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Cornbury Music Festival - Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire, 7/7/2017...9/7/2017

  by Nick Dent-Robinson

published: 12 / 8 / 2017

Cornbury Music Festival - Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire, 7/7/2017...9/7/2017


Nick Dent-Robinson attends the final Cornbury Festival in Oxfordshire which this year saw performances from Bryan Adams, the Pretenders, Kaiser Chiefs and Jools Holland and speaks to organiser Hugh Phillimore about why he has decided to stop.

As we watched almost 20,000 people laughing, singing or just enjoying the music, company and endless sunshine, festival organiser Hugh Phillimore grinned when I asked him whether this was really the last Cornbury. “People keep asking me that. Nobody quite believes Cornbury won't come back again. I am thrilled this last event has gone so well but I really do need a break after 14 years!” Originally created in 2003 as an antidote to huge, harder-edged events like Glastonbury and Reading, Oxfordshire's Cornbury Festival pioneered a shift away from crustier rock events towards a more genteel affair where families and children as well as older attendees would feel comfortable. Whilst Pimms and gin and bubbly bars with literally dozens of celebrities are now the Cornbury norm, initially the event was targetted more at middle income, middle aged, family-orientated folk. Of course it became affectionately known as “Poshstock” with prime ministers, royals and a host of big political, TV, film, theatre and music names just quietly mingling as part of a very contented audience. At just one performance by a supporting band on Saturday this year there were David and Sam Cameron, survival expert Bear Grylls, Jeremy Clarkson, 'Made in Chelsea' star Millie Mackintosh, comedian Alexander Armstrong, Kate Moss and more, all just a few feet apart from each other and happy to be scattered amidst the enthusiastic crowd. “It is good to see so many different kinds of people mingling. And, you know, we have had some wonderful artists here over the years,” reflected Hugh. “For this last event it has been great to welcome Bryan Adams, the Pretenders, Kaiser Chiefs and Jools Holland amongst over fifty great performers. And in the past we've seen Van Morrison, Robert Plant, Blondie, Bryan Ferry, Tom Jones, Elvis Costello, a young Amy Winehouse, Joe Cocker, Humphrey Lyttleton, Martha Reeves and Sam Brown playing here. The money we've spent on the line-up has been incredible which is why it has been a battle staying solvent! Some years we didn't get into the black at all. But what a lovely way to lose money!" “Cornbury may be seen by some as 'uncool' but I don't think anyone would ever have been ashamed to be seen here,” Hugh continued. “It has been hard work but fun, too. A few happy recollections are a sweet kiss from Amy Winehouse, a bear hug from Joe Cocker and some interesting discussions with Robert Plant and Elvis Costello. I have thoroughly enjoyed this last weekend and saw 90 per cent of the bands. Ironically this year's Cornbury made the biggest profit ever, too! My daughter Rose and I will be touring festivals over the coming year and maybe one day we will return with a new event - but something smaller and easier to manage. Most of all I would want to replicate the magical atmosphere of Cornbury and I would want it to be a festival for everybody.” Jools Holland was Cornbury's closing act and he led the field in cheers of thanks for Hugh Phillimore. He later said, “You know, I played the very first Cornbury 14 years ago. And I am delighted to have been invited back to play the last one. There is something totally unique about the atmosphere – and that's about far more than the famous faces that appear in the crowd here. There's a really good, strong happiness vibe - and that's all too rare a phenomenon these days!”

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Cornbury Music Festival - Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire, 7/7/2017...9/7/2017

Cornbury Music Festival - Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire, 7/7/2017...9/7/2017

Cornbury Music Festival - Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire, 7/7/2017...9/7/2017

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