No tent required! These day-tripper festivals are a train ride away from London

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Love it or loathe it, camping is a bit of a British festival rite of passage. Traversing a slightly boggy field after one too many tinnies, wriggling into a tiny pop-up tent with all of the structural integrity of a chocolate teapot, and grimly ‘showering’ with nothing but a pack of trusty wet wipes is just part of the incredibly glamorous experience – and unsurprisingly it’s not for everyone.

If all of this sounds a bit like you, never fear. As well as London’s huge selection of day festivals (sleeping in your own bed!? Heavenly) there are also plenty of parties a mere train ride away from the capital.

Some can be pulled off in a day-trip, though it might be wise to make an Irish exit before the late-night debauchery begins. And for the further-flung options, there’s always the option of swinging by for a single day of revelry, and turning the rest of the weekend into a city break – all of these festivals offer purse-friendly day tickets.

So why not duck out of the capital for a day (or two) and avoid the prospect of a rapidly deflating roll-mat altogether?


While most metal-heads opt to camp it up at this staple spot for sounds of the heavier persuasion, this legendary rock festival, in Donington Park, also welcomes in the day-trippers with open arms. Queens of the Stone Age, Fall Out Boy and Avenged Sevenfold headline each of the three nights, and lower down the bill you’ll find everyone from Creeper and Code Orange to Sum 41, Wargasm and Babymetal. Not to mention the most metal of the whole lot: Busted. Devil horns at the ready.

Nearest station: East Midlands Parkway or Derby

June 14-16

Bristol Sounds

Just a speedy train ride away, Bristol Sounds stages a run of individual day festivals on the city’s harbourside. A varied blend of genres, the offerings span from dub, reggae and pop-punk right through to the high-tempo offerings of Annie Mac, but the best of the bunch has to be the closing all-dayer, with Nineties alt-rock icons The Breeders, post-punk oddballs Squid, and California singer-songwriter Ty Segall.

Nearest station: Bristol Temple Meads

June 22-30


As far as we know, Timber is not named after Pitbull and Kesha’s 2013 electropop collaboration — it most likely takes its moniker from its woody setting in the National Forest. Though there’s plenty to love about the line-up — which features alternative singer-songwriter Tirzah, Haçienda DJ Dave Haslam, experimental musician Helen Ganya and a wholesome singalong with the Roots Community Singers — this festival is also equally big on wellness. Whether you fancy drowning out your hangover with a spot of low-octane yoga, or recreating one of Peep Show’s best episodes during an ecstatic dance session, Timber has you covered.

Nearest station: Lichfield or Burton upon Trent

July 5-7

Chaka Khan headlines Love Supreme 2024 (Getty Images for Gabrielle's Ang)
Chaka Khan headlines Love Supreme 2024 (Getty Images for Gabrielle's Ang)

Love Supreme

A flying visit to Love Supreme is a must for lovers of soul, jazz, R&B and funk. The queen of the latter, Chaka Khan, tops the bill, alongside a first headline slot for Mercury Prize nominee Olivia Dean. Other highlights include rapper and poet Noname, R&B icons Kool and the Gang, singer-songwriter Mahalia and soul superstar Dionne Warwick.

Nearest station: Glynde

July 5-7


Don Broco, Gaslight Anthem and The Chats lead the line-up of this independent festival, which was started in 2007 by a group of mates who were tired of big, corporate affairs. Musically, things skew in the direction of indie and punk rock, with the stand-outs including Panic Shack, Isle of Wight singer Lauran Hibberd, and punk duos Lambrini Girls and Nova Twins.

Nearest station: Cheltenham Spa

July 10-13


This UK festival season staple boasts everything from pink sheep to a punting lake. Whether you’re a Keane queen, a Baby Queen enthusiast or a day one devotee of this year’s Mercury Prize token wildcards Lankum, the line-up on this Suffolk fave will sort you right out.

Nearest station: Halesworth

July 25-28

 (Alamy Stock Photo)
(Alamy Stock Photo)

Camp Bestival

Though Rob Da Bank’s OG Bestival has sadly hung up its party hat, the festival’s kid-friendly spin-off is still going strong. Taking place in two separate locations — Dorset and then Shropshire later in the summer — the pair of parties have broadly similar line-ups: Paloma Faith, McFly, Faithless and Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears. Though they’re both top picks for some family festivalling, Dorset just about takes the lead thanks to a bonus Sophie Ellis-Bextor on the bill.

Nearest station: Wareham or Wool

July 25-28


Music lover Jackson Peacock was due to celebrate his 22nd birthday this summer. Tragically, he died last September in an accident. Now, journalist Kathryn Flett is staging JackoFest in her late son’s memory, with all of the profits from the celebration of his life going to charities The Good Grief Project and The Compassionate Friends. The all-dayer, in Bexhill-on-Sea, will feature performances from south London’s Mica Paris, producer Theo Sawyer, rising rapper Songer and Ivor Novello nominee Nerina Pallot.

Nearest station: Bexhill-on-Sea

July 27

Reading Festival

You’ve probably heard the horror stories about everything that goes down at the campsites of this post-GCSE rite of passage already — from torched tents to mud puddles the size of an Olympic swimming pool. Unless you’re actively celebrating the sweet taste of freedom from school (i.e. you’re an actual teenager), it might be wise to give the world’s most stressful camping holiday a miss. Instead, get the last train home to London — and catch the likes of Liam Gallagher, The Last Dinner Party, Renee Rapp, Pendulum, Fred Again… and many more with far less potential peril.

Nearest station: Reading

August 21-25

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)


Fatboy Slim, Jamie T and Biffy Clyro headline each consecutive day of this seaside festival, alongside “comedy headliners” Russell Howard, Frankie Boyle, and Al Murray. As well as putting on some off-site camping, and giving the option for punters to crash for the night in Portsmouth student digs, this harbourside affair is also day-trip friendly with individual passes for sale.

Nearest station: Portsmouth & Southsea

August 23-25

The Long Road

Cowboy hats at the ready, fans of country, roots and Americana. The American Troubadour and king of the American Pie himself, Don McLean, will headline alongside Union City country-pop singer Russel Dickerson, with other highlights including the uber-talented singer songwriter Jess Williamson, country musician Brooke Eden and producer and singer Paula Cole.

Nearest station: Rugby

August 23-25


Taking over Bristol’s Durdham Down for two days, this year’s edition of Forwards comes with a cracking line-up: Loyle Carner, Four Tet, a mysterious “special guest” and The xx’s Romy Madley Croft all play on Saturday, while Sunday features LCD Soundsystem, Jessie Ware, CMAT and Yard Act. Just a quick train ride away, the only dilemma is picking between the two days.

Nearest station: Bristol Temple Meads

31 August 31-September 1