First lineup names for 2018 announced

First lineup names for 2018 announced

We’re thrilled to announce the first lineup names for our 45th Greenbelt Festival, Acts of the Imagination.

We’ve blogged separately about the amazing story behind Pussy Riot being with us in residence this summer (a UK festival exclusive). But here’s a quick run-down of the rest of the amazing bill that’s beginning to take shape.

After an award-winning festival last year, we’re pulling out all the stops to make the best possible festival space in the world where artistry, activism and belief can all be taken seriously – and where we can be inspired to be the change we want to see in the world. (And we’ll have a lot of fun, too!)

We love the trust our audiences – old and new – place in us to book the programme each year. You know that we don’t have the budgets to book the sort of household names that fill the bills of many other festivals. But we think we make up for that in imagination and curation.

Music highlights so far 

We think we’re building the perfect blend of new and returning acts for Greenbelt 2018. Introducing you to amazing talent you might never have heard of yet – and re-acquainting you with artists you’ve grown to love.

  • We Are Scientists – these New York-based indie rockers are deeply funny, always ironic, with their live show being a mix of stand-up repartie and mammoth guitar-driven tunes. Think Weezer meets Vic and Bob. (And you won’t be anywhere near close.)
  • Ozomatli – this Latino and hip-hop fusion big band have been around he block a good few times now. Wearing the cause of Californian immigrant workers’ rights loudly and proudly, this is a righteous collective who can groove with the best live acts around. (They also make children’s albums when no one’s looking!)
  • Ibibio Sound Machine – simply one of the classiest dance acts around, this Irresistible afro-beat combo will have the Glade Big Top moving – from the front to the back.
  • I’m With Her – we’re pleased and proud to have secured an English festival exclusive from the this acclaimed female folk trio (including Sara Watkins, the singer-cim-fiddle player formerly of Nickel Creek). Making exquisite music with effortless and beguiling harmonies, the perfect Friday night headliner. 
  • Duke Special – making a welcome return to the festival, the always-lyrical Belfast-based festival troubadour is sure to win hearts and minds again this summer. Greenbelt is like a second home to the Duke – who, it seems to us, seems to get more and more Special with each visit he makes. 
  • CC Smugglers – after wowing the festival last year with their late night Canopy gig, we decided to bring the boys back to close the Glade Stage bill with a real bang. Cheeky and relentless, we defy anyone to remain agonistic at a CC Smugglers gig. This is all-or-nothing, all-out skiffle and dance music to put a smile on your face, a spring in your step and hope in your soul.
  • Lowkey – as one of the UK’s foremost hip hop artists, British-Iraqi artist Lowkey makes his Greenbelt debut. Outspoken on Israeli occupation of Palestine, he is no stranger to controversy and tacking the difficult issues head on in his campaigning and in his art. As a witness to The Grenfell Tower tragedy last summer, he has campaigned tirelessly to keep the disaster in the political spotlight and his song, the Ghosts of Grenfell earned him the tag of the poet laureate for the Grenfell community and survivors. 
  • Lewis Watson  Watson’s sensitivity to melody and composition, along with thought provoking lyrics makes him a live act that you must see
  • The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – are a force to be reckoned with, blending trad. bluegrass with raw punk energy for a foot-stomping good-time set of songs that will have you singing along the very first time you hear them.
  • Lee Bains III And The Glory Fireswe loved them so much last year that we had to get them back. With their raw rock energy knitting us to the justice issues and struggled of the deep south of the States, they felt like too great and important a band for us not to have back. 
  • Pierce Brothers – this Australian duo are brothers, in both blood and music. Delivering irresistible live shows, they always leave their audiences wanting more and wondering how big and rich a sound can be produced by just two guys on stage.
  • L.A. Salami – with a restless spirit and boundless creativity, Lookman Adekunle Salami makes a groove-filled form of indie-folk, songs that deal defy and funkily with time, death, life, living, and hope.
  • Grace Petrie – returning to Greenbelt, our favourite young protest singer-songwriter plays our mainstage with as a trio in 2018. Doggedly determined and principled, Grace is an old-skool socialist who fights through song and performance to keep welfare alive and empathy kicking.  
  • Martyn Joseph – the always-present folk troubadour has won the ‘Spirit of Folk’ award since last festival, further underlining his position in the pantheon of great singer-songwriters from these Isles who have left their mark on a global stage. We are proud to call Martyn ‘one of our own’.
  • Zach Said – together with his granddad’s disco and soul influence, Zach also grew up listening to ’90s RnB, Destiny’s Child and Usher. When he melded these influences with his love of drama he discovered that he has a refreshing knack for songwriting – crafting British soul pop with a lightness of spirit that is infectious.
  • Lots Holloway  a multi-instrumentalist builds weird and wonderful layers of synth sounds, creating truly original and enchanting songs that will haunt and live with you long after the gig.
  • Xylaroo  a sister duo act bring their globetrotting to bear in they songwriting and are gaining radio play and big DJ recognition as a result – supporting Will Varley and Mika in the UK and tripe respectively and winning appreciative audiences wherever they play.
  • The Welcome Wagon – the husband and wife duo from New York City make a return to Greenbelt after 10 years away with a new crowd-funded album but the same deceptively simple, devotional songs that won the festival’s hearts last time around. Contemporary spirituals have never sounded so sweet. 

Ideas highlights so far

Literature highlights


  • Flo & Joan – the marmite musical comedy duo’s musical repertoire includes songs that make us all feel better about the world, Brexit, global warming, Trump – and celebrity deaths?! Just what we need to send us on our way at the end what we know will be another wonderful Greenbelt Festival. 
  • Harry & Chris – fresh from the Edinburgh Festival and Russell Howard’s TV show, the duo make their return – this time to play the Greenbelt mainstage! That’s right. Now waaaay too popular for our Canopy venue, we’re pleased to continue to support these Greenbelt favourites on their rise to comedy-jazz-rap world domination. You saw them at Greenbelt first, right.
  • Tony Law – welcome to anarchic Anglo-Canadian comedy from the seasoned, salty comedian. He is hilarious. There is nothing more to say here. He also dons a superb moustache. Sometimes. Apart from when he shaves it off and doesn’t.

Performing and Visual Arts 

  • Bryony Kimmings – critically acclaimed artist, playwright and activist makes her Greenbelt debut.  We’ve wanted Bryony to come to the festival for years now and this year we can finally make it happen. She’s a wonderful, powerful artist whose work is perfect for Greenbelt – funny, fresh and exciting: “mind blowing multi-platform art works to provide social change, babes!”
  • Joan of Arc – a one-woman show about the saint performed by an award-winning Drag King! (Yes, you hard us right!) How could we not book this show? This fab theatre company, Milk, are also bringing a workshop to the festival all around gender inclusivity. 
  • Alula Cyr – knowing that Greenbelters love circus, this year we’re bringing you this all-female troupe to the festival, with their beautiful piece Hyena. ‘Boisterous and wild, Hyena is a synchronised display of sisterhood, strength and power.’ After seeing this, we think you might be inspired to become a jumping, leaping circus extraordinaire – so we thought we’d book them in to do a workshop, too … so you can learn safely. 
  • Malak Mattar – this teenage Gazan fine artist is an amazing young woman, whose fledgling career we have followed with much interest from afar. But her living and working in Gaza made it nigh-on impossible for us to bring her to Greenbelt. Until now. Studying in Turkey for a while, we are privileged and pleased to be able to bring Malak to be with us all weekend. Make sure you get to know her, her story, her work and her amazing vision.

It’s only just begun

Plus much, much more to announce in April – including:

Our Children’s and Families programming; our new-look youth programming and provision; our rich and diverse spirituality and faith programme; and our workshops and panels.

And there’s lots more still to say about our music, theatre, visual arts, comedy and literature lineups. What you see here is just the start.

And, of course, there will be the return of The Red Tent, plus some other new venues for 2018 that we’re really excited about.

Keep you eyes on the website and our email Dispatches.


* Awards: Act of Independence (for independence), A Greener Festival (for sustainability), Attitude is Everything (for accessibility), Rainbow List (for inclusion).

Pictured: Alula Cyr with Hyena