Here is a review of Towersey Village Festival 2012 by guest blogger Tessa Gordziejko.
Towersey Village Festival in Oxfordshire – now in its 48th year- has something special that brings people back year after year. I’ve been going for twelve years on and off during which my kids have grown from small people and teens, using the many kids and youth activities to young adults, who see this small, navigable festival as a chilled weekend in the frenetic summer festival calendar.
It’s slowly grown over the years and camping has expanded, though the festival loos remain the most luxurious I have encountered in a field, and the queues at the food outlets are still not too long. Campsite 1 remains very ordered, relatively quiet (no loud noise after midnight), close to all the main facilities, Big Club and Ceilidh tent. You have to get there on Thursday to get a spot and it’s a bit like the camping equivalent of Acacia Gardens. Its also strongly family oriented – you’re more likely to be woken at 6am by some ostentatiously patient parent singing The Wheels On the Bus to their small children than kept awake by late night carousing. Campsite 2 is better for those with a later festival schedule – arriving, rising, retiring – and who prefer their festival camping a bit more rugged. Also you can park vehicles by your camp.
It’s clearly on the folk festival circuit, but has a wider audience than the tankard-carrying folkies, including a big youth element. It has a fair presence of traditional folk dance including lots of morris groups and a Ceilidh tent presenting really good Ceilidh bands, although us ceilidh duffers can feel a bit out of our depth on the dance floor. The evening offering is chiefly divided across two main venues, the Big Club which caters for the more traditional audiences in a mostly seated concert with some of the best names in folk And acoustic roots; and Venue 65′ presenting an evening of more dance oriented acts. In previous years I’ve divided my Towersey evenings between the two venues, but this year the line-up on each of the three evenings I was there was so cracking that our party was Venue 65 all the way. The headliners being Bellowhead (Friday) the divine Edward II (Saturday) and the mighty Peatbog Faeries on Sunday. Great music, dancing, atmosphere and all just a five minute stroll from our camp.
Towersey is not an all night festival, it all goes pretty quiet after the late night act at Venue 65′ although my son did find the village clubhouse open till 3am. This means there are quite a few hours of daytime to fill. some of my clean living friends kick off with an early morning yoga session and continue with a range of music and dance workshops – this year, inspired and entertaining Stephen Taberner of The Spooky Men’s Chorale ran mass singing workshops every morning. Or a mooch around the marketplace, a visit to one of the smaller venues in the village or on site, and taking in the many street theatre acts in the Showground area. Or a lunchtime concert. We really enjoyed sitting on the grass at the edge of the Big Club with a pint of foaming ale listening to Jamie Smith’s Mabon, a pan European fusion of Celtic influences including a strong Breton streak, a perfect Towersey band. And I was glad I took my extended family to the Ian McMillan Orchestra on Sunday afternoon as they are all now converts to Ian’s Barnsley wit and wisdom and his excellent and lyrical folk band.