James Blunt summed up Cornbury Festival wonderfully when he said he’s played festivals all over the world but this is the prettiest. I have to agree as this intimate family festival in such an idyllic setting was truly breathtaking.
Tucked away in a brand new location of The Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire, four different stages play host to legendary acts such as Status Quo, The Faces, Ray Davies, The Straits and Cyndi Lauper. The hysterical teenage audience were also well catered for with Olly Murs, Eliza Doolittle and the immaculate looking Sophie Ellis Bextor. Up and coming bands were given the opportunity to play alongside them which gave the crowds a huge choice of music to entertain them, while they enjoyed a couple of beers in the sun which had his hat on the whole weekend.
The set by The Straits really stood out for me and the new line up hypnotised the crowd with a wonderfully moody rendition of ‘Brothers in Arms’, a spine chilling ‘Private Investigations’ and got everyone dancing with ‘Sultans of Swing’ and ‘Money for Nothing’. Children who had probably never even heard of them were cheering for more and I think, got a little musical education, which is always a wonderful thing. Hugely talented musicians, the best gig by far. Terence Reis was obviously at ease in the role of frontman at times sounding more like Mark Knopfler than Mark Knopfler.
Sophie Ellis Bextors’ synthy-pop sound was great fun on the Songbird stage and she told the audience about how she had visited the festival the year before and just had to play this year as it was such a special place.
Olly Murs was a delight showing off his quirky dance moves and keeping the teenagers hyperventilating at every thrust of his hips (which I overheard one mother disapprovingly point out to her children was ‘a terrible example’) His band were awesome and his medley of ‘Superstition’, ‘Sir Duke’ and ‘Signed sealed delivered’ was funky.. I think Stevie Wonder would be proud.
The Quo were out of this world giving a perfect rock n’ roll ending to the festival and proving that age is no barrier as they ran backwards and forwards giving it everything. Their sense of humour and professionalism makes them the legends they are. They kept everyone happy with the classics ‘Caroline’, ‘Whatever You Want’ and ‘In the Army Now’.
Foods from all over the world (a favourite being the Goan fish curry) and vintage tea shops are dotted about the site adding to the charm as did the pop up shops selling everything from flamenco dresses to the festival favourite - fairy wings. It was like a very large garden party hosted by a really popular friend. Civilised.. but able to rock out in the evening.
The festival attracts more of the Pimms and Champagne garden party types rather than the Newcastle Brown Ale brigade. This is probably down to its location more than anything as Chipping Norton is known as one of the ‘well to do’ Cotswold towns. Throughout the weekend I spotted many celebs hanging out in the VIP area and being dropped off by helicopter. They don’t call it Poshstock for nothing.
The fact that it’s a little different in this way does make it feel a lot safer than other festivals and I was happy for my mini me’s to run around freely and enjoy the array of activities set out for them.
As well as circus skills, art and crafts and street entertainment, there was the comedy tent provided by Absolute radio which proved popular with people huddled around the outside trying to catch the excellent comedians such as Peep Shows ‘Dobby’, Isy Suttie, Sean Hughes and E4’s up and coming double act Cardinal Burns.
After 8 years, Cornbury has made quite a name for itself. The high calibre of artist, the family atmosphere and the warm friendly festival goers it attracts makes it the perfect intimate experience.
Already looking forward to next year…