Those who like their music on the heavier side are in for a treat this festival season. Both the UK and Europe are boasting some of the most celebrated and longest-standing punk, rock and metal festivals with gorgeous lineups this year.
From the British heritage rock spectacular, Download Festival, to newcomers such as ArcTanGent, there's a colossal list of alternative events for music fans to choose from in 2023. This wealth of festivals cover just about everything from math-rock and post-rock, to tech metal, nu-metal, doom metal and crust punk, making deciding which event to attend rather tough.
So, to lend a helping hand, we've combed through all of the excellent options available this year, listing some of the best headbanging, horn-throwing and mosh pit-encouraging festivals taking place this year.
Whatever you're looking for, you're certain to find it in our list of the best punk, rock and metal festivals below...
Download Festival - 20th Anniversary
Photo: Download Festival / Facebook.com
When: Thursday 8th - Sunday 11th June 2023
Where: Donnington Park in Derby, England
2023 lineup: Slipknot, Metallica x2, Bring Me The Horizon, Architects, Placebo, Evanescence, Disturbed, Ghost, Parkway Drive, Pendulum, Behemoth, Lorna Shore, more TBA
The spiritual home of British rock and heavy metal, Download Festival is the UK's premier live music event for metalheads, punks and rockers alike.
The annual gathering welcomes performances from some of the biggest names in the game, and this year, they’re going hard for their 20th anniversary, adding an extra day of tunes.
Metallica will headline two nights, playing two completely different sets, and we’ll also be treated to headline sets from Bring Me The Horizon and Slipknot.
You can find just about every heavy genre on Download’s lineups including metal, punk, rock, alt-rock, death metal, metalcore, nu-metal, and everything in between, with a splash of electronic music courtesy of Pendulum. We’ve only had one lineup announcement so far, so keep your eyes peeled for more announcements but know that it’s going to be huge as the UK's rock and metal Mecca.
Photo: Roadburn Festival / Facebook.com
When: Thursday 20th - Sunday 23rd April 2023
Where: Tilburg, The Netherlands
2023 lineup: Deafheaven, Brutus, Pupil Slicer, Wolves In The Throne Room, White Ward, Show Me The Body, Ossaert, The Soft Moon, Trounce, Wayfarer, Shagor, Sangre De Muerdago
Tilburg's annual Roadburn Festival is one of Europe's most progressive metal events, attracting a myriad of scene-defining artists and thousands of fans from all over the world since 1999.
Known for championing underground artists whose music pushes the boundaries of genre and art, the boutique festival hosts live shows across multiple venues, with the city's renowned 013 music venue typically at the festival's epicentre. Creating a platform to facilitate more unique and challenging live setups and performances, the event's mission is to provide its audience with an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime, live music experience.
This year, they’re bringing some killer acts to the people, including Deafheaven, Pupil Slicer, Brutus and more. You can expect both bigger and smaller names to get the moshpits lively. Are you in?
Photo: ArcTanGent / Facebook.com
When: Wednesday 16th - Saturday 19th August 2023
Where: Fernhill Farm in Bristol, England
2023 lineup: Heilung, Converge, Deafheaven, Igorrr, Jaga Jazzist, Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Loathe, And So I Watch You From Afar, many more
An award-winning independent music festival based on a farm on the outskirts of Bristol, ArcTanGent is one of Britain's most progressive live music events, created specifically with the fans of technically challenging rock music in mind. In fact, the festival describes itself as the UK’s only fest dedicated to the very best music from the worlds of math-rock, post-rock and noise-rock.
Back in 2018, the festival won the Best Small Festival Award at the UK Festival Awards. That same year, the fest was shortlisted for the Best Lineup Award. Not bad at all.
Regularly hosting over 70 of the best mosh-inducing bands and artists, the festival welcomes thousands of music lovers each year, routinely selling out. Oh, and there’s a silent disco, too! We can't wait to see how this year's edition goes down.
Photo: Radar Festival / Facebook.com
When: Friday 28th - Sunday 30th July 2023
Where: BEC Arena in Manchester, England
2023 lineup: Periphery, Haken, Loathe, Long Distance Calling, Heart Of A Coward, Tides From Nebula, Sumr, Owane & Jack Gardiner, more TBA
One of the newest progressive rock and metal festivals to appear in the UK, Manchester’s Radar Festival will return after winning Best New Festival at 2022's UK Festival Awards. Providing three days of live music from an array of some of the world's most current and contemporary bands, Radar Festival is perfect for those who hate the mess of camping as it’s an indoor event.
While the lineup is already looking juicy, there are more announcements to come that’ll reveal all 42 bands playing, including two more headliners. And get this, there are no clashes! It’s a dream come true.
Rock am Ring & Rock im Park
Photo: Rock im Park / Facebook.com
When: Friday 2nd - Sunday 4th June 2023
Where: Rock am Ring - Nürburgring in the Eifel region, Germany / Rock im Park - Nuremberg in Bavaria, Germany
2023 lineup: Rise Against, Limp Bizkit, Kings Of Leon, Tenacious D, Die Toten Hosen, Bring Me The Horizon, K.I.Z, Turnstile, Gojira, Jinjer, many more
What was originally planned as a one-off event has now grown into one of Europe's biggest and most adored rock music festivals, if not the world's.
Launched back in 1984 to celebrate the re-opening of the famous Nürburgring race track, the festival has become so popular with the global rock and metal scene that its organisers created the sister event Rock im Park.
Welcoming up to 150,000 devoted music fans across both events over the same weekend in June, ticket holders can expect to mosh day to night to some of the greatest punk, metal and rock acts the world has to offer.
Slam Dunk Festival North and South
Photo: Slam Dunk Festival / Facebook.com
When: South - Saturday 27th May 2023 / North - Sunday 28th May 2023 (May bank holiday)
Where: South - Hatfield Park in Hatfield, England / North - Temple Newsam in Leeds, England
2023 lineup: The Offspring, Enter Shikari, Bowling For Soup, Yellowcard, Billy Talent, Less Than Jake, Kids In Glass Houses, Underoath, Flogging Molly, many more
If songs about pizza, loving your friends and hating the town you’re from is more your vibe, Slam dunk is the one for you.
Born out of The Cockpit music venue in Leeds, Slam Dunk Festival first began as a club night for fans of alternative genres of music, such as punk, pop punk, rock, emo and metal.
Now a huge annual, two-part event, Slam Dunk has become one of the most sought-after live music festivals for pop punks, rockers and metalheads throughout Europe and beyond.
Over 50,000 fans make the journey to either one of the festival's two homes every year to witness performances from a wide selection of established names, upcoming talents and everything in between. More artists will be announced soon, but it’s already looking glorious with The Offspring, Enter Shikari, and Bowling For Soup taking to the stages.
Bloodstock Open Air
Photo: Bloodstock Festival / Facebook.com
When: Thursday 10th - Sunday 13th August 2023
Where: Catton Park in Derbyshire, England
2023 lineup: Killswitch Engage, Meshuggah, Megadeth, In Flames, Helloween, Sepultura, Heaven Shall Burn, DevilDriver, Triptykon, many more
Bloodstock Open Air Festival has been providing its devoted following with four days of some of the darkest, heaviest and most chaotic music known to man since its unholy inception back in 2005.
Set upon the grounds of Derbyshire's Catton Park, the festival welcomes 20,000 rock and metal fans each year, presenting a mammoth lineup of over a hundred prominent international metal acts, over four stages each year.
Head to Bloodstock Open Air this year, raise your horns to the sky and open up the pit to the likes of Killswitch, Meshuggah, Megadeth, Knocked Loose, Whitechapel, and Biohazard.
Hellfest Open Air Festival
Photo: Hellfest Open Air Festival / Facebook.com
When: Thursday 15th - Sunday 18th June 2023
Where: Clissson, France
2023 lineup: Kiss, Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, Slipknot, Pantera, Def Leppard, Porcupine Tree, Hollywood Vampires, Parkway Drive, Sum 41, Within Temptation, Tenacious D, Meshuggah, Testament, Behemoth, Black Flag, many more
We thought about posting a picture of the stages, the bands, or the people at the fest, but we need to take a moment to really appreciate that lineup. Absolutely drop-dead gorgeous! Hellfest has never messed about with its lineups, and 2023 is looking no different with some bloody massive names that’ll leave heavy music fans drooling.
The monstrous metal Mecca is cracking value for money, it has a reputation for fantastic sound quality, the atmosphere is brilliant and, again, that lineup! It’s always been one of the best heavy metal festivals, and we can’t see that changing anytime soon.
With all this in mind, it’s no surprise weekend tickets have already sold out. But that doesn’t mean you can’t snag day tickets or pick up someone else's who can no longer go… keep an eye out!
Nova Rock Festival
Photo: NOVA ROCK Festival / Facebook.com
When: Friday 9th - Monday 12th June 2023
Where: Nickelsdorf, Austria
2023 lineup: Slipknot, The Prodigy, Disturbed, Tenacious D, Die Arzte, Nightwish, Incubus, Amon Amarth, Parkway Drive, Meshuggah, Motionless In White, Within Temptation, The Distillers, many more
One of the largest rock festivals, each year Nova Rock welcomes 55,000 rock and heavy music fans through its gates to mosh out to some of the biggest names in the industry. And with huge names including Slipknot, The Prodigy and Tenacious D taking to the stage, you can rest easy knowing this year’s event will be insane.
Alongside these rock veterans include bands such as Nightwish, The Distillers, Disturbed, Meshuggah, Architects and Yungblud. So it’s safe to say that Nova Rock provides a diverse selection of music for festival-goers to enjoy over its four-day event.
Nova Rock 2023, as with every other year, is destined to be amazing.
Wacken Open Air
Photo: Wacken Open Air / Facebook.com
When: Wednesday 2nd - Saturday 5th August 2023
Where: Wacken in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
2023 lineup: Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Heaven Shall Burn, Doro, Wardrunar, The Dropkick Murphys, Anthrax, Trivium, Killswitch Engage, Beartooth, Dying Fetus, many more
Wacken Open Air became one of Europe’s biggest heavy metal festivals after earning the adoration of metalheads worldwide with its stellar lineups, passionate crowds and immaculate sound.
If you needed more proof to back up how amazing this festival is, in 2018, it won the Best Major Festival Award at the European Awards and Best Festival at the Helga!
Wacken tries to ensure the bands they book cover as many styles of hard rock and metal as possible and this year will be no different with punk, death metal, nu-metal, thrash, metalcore and more on its lineup.
Photo: RESURRECTION FEST / Facebook.com
When: Wednesday 28th June - Sunday 1st July 2023
Where: Vivero in Spain
2023 lineup: Ghost, Slipknot, Pantera, Papa Roach, Architects, Alter Bridge, Behemoth, many more
Imagine a festival where you get to see all your favourite punk and metal bands without having to worry about the weather. Sounds good, right? We’ve got the perfect festival for you…
One of the best metal and punk festivals, Resurrection Festival brings music fans together to enjoy some of the most important bands in both scenes over five sunny days in Spain. The lineup is of course diverse, with this year's lineup including bands such as Ghost, Slipknot, Behemoth, Fever 333, Black Flag, Motionless In White, and Pantera, just to name a few.
To make your festival experience extra special, why not try beach camping? Waking up to stunning views and the sound of the sea gently lapping up on the sand will surely soften the blow of the hangover each morning.
Rebellion Punk Music Festival
Photo: Rebellion Punk Music Festival / Facebook.com
When: Thursday 3rd - Sunday 6th August
Where: Winter Gardens in Blackpool, England
2023 lineup: Die Toten Hosen, The Only Ones, New Model Army, The Exploited, Bob Vylan, The Dickies, Big Country, Bad Manners, Good Riddance, Kid Kapichi, many more
Rebellion is the largest of the UK’s independent punk festivals, attracting thousands to Blackpool for four days of jamming. Set indoors so you don’t have to worry about rain, the festival hosts artists including new punk bands, legendary bands from yesteryear, and a splash of other alternative sounds across up to seven stages.
Outside the tunes, there’s the literary festival which has seen John Lydon, Rat Scabies, Glen Matlock and more in the past, Punk Art, and Rebellion Radio to sink your teeth into.
Rebellion is a super family-friendly event and children under 12 go free, so if you’ve been desperate to introduce the kids to some banging tunes, this is the perfect festival for it.
Photo: 2000 Trees Festival / Facebook.com
When: Wednesday 5th - Saturday 8th July
Where: Upcote Farm in Withington, Gloucestershire
2023 lineup: Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, Hundred Reasons, Rival Schools, The Wonder Years, Loathe, Bob Vylan, Holding Absence, many more
2000 Trees shines a light on over 80 underground and new punk, rock, and metal artists. The award-winning fest is adored by fans of hard tunes and strong moshpits, thanks to its cracking lineups, welcoming atmosphere, and cheap tickets.
More on the medium-small end of the scale, 2000 Trees welcomes around 15,000 fans of banging tunes to the farm, where they can enjoy huge, mosh-worthy tunes or acoustic vibes. With that "everyone's welcome here" metal vibe, checking out 2000 Trees is a great shout. Head over, enjoy the tunes, make some mates, and make this festival season one to remember.
In the mood to start planning your summer festival adventure in 2023? Be sure to check out Skiddle's full festival guide here.
Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.
Header Image: Download Festival / Facebook.com