Newton Faulkner

Fans are gearing up for a four day extravaganza of some of the country’s best folk music at Towersey Festival, over the bank holiday weekend.

The music, fun and entertainment kicks off on Friday August 23 at Oxfordshire’s oldest festival and runs right through the weekend until Bank Holiday Monday (August 26) at the Thame Showground.

Towersey prides itself on being a festival with roots, and is renowned for inviting the best folk artists – which this year includes The Unthanks, shanty singers Fisherman’s Friends and a tribute to the festival’s great friend, the late Roy Bailey, with Martin Simpson and Tom Robinson.

Fisherman’s Friends

Festival Director Joe Heap added: “We also like to throw in a few surprises as well. Which is why we’ve invited The Selecter, From The Jam and Steve Harley to join us for 2019. They may seem unconnected with what we do, but they are artists with roots in traditional music:

Steve Harley

‘The Selecter are one of the best ska acts in the UK, a music that developed in the Caribbean in the 1960s, while Steve Harley actually started off playing the famous London folk clubs during the late-60s.”

Joe whose grandfather started the festival 55 years ago, said the event has a special place in the community: “A lot of people talk about that ‘Towersey magic,’ which is so hard to define. Certainly one major factor is everyone’s deep connection to the festival.

“My grandfather started the festival, in 1965, and my father ran it before me, and I’m not alone in having that kind of generational relationship with the festival. So many people have literally grown up here, and that includes artists too, who now attend with their kids and camp over.

“Whole generations come – grandparents, parents, young children – it’s a tradition. That helps give the festival its unique vibe, a friendliness, a welcoming atmosphere. You just have a look at one of our ceilidh dances and you’ll find people aged from six right through to their 80s dancing their socks off together, having a great time.”

Towersey Festival

For emerging artists, to have opportunities to play at large events like Towersey provides a great springboard for their career.

Joe added: “Playing live is where so many artists learn to, well, play! A festival like Towersey will be the largest audience they’ve played to. A great way to get your name out there! We have always championed new and emerging artists, and it’s something our audience expects from us. So many people have made their debuts at the festival – The Unthanks and Eliza Carthy are two who spring to mind – and many other performers have visited Towersey early in their careers, playing a small stage, before going on to main stages.”

There’s some great new artists coming to Towersey this year – Kitty Macfarlane has just been nominated for the Horizon Award in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2019; Katherine Priddy is opening for Richard Thompson on his tour; and Emily Mae Winters is another new artist who’s worth checking out.

From The Jam

Visitors can also enjoy the Festival Green area of entertainment and activities, including appearances from some leading international acts.

Highlights include appearances from major street performers such as the comedic Dan The Hat, the inventive Pete White’s Suitcase Circus, traditional Indian magician Jaardu, Tanzania’s acrobatic Black Eagles, and the colourful marching Frumptarn Guggenband.

A myriad of stalls, various street food outlets and the Festival Green which boasts the Main Bar, which is home to a wide variety of real ales and ciders.

Providing the music are a selection of acclaimed bands and artists including Irish country singer-songwriter Cíara Rafferty, fiery trio Bedlam, Anglo-Latvian Zydecajun ceilidh band Doughboy Zydecajun, bluegrass band Papa Truck, and one of the UK’s leading a cappella group groups, The Wilson Family.

So for anyone who hasn’t yet checked out one of the county’s music events, Joe has this message: “You can hear a great tune on the radio or streaming, but it will never capture the real energy and experience of seeing and hearing that musician play that song live.”

The 55th Towersey Festival runs from Friday 23 to Monday 26 August 2019 at Thame Showground, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 3JL. For tickets and more details see: or Box Office: 0115 807 7900.