Abstract Background Grasses are among the most important and widely cultivated plants on Earth. They provide high quality fodder for livestock, are used for turf and amenity purposes, and play a fundamental role in environment protection. Among cultivated grasses, species within the Festuca-Lolium complex predominate, especially in temperate regions. To facilitate high-throughput genome profiling and genetic mapping within the complex, we have developed a Diversity Arrays Technology (DArT) array for five grass species: F. pratensis, F. arundinacea, F. glaucescens, L. perenne and L. multiflorum. Results The DArTFest array contains 7680 probes derived from methyl-filtered genomic representations. In a first marker discovery experiment performed on 40 genotypes from each species (with the exception of F. glaucescens for which only 7 genotypes were used), we identified 3884 polymorphic markers. The number of DArT markers identified in every single genotype varied from 821 to 1852. To test the usefulness of DArTFest array for physical mapping, DArT markers were assigned to each of the seven chromosomes of F. pratensis using single chromosome substitution lines while recombinants of F. pratensis chromosome 3 were used to allocate the markers to seven chromosome bins. Conclusion The resources developed in this project will facilitate the development of genetic maps in Festuca and Lolium, the analysis on genetic diversity, and the monitoring of the genomic constitution of the Festuca × Lolium hybrids. They will also enable marker-assisted selection for multiple traits or for specific genome regions.