The best festival line-ups of all time
3 May 2021, 16:00
What would be YOUR dream festival bill? Maybe it's already happened - there have been some incredible line-ups over the years...
A career best headline slot from Radiohead, this year also saw Beck, Smashing Pumpkins, The Prodigy and Supergrass on the Pyramid Stage. That's not all: Ash, Placebo, Chemical Brothers and Britpop faves Kula Shaker gave electric performances on the Other Stage. Plus mud. Lots of it.
The grandaddy of them all saw thrilling sets from The Who, Jefferson Airplane and Crosby Stills Nash And Young, all wrapped up with an incredible performance at sunrise on Monday morning from Jimi Hendrix.
Amy Winehouse at the peak of her powers. Interpol. The Jesus And Mary Chain. Arctic Monkeys, Jarvis Cocker, Sonic Youth, Faithless, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Arcade Fire, Kings Of Leon, Rage Against The Machine, Happy Monday, Air, Placebo, Damien Rice...we could go on, but that's probably enough, right?
The same year as Coachella's amazing line-up, London's Wireless festival boasted some whopper headliners: Daft Punk, White Stripes, LCD Soundsystem and Queens Of The Stone Age. Four very different bands, but each one amazing in their own way.
Isle of Wight, 1970
A year after Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix brought his incredible stage presence to the Isle of Wight and delivered a performance that's gone down in history. The fact that The Doors and The Who also played makes it a shoo-in for this list.
Reading Festival, 1992
As well as the iconic Nirvana performance that saw Kurt brought onstage in a wheelchair, Reading 1992 saw Smashing Pumpkins, the Manic Street Preachers and the Beastie Boys - when nobody took them seriously. Plus, Suede on the second stage and Mark Lamarr, Al Murray and Frank Skinner in the comedy tent.
Monsters of Rock, 1988
On the 20 August 1988, the gods of rock sent titans to entertain the crowds at Donington Park: Iron Maiden, Kiss, David Lee Roth, Megadeth and Guns N'Roses then about to become the biggest band in the world…
Austin City Limits, 2018
This annual city festival in Texas ticked all the boxes: indie, rock, R&B, dance, hip hop, gospel… and a bloody Beatle. Paul McCartney headlined, alongside Metallica, Arctic Monkeys, Travis Scott and The National. Even former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne showed up. Childish Gambino was meant to play, but hurt his foot - so you can’t have everything.
Desert Trip, 2016
A phenomenally brilliant one-off antidote to the increasingly fashionable Coachella, this featured Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones on night one, Neil Young and Paul McCartney on night two and The Who and Pink Floyd man Roger Waters on night three, across two weekends. Rihanna rocked up to perform FourFiveSeconds with Macca and the Stones covered The Beatles. We shall never see its like again.
The annual excursion to the Californian desert has had many amazing line-ups, but this may be our favourite: Prince, Roger Waters doing Dark Side Of The bloody Moon, Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin and even Portishead. Not only that, there was The Verve, Fatboy Slim, The Raconteurs, Justice and a whole load more. Wow.
V festival was tailor-made for the Britpop era and for its second year, the event hosted Blur (during their Song 2 era), The Prodigy (during their Fat Of The Land era) and Foo Fighters (during their Colour And The Shape era). In one of the smaller tents, you could watch The Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk. Someone get us a time machine - quick.
Leeds Festival, 2002
Reading and Leeds was an odd one in ’02 because Guns N’Roses only headlined in Leeds on the Friday - Reading punters had to “make do” with The Prodigy. The Strokes and Pulp headlined the Saturday, with Foo Fighters and Muse finishing off the weekend. You could also watch The Streets top the bill on the “Dance Stage” and bloody Soulwax DJing on the Radio 1 stage. Nice.
Reading Festival, 2009
How about this to end the first decade of the millennium? Kings Of Leon, Arctic Monkeys and Radiohead. Further down the bill, you could enjoy Courteeners, Vampire Weekend, Bloc Party, Ian Brown, The Maccabees and The Gaslight Anthem.