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The Best Reggae, Dub and Ska Festivals

From the Manchester Reggae Festival to Liverpool's Positive Vibration Festival, and one of Europes biggest Rasta gatherings, Rototom Sunsplash - there's a surplus of reggae, dub and ska festivals happening in 2021

Skiddle Staff

Last updated: 15th Feb 2021

A global phenomenon that still heavily influences modern culture today, reggae, and its many sub genres, has been a pioneering and potent force within music, the arts and politics since it first arrived on the airwaves back in the 1960's.

Gifting fans across the world with a host of adored artists, each offering an extensive list of memorable and historic records, the likes of Lee Scratch Perry, Toots & The Maytals and figure head Bob Marley, with tracks such as 'The Upsetter', '54-46 Was My Number' and 'Three Little Birds', to the more modern contemporaries, the likes of Hollie Cook, Gentlemans Dub Club, Gardna, The Skints, Kiko Bun, Mungo's Hi Fi and so many more... It's a genre that continues to evolve, innovate and inspire, with a rooted universal sound that never seems to age.

So it makes sense then that the UK and the near European continent should offer an abundance of reggae, ska, rocksteady and dub festivals throughout the festival season each year, to commemorate the lasting love for the genre, the music and its pivotal characters,  and to usher in the the rising reggae stars of tomorrow.

It might not be the Caribbean, but you can still sample yourself a flavour of the birth place of reggae and it's cherished culture, at one of the following reggae festivals in 2021...

 

 

Manchester Reggae Festival

When: Friday 16th April 2021

Where: Bowlers Exhibition Centre in Manchester

Lineup: Ali Campbell & Astro, more to be announced... 

One of Northern Englands biggest reggae gatherings, the Manchester Reggae Festival will return once again in 2021.

Taking control of the city's enormous 5,000 capacity BEC Arena, the event is set to welcome a host of respected names and future talents, delivering an eclectic range of sounds and sub genres - from rock-steady to dub, jungle and dancehall.

Ali Campbell & Astro of legendary, chart-topping reggae act - UB40, have already confirmed their attendance at this years event. The pairs headline performance will make up part of their forthcoming tour - 'The Unprecedented Tour', due to take place this April.

Don't miss this huge celebration of reggae, sound system and Jamaican culture. 

 

Find tickets for Manchester Reggae Festival 2021 here

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U Know Festival

When: Friday 28th - Monday 31st May 2021

Where: The Sportsman Arms in Denbigh

Lineup: The lineup for this event has yet to be announced... 

Set upon the stunning Denbigh moorland of North East Wales, situated between Snowdonia and the Clwydian Range, U Know Festival or Fairestival, has grown exponentially in size and popularity since its inaugural event over five years ago. 

A family friendly, environmentally conscious and innovative music and arts gathering, the festival prides itself on its warm welcoming atmosphere and musical inclusivity. Renowned for promoting and showcasing a variety of world music genres - from jungle to soul, funk and of course, reggae - some of the festivals many previous performers include the likes of Manchester reggae artist Kuntri Ranks, Gypsy folk band Mobius Loop, country rockers The Goat Roper Rodeo Band, Manchester DJ Nuusic and local act, Racubah Sound System.

Due to return this year, following 2020's sadly cancelled event, attendees can expect an extended weekend of fantastic music, with a lineup brimming with DJs, bands, musicians and performers, appearing across the festivals multiple stages - including the barn stage, the geodome stage, hidden away in nearby woodland, and a Jamaican style trench town stage. 

 

Find tickets for U Know Festival 2021 here

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Positive Vibration Festival of Reggae

When: Friday 11th - Saturday 12th June 2021

Where: Baltic Triangle in Liverpool

Lineup: General Levy, Mungos Hi Fi, Gentlemans Dub Club, Kiko BunHollie Cook

One of the UK's most eclectic reggae events, Liverpool's Positive Vibration Festival routinely provides its faithful following with a number of performances from some of the genres most revered artists, selectors and sound system collectives - the likes of reggae legend Lee Scratch PerryMacka B & The Roots Ragga Band, The Majestic, Mungo's Hi Fi and many more.

Launched back in 2016, the festival, which basically takes over the city's trendy Baltic Triangle district for a weekend in June each year, is an all-embracing, family friendly occasion, celebrating the globally influential genre of music and the Jamaican culture from which it came.

On top of a stellar programme of performers, those in attendance can also take full advantage of a range of other activities and experiences - from the Reggae Q&A, led by a host of respected artists, promoters, record labels and other industry experts, to the Jamdown food and drinks market, offering a variety of Caribbean flavours and delicacies, and a bunch of interesting workshops fit for the whole family.

 

Find tickets for Positive Vibration Festival of Reggae 2021 here

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Rototom Sunsplash 

Damian-marley-Foto-Luca-Valenta

Image credit: Foto Luca Valenta / Damian Marley at Rototom Sunsplash 

When: Monday 16th - Sunday 22nd August 2021

Where: Rototom Sunsplash European Reggae Festival in Benicassim

Lineup: The lineup for this event has yet to be announced... 

Nearest airport: Barrington Levy, Koffee, Julian Marley & The Uprising, Inna De Yard, The Dualers

A mammoth, week-long reggae party on the eastern coast of sunny Spain, Rototom Sunsplash is one Europes biggest, longest running and most popular reggae music festivals.

Attracting up to 250,000 fans each year, as well as a plethora of renowned reggae names and performers, representing a multitude of sounds and styles - from dancehall and bashment to ska, dub and rocksteady - the time honoured festival is regarded by many as a mecca for reggae enthusiasts the world over.

Amongst the impressive list of previous headliners to have the graced the festival throughout it's illustrious 25-year history, are the likes of Toots & The Maytals, Steel Pulse, The Specials, The Wailers and afrobeat legend, Fela Kuti to name a few.

Join the Rototom Sunsplash Festival family this year and immerse yourself in jamaican culture. In addition to a huge bill of live shows, fans can engage in one of many workshops, attend art exhibitions, learn new skills at the craft fairs running throughout the week and sample some of the finest cuisine, all under the warm mediterranean sun. 

An absolute must for those who love to skank.

 

Find tickets for Rototom Sunsplash 2021 here

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Weyfest

weyfest

Image credit: Musical Pictures / Weyfest (Facebook)

When: Friday 20th - Sunday 22nd August 2021

Where: Rural Life Centre Tilford Surrey in Farnham

Lineup: UB40, The Dualers, Soul II Soul, DreadzoneTankus The Henge 

Considered by the festivals regulars as more of a mini-break than a frenzied live music festival, Weyfest is acclaimed for offering its guests a stress-free weekend of relaxation alongside hundreds of world-class performances, from some of the best in the game.

Known for having a certain penchant for heritage reggae, ska and dub acts, Weyfest has welcomed many of the genres greats onto its stages since the festivals first jaunt back in 2007. Amongst them, the likes of UB40, The Beat, Bad Manners, Dub Pistols and The Selecter.

Priding themselves on presenting a host of new and emerging talents, as well as the heavy hitting names, the Weyfest organisers routinely create an eclectic programme of performers, covering a variety of styles - from blues to folk, dance and jazz, reggae and all it's off shoots. 

Disconnect from the struggles of everyday life and unwind within the festivals nurturing, countryside setting. Visit The Rural Life Centre's working museum, littered with craft displays and artefacts. Ride the steam train that surrounds the perimeter of the festival, also running between the festival campsite and carpark, or throw down a picnic rug, stretch out and relax to the sounds of some best live reggae acts Britain has to offer.

 

Find tickets for Weyfest 2021 here

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The Great Northern Ska Festival

When: Saturday 21st August 2021

Where: Bowlers Exhibition Centre in Manchester

Lineup: Bad Manners, Skaface, Roddy Radiation & The Skabilly Rebels, more to be announced...

Dust off your loafers, don your pork pie, fix up in your best suit or pencil skirt and get ready to skank and two-step to the off beat...

Rude boys and gals unite - The Great Northern Ska Festival is due to make its long awaited return to Englands spiritual home of music, Manchester this August.

An event solely dedicated to one of the nations most-loved genres of music, the festival, the biggest of its kind in Northern England, welcomes up to 5,000 smartly attired fans through it's doors almost every year, for an event jam-packed with performances from some of the biggest and best ska and 2-tone entertainers. 

Taking place at the B.E.C., or Bowlers Exhibition Centre, located in Trafford Park on the outskirts of the city, this years event will see stand out appearances from the likes of Bad Manners, Subsetters, The Pyramids, Esperanza, The Ska 45's and many more.

 

Find tickets for The Great Northern Ska Festival 2021 here

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Boomtown Fair

When: Wednesday 11th - Sunday 15th August 2021

Where: Matterley Estate in Hampshire

Lineup: The lineup for this event has yet to be announced... 

An outdoor music festival done on an epic scale, with some of the most creative and over the top stage productions, lights shows and sound system set ups to be found anywhere across Europe - the annual Boomtown Fair is one of those events that has to be experienced to be fully comprehended. 

Distinguished not only by its sensory overloading visual set up and appearance, the festival has gained a reputation amongst festival goers, across the UK and beyond, for its expertise in crafting mind-blowing bills of performers throughout its many years. 

Covering an eclectic range of genres, with an emphasis on world music - such as hip hop, jazz, dance and, of course, reggae, ska and dub - the festivals previous lineups have included outstanding shows from the likes of The Skatalites, UB40, Chronixx, Alborosie, Super Cat, Gentlemans Dub Club and more.

2021 see's the event returning for the first time since 2019, following last years cancellation, and it promises to be a big one! The Boomtown organisers have yet to announce details of the lineup and plan to keep those details secret until the days leading up to the event. Colour us intrigued. One thing is for sure - you can bet your bottom dollar it's going to be a lineup thats going to be hard to top!

 

Find tickets for Boomtown Fair 2021 here

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Equinox Festival

When: Friday 17th - Monday 20th September 2021

Where: Chalk Farm in Lincolnshire

Lineup: The lineup for this event has yet to be announced... 

Bringing together a broad range of tribes and cultures, for a long-weekend celebration of music, food, art and performance, the organisers of Grimsby's Equinox Festival know a thing or two about throwing a cracking party!

Situated on the fringe of the Lincolnshire Wolds, an area of natural beauty on the East coast of England, the annual event showcases hundreds of bands and DJs across a number of stages and tents, including dance tents Sunrise and Lunar, the solar powered Soundscape stage, The Crispy Duo Stage, dedicated to 'The Capitan' Crispian Baker, a late and former member of the festival team, The Busk Stop, Bug Dub and more.

With a particular passion for reggae music, the events dedicated organisers place a heavy emphasis on including acts who perform within its many sub genres. You'll also find many hefty looking sound systems scattered across the festival site, to help bring that inimitable, ground trembling dub sound to life. 

Punters can also find various other forms of entertainment whilst on site - from awesome pyrotechnic shows, to unique workshops and craft fairs, a healing area and a fantastic children's area - as well as an excess of affordable food and drink choices, from some of the best local producers and vendors. 

 

Find tickets for Equinox Festival 2021 here

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In the mood to start planning your summer festival adventure in 2021? Be sure to check out skiddle's full festival guide here.

 

 

 

Header image: Foto Luca Valenta / Rototom Sunsplash

 

Festivals 2021