Gender-equal music festivals - these are the fests working to put things right

The lack of female representation on festival bills is back in the news - and rightly so. From Glastonbury to The Great Escape, these are the festivals striving to promote a fair gender balance

Skiddle Staff

Last updated: 21st Feb 2020

The lack of female representation on festival line-ups has again become a hot topic for discussion amongst music fans, artists and industry professionals, and for good reason.

According to a recent report, up to 80% of festival headliners are male. Aiming to tackle this gender-bias, the PRS Foundation set-up the Keychange initiative, which aims to achieve a 50/50 gender split of acts performing at music festivals by 2022.

The contentious issue, which has been challenged in previous years by the likes of Lily Allen, and more recently by Billy Bragg, Annie MacThe 1975's Matty Healy and Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis, has been making headlines and setting social media alight in recent weeks, with Glastonbury co-organiser Emily Eavis admitting that although a challenge, the "future has to be 50/50."

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It is worth noting, however, that many festivals are already leading the way in the fight for gender equality. Primavera Sound in Barcelona became the first to achieve a 50/50 split in 2019, while in the UK, Suffolk festival Latitude came the closest, with 40% female-only acts last year.

With this in mind, below we've created a list of some of the festivals committed to bringing a fairer and more balanced festival experience in the future.

Click the festival titles for tickets and more info.


The Great Escape

When: Thursday 14th - Saturday 16th May

Where: Brighton

With hundreds of acts playing across dozens of venues across Brighton, as well as an accompanying music convention, The Great Escape is one of the most eclectic and diverse musical gatherings in the UK.

With the main focus on promoting up-and-coming talent, gender balance isn't necessarily strived for, instead it just naturally occurs. This year the likes of Arlo Parks, Abbie Ozard, Phoebe Green, Chroma, Lizzie Reid and a whole load more will bring the noise to the seaside festival.

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Liverpool Sound City

When: Friday 1st - Sunday 3rd May

Where: Baltic Triangle, Liverpool

This award-winning event, one of Europe’s leading metropolitan festivals of music and arts, is one of those signed up to the Keychange initiative, which aims to achieve a 50/50 gender split at festivals by 2022.

Saturday night headliners Pale Waves formed in 2014, when lead singer and guitarist Heather Baron-Gracie met drummer Ciara Doran while attending university in Manchester. Since then they have gone on to become one of the UK's most exciting contemporary indie acts.

They're joined on the bill in Merseyside by the likes of Stealing Sheep, The Mysterines, Maricka Hackman, Sophie and the Giants, Peaness, Nikki and the Waves, as well as BRIT award winners and Mercury Prize nominees Friendly Fires, The Blinders and The Snuts.



When: Thursday 4th - Saturday 6th June

Where: Parc Del Forum, Barcelona

One of Spain's most popular festivals, Primavera Sound in Barcelona delivers on multiple levels, and is regarded as one of the most friendly and inclusive festivals in Europe.

In 2019, the festival became the first to deliver a line-up with a 50/50 gender split, with appearances from Miley Cyrus (replacing previously booked Cardi B), Rosalia, Solange, Robyn, Janelle Monae, Kali Uchis, Peggy Gou, FKA Twigs, and Christine and the Queens, alongside the likes of Tame Impala, FUTURE and Interpol.

Lana Del Rey, Brittany Howard and King Princess are just a few of the top female talents on the bill for 2020.

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Playground Festival

When: Friday 31st July - Sunday 2nd August

Where: Rouken Glen Park, Glasgow

With a Saturday night headline duo of CHVRCHES and Neneh Cherry, accompanied by Underworld and The Flaming Lips in topping the bill across the weekend, this year's Playground Festival in Glasgow has an impressively diverse line-up, not just in terms of gender but in genre too.

The weekender at Rouken Glen Park will boast a 45% female line-up this summer, with Stephanie Cheape, Scarlett Randle and Natasha Kitty Katt also featuring.

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AMP: Lost & Found

When: Thursday 30th April - Sunday 3rd May

Where: St Paul's Bay, Malta

Radio 1 presenter and tastemaker-in-chief Annie Mac has been one of the most vocal critics of gender bias on festival line-ups, and has rightly used her position to give female artists an equal platform and spotlight.

Curating her own four day festival in Malta, featuring on the Lost & Found line-up in 2020 are the likes of Ms Banks, Amy Becker, Eclair Fifi, Helena Hauff, Honey Dijon, and Jayda G, alongside Aitch, Slowthai and Patrick Topping.

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Glastonbury Festival

When: Wednesday 24th - Sunday 28th June

Where: Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset

Glasto co-organiser Emily Eavis has made a commitment towards equal female representation at the festival, and said in a recent interview that booking a gender-equal line-up is "easier than you think". Though it is difficult to give an overall figure - due to the thousands of acts that play Glasto every year - Eavis reckons that this year the main stages will almost achieve a 50/50 split.

US megastar Taylor Swift will headline the festival on Sunday, while Supremes icon Diana Ross will take the revered Legends slot earlier in the day. Lana Del Rey is the latest star announced to be playing the Somerset festival in June.

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When: Thursday 16th - Sunday 19th July 2020

Where: Henham Park, Beccles

In 2019, this Suffolk festival was found to be the most gender diverse in the country, featuring 40% female acts.

Headlining the music and arts festival in 2020 are Californian rock queens HAIM, alongside Liam Gallagher and The Chemical Brothers. Also featuring on the Latitude 2020 bill is dance-pop maverick Charli XCX, electro-afro-funk band Ibibio Sound Machine, and lo-fi pop trio Girl Ray.


Bluedot Festival

When: Thursday 23rd - Sunday 26th July

Where: Jodrell Bank Observatory, Macclesfield

This award-winning, family-friendly, festival of music, science, technology and culture takes place beneath the iconic Lovell Telescope in Cheshire, with four days of top class acts, intergalactic discovery and family-friendly encounters. 

In 2018, Bluedot signed up to the PRS Foundation's gender-equal festival pledge, which aims to achieve a 50/50 gender split by 2022. Headlining this year are Icelandic icon Bjork, Groove Armada, Metronomy and Roisin Murphy, alongside the likes of Anna Meredith, Haai and Daniel Avery.

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Green Man Festival

When: Thursday 20th August - Sunday 23rd August

Where: Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales

Located in the Black Mountains of the Brecon Beacons, this intimate festival boasts one of the most beautiful festival sites in the land, and is lauded as one of the UK's most inclusive and gender-equal festivals.

Swedish electronic band Little Dragon feature at the top of the bill, joined by the likes of Goldfrapp, Agnes Obel, Lucinda Williams, Caribou, Mac Demarco and Michael Kiwanuka.

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When: Friday 12th - Sunday 14th June

Where: Gunnersbury Park, London

Co-founded by superstar DJ duo Groove Armada, 'Lovebox' became an album (released in 2002), a party, and then a festival, attracting tens of thousands of people to Clapham Common, then Victoria Park, eventually relocating to Gunnersby Park in 2018.

The three-day rap, grime, RnB and dance festival has grown to become one of London's most popular music events, with over 150,000 people expected through the gates across the weekend.

The hugely impressive 2020 features top of the bill performances from the likes of mercurial British singer/songwriter FKA Twigs, Swedish superstar Robyn, UK R&B singer-songwriter Jorja Smith, BBC Radio 1 DJ and tastemaker Annie Mac, Berlin-based South Korean DJ Peggy Gou, as well as BRIT Award winner Mabel, dance-pop maverick Charli XCX, Mercury Prize nominee Little Simz and BRITs rising star award winner Celeste.

There's also headline slots from Disclosure, Tyler, The Creator, Khalid and Anderson Paak.


Looking for a festival to attend this summer? Look no further than Skiddle's dedicated 2020 festival guide.


Main image: Sergio Albert / Primavera / Facebook

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