tet, Helena Hauff, Jorja Smith, Ider, OSHUN
Melt Festival is situated in Ferropolis, just outside of Berlin. Sorry, where? Standing on a lake peninsula, this ‘city of iron’ houses an outdoor museum for all kinds of decaying, outmoded machinery. As with anything within earshot of the German capital, the bill has a strong electronic vein, with Four Tet, Modeselektor and Helena Hauff all standing out. Bon Iver, Jorja Smith and A$AP Rocky break things up nicely. A forward-thinking line-up in a defiantly-backwards setting.
meltfestival.de // fb/meltfestival // @meltfestival
Sónar – Jul 18-20th
Don’t miss: Holly Herndon, Four Tet, DJ Koze, Daphni, HAAi, Peggy Gou
There’s been so much good music on the Iberian peninsula these last few years, and Sónar is a key piece of that puzzle, having just celebrated its 25th year. Their futuristic EDM-heavy line-ups make Sónar something of a Mecca, with this year no exception. Our current cover star Holly Herndon is of course a top pick, with DJ Koze, Daphni (Caribou) and Ross From Friends all highly recommended.
sonar.es // fb/sonarfestival // @sonarfestival
Dimensions – Aug 28th-Sep 1st
Don’t miss: Jeff Mills, Nina Kraviz, Helena Hauff, Anderson .Paak, Batu, Gilles Peterson
Billed as The Last Dance, this will be Dimensions’ final party at Fort Punta Christo after ten huge years on the site. So, if you’re yet to experience the world’s best DJs performing around a literal nineteenth-century Croatian fortress, 2019 is your last shot. This year sees Detroit techno pioneer, Jeff Mills headline. Bristol’s own legend, Batu, is also on the bill.
dimensionsfestival.com // fb/dimensionsfestival // @dimensions_fest
Lowlands – Aug 16-18th
Don’t miss: Tame Impala, The National, Billie Eilish, New Order, Anderson .Paak
Off to The Netherlands we go, for music, camping and you-know-what. The aptly-named Lowlands Festival plays out 40 miles east of The Dam, which is what cool people seem to call Amsterdam. As usual, 2019 sees an eclectic line-up of big names from all manner of genres and eras. Billy Eilish and Anderson .Paak capture the zeitgeist well, with Tame Impala and The National leading the leftfield heavyweights, as New Order and Giorgio Moroder fill the legend slots nicely. Dam good booking.
lowlands.nl // fb/lowlandsfest // @rapid_razor_bob
Øya Festival – Aug 6-10th
Don’t miss: The Cure, Robyn, Erykah Badu, Tirzah, Sigrid, Mitski
There are so many must-see acts on this line-up, that it kind of sneaks up on you. If pop music’s fairy godmother, Robyn, and sarcastic Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, The Cure, aren’t enough for you, then how about Blood Orange, Big Thief, or Mitski? Or Bristol’s own IDLES? It’s like every self-respecting music mag just threw up on the poster. If you’ve been hearing how cool Norway is for ages, but have been (o)slow on the uptake, Øya 2019 is the perfect excuse.
oyafestivalen.no // fb/oyafestivalen // @oyafestival
La Route du Rock – Aug 14-17th
Don’t miss: Tame Impala (pictured above), Metronomy, Black Midi, much more TBA
Before Grand Bretagne, there was regular Bretagne – and that’s exactly where you’ll find La Route du Rock. At it since the early 90s, they’ve earned a reputation as choice tastemakers, having given some of alternative music’s biggest names their first international festival appearances. Like all Bretons, they’re rather proud of themselves – and looking at the 2019 line-up so far, they deserve to remain smug.
laroutedurock.com // fb/laroutedurock // @laroutedurock