If you haven’t already, it’s time to book your tickets for the last ever Cornbury Festival in July. And the Cornbury crew are really going out with a bang: this year’s all-star line-up includes Bryan Adams, Kaiser Chiefs, Jools Holland, The Pretenders – as well as some Cornbury regulars in the shape of Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Jack Savoretti and Scouting For Girls. And that’s on top of a host of other bands, comedy, kids activities, workshops, gourmet food, a vintage mobile cinema… seriously, you name it, if it’s sounds perfect for a summer weekend, it’s happening at Cornbury.
StyleNest headed to Cornbury last year and can highly recommend it as a family-friendly weekend of fun. With two small ones in tow, we never felt like it was something for the grown-ups that we were dragging the kids along to because we couldn’t get childcare. On the contrary, they’ve been begging to go back ever since…
So what’s all the fuss about? Well, Cornbury describes itself as ‘a country fair with a rock ‘n’ roll twist’, and prides itself on being about as civilised as festivals get. Which is why it’s perfect for families – no dirty loos or over-indulgence. Instead, a safe, friendly environment with plenty to amuse all ages – and enough festival spirit to make you dig out your flower headband, of course. The description of the festival-goers on the Cornbury website is bang on: ‘superstars, toffs, rockers, crooners, Morris dancers, farmers, urbanites, fashionistas, gourmet chefs and little old ladies who make exceptional cakes’.
Getting to the festival is easy: nestled in the Cotswolds, the Great Tew Estate is about 30 minutes by car from Banbury Station and around 12 minutes from Charlbury Station. There is also a shuttle bus service between the festival site and both these stations. StyleNest booked a nearby cottage but the campsite looks brilliant, with a choice of PodPads (beach house style mini-cabins), Yurts, Tipis and Gypsy Caravans. There’s even a pop-up hotel on site.
Arriving at the festival on the Friday, we found the staff welcoming and there wasn’t a queue in sight. Children were given an identity band on entry for parents to write their mobile number on – a nice touch. Another parent-friendly idea is the chance to hire ‘Chariots For Children’, trolleys with cushions and a canopy for the kids to rest or doze off in (while mum and dad sip a Pimm’s or two…).
The Kids’ Zone will stop you feeling guilty for dragging them down to the front for Bryan Adams. It’s aimed at any little people from toddlers upwards with den building, headdress-making, children’s yoga, disguises, hot air balloons… There’s even a fun fair with all the usual suspects from a helter-skelter to a bouncy castle and perennial favourites like hook-a-duck. And a pile of straw bales had our young team amused for hours. For older kids, The Mayflower tent is teenage heaven: a chill-out zone with cushions, guitars, henna, hair braids, upcycling and even a full band rig.
When the tummies start to rumble, you’re in for another treat. No tired burgers here: we feasted on pulled pork, nachos, curries and noodles, so we can’t wait to see what’s on offer this year. And if your experience of festival drinks is warm plastic cups of lager, think Bloody Marys and oysters, craft beer and genuinely decent wine.
If you’ve never braved a festival with the family, this is your last chance to experience Cornbury, great for first-timers. It’s civilised but just cool enough to make you feel like you’ve got festival fever. StyleNesters can book tickets or get more info at cornburymusicfestival.com. And local festival fans can avoid booking charges by buying their tickets direct from Chipping Norton Theatre box office. See you there!