This past week at work I've had to book my holidays for the upcoming year. For me that means, and I imagine a lot of you, working out which festivals I want to go to in the coming year. In the UK and Europe we're so lucky to have so many punk rock festivals available to us. In preperation for writing this column I listed all I could think of and was amazed by just how many there are. This is the first of a two part feature previewing the best punk festivals in the UK and Europe. Today we're going to look at what's going on this year in the UK.
Arrowfest, 22nd–24th March
Our pals at Broken Arrow Magazine are putting on a punk rock weekender towards the end of March. Taking place at Crowley's Bar in Hastings on the south coast, it features a varied line-up of acts from all parts of the punk rock genre. Some of the bands announced for the three day festival include Darko, Call Me Malcolm, Fair Do's, Blind Man Death Stare, Incisions, Aerial Salad, Codename Colin and Misgivings. This weekend looks like a treat.
Washed Out Festival, 12th–13th April
Sticking to the south coast, midway through April Washed Out Festival returns. Taking place in a handful of venues in the vibrant seaside resort of Brighton, Washed Out is a festival that has grown out of the thriving DIY punk community in the town and features some of the most popular bands in the scene as well as some new acts that you're guaranteed to love. Bands to watch out for include Doe, Kamikaze Girls, Triple Sundae, Throwing Stuff, Woahnows, Death By Shotgun, Mean Caesar and The Menstrual Cramps.
Manchester Punk Festival, 19th–21st April
I'm sure you all know about my love of Manchester Punk Festival by now. Back for its fifth year, it's been an absolute pleasure to see this festival grow. This year the festival will be expanding to eight venues and feature more bands than ever before. It is also going to be three full days now so it's going to be a test of endurance – but a test of endurance with so many amazing bands and your punks pals from all over the UK and further afield. MPF now attracts the top bands from all over the world as well as continuing to promote the best home grown talent. Among the bands announced so far are Samiam, Dead To Me, Subhumans, Smoke Or Fire, King Prawn, Tom May, The Bar Stool Preachers, Faintest Idea, The Penske File, Muncie Girls and many, many more.
Booze Cruise Bristol, 24th–26th May
Booze Cruise Festival originated in Hamburg, Germany, and is now expanding to have a weekend in Bristol over the second bank holiday weekend of May. It will take place in a number of venues along the River Avon and, I believe I'm right in thinking, on a boat. Bringing in some top new bands from America and Europe as well as some of the UK's finest, this weekend has the potential to be the festival of the year. Already announced are Tiny Moving Parts, Bong Mountain, The Burnt Tapes, Western Settings, Mobina Galore, Ducking Punches and You Vandal.
Slam Dunk Festival, 25th May (North) & 26th May (South)
Slam Dunk Festival has become a staple of the festival calendar for many fans of alternative music over the past thirteen years. Of course, this being CPRW we're most interested in the punk bands playing the festival and this year the festival organisers have really hit it out of the park. Teaming up with Fat Mike's Punk In Drublic festival this year, punk rock legends NOFX, Bad Religion, Less Than Jake, Lagwagon, Milllencolin, Mad Caddies and Anti-Flag will all be making an appearance, along with newer bands The Interrupters and The Bombpops. Bands such as New Found Glory, The Menzingers, Saves The Day and The Get Up Kids are also playing the festival. Basically if you grew up around 15 years ago really wanting to go Warped Tour, this is probably as close as you're ever going to get.
Hell Hath No Fury Fest 2.0, 31st May–1st June
Hell Hath No Fury Fest first took place in Bristol last year but as organiser Holly as moved to Manchester so has the festival. The festival features the very best of riot grrrl, melodic and hardcore punk led by and inclusive of womxn and non-binary folk. Taking place at the brilliant Bread Shed, Hell Hath No Fury have teamed up with Anarchistic Undertones to put together what looks to be one hell of a good weekend. Among the bands already announced are War On Women, Petrol Girls, Mobina Galore, Drones, Pussy Liquor and Piss Kitti.
Polite Riot Festival, 28th–30th June
Taking place at the home of punk rock in London, the New Cross Inn, Be Sharp Promotions and Umlaut Records are again teaming up for a weekend of skate and melodic punk madness. Last year's debut festival featured Teenage Bottlerocket, A Wilhelm Scream, Darko and Apologies, I Have None and was greatly enjoyed by all that attended. So far only two bands have been announced for this year's festival but they are legendary. Satanic Surfer and the Adolescents are coming!
Level Up Festival, 19th–21st July
Taking place at the home of ska punk in London, the New Cross Inn, Be Sharp Promotions, Fishlock Promotions and El Topo Bookings are again teaming up for a third weekend of ska punk madness. The last two years have been among my favourite weekends of the year with so many wonderful memories made. The festival always features the best of the UK's ska punk scene as well as getting some legends from around the globe to appear. This year will feature The JB Conspiracy, Claypigeon who are playing their first show in five years and Buck-O-Nine, who are making their first UK appearance in eighteen years!
Rebellion Festival, 1st–4th August
I think it's safe to say that Rebellion Festival is the biggest punk festival in the UK. Now stretching over four days, it's become an annual punk rock pilgrimage to Blackpool for punks old and new alike. The amount of bands from all over the world the festival attracts is truly staggering. Bringing in the biggest hitters from all over the world along with giving a platform for new bands to show what they can do, Rebellion really has something for everyone. I believe I read that there have already been over 150 acts announced including FEAR, The Stranglers, Descendents, Cock Sparrer, CJ Ramone, Teenage Bottlerocket, Citizen Fish, The Dwarves and Poison Idea.
Boomtown Fair, 7th–12th August
Aesthetically Boomtown is one of the craziest looking festivals in the world, with many different areas of the festival built up to look like different districts for different musical genres. Nothing is known about the punk and ska stages yet but I'm quite certain that the Last Gang In Town promoters will again pull some great names together for a very special festival.
Wotsit Called Fest, 27–29th September
The dates for this Hastings based DIY festival only got announced as I was writing this piece so again little is known about this year's edition. If the previous years are anything to go by it will be another riotous weekend of punk rock that will put plenty of smiles on plenty of people's faces.
Pie Race Festival, (if it's on I guess it will be sometime in November)
Pie Race Festival is a long running DIY festival based in Leeds. If last year's line-up is anything to go by the 2019 version will be a cracker. Faintest Idea, Millie Manders & The Shut Up, Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man, Nosebleed, Atterkop and Captain Hotknives all played last year's Pie Race, if they can book more bands anywhere close to this calibre then it will no doubt be a fine weekend. There's also a pie eating contest of which I believe TNSrecords' Bev is the reigning champion.
Book Yer Ane Fest, 29th November–1st December
Make-That-A-Take Records will be hosting the thirteenth edition of their festival at the end of November. The Dundee based festival has long been a highlight of the DIY punk rock calendar. The one and only time I've managed to attend the festival I had the best time and Sarah Shout Louder recently named it as her festival of the year for 2018. This has me itching to go again and spoiler alert, I've already got the time booked off. Derrick and his crew always deliver incredible line-ups for BYAF and this year will no doubt be the same.
This column was written by Colin Clark.