Summer Festival Guide: The top eight Scottish music festivals and the bands to watch out for

Scotland is fortunate enough to be rich in summer music festivals.Here we look at eight well-known and lesser-known festivals to consider.


Unique selling point: A family-friendly festival with an emphasis on community spirit and keeping old Celtic traditions alive. One of the stages is in a Celtic longhouse.

Headliners: The Beat, Eat Static, Treacherous Orchestra, King Creosote, Ska Cubano.

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What else is on offer? A solar cinema, open fires and children's activities. For young hipsters, Edinburgh club night Limbo is curating a stage this year, with sets by FOUND, Meursault, Over the Wall and Withered Hand.

When/where/how? 27-30 May, Knockengorroch farm, Carsphairn.


Unique selling point: Nessie.

Headliners: Leftfield, Fatboy Slim, Blondie, Ian Brown, The Strokes, Vampire Weekend, Doves.

What else is on offer? Reflecting its roots as a dance music festival – Fatboy Slim was the driving force behind the first Rockness back in 2006 – there's a strong line-up of DJs, with the Sub Club and Soma Records strongly represented, and stages headlined by 2manyDJs, Annie Mac and Aphex Twin. But there are indie guitar bands and comedians too.

When/where/how? 11-13 June, Dores, near Inverness.


Unique selling point: a boutique festival for just 500 people, The Insider – a scaled-down version of The Outsider, currently on hold – offers a small-scale party with an environmental conscience.

Headliners: No big names, but there's a diverse line-up of interesting Scottish bands, including Sparrow and the Workshop, pictured, Jo Mango, Injuns and lots more.

What else is on offer? Local food and ales.

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When/where/how? 17-20 June, Inshriach House, near Aviemore.


Unique selling point: A picturesque country park setting on the west coast, with forest walks and a castle.

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Headliners: Broken Records are the biggest name on offer at a festival mostly showcasing independent-minded acts with a strong grassroots following. There are lots of DJs and poets too.

What else is on offer? The Graffiti Project, a striking Brazilian mural on the walls of Kelburn Castle.

When/where/how? 3-4 July, Kelburn Castle and country park, near Largs.


Unique selling point: It's T in the Park. What else do you need to know?

Headliners: Muse, Eminem, Jay-Z, Kasabian, Black Eyed Peas, Florence and the Machine.

What else is on offer? With T in the Park, it's all about the music (and the beer, obviously). The festival is a one-stop shop for everything from the biggest names to the latest up-and-coming acts. Look out for this year's hot young things The Drums, Delphic, Ellie Goulding and Hurts.

When/where/how? 9-11 July, Balado, Kinross-shire.


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Unique selling point: A great big wicker man that gets set on fire.

Headliners: The Charlatans, Ocean Colour Scene, Tony Christie, The Saw Doctors.

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What else is on offer? An acoustic tent, a reggae tent and the Scooter Tent, featuring the Undertones and the Buzzcocks.

When/where/how? 23-24 July, East Kirkcarswell, near Dundrennan.


Unique selling point: A family-friendly, eco-friendly festival on a country estate.

Headliners: Rosanne Cash, King Creosote, Session A9, Aberfeldy.

What else is on offer? Children's activities, craft workshops, massage treatments and more.

When/where/how? 23-25 July, Falkland village, near Glenrothes.


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Unique selling point: A beautiful Highland setting, with terraced Italian gardens and parkland.

Headliners: Amy Macdonald, above, the Divine Comedy (see page 6), Feeder, the Levellers.

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What else is on offer? Street theatre, cabaret, fancy dress and children's activities.

When/where/how? 6-7 August, Belladrum Estate, near Inverness.

The top homegrown talent playing at Scotland's festivals

There is much to discover in Scotland's boutique festivals, and of course the mega music store that is T in the Park. And, gloriously, much of the talent is homegrown, on the cusp of becoming major UK and world players.

First, MEURSAULT appearing at both Knockengorroch World Ceilidh and the Kelburn Garden Party. Soundtracking a similar wilderness as Twilight Sad, Neil Pennycook's Edinburgh collective are buried down the bill at both festivals but are one of the most scintillating live acts to emerge in the past 12 months. Fellow Edinburgher WITHERED HAND is another act to look out for at Knockengorroch. Dan Wilson's one-man band is more shambolic but equally charming, with a roots and country twist. You can also see him at the Wickerman festival. Another Edinburgh singer-songwriter worth catching at Wickerman is sometime Aberfeldy guitarist CHRIS BRADLEY, whose solo album At The Outpost is worthy of attention. Bradley also plays Knockengorroch, the Insider, Jockstock and the Wickerman.

At Rockness, look out for STEVE MASON, lurking low on the Best Arena bill. The former Beta Band man has just released his solo debut album – at any rate under his own name – and should prove extremely interesting live.

WOODENBOX AND A FISTFUL OF FIVERS take the prize for appearing at more Scottish festivals than any other band. After Edinburgh's Meadows Festival on 5 June, the Scottish outfit take in the Insider on 19 June, Wickerman, the Big Tent, then Belladrum. The band's sophisticated folk infusion could be the perfect summer soundtrack.

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SPARROW AND THE WORKSHOP are headliners that may not be instantly recognisable but are charged with adding a distinctive edge to the Insider festival. Glasgow-based but with Welsh and American members in their ranks, their female-fronted blues-tinted folk rock attack should win new friends with this exposure.

One group just waiting to explode are FOUND, below, still attracting rave reviews for their languid electro funk – catch them at both Knockengorroch and the Big Tent festival. The band are further proof, if any was needed, of the eclectic good taste of the Fence Collective, and the disproportionate musical treasures to be found on our doorstep.

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Looking beyond the Scottish acts, JESCA HOOP's appearance at Knockengorroch should not be missed – the American performer enjoys the patronage of Tom Waits, who likens her music to swimming in a lake at night.

This year's T in the Park has one of its most comprehensive bills to date, meaning there are too many interesting turns further down the bill to list here – but the chance to catch JULIAN CASABLANCAS and LAURA MARLING on the same night is not to be missed. Playing the Red Bull Bedroom Jam Futures Stage, Casablancas will be showcasing his solo album Phrazes For The Young, which was a surprising treat. Marling, meanwhile, is one of the most interesting singer-songwriters to come out of Britain for some time.