85. Music Festivals in the Cotswolds

Chipping Campden Music Festival takes place each May in the magnificent setting of St James's Church. This picture shows conductor Tom Hull and orchestra leader Ruth Rogers with the Festival Academy orchestra.Music festivals come in all shapes and sizes in the Cotswolds these days and one of the most popular is The Big Feastival, held in September at the Kingham farm of Alex James, Blur guitarist and Cotswold cheesemaker, in association with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.The Cotswolds can boast a wide variety of music festivals to appeal to all tastes, from rock music to jazz and classical.

In recent years there has been a growth in both the number and the quality of festivals which draw thousands of visitors to the Cotswolds each year, as well as providing residents with some outstanding music right on their doorstep.

Two of the biggest Cotswold music festivals - Cornbury Music Festival at Great Tew, and The Big Feastival at Kingham - have their own entries in our list of 101 Reasons to Love the Cotswolds. Longborough Festival Opera also has its own, while Cheltenham Jazz Festival and Cheltenham Music Festival are included in our "Cheltenham's Four Fabulous Festivals" entry.

Other leading music festivals that have become mainstays on the Cotswold calendar include:

Chipping Campden Music Festival has grown in stature and size each year since it was first held in 2002. Held over two weeks each May in the glorious setting of St James's Church, it is now widely recognised as one of the UK’s leading festivals with visitors coming from Europe, America and Australia, as well as from all over the UK.

The venue has become a favourite with many of the world’s finest musicians. As well as two weeks of great music, the festival runs workshops in local schools led by experienced music educators and in 2008 the Festival Academy training orchestra was formed. In 2013 Chipping Campden Music Festival expanded its work to form both an adult community choir and the Chipping Campden Young Voices choir.

Festival president Paul Lewis said: "Since its inception in 2002, the festival has without doubt grown into one of the most exciting events in the UK’s musical calendar. Regular festival goers know what to expect - a world-class line-up of musicians performing a vast range of music, the magnificent St James’ Church with its superb acoustic, and the wonderful Chipping Campden Festival Academy Orchestra which always guarantees to raise the roof."

Music festivals are meant to be enjoyed, and this great picture perfectly sums up how most festival-goers feel about the Cornbury Music Festival, held at the Great Tew Estate in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds in early July. We especially love the young girl on the left who's desperate to join in the conga line fun!Lechlade Music Festival is a two-day event which has been held in Riverside Park each May since 2011. It aims to provide a vibrant, family-focussed, affordable and fun weekend while promoting local talent.

More than 1,600 people attended the inaugural event, while 2012 saw new attractions added, including a Burlesque revue and a belly dancing workshop.

In 2013, free workshops and a mini food village were introduced. The 2014 festival saw a third stage introduced, increasing the number of performers. In recent years Lechlade Music Festival has been nominated for a clutch of awards and won the 2014 Cotswold Tourism Event of the Year award.

Winchcombe Festival of Music & Arts is also held towards the end of May. The main festival programme is condensed into three packed days, bringing a real music and arts vibe to the town. Everything culminates in the popular street fair on Bank Holiday Monday. During the festival week there is the chance to have a go at one of the exciting range of hands-on workshops, such as choral concerts, piano recitals, poetry evenings and art trail and historical talks. There is also lots for the young people, including a rock concert. 

Wychwood Festival, which takes place at Cheltenham Racecourse, celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2014, when it was held over the weekend of May 30-June 1. The family-friendly festival offers a wide range of music, plus loads of other activities including 100 workshops for all ages, comedy, cinema and much more. Wychwood has been nominated Best Family Festival in the UK Festival Awards every year since it was launched.

Classical musicians entertain a packed St James's Church at a Chipping Campden Music Festival concert, with festival president Paul Lewis at the piano.  Bledington Music Festival, established in 2000, is an annual classical music event which sees a lovely Cotswold village church play host to some top-class performers from all over the world. Established in 2000, the festival has grown each year and now takes place over three June evenings in St Leonard's Church, Bledington, near Stow-on-the-Wold. Many of the musicians also give of their time to perform a concert especially for the local schoolchildren
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The Guiting Festival is held every year in the last week of July in the ancient village of Guiting Power in the heart of the Cotswold Hills. The festival's music is a mix of classical, jazz and, starting in 2014, folk music performed by some of the most talented artists around. The festival's aim is to provide high quality music to as wide an audience as possible at an affordable price. The festival comprises a number of individual, indoor evening concerts in Guiting Power Village Hall held over nine or 10 days, plus open-air concerts held on the middle and last Sunday of the festival on the village playing fields. As a registered charity, the Guiting Festival is run entirely by unpaid local volunteers.

Stroud Fringe Festival features three nights and two days of amazing, mostly free entertainment at various venues in and around Stroud. The 2014 festival, held over the last weekend of August, once again brought an eclectic mix of folk, jazz, rock, punk, indie and pop to the town.

Also over the late August weekend, young revellers in Cirencester flock to see the summer holidays out in style at The Phoenix Festival, which takes place at the Abbey Grounds. The free two-day festival, held for the second time in 2014, features talented and local performing artists. There are also be children's activities and local stalls, catering and entertainment. The youth-organised festival is supported by many local organisations, including the town and district councils.

Stroud Folk Festival took place from Friday, September 26, to Sunday, September 28, with performances in the Subscription Rooms and around the town. Other attractions included a dance programme and morris dancing. 

Music festivals which traditionally take place in the Cotswolds later in the autumn include Tetbury Music Festival, held at St Mary's Church over four days in early October, and Stroud Blues Festival, held towards the end of October at Stroud Subscription Rooms.Do you get the impression that someone possibly mentioned to these revellers at the Lechlade Music Festival that they were about to take a photo?

More information

Bledington Music Festival
www.bledingtonmusicfestival.co.uk

Chipping Campden Music Festival
www.campdenmusicfestival.co.uk

Guiting Festival
www.guitingfestival.org

Lechlade Music Festival
www.lechladefestival.co.uk

Phoenix Festival
www.phoenix-festival.co.uk

Stroud Folk Festival
www.stroudfolkfestival.co.uk

Stroud Fringe Festival
www.stroudfringe.co.uk

Tetbury Music Festival
www.tetburymusicfestival.org.uk

Winchcombe Festival of Music & Arts
www.winchcombe.co.uk/festival

Wychwood Festival
www.wychwoodfestival.com
 
© Loving The Cotswolds. 2017.