Music festivals are well and truly back in 2022, with unprecedented demand to return to the experiences we've sorely missed over the past two years. And as the world came to a standstill during the pandemic, there was ample opportunity for festivals to reassess their approach to booking lineups.
Festival organisers were already slowly beginning to move away from male-dominated curation, with organisations like Keychange campaigning for more diversity and representation when programming their festivals. But will this new era of events mark a major shift towards gender-balanced lineups moving forwards?
Plenty of festivals had pledged to achieve a 50/50 gender-balanced split by 2022, with the likes of Way Out West, Liverpool Sound City, MUTEK, BIME, and Iceland Airwaves making this commitment since the initiative was launched in five years ago. Some mainstream festivals are still working hard to improve but have yet to meet the 50/50 representation promised, so the jury is still out on whether or not this equilibrium will become an industry-wide norm, sadly.
Other festivals have shouldered the responsibility however, and are paving the way for lineups to consistently showcase 50% women and underrepresented genders, having made the pledge and have come good on their word.
Here's a list of 10 music festivals that have consistently improved to ensure they feature gender-balanced lineups:
Despite their environmental and sustainability pledges, Glastonbury Festival promoters Emily and Michael Eavis were criticised in 2019 for overlooking gender balance with a male-heavy roster. Emily addressed the issue and has since made the festival a complete 50/50 gender-split, saying: "it's as important to have females on the bill as much as men", and that prominent figures "have to work on that as an industry and nurture all these women coming through".
With 2022's lineup looking as diverse and impressive as ever, there's evidently no shortage of top-tier female and female-identifying talent to pick from.
When & where: 22-26th June 2022; Pilton, United Kingdom
Their commitment to equal representation remains at the core of their curation, even as the festival expands - 2022's edition is now spread across two weekends and the days in-between, with even more womxn on the bill than ever before.
When & where: 2-4 & 9-12 June 2022; Barcelona, Spain
AMP Lost & Found
According to Marcus Barnes' beatportal study at the tail end of 2020, 82% of dance music festival lineups were male which signals the continuing disparity and leaving certain festivals with a lot to catch up on.
Making strides on the dance music festival scene is Annie Mac's AMP Lost & Found, showcasing a world-class gender-balanced lineup and paving the way for like-minded events to up their game. It only proves that equality and quality on lineups are not mutually exclusive.
When & where: 1-4 June 2022; St. Pauls Bay, Malta
Entering only its second edition in 2022, Wide Awake goes to show that you don't have to rely solely on tried-and-tested, run-of-the-mill names to draw in an audience and earn an outstanding reputation.
Choosing to focus on all corners of left-field, experimental, and alternative music, the two-day, socially conscious festival brings together people from varying scenes, accommodating both artists and festival-goers on the gender spectrum.
When & where: 27-28 May 2022; London, United Kingdom
Bluedot Festival showcases progressive minds within the worlds of music and science, so it's only fitting that they carry the torch for progress with equality in their lineups.
With a balanced mix of both musicians and leading scientists, thankfully that is absolutely the case, leaving plenty of room for debate, dancing, and stargazing at Jodrell Bank Observatory.
When & where: 21-24 July 2022; Cheshire, United Kingdom
Strawberries & Creem
In 2021, Strawberries & Cream Festival were the first UK festival to sign up to non-profit organisation Girls I Rate, in a pledge to curate 50/50 from then onwards.
For two years running now they've stuck to that pledge, positioning female talent like Mabel, Ella Mai, and Tems in the headliner spots each day over the likes of even Lil' Wayne. Impressive commitment.
When & where: 17-19th June 2022; Cambridge, United Kingdom
In the years since Keychange's inception, Latitude Festival was arguably the front-runner to meet the 50/50 gender balance, consistently being the closest festival to hit the 2022 target.
Now we've reached 2022, they've achieved that balance. That's despite having all-male headliners, meaning there's still plenty of work to do.
When & where: 21-24 July 2022; Southwold, United Kingdom
Best Kept Secret
Similarly, indie and alternative music haven Best Kept Secret have also plumped for all-male artists to occupy their headliner spots this year.
Still, there's influential, innovative female and female-identifying voices interwoven through the festival's finely balanced lineup that aren't likely to be outshone by their male counterparts. It's progress we love to see.
When & where: 10-12 June 2022; Hilvarenbeek, Netherlands
An estimated 50% of musicians at grassroots level are female or identify as such. As a showcase event promoting the next buzzy domestic acts in the UK, Wild Paths Festival also understands the responsibility of representing the gender balance on a greater platform.
It's a conference as well as multi-venue music festival, and is a marker for the change needed to make the industry fairer in the future.
When & where: 13-16th October 2022; Norwich, United Kingdom
Pitchfork Music Festival
Despite being portrayed as bit pretentious by the average music fan, Pitchfork Magazine put their money where their mouth is for Pitchfork Music Festival and went beyond the target 50/50 gender split by leaning its lineup heavily in favour of female talent.
With contemporary music also comes contemporary attitudes, proving that there's oceans of female-identifying artists waiting beneath the surface to occupy festival slots if you look a bit deeper. And it sounds brilliant.
When & where: 15-17 June 2022; Chicago, USA