Cornbury Music Festival – a fond farewell

CornburyHugh Phillimore founded the Cornbury Music Festival in 2004 and, sadly, this year 2017 was the last. To find out why this iconic and popular festival was closing, I asked for some words from Hugh and his events team. Hugh takes up the story…

“The first thing I heard when I woke up early on the morning of the first Cornbury Festival back in July 2004 was the rain. I knew then it was going to be a tough weekend. Despite that and several other first year hitches, we managed to get through relatively unscathed and put on a pretty good show. Since then we’ve played host to some great artists – Joe Cocker, Amy Winehouse, Van Morrison, Paul Simon, Tom Jones, Robert Plant, Jackson Browne, Georgie Fame, Bryan Ferry, The Pretenders, Keane, Crowded House and of course the ever-marvellous Jools Holland.
My stand out moment from those early years must be negotiating an overtime rate with Robert Plant on a per minute basis when The Waterboys could not make it in 2006. But it is not just national treasures that have played the festival; the opening act in 2004 was Charlbury band King B and we have had scores of talented local musicians playing on the Riverside stage, including the Chipping Norton Battle of the Bands. When we relocated the festival to the Great Tew Estate in 2011, I was delighted that so many Charlbury regulars relocated with us. Their support over the years has been very much appreciated.

Although we have been dubbed Poshstock and played host to royalty, film stars, super models and our former prime minister, the festival has gained a reputation for its unique and friendly atmosphere as well as its stunning location.
We have had a fantastic run over the last 14 years and are very proud of the lovely event we have created. Cornbury is so loved it is ridiculous. We had one arrest in 13 years, and people hand money into lost property. The people here have always been great, and I have tried my best to ensure a great experience for everyone.
Cornbury has never been about money, but it is a struggle being one of the last independent festivals in Oxfordshire, and when the weather is bad, or if there is something big on the telly, we do not sell any day tickets.

There are a lot of festivals, many on our doorstep, and most are run by major companies, so if they make a loss they can take it. I refused to cut corners, though, even after losing a lot of money. I have always wanted it to be as good as it can be”.
So on 10th July, Jools Holland and his orchestra played the final set on an epic journey

…’That’s All Folks’

Glynn Allcock with Hugh Phillimore

October – November 2017