Oxfordshire is home to a culture that has exemplified the best of England’s musical, cultural, and artistic traditions. In line with this, we’ve put together a list of five local festivals that you should most definitely check out. Read on to learn more about our picks for the Oxfordshire festivals that should be on your bucket list!
Oxford Piano Festival
There are very few orchestras in the country that are as celebrated as the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra. In fact, the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra had celebrated its two-decade-long existence with a grand concert featuring legendary pianist Martha Argerich earlier this year. Indeed, this moment was yet another historical landmark for the storied orchestra.
The Oxford Piano Festival is the orchestra’s way of showcasing their gifted young pianists as they play alongside some of the world’s most established musicians. The festival has hosted the likes of Beatrice Rana, Steven Osborne, Sergei Babayan, and Boris Berezovsky, who made his debut at the festival back in August. This yearly festival is made possible by its main patron, Alfred Brendel, a pianist who was awarded the Echo Klassik Lifetime Achievement Award back in 2016.
Fairport’s Cropredy Convention
The Cropredy Convention has been around for forty years now and has been drawing in tens of thousands of people annually in a celebration of music and culture. The biggest names in the world of music have graced the stage of the Cropredy Convention, adding to the festival’s mythology as one of the country’s very best.
This year, the festival played host to a slew of topnotch talents, such as the iconic ’80s band, The Waterboys. Armed with his iconic voice, insightful songwriting, Gibson guitar, and the Radial Tonebone Plexitube for channelling expressive overtones, Mike Scott led The Waterboys to become a pivotal name in the ’80s Brit-rock scene. Indeed, it was a nostalgic night of rock to remember and a good way to ramp up excitement for next year’s iteration of the famed festival.
Thame Food Festival
The United Kingdom is known for its rich and diverse regional cuisine, with each region contributing a multitude of dishes that enrich the country’s proud culinary history. Because of this, it’s no surprise that the country is home to several food festivals that celebrate the UK’s food culture. And no festival embodies this more than the Thame Food Festival.
The Thame Food Festival brings hundreds of artisanal food producers, a smattering of food stalls that promote different kinds of cuisines, and even talks by the leading culinary minds from all over the globe, as well as workshops for the public to enjoy. Chefs such as Jane Devonshire, Chetna Makan, and Briony May have all graced the festival and shared their vast culinary knowledge with lucky attendees.
English Music Festival
Held at the historic Abbey at Dorchester-on-Thames, the English Music Festival gives audiences a taste of the country’s best classical music. The festival showcases a variety of performances including lute songs, string quartets, and even a wonderful chamber ensemble, courtesy of the Worcester College Chapel Choir.
Big names such as Martin Yates have featured at the four-day festival, as he served as the opener back in 2013, conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra in an inspired performance of George Butterworth’s Fantasia. Indeed, the festival itself has become a stalwart guardian of the United Kingdom’s ever-flourishing classical music traditions.
Oxford Festival of the Arts
The Oxford Festival of the Arts is a two-week culmination of art in all its forms. It’s held every year in June and is a celebration of the region’s diverse culture, as it gives everyone a stage to showcase their artistic talents to the world. Indeed, it is a breeding ground of culture where artistic landmarks are made.
Earlier this year, the festival played host to the world debut of the Frida Kahlo opera that was composed by Paul Max Edlin, who based most of the opera’s material on Kahlo’s diary entries. There’s no questioning that the Oxford Festival of the Arts pushes the boundaries of the art world by blurring the lines between the different mediums, thus making the field all the better for it.