Chili Peppers, Happy Mondays, Leftfield On Tap For UK Festival Season

Also coming to Britain this summer are two events inspired by solar eclipse.

WOLVERHAMPTON, England — Metallica and Marilyn Manson dazzled hard-rock fans at the Big Day Out festival in Milton Keynes, England.

Blur, Massive Attack and the Manic Street Preachers took the main stage at T in the Park in Scotland.

Pop singer Ronan Keating of Boyzone competed for the spotlight with rowdy rocker Shane MacGowan and Canadian cut-ups the Barenaked Ladies at Fleadh in London.

That's all evidence it's UK festival season, which moved into high gear last weekend. And there's a lot more still to come in a summer season that will be marked by such old standbys as the massive Reading and Leeds Festival — formerly just the Reading Festival — in August, as well as a couple of upstarts inspired by a coming solar eclipse.

The southernmost part of England, including Devon and Cornwall, will experience an eclipse Aug. 11. Coinciding with that event are the Lizard festival, Aug. 7–14 on Cornwall's Lizard Peninsula, and Moonshadow, Aug. 7–15 in Cornwall's Whitsand Bay.

At Lizard, rockers Kula Shaker, the Levellers and James will be complemented by DJ sets from Leftfield and Sonic Mook Experiment.

"We do have a big music lineup and two all-nighters licensed [for the DJs], but the festival is all about having fun," said Michael Saunders, a Web designer for Aurora Interactive, which is managing Lizard. The festival also will include "workshops ... a beach and barbecues," he said.

Moonshadow will provide plenty of distractions to go along with its lineup, which includes veteran Irish rocker Van Morrison — who played Fleadh last weekend — and the Abba tribute band Bjorn Again. Among them will be an amusement-park attraction advertised as "Britain's largest death slide."

"What sets Moonshadow apart from other festivals is that it's not a dance-music event, except for the finale on the Friday night," Moonshadow spokesperson Jane Osborne said. "It'll be like a mini-Glastonbury!"

The massive Glastonbury Festival, held three weeks ago in Pilton, England, featured such major acts as rockers R.E.M. and Radiohead, techno veterans Orbital and soul singer Al Green. For the first time in three years it didn't rain.

The granddaddy of UK festivals, the Reading and Leeds Festival, which began as the Reading Jazz Festival in the 1960s, will bring the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Offspring, the Chemical Brothers, Charlatans, Blur and other major bands to stages in Reading (Aug. 27–29) and Leeds (Aug. 28–30).

Not quite as big, but also loaded with major bands, is V99, which happens a week earlier and also occurs at two sites — Weston Park, Staffordshire, and Hylands Park, Chelmsford. The Brit-pop-heavy lineup for the Aug. 21–22 festival includes the Manic Street Preachers, Happy Mondays, London Suede and Supergrass. The event, run by Virgin Entertainment, claims to have the festival season's shortest bathroom queues.

"V99 is not as big as Glastonbury," festival publicist Claire Craven said. "The stages are fairly close together. We get knocked for it — people say it's too commercialized, too civilized, but we sell out every year." To sweeten the deal, Virgin is offering free rail transport to the Staffordshire site.

One of the drawbacks of most big festivals is that with multiple stages it's impossible to see all the bands. Alexis McDermott, 16, of Kilmarnock, Scotland, missed UK rockers Gomez at last weekend's T in the Park because they were competing with Blur. "Such is the downfall of festivals," she said.

Otherwise, McDermott said, "It was amazing. The weather was gorgeous, the bands were great, and ... the vibe was so laid-back and summery!"

Big Day Out, by contrast, featured high-energy sets from Metallica, who played such songs as "Seek and Destroy" and "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" (RealAudio excerpt) surrounded by pyrotechnic displays, and Marilyn Manson, who, in addition to performing such Mechanical Animals material as "The Dope Show" (RealAudio excerpt), gave the moshing crowd a detailed view of his behind through ripped trousers.

"Although Big Day Out does have many attractions and two stages, it's still principally a large arena show," said Tony Wilson, program director for the Rock Radio Network, which broadcast live from the event. "Big Day Out is quite specifically one kind of music, whilst Glastonbury is, well, it's more of a country fair."

A couple of other upcoming UK festivals — Creamfields, in Liverpool on Aug. 28, and Homelands, near Edinburgh on Sept. 4 — cater to hard-core dance buffs.