17 music festivals in Bucks, Oxon and beyond – book now!
'Tis the season for drinking too much cider and getting sunburnt in a field under the guise of being a live music fan. Here's our pick of the best summer fests, both local and further afield. See you down the front!
Who fancies getting their rocks off in a field? ‘Course you do! Our neck of the woods punches above its weight when it comes to music festivals, and many of them are brilliantly family-friendly (so maybe not so much getting off of one’s rocks in that case, ahem.) So, in chronological order, here’s where you’ll find Muddy decked out in daisy chains, denim hot pants and wellies this summer.
Chilfest, Tring, Herts; 6 July
Do you <heart> the ’80s? Get yourself down to Chilfest, now in its sixth year rolling out retro hits across the Chiltern Hills. Acts booked include Bananarama, Soul II Soul, The Selecter and Five Star – although, call me a pedant but it looks like they’re technically One Star now, with one original member and a bunch of newbies.
Cornbury Music Festival, The Great Tew Park, Oxon; 5 – 7 July
The Beach Boys and The Specials head the bill at this civilised festival that prides itself on being quintessentially English. Think country fair with a rock’n’roll twist. Jovial Geordies The Hairy Bikers provide the food.
Henley Festival, Oxon; 10-14 July
Don’t forget your red trousers and Champagne for this genteel shebang. The line-up announcement is imminent but last year saw Nile Rodgers and Grace Jones headline so our hopes are high.
Pennfest, Penn, Bucks; 19-20 July
For a serene Bucks village, Penn really does manage to pull in an impressive line-up of rabel-rousers. They’re big on ’90s indie favourites and this year sees Suede headlining, plus turns from Happy Mondays (always hilariously shambolic live) and New Order’s Peter Hook.
Truck Festival, Steventon, Oxon; 26-28 July
Full marks for nabbing indie favourites and local lads Foals for their first Oxon show in five years. They’ll be joined by Wolf Alice and Kate Nash (side note: have you seen her acting chops brilliant in Netflix series Glow?). This veteran South Oxon festival in a farmer’s field hits all the right notes too with its family-friendly feel and decent food.
Wilderness, Cornbury Park, Oxford; 1 – 4 Aug
Possibly the coolest local festival of them all, here there’s a heady mix of right-on hippiness (think yoga, skinny-dipping and hot tubs) combined with impressive big-name music bookings. The line up has just been released with Groove Armada returning to the Wilderness Main Stage along with Robyn, Bombay Bicycle Club and Tom Odell.
The Big Feastival, Kingham, Oxon; 23-25 Aug
This posh nosh extravaganza on the farm of cheese-obsessed Blur bassist Alex James hosts top chefs alongside music acts. Line-up details are tba but this is definitely one to bookmark if you’re a foodie. The only downside is you might bump into Cotswolds locals David Cameron and Jeremy Clarkson.
Towersey Festival, Thame, Oxon; 23-26 Aug
Start growing your beard for the return of the veteran folk festival which confusingly is now held in market town Thame, rather than nearby village, Towersey. Acts this year include Hothouse Flowers, Seth Lakeman and Steve Harley & The Cockney Rebel, and there’s loads of kiddy activities to keep the nippers occupied.
HAVE TENT, WILL TRAVEL? HERE’S THREE FURTHER AFIELD THAT MUDDY LOVES…
Latitude, Suffolk; 18 – 21 July
This is the Radio 4 of festivals – refined, civilised and cultured, with its line-up of literary readings, theatre, comedy and Sadlers Wells ballet performances. They don’t skimp on the live music easier – this year Lana Del Rey, Underworld and Primal Scream are on the bill.
Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset; 25 -28 July
The kiddy-friendly alternative to Bestival, this one has loads to keep little people happy while you tuck into that box of wine. Human League, Chic, Jess Glynne are playing, with Sara Cox, Annie Mac and Spice Girl Mel C on DJ duties.
Shambala, Northants; 22 – 25 Aug
Muddy’s Nancy is a big fan of this lo-fi indie festival on a country estate in Northants. It’s not big on household name music bookings for its 12 (yep, twelve!) stages but there’s more cabaret, inspiring talks, yoga, circus acts and comedy than you can shake a stick at. Plus it’s very family friendly.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
Wood Festival, Braziers Park, nr Wallingford, Oxon; 17 – 19 May
Pub In The Park, Marlow, Bucks; 17 – 19 May
Tom Kerridge’s popular gourmet scran meets live music fandango returns to Higginson Park, with Kaiser Chiefs, Jake Bugg and All Saints in tow (best dig out those combat trousers now). There’s more deets in our interview with the celeb chef here.
Lechlade Music Festival, Cotswolds; 24-26 May
This Cotswolds weekender is very family-friendly with kids yoga, woodland skills workshops and storytelling. Brit indie-pop crew The Feeling will be providing the tunes.
Nocturne, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxon; 21-23 June
A festival for people who are too posh for festivals! This is more a series of chichi al fresco concerts in ridiculously elegant surroundings, with Lauryn Hill, Tears For Fears and Kylie (sadly sold out) on consecutive summer nights. Having once waited many, many hours for a Ms Hill gig back in the day, I wish all attendees good luck on that front.
Chalke Valley History Festival, nr Salisbury, 24-30 Jun
See history, hear history, even feel history at this extraordinary festival dedicated entirely to – you guessed it – history. Talks, workshops and debates bring alive an incredible living past on these rolling plains in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside – check out a through-the-ages encampment, interactive events, plus sign up now for a mega-impressive list of speakers from Dan Snow to Mariella Frostrup, with a jaunt through Al Murray, Harry Enfield, Niall Ferguson and Antonia Fraser in between. You’ll get a real sense of an interactive living history – recreate a wartime kitchen garden, crawl through a Second World War trench and try your hand at being part of the Women’s Land Army. The Festival also boasts a range of interactive tents and activities such as SOE Commando training and Secret Agent Training; as well as archaeology walks, vintage vehicles, book store, shopping emporium, and street food. Fancy a Pimms with a hairy Viking or fizz with a WWII Tommy? This is the fest for you. Oh, and there’s camping too.
Chilterns Live, Pendley Meadow, Tring, Sat 29 June
Oooh, new and shiny! The first ever Chilterns Live will be popping up in Tring with a stellar pop line-up of Busted (this got a few squeals in Muddy HQ), Sophie Ellis Bextor and The Feeling.