The headliners of 2021: an overview of the biggest rumours

BKS 2018
Photo: Kamiel Scholten / Festileaks

Summer festivals would not be as exciting without several months to speculate about which artists will take the stage next year. At Festileaks we always keep an eye out for rumours. Who will we see headlining European festivals in 2021?

After a long summer without festivals in 2020, there is even more excitement for 2021. Will festivals come back with twice as many headliners? Here is a summary of the main rumours (in random order).

Headliners of 2020

Pearl Jam
Photo: Danny Clinch

We can safely assume that most of the European festivals will try to move their 2020 line-ups to next year. Therefore, the biggest rumours are the artists who were supposed to play this year’s editions. Headliners like Pearl Jam, The Killers, Judas Priest, The National, Faith No More and Kings of Leon have already confirmed they will return.

On the other hand, not everyone will come back next summer. Iron Maiden have announced that they will not reschedule their festival performances at Graspop and Download Festival. Paul McCartney has cancelled his entire tour, which included shows at Glastonbury and BST Hyde Park.


Photo: Kamiel Scholten / Festileaks (Lowlands 2018)

Gorillaz are back! Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s virtual project will perform at Primavera Sound 2021, and more shows will likely follow. The English band currently release new music every month. For the Song Machine project, Gorillaz have collaborated with acts like slowthai, Slaves, Skepta and Peter Hook. Hopefully some of these guests will also join them on stage!

Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys at BKS Festival 2018
Photo: Kamiel Scholten / Festileaks

Arctic Monkeys have been very quiet since they finished the Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino tour in 2019. However, rumours are now circulating about possible homecoming shows in Sheffield in 2021. Locals have spotted a licence notice for 4 to 6 June at Hillsborough Park. These early summer dates could very well be the start of a bigger Arctic Monkeys tour.

Red Hot Chili Peppers


After Red Hot Chili Peppers announced the return of guitarist John Frusciante, we were all eager to see them perform. Of course, the band’s 2020 shows did not go ahead, but they will now return to Europe in 2021. The Peppers have confirmed headline shows at Pinkpop and Ejekt 2021, in the Netherlands and Greece. With the renewed hype about the band, it is very possible they will add more shows to their tour. In the meantime, we can still enjoy their legendary performance at Slane Castle in Ireland.



Normally, a new Coldplay album would be followed by a tour around Europe. However, after the release of Everyday Life in November 2019, the English band announced they would only consider touring when this is possible in a climate-friendly way. On the Belgian radio, frontman Chris Martin confirmed that they expect this to take at least 18 months. A quick calculation gives us 2021 as the start of the next Coldplay tour!

Arcade Fire

Photo: Guy Aroch

Great news for Arcade Fire fans: Montreal’s finest indie outfit are back in the studio! The band’s new record will be the follow-up to 2017’s Everything Now, which was followed by a large tour around the European festivals. It’s easy to predict that shows will also be announced to promote the next album, so Arcade Fire are certainly a possible rumour for 2021.

Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa at Lowlands Festival
Photo: Kamiel Scholten / Festileaks (Lowlands 2018)

Dua Lipa could be the hottest headliner of 2021. New album Future Nostalgia is a huge commercial hit, and also received rave reviews from the critics. Singles ‘Don’t Start Now’, ‘Physical’ and ‘Break My Heart’ are all bangers. Although Dua was only scheduled to headline Sziget in 2020, it would surprise us if the British singer does not add more dates to this festival tour next summer.

Nine Inch Nails

In an interview from October 2019, Primavera Sound organiser Gaby Ruiz revealed that Nine Inch Nails were booked for the 2020 edition of the festival. However, even before the global coronavirus outbreak, the American band decided to postpone their tour until 2021. Now the question remains: are these rumours still true, and where will we see Nine Inch Nails next summer?


Eminem was a strong rumour for 2020 already. After releasing a surprise album in January, there were many reasons why we hoped a tour would follow. With the coronavirus pandemic preventing all shows this year, we will never find out if the superstar rapper meant to come back this summer. However, it is very much possible that Eminem will announce a series of festivals for 2021 instead.


Photo: Herring

Metallica like to plan ahead. Already in August 2019, rumours started circulating about a European tour in 2021. Almost as usual, it was French radio DJ Francis Zégut who posted about it. Most of the American metal titans’ 2020 shows have now been cancelled or postponed, but next summer still remains open. Will Metallica return to the European festivals for the first time since 2015?


Photo: Ben Houdijk

In a recent interview with NME, Matt Bellamy spoke about the band’s future plans. The Muse frontman confirmed that they’re likely to start recording a new record in 2021. Depending on the coronavirus restrictions, the English rockers will then start touring again. The question is whether this will be next summer, or the year after.

Lady Gaga

Admittedly, Lady Gaga has never really played European festivals before. However, after the huge success of A Star Is Born, we can’t help but hope that there’s a first time for everything. The movie was partly shot at Glastonbury Festival, so Lady Gaga does know what it’s like to perform on those legendary grounds. With new album Chromatica out since May 2020, will we see the superstar headline festivals in 2021?

When will we find out?

To see if any of these rumours are correct, we can do nothing but wait. Follow Festileaks on Facebook, and we will keep you posted. In the meantime, check out our other rumour overviews for specific festivals: