The festival season is about to begin so we’ve put together our ultimate guide to the best festivals in Wales, book your tickets now!
Big Love Festival, Hay on Wye
If your idea of the perfect summer is partying in a gorgeous mansion set in lush woodlands, completely free of corporate funding, then this boutique 1000 capacity festival is for you. By day, Big Love Festival is an alfresco affair with lots going on including comedy and spoken word, but by night (and that’s until 5am), things get wild when they relocate indoors to the warehouse. Free facilities on-site include saunas, a swimming pool, proper hot showers and nice (we can’t hold them to this) toilets.
Line up includes: Joy Orbison, Craig Charles Funk and Social Club and Sian Evans of Kosheen fame.
Vale of Glamorgan Festival, The Vale of Glamorgan
The UK’s only festival to celebrate the work of living classical music composers takes place at various venues across the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff. The event welcomes an outstanding array of international artists with the list of composers being equally impressive, boasting classical contemporary tunesmiths from Cuba’s Andrés Alén to Tredegar’s 27-year-old hotshot David Roche. The list of venues is varied and exciting and includes Penarth Pier Pavilion, Ewenny Priory (the most complete and impressive Norman Church in Wales) and Hoddinott Hall at Wales Millennium Centre.
Line up includes: BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Ensemble MidtWest and composers John Adams (USA) and Philip Glass.
Hay Festival, Hay on Wye
24th May-3rd Jun
A stalwart on the festival circuit, this literary festival has racked up 30 years and to celebrate this year it’s including a live music bill. Hay Festival is an unrivalled and extremely notable festival uniting over 600 writers, global policy makers, pioneers and innovators from around the Globe to share stories and exchange ideas with a mission to make things happen. Set on the edge of the Brecon Beacons, there is no entrance fee to the main festival site, instead individual events are ticketed with prices ranging from £5 to £40. With an expansive programme taking place over a whopping 11 days, you’re sure to find something that piques your interest.
Line up includes: David Walliams, Cressida Cowell, Dai Smith and David Almond.
Fire in the Mountain, Aberystwyth
This humble happening takes place on an ancient farm in the foothills of the Cambrian Mountains on the coast of Cardigan Bay and celebrates music from the edgier folk scene. Initiated in 2009 as a way to bring an ageing farm back to its former glory, a bunch of friends got together to watch some live folk and drink beer. Nine years later and we have a fully fledged festival with a modernised farm, fantastic facilities and most importantly, a cool bill of folk, Old Time and Bluegrass. They even have a recycling disco!
Line up includes: Sam Amidon, Julie Murphy and Ceri Rhys Matthews and The Langan Band.
Beyond the Border, St Donat’s Castle
Enjoy a feast of international storytelling across 5 venues to celebrate 25 years of fables and myths, music and magic, love stories and laughter, fun and games for children and fairy tales for grown-ups.
It’s not just stories, experience the best in world food and craft stalls whilst enjoying live music at the enchanting St Donat’s Castle by the sea.
As part of the weekend they’ll be celebrating Visit Wales’ Year of the Sea with a packed programme of sea stories, from Pirate Tales to Viking Myths to stories of Migration across the Mediterranean. For Saturday or Sunday tickets are £45 for adults and £30 for children, a family ticket for 2 adults and 2 children is just £125.
Line up includes: Author Joanne Hariris (Chocolat) Robin Williamson (Incredible String Band) and Classical Indian Sufi singer Smita Bellur.
Swansea International Jazz Festival, Swansea
In conjunction with the Arts Council of Wales and Swansea Council, Swansea Jazzland presents the Swansea International Jazz Festival, the biggest jazz festival in Wales. There will be around 50 free events held in 15 venues over the Maritime Quarter, while paid concerts are at the Dylan Thomas Theatre which has an impressive bill of artists from the USA, Europe and Australia. There is also a host of free jazz workshops including a guitar workshop with Ukraine’s Libor Šmoldas and a children’s Jazz Big Band workshop with educator and band leader Pete Long.
Line up includes: Laurence Cottle with his All star Big Band, The James Taylor Quartet and Pee Wee Ellis with his Funk Assembly Band.
Tafwyl Fair, Cardiff Castle
30th Jun-1st Jul
Cardiff Music Awards recently bestowed first prize on this super-friendly event in the Best Festival Category thanks to the public vote, and we can definitely understand why. This welcoming, thoughtful and family-oriented Welsh arts and culture festival takes place in the historical grounds of Cardiff Castle and boasts a host of delicious street food, exceptional Welsh music acts and plenty to keep the kids (big ones and small ones alike) entertained. This year there’s an acoustic barn sponsored by Clwb Ifor Bach and Yurt T will host teenage bands formed in local Cardiff schools.
Line up includes: Chroma, Candelas, Fleur de Lys and The Gentle Good.
Gower Festival, Swansea
2nd – 14th Jul
You can find yourself at a different venue each evening over two weeks to witness the finest musical delights that Gower Festival has to offer. And these aren’t just normal venues, these off the beaten track concerts take place at 13 ancient churches all over the Gower Peninsula from Sketty to Llangentih. A superb bill of the finest quality internationally acclaimed artists (including folk, jazz and string quartets) have been invited to perform, with the theme this year chosen to mark the end of the First World War. The event has been running for more than 40 years now and for the first time, 2018 sees the festival linking with the Gower Open Studios scheme where local artists will open their studios to the public.
Line up includes: Elin Manahan Thomas and Brian Ellsbury, Andrey Lebedev and Sacconi Quartet.
Glass Butter Beach, Abersoch, North Wales
13th – 15th Jul
Crammed full of entertainment, activities and memorable experiences both on and off the water. Glass Butter Beach is an eclectic mix of music, water sports and street food, which add up to a perfect weekend of revelling on the clear blue waters of Cardigan Bay.
There’ll be five music stages with a classic yet varied festival bill from electronica to rock, if you’re going for the music you won’t be disappointed. The festival also hosts one of the World’s biggest Wakeboarding events on the calendar and you can have a go at stand up paddle boarding, paint fights, surf sessions, bungee jumps and loads more.
Line up includes: Wolf Alice, Katy B, Mystery Jets and Bodhi.
Steelhouse Festival, Ebbw Vale
27th – 29th Jul
Expect a killer line-up at Steelhouse Festival which is a must visit for classic rock fans and 2018 promises to be bigger and better than ever. Steelhouse is super proud to announce Myles Kennedy and Co as joint headliners with Glenn Hughes. Myles is an esteemed rock vocalist, one of the greatest, and has appeared on two Slash and five Alter Bridge albums. Radio Station Planet Rock will be hosting an official signing tent where fans can meet and greet their idols and have stuff signed. This spectacular family friendly festival is the UK’s best value rock festival with a strong following and best of all it’s right here in Wales on the Southern edge of the Brecon Beacons.
Line up includes: Black Star Riders, The Wildhearts, The Quireboys, King King and Stone Broken.
Welshfest, Vale of Glamorgan
27th – 29th Jul
Yep, you’ve guessed it, Welshfest is a celebration of all thing Welsh with 100 artists across 4 stages, ranging from Goldie Lookin Chain to Jack Perrett. This event has massive family appeal, the folks behind Welshfest are so considerate they even have a family area set up higher with views of the stage and across Cardiff, and all activities for children are free. There will also be a fairground and mini circus.
Line up also includes: Sian Evans (ex-Kosheen), Digital Criminals, Fireroad, Chroma and Rhys Davies.
The National Eisteddfod, Cardiff Bay
Held over eight days and for the first time in a decade, the Capital City plays host to the Eisteddfod, a festival believed to have first been held in 1176. Now a thoroughly modern affair, the event showcases and champions the finest in Welsh art, music, science and technology, literature, drama and much, much more. This year sees over 900 programmes and events across the Maes. One of the entertainment divisions is Maes B, a festival within a festival that has become Wales’ biggest Welsh language pop and rock music event offering the stage to over 20 of the very best Welsh acts.
Line up includes: Street Theatre, Comedy Festival, Children’s Literature Festival, Literary Pavillion, Dance and Y Lle Celf (Visual arts and architecture).
Solarsphere, Builth Wells
10th – 13th Aug
A truly unique experience, Solarsphere is a small star camp held on Penmaenau Farm, which is a couple of miles out of Builth Wells. The event attracts seasoned star gazers as well as beginners and the curious and aims to share knowledge about various aspects of the Cosmos in a relaxed and family friendly environment with creature comforts and live music to boot. There are various workshops that everyone can attend although some of the more complicated stuff may go over the little ones heads.
Line up includes: Professor Mark McCaughrean European Space Agency, Once Explorers, Always Explore, Access all Areas, Glas and AstroCymru Space Workshops.
Castle Roc, Chepstow Castle
16th Aug – 2nd Sept
Set in the atmospheric surroundings of the iconic Chepstow Castle, this family-friendly music festival is relaxed and intimate and truly unique. With a 1000 person capacity you even get good views from the very back! There is something to suit everyone at this festival and it is widely praised for its interesting and eclectic bill. With locally sourced food outlets and amazing acoustics, the historic setting of Chepstow Castle will make this a truly magical event.
Line up includes: Alabama3 & Philippa Hanna, The Magic of Motown, Leo Sayer and The Craig Charles Funk and Soul Club.
Green Man, Brecon Beacons
With Glastonbury out of the picture this year, we predict this year’s Green Man will reap the benefits of the festival stalwart’s absence. The biggest festival in Wales, Green Man is a four-day event with 100 acts across 5 stages.
As well as the music there’s art installations, Welsh poetry, theatre, science, comedy, a daily dusk till dawn bonfire, impromptu jamming sessions, and a wide range of locally sourced and organic street food. The festival also has a 24hr drinks license with a range of quirky bars dotted around the site.
Line up includes: The War on Drugs, Fleetfoxes, Simian Mobile Disco, Boy Azooga and John Grant.
Pride Cymru’s Big Weekend 2018, Cardiff
This is super-fun festival is always one of the key events in Cardiff’s calendar turning the City Hall Lawn and the streets surrounding the civic Centre into a carnival of colour, with funfair rides, amusements and entertainment from some of the UK’s biggest names in music.
Pride Cymru’s Big Weekend will provide 3 days of pure party atmosphere and extravagant entertainment in the heart of the capital, celebrating and promoting the importance of LGBT in the community as well as bringing more than 200,000 people together in celebration.
Line up includes: Not yet announced.
Festival No6, Portmeirion
The Italianate village of Portmeirion plays host to this wonderfully unique art and music festival. An eclectic mix of iconic and new artisits, the main stage is a Mediterranean-inspired, Grade II-listed fantasy village, surrounded by estuary, mountains and woodlands. During the festival, the village and surrounding woodlands come alive as a unique series of surreal and inspiring venues.
There’s also a great stand up programme if comedy is your thing.
Line up inclues: Franz Ferdinand, Friendly Fires, Jesse Ware and Amber Arcades.
The Good Life Festival, Flintshire
14th – 16th Sept
Everyone knows the story behind the Good Life Festival don’t they? No? Well, we can enlighten you. Four Friends (that’ll be Welsh ledge Cerys Matthews, Steve Abott, Caroline and Charlie Gladstone); one vision: a simple life; a return to days of yore; the good life. This is ultimately a weekend of adventure, discovery, an eclectic array of music, delicious food with chefs on hand, books and of course, the GREAT OUTDOORS! There are no backstage or VIP areas at this event so patrons and performers get the chance to mingle and get back to basics together.
Line up includes: Gwenno, Boy Azzoga, DJ Norman Jay MBE, Valentine Warner, Sam Evans and Shauna Guinn of Hangfire Smokehouse.