Hate camping? Here are the 9 best inner-city UK festivals in 2017

Escape the mud. Go see your favourite bands in these cities instead.

Immersing yourself in a muddy field for an entire weekend has its extreme ups and downs. On the one hand, you get a sense of excitement and free-spirited communion that can’t be matched. On the other, the very concept of hygiene seems so far-removed you forget what soap smells like, post-fest fever dreams come in waves, and you’ll spend weeks removing the scent of BBQ charcoal from your clothes. Not to worry – if you have a perfectly rational fear of camping, these festivals are for you. They allow you to see countless great bands in the confines of a city, with the sweet promise of a hotel to round things off when the action dies down.     

1. The Great Escape

Rat Boy

Where: Brighton


When: May 18-20

Who’s playing? Rat Boy, Slaves, The Magic Gang, Stefflon Don, Dream Wife and HMLTD.

Why you should go: Taking a template from Austin, Texas’ SXSW – where hundreds of bands cram into an already musically-obsessed city – Brighton’s The Great Escape has become king of the city fests. There’s an emphasis on new music, and some shows ends up attended by more hungry A&Rs than genuine fans. But chances are your next favourite band will be playing here first. Scandi-pop newcomer Sigrid, London hellraisers Dead Pretties and U.S. star Jay Som are all must-sees this year.

2. Live at Leeds

Rag N' Bone Man - SXSW 2017

Where: Leeds

When: April 29


Who’s playing? Rag ’n’ Bone Man, Jagwar Ma, Bad Nerves, The Big Moon.

Why you should go: Every single Leeds venue, pub and conference space becomes a musical hub for Live at Leeds. You could trek through the uni campus to see the next big thing, or you could easily spend the entire day milling around local haunt Brudenell Social Club. Big names Rag ’n’ Bone Man and Slaves headline this year, while future stars like fuzz-pop force Pale Waves and Danish trio Off Bloom complete the bill.

3. Tramlines

Kano hails Wiley's influence on UK Music

Where: Sheffield

When: July 21-23

Who’s playing? Kano, The Libertines, Primal Scream, Lady Leshurr

Why you should go: Inner-city fests don’t come much bigger than Tramlines. Mixing huge headliners with fast-rising fresh faces, nowhere else will you be able to explore a city while seeing legendary names like The Libertines and All Saints in the same weekend as Nadia Rose and Loyle Carner.

4. Visions

Where: Hackney, London

When: August 5

Who’s playing? Shame, Liars, SOPHIE, Goat Girl

Why you should go: Taking over London Fields and Hackney’s finest venues, Visions has fast-become a staple for much more than just music. Alongside zine fairs, punk rock karaoke and a hipster-friendly selection of craft beer stalls, there’s also the yearly Visions Dog Show, where fest-goers show off their canine friends. It’s puptastic.

5. Handmade Festival

Where: Leicester

When: April 28-30

Who’s playing? HMLTD, Frightened Rabbit, Superfood

Why you should go: Every alternative guitar band worth their salt is playing Handmade, an independent fest that looks set to host its biggest year yet in 2017. South London’s exciting cast of new acts – from Shame to Sorry (fka Fish) and Goat Girl – are all here, while Chicago force Meat Wave and Birmingham fuzz fiends Muncie Girls also get in on the action.

6. Dot to Dot

Sundara Karma - SXSW 2017

Where: Manchester, Bristol, Nottingham

When: May 26-28

Who’s playing? Sundara Karma, Amber Run, Honeyblood, Nilüfer Yanya

Why you should go: A city fest with a twist, Dot to Dot sees its stellar line-up taking over three cities in one May weekend. Headliners Sundara Karma are the big draw. They’re joined by ace four-piece The Big Moon, Dublin trio All We Are and fast-rising singer-songwriter Liv Dawson.

7. Stag & Dagger

Where: Glasgow

When: April 30

Who’s playing? Alexis Taylor, Let’s Eat Grandma, Matt Maltese

Why you should go: Stag & Dagger keeps its line-up nice and neat, giving punters a chance to see near-enough everything in their schedule. There’s a mix of electronic gems – Gold Panda, Makeness – and future giants – Matt Maltese and Girl Ray –  on this year’s bill.

8. Simple Things

Where: Bristol

When: October 21

Who’s playing? Line-up TBA

Why you should go: A fascinating mix of genre-shunning forward-thinkers play Simple Things. Last year’s bill welcomed in Kano, Death Grips and Anna Meredith, putting forward a cast of alternative acts that only the likes of Primavera and Field Day can match.

9. Mirrors

Where: Hackney, London

When: October 20

Who’s playing? Line-up TBA

Why you should go: Rounding off festival season with a bang, Mirrors is the late summer alternative to Visions. Previous years have seen the likes of Bat For Lashes and The Wytches playing unforgettable shows in churches, while Declan McKenna and Dream Wife played here before making a name for themselves.