10 of the best city music festivals in the UK

Brixton Disco Festival, London

In dark times, disco offers a seductive, defiant escapism. In its second year, this festival will explore that wider cultural resonance in film screenings and Q&As, before partying late in venues around Brixton’s Windrush Square, which will be turned into an open-air roller disco. Joey Negro, Horse Meat Disco and dance music archivists Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton are on the bill, which also includes sets from Merseyside’s king of the edit, Greg Wilson, Evelyn “Champagne” King and a four-hour, back-to-back from the evergreen Francois Kervorkian and Lucky Cloud’s Colleen “Cosmo” Murphy.
Book 27 April, £30.30 (tickets going fast), brixtondiscofestival.com.
Stay Close to the station and the market, the Premier Inn on Coldharbour Lane has doubles from £141 room-only, premierinn.com.

Simple Things, Bristol

While the demise of print has claimed many casualties, Crack Magazine has prospered by providing readers with a regular free dose of new, cutting-edge music. The Bristol and Berlin-based publication is one arm of the local collective that runs this annual, multi-venue all-dayer, and Crack’s uncompromising editorial informs Simple Things’ feel. This year’s line-up is tbc, but the eclectic nature of past headliners (Helena Hauff, Skepta, Death Grips), gives a flavour of an event that, last year, ran from Manchester’s up and coming Loft, creator of mind-melting electronic vortexes, to veteran shoegazers Slowdive.
Book 19 October, from £15, simplethingsfestival.co.uk.
Stay Stokes Croft eco-hostel Full Moon, also a courtyard bar and music venue, has dorm beds from £22 and doubles £60 room-only, fmbristol.co.uk.

Inner City Electronic, Leeds

Curated by local DJ/producer Ralph Lawson, this 24-hour session is both an opportunity to explore the city’s best music spaces (clubs such as Wire, Freedom Mills, Brudenell Social Club; DJ-bars Distrikt and the Old Red Bus Station; and Hope House and its legendary handbuilt vintage Cosmic Slop soundsystem), and catch the likes of Ben UFO, Fabric’s Craig Richards, DJ Seinfeld, Octave One, Willow, Shanti Celeste and Juju & Jordash, all in one hit. Motor City Drum Ensemble’s dusty grooves and Nina Kraviz’s mischievous techno top the bill.
Book 1 June, from £65.20, group ticket for four £167.20, innercityelectronic.com.
Stay The convenient and affordable Ibis Central, £65.55 room-only, accorhotels.com.

No Bounds, Sheffield

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By day, No Bounds hosts debates, exhibitions and leftfield performances across the city. This year’s festival hub is Kelham Island Museum, where local experimental outlier Mark Fell will co-curate a series of collaborations called Tactical Contact. By night, activity shifts to the deliciously grimy Hope Works, where DJs from across the clubbing spectrum (techno’s Courtesy, rave protagonist Nkisi, the frenetic LSDXOXO), will keep Sheffield bouncing until dawn.
Book 11-13 Oct, weekend ticket from £38.50, plus opening gig £49.50, noboundsfestival.co.uk.
Stay The city-centre Mercure Sheffield St Paul’s Hotel, from £113 room-only, accorhotels.com.

Ava, Belfast

A combined electronic music conference and party, this two-day event is the place to go if you want to see house-music true believer the Black Madonna discussing political activism in clubland, before dancing hard with techno brutalists Blawan, Len Faki and Ben Sims; or, if you are looking for light relief, Horse Meat Disco and freestyle party-starter Eclair Fifi. Naturally, Irish talent – Krystal Klear, Brame + Hamo, Or:la, Saoirse – is also well-represented. Conference events at the MAC arts centre are free, but you are advised to pre-register.
Book 31 May-1 June, day ticket £55, two-day ticket £89.50, avafestival.com.
Stay Vagabonds hostel, doubles from £70 B&B, dorm bed from £15 B&B, vagabondsbelfast.com.

Supersonic, Birmingham

From Black Sabbath to industrial techno’s Regis, Birmingham has cultivated its fair share of musical outliers, whose spirit is celebrated at this experimental music extravaganza. The big-hitters include sludgy industrial metal merchants Godflesh and the Bug, purveyor of bass-bin destroying apocalyptic dancehall. Fear not though, this is no marathon of monochrome, monster-riffing misery – in Big Joanie’s whip-smart, new wave punk, Dälek’s spacey hip-hop and Big Lad’s break-core synth-punk, Supersonic is programmed for three days of partying.
Book 19-21 July, day ticket £40, Sat-Sun £75, Fri-Sun £120 (includes opening Neurosis and God Flesh gig at Birmingham Town Hall), supersonicfestival.com.
Stay Natty hostel Hatters, doubles from £71 B&B, dorm bed £20, hattershostels.com.

Tectonics, Glasgow

Late Junction-land, that space where classical music intersects with electronics, noise and jazz, is incredibly fertile right now, as Tectonics will explore across two days of events at City Halls. Highlights include the cult drone artist Sarah Davachi premiering new work Oscen with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (prior to very different summer dates at the likes of Dutch rave, Dekmantel), while industrial music pioneer Drew McDowall will revisit Coil’s Time Machines.
Book 4-5 May, day £18, festival pass £28, tectonicsfestival.com.
Stay Close and simple, Moxy Merchant City has doubles for £79 room-only, moxy-hotels.marriott.com.

Wigflex City Festival, Nottingham

Wigflex has been throwing parties for more than a decade but refuses to stand still. Its inaugural multi-venue, one-day electronic music festival is a case in point, the programme running from Honey Dijon playing in a previously unused courtyard to Max Cooper bringing his immersive live AV show to new multimedia arts centre Metronome. Do not miss rare ambient sets from Midland, Call Super and James Holden in designated chill-out zone Fast City, before full-throttle larks with DJ Stingray and Avalon Emerson at Brickworks. All of this is woven into a day of workshops, debates and visual installations at Nottingham Contemporary.
Book 5 May, £33, on Facebook or residentadvisor.net.
Stay Cool hostel Igloo Hybrid, doubles £38 room-only, igloohostel.co.uk.

Sounds From the Other City, Salford

Previously commandeering Chapel Street’s pubs, churches and art spaces, this year’s DIY meeting of Manchester’s underground tribes will take a new format as the action is concentrated across five stages on Regent Trading Estate. The line-up is an eclectic riot, ranging from guitar-toting headliners Black Midi, the Orielles and Belgium grot-punks Cocaine Piss, to Aadae’s UK garage and Afrobeats-charged pop or Gabe Gurnsey’s taut, squirrelling electronics. This all comes with myriad bizarre art interventions and the occasional, equally baffling (but entertaining) anti-music experimentation.
Book 5 May, £27.75, soundsfromtheothercity.com.
Stay On SFTOC’s doorstep at the Ainscow, doubles from £71 B&B, theainscow.com.

Handmade Festival, Leicester

“Handmade is a metropolitan music festival and as such does not have any camping areas,” is music to the ears of those among us who resist canvas. This grassroots event runs across 10 city venues from Firebug bar to the O2 Academy, with complimentary shuttle buses ferrying wristband-holders around Leicester. Electro-pop royalty Metronomy top this year’s bill but, in its sixth year, Handmade remains a key platform for Leicester and Midlands talent, such as Spoort, art punks Anatomy and slick indie rockers Arcades.
Book 5 May, adult £38.50, child (8-17) £22, handmadefestival.co.uk.
Stay The Belmont Hotel, a highly rated independent, doubles from £95 B&B, belmonthotel.co.uk.

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