A memorable weekend for Julie, Ben and I, as guests of festival promoter Joe Heap at Towersey 2016 in Oxfordshire. This is a landmark event on the folk and arts festival calendar and was celebrating its 52nd year in a new home at Thame Showground. The Festival has evidently grown in recent years from a traditional folk gathering into an eclectic, atmospheric festival with a broader range of rock, new acoustic music, and rising singer/songwriters.
We certainly enjoyed the breadth of performers in the extensive line-up, which included Billy Bragg, The Wonder Stuff, Kate Rusby, Midge Ure as headliners, supported by such notables as Tom Robinson (who, for us, delivered the stand-out set of the weekend), The Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain, Edward II, The Young’Uns, Nancy Kerr & James Fagan, Damien O’Kane and Luke Concannon. It was great to meet Tom and Luke offstage, both of whom are delightful company.
There was also a welcome programme of trad folk and roots music, ceilidhs, clog dancing, family entertainers, workshops and an excellent Children’s Festival, which offered music lessons, puppets, circus skills and craft workshops.
The festival layout encompasses several performance spaces, surrounded by a corral of spacious stalls, eateries, bars and clothing outlets. The Big Club focuses on top class acoustic music; All About Children is ideal for older primary school age kids; the Festival Dance House has early morning yoga and all-day dance workshops and events; while Towersey’s Youth Festival serves teenagers and young adults with a roller disco, roots reggae night, jump & jive night, plus forest skills and more Ceilidh.
Also popular were ‘The Festival Green’, an area for relaxation and simply appreciating the great music on hand; The Creative Quarter with its eye-catching art wall; The Hive and its focus on youth art; plus the Festival Green Bar with its impressive series of ales and ciders award-winning independent breweries; while the Den, an alternative venue showing films and hosting poetry and intimate gigs; and the Venue 65 served up well-known names in the folk world, whilst the Lantern Tent gave festival-goers the chance to engage with its light-making workshops.
A great time was had by everyone we met and our heartfelt thanks go to Joe, the Festival teams, and especially all the hugely entertaining performers.