London Festivals: The Ultimate Guide

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A crowded indoor concert with a vibrant light show. People are dancing and raising their hands in the air. The ceiling is adorned with hanging red banners and a disco ball, reflecting the bright, colorful lights. The atmosphere is energetic and lively.

Every year comes with a whole new ram-packed schedule of London day festivals, hosted across the many parks of the capital. Given the myriad of choices, we thought we'd make a handy guide so you can make an informed decision of which one to back. 

All Points East

A green graphic on a green background depicts a mushroom-like object with dark green and brown patterns. To the left, the text All Points East is displayed in a bold white font with stylized > symbols before All and East.

16th, 17th, 23rd, 24th, and 25th of August | Victoria Park, Grove Road, Bow, E3 5TB | Tickets from £60

The multi-weekend, star-studded, frankly behemothic All Points East (or APE for short) has risen to the top, now the cream of the crop of London’s summer festivals.

Despite only hosting their first festival in 2018, wherein they won the UFA award for Line-up of the Year, and missing a year due to Covid, they have gone on to devour other smaller London festivals in their wake, including the prestigious Field Day that is now presented under the All Points East banner.

Their presence cannot be ignored. Friday 16th of August presents Kaytranada, who despite his immense popularity and influence rarely comes to the UK, as well as Thundercat and Channel Tres. The following day hosts Loyle Carner, Nas (yes, that Nas), Ezra Collective, and Sainte.

The following week has LCD Soundsystem, Pixies, Floating Points, and Jockstrap, and the following day (Field Day) has Justice, PinkPanthress, and Charlotte De Witte headlining.

We are still not done, as the 25th of August presents The Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie (both lead by Ben Gibbard), The Decemberists, Phoenix, and Sleater-Kinney. And these are only selected headliners, the line-up poster goes on like a Lidl receipt.

With a line-up so comprehensive, so diverse in genres and styles across eras, held over two weekends on multiple days, it’s fair to say that All Points East wins the accolade of Best London Summer festival. Already monolithic and only growing in size, its foreseeable that by 2030, Victoria Park may be renamed ‘All Points East Playground’.

See their website and full line-up here

Chaka Khan's Meltdown

A vibrant yellow promotional poster for Southbank Centre: Chaka Khan's Meltdown, showcasing black-and-white photos of Chaka Khan singing energetically. Event dates are noted as Fri 14 - Sun 23 Jun 2024.

14th - 23rd June | Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX | Tickets from £25

For those unfamiliar with the Meltdown festival, each year, an acclaimed artist is responsible for curating ten days of events at the Southbank Centre.

This year, soul and disco legend Chaka Khan takes the reigns, selecting a line-up of a wide variety of artists in the soul, jazz, and funk tradition.

Inaugurated by Chaka Khan performing a night full of her greatest hits, some highlights include Speakers Corner Quarter and Guildhall Session Orchestra on Monday 17th, rising star Judi Jackson on Thursday 20th, Afro-jazz collective Balimaya Project on the 21st (seriously, give these guys a listen), and downbeat kings Morcheeba on the 22nd.

And to cap it all off, Chaka Khan performs on the final event of the festival with Nu Civilisation Orchestra, aka ClassiKhan, performing orchestral reworks of her classics backed by one of the country’s best ensembles. Unmissable may just be a gross understatement.

Check their full line-up here.

Love Motion

A vibrant poster with a colorful gradient background features the text Love Motion at the top and Grace Jones at the bottom. The center showcases a shining disco ball emitting rays of light, creating a lively and dynamic effect.

26th July | Crystal Palace Bowl, 59 Crystal Palace Park Road, SE20 8DT | Tickets from £55 

An electric day festival at Crystal Palace Park sees old and new come together for an intergenerational mash-up. 

Here's a big one. A day festival, hosted in the glorious Crystal Palace Park, with one stage hosting four frankly massive acts: Horse Meat Disco, Dimitri From Paris, Roisin Murphy, and, biggest of all, the Grace Jones. That's right. 'Iconic' is an insulting understatement.

Horse Meat Disco throw some of the best parties in London, and have been for years (their queer nights at the Eagle come highly recommended). Dimitri From Paris' DJ sets make excellent hunting grounds for new and exciting tunes, and while Roisin Murphy may be seen as an off-kilter choice given the dance-oriented acts, she serves as an ideal lay-up for Grace Jones

Do we need to tell you about Grace Jones? Thought not. I'd say 'if you know, you know', but I trust you already know. Tickets come for an incredibly reasonable £55, averaging about £13 per artist if you wanted to break it down like that.

See the full line-up here.

Summer Dayes Festival

A colorful poster for the Summer Dayes event at Crystal Palace Bowl on August 4, 2024. The image features a vibrant sunset sky, bands performing on a stage surrounded by lush greenery, and a pond with lily pads in the foreground.

4th of August | Crystal Palace Bowl, 59 Crystal Palace Park Road, London SE20 8DT | Tickets from £50

Curated by none other than our Album of the Year winner Yussef Dayes, the Summer Dayes festival offers much more than just music.

Jelly coconuts, Caribbean food, Yoga classes hosted by Yussef Dayes’ dad, and hosted by Munya Chawawa, the unbeatable summer vibes are only here matched by a quality line-up consisting of Masego, Greentea Peng, Charlotte Day Wilson, and of course, Yussef Dayes himself.

Held at Crystal Palace Bowl, we are here praying for good weather to bring light to Yussef Dayes hometown, an event that means much to the artists. For fans of modern jazz, soul, and alternative rap, this will be your summer destination.

The festival has no official website, but all the details including booking can be found on Yussef Dayes' website here.

Big Smoke

Promotional image for the Big Smoke Festival, featuring a gradient text logo in orange and yellow with the event date 6th July 2024 and location Crystal Palace Park in bold letters against a backdrop of greenery and city buildings.

6th of July | Crystal Palace Park, Thicket Road, SE19 2GA | Tickets from £72

Curated by one of the UK’s greatest musical exports and Grime legend, Skepta, the highly-anticipated Big Smoke festival is more than just a chance for Skepta to engineer his headlining a festival.

Held at Crystal Palace park, the Skepta-curated line-up includes some huge names in the scene, including UK underground legend The Streets, Mahalia, Skepta’s brother and accomplished rapper JME, K-Trap, labelmate Frisco, internationally acclaimed MC Flowdan, and ubiquitous producer and DJ Sir Spiro, all on mainstage.

The secondary stage, Mas Tiempo, goes more in the house/dance/Latin direction to offer a break from the bass-heavy, MC-driven mainstage acts. Undoubtedly impressive for Skepta’s first day out.

See more info and tickets here

Ealing Jazz Festival

3 & 4th of August | Walpole Park - 45 Disraeli Rd, W5 5HS | Tickets from £16 (for the weekend, day tickets available)

One for the older crowd, or perhaps for the more musically discerning, the forty-year-old tradition of bringing jazz music to Ealing on the big stage is kept alive once more for another year of funk, soul, and jazzy jamboreeing. Held on W5's Walpole Park, Ealing invites artists from the world over for West London locals to delight in a mix of UK and international styles. Some may not even know it exists, but it has for years been one of the countries biggest jazz festivals.

As always, this is a premier spot to enjoy established and well-known acts as well as finding the newest in new. Two-time MOBO winner YolanDa Brown will be bringing her funky mix of reggae, jazz, and soul through the tenor of her saxophone on Saturday 4th August, and Nubiyan Twist, known for their effortless blend of afrobeat, hip-hop, soul jazz, and dancehall, are set to headline the Sunday. One's to look out for, however, will be the London Afrobeat Collective, Alisha Joy, Mica Sefia, and Youthsayers. 

As part of a series of Ealing summer festivals that run all summer, the jazz fest makes up one corner of their trifecta of blues, comedy, and jazz. For blues fans, of course the Ealing Blues Festival shall hold appeal (if you don't mind a slew of tribute acts that is), but its their offerings in Jazz that make this weekend the biggest in Ealing's calendar this year.

See more info here