Towersey Festival is an annual festival of folk, world music and traditional dance, previously held in the village of Towersey, now relocated to neighbouring Thame in Oxfordshire, England. It has taken place every August bank holiday weekend since its founding in 1965.
Venue 65, Towersey 2018
|Location(s)||Thame, Oxfordshire, England|
The festival set out as a fundraising event to rescue the decaying Towersey Village Memorial Hall – a building that commemorated the 14 men who had lost their lives in the First World War. In that first year (1965), it was a one-day village fete with morris dancing and a folk singing session in the pub barn. Its success can be measured by the money raised, the enjoyment of the day by the village residents and visitors, and by the fact that, in the following year, a three-day event was held.
The festival attracts approximately 10,000 people each year although the 2004 event (26 to 30 August) attracted much higher numbers than ever before. This is partly due to that year being the festival's 40th anniversary.
The venues/ stages in which festival activities take place include The Big Club (formerly known as the Concert Tent); The Festival Dance House (FDH); The Festival Green (formerly known as The Market Square and the Arena); and Venue 65 . Other features include The Den (for storytelling and spoken word), the craft tent and the craft market, Creative Quarter and dedicated areas for children (5-11yrs) and youth (11yrs+).
Regular performers at Towersey include Roy Bailey and Les Barker. The latter made a live recording there in 1995 while Roy released Live at Towersey Festival 2015 during 2016. A Towersey Festival Patron, Roy performed at the very first festival, and his annual Monday afternoon concerts are greeted by capacity crowds. The Unthanks and John Spiers and Jon Boden had successful performances there in their early careers, while Eliza Carthy played her first solo show at the festival. Eliza said: "Towersey gave me my first ever solo gig ... and one of the most memorable gigs of my life; a Chipolata 5 gig so full and rowdy that they had to take the sides of the marquee down."
Discussing the festival’s appeal and longevity, Roy Bailey stated: “Children play safely and many lifelong friendships have been developed here. People met here and got married here and generations of families return every year.”
The festival's 50th anniversary in 2014 was headlined by Richard Thompson. The anniversary was also marked by the publication of a book, Towersey Festival: 50 Years In The Making which explored the 50 year history of the festival, from its inception to present day.
2019 saw the festival present an exhibition at Thame Museum entitled Capturing Towersey: Festival Photographs By Phil Sofer - a collection of images shot at the festival by the official festival photographer, Phil Sofer.
2018: The Shires, The Proclaimers, Richard Thompson Electric Trio, Beth Orton, Big Country, Sharon Shannon Band, Fisherman's Friends, Blair Dunlop, Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band, Peter Knight and John Spiers
2019: The Selecter, Hothouse Flowers, Newton Faulkner, Seth Lakeman, From The Jam, The Unthanks, Steve Harley, Oysterband, The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican and a special tribute to Roy Bailey with Tom Robinson, Martin Simpson and guests.
Roy Bailey's Monday afternoon concert, featuring invited guests, was a Towersey tradition until Bailey's death in 2018. For the 2019 festival, the organisers announced a celebration of Bailey's life, featuring many of the artists who had played as guests at his concerts.
In a tradition dating to 1990, many men wear dresses on the last night of the festival. This began as a hen party for a Towersey regular, where the bride agreed that, due to the lack of female friends attending, men could attend if they dressed appropriately. The following year, the bride and groom held a Sunday afternoon cocktail party, before the Sunday evening session in the Barn, with guests asked to wear their wedding outfits. In time, this evolved into 'Dress Up Sunday'. The bride still attends the festival regularly as a steward.
The festival has released three compilation albums to date. The first was released in 1969, featuring acts recorded live at the 1968 festival, while the next two included (mostly) studio recordings of artists due to appear at the festival that year, and were released via digital distribution platform NoiseTrade.
- Festival at Towersey (Zeus 1969), 10-track vinyl album featuring John Kirkpatrick, The Yetties, Bob Grant and John Graham, Brian Perrett and Dennis Manners.
- Towersey Festival 2015 (NoiseTrade, 2015), free 18 track digital download featuring Kim Churchill, Keston Cobblers' Club, Chris While and Julie matthews, Ninebarrow, The Askew Sisters, Roy Bailey Martin Simpson and Andy Cutting
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Towersey Festival.|
- "Towersey Festival – Towersey Village". Retrieved 27 August 2016.
- Writer Derek Schofield reported by Folking.com – http://folking.com/towersey-festival-50-years-in-the-making/
- [https://web.archive.org/web/20040613180451/http://www.towerseyfestival.com/tartists.html Towersey Festival 13 June 2004 website retrieved via Internet Archive Wayback Time Machine 25 February 2019
- Towersey Stages and Venues http://www.towerseyfestival.com/stages-venues/
- Roy Bailey Live at Towersey Festival, at Folk Radio – http://www.folkradio.co.uk/2016/08/roy-bailey-live-at-towersey/
- FolkRadioUK, 'Double Celebration for Towersey', 15 May 2014, http://www.folkradio.co.uk/2014/05/double-celebration-for-towersey/
- Reported by Folking.com – http://folking.com/towersey-festival-50-years-in-the-making/
- Oxford Times, Richard Thompson to Headline Towersey Festival (28 Jan 2014) http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/leisure/music/10968016.Richard_Thompson_to_headline_Towersey_festival/
- Folking.com – Towersey Festival: 50 Years In The Making – http://folking.com/towersey-festival-50-years-in-the-making/
- Oxford Mail Towersey Festival Images Going On Show In Thame, 20 May 2019.
- 'Towersey Line Up 2012' eFestivals
- 'Towersey Line Up 2013' eFestivals
- 'Towersey Line Up 2014' eFestivals
- 'Towersey Line Up 2015' eFestivals
- 'Towersey Line Up 2016' eFestivals
- 'Towersey Line Up 2017' eFestivals
- Oxford Mail, Proclaimers, Beth Orton and Fisherman's Friends announced for Towersey Festival 2018 (7 Feb 2018) – http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/15925102.Proclaimers_among_headliners_for_Towersey_Festival_2018/
- Oxford Mail, Final Headline Act Announced, 13 March 2018, http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/16083958.Final_headline_act_announced_for_Towersey_Festival/
- 'More Acts Announced For Towersey 2019' ThameHub, accessed 24 April 2019.
- @towerseyfesti (28 March 2019). "We know we've made you wait for this but we are delighted to finally share our full list of #towersey2019 headliners ..." (Tweet). Retrieved 1 April 2019 – via Twitter.
- The Albion Band at Towersey 2012, Hey Jude – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szNqVQhmfOg
- Mainly Norfolk: English Folk and Other Good Music: Festival at Towersey album – https://mainlynorfolk.info/john.kirkpatrick/records/festivalattowersey.html
- NoiseTrade Towersey Festival 2015 – https://noisetrade.com/towerseyfestival2015/towersey-festival-2015
- FolkRadioUK – http://www.folkradio.co.uk/2016/07/free-download-towersey-festival-album/
- NoiseTrade Towersey Festival 2016 – https://noisetrade.com/towerseyfestival2015/towersey-festival-2016