Are you ready for the Fairport Convention Cropredy Festival?

A Festival – what me? But I had said that I would like to try a festival before I turn up my toes! I have never in all my 63 years been to a festival, any kind of festival, I have always had a dread of lots of not very clean toilets and rowdy people.  Well, I was wrong, it was fantastic!

Cropredy Festival The Cropredy Festival is the band Fairport Convention’s Festival that has been taking place for over 30 years, and the band is celebrating its 45th Anniversary this year.  It takes place every year during the second week in August.  It is a festival of a wide range of music, with the emphasis on folk, but every year a very impressive line up performs, including some very interesting surprise guests. 

We tried to get a hotel, but be warned the hotels around Cropredy get full very quickly year by year. So we decided to camp, yes, in a tent, would my old bones take the punishment of lying on the grass? Well we had paid our £100 for the three day ticket and £35 to camp for the three days so fingers crossed for good weather, and off we went.

We arrived at the site reasonably early in the day and went on the family site, I thought this area would be quieter and families would go to sleep earlier than some of the younger campers! We were wrong, we didn’t have noise from the younger members playing music or singing, we just had the babies crying and the family dog barking!  We set up camp with the help of a volunteer and another camper and found that generosity of the people at the festival is one of the major themes of this event.

Cropredy Festival The Music started at 4pm on the Thursday afternoon, we set off with our fold up seats to sit on the main field area – there is only one official stage which unlike other festivals this is rather unique as some have many more.  On presentation of your booking form you are “tagged” or should I say given a bracelet, a type of cloth they put around your wrist to show that you have paid, that you have to show each time you go into the main field, it has an emergency number on which is a good idea and children are given one with their parents mobile on should they get lost – brilliant idea.

To my surprise we were surrounded by people of our age – yes, Silver Travel people. There were parents with children and grandchildren, and it seems the “oldies” had brought their children and now they were bringing theirs. The official programme gives you the times of the bands or singers and you then choose which you would like to see.  You can walk around the field which is an experience on its own, it is the area where the traders set up the food stalls, the food is excellent and not over priced, Fish Curries, Vegetarian Food, Pizzas and even Fish and Chips.  The bar is very popular with drinks that are pricey but good quality. The children’s area is amazing, carers in attendance watch the children and they do have lots of activities happening right through the day.

Cropredy Festival Disabled scooters can be hired from the tent at the top of the field and a disabled area and toilet is set out at the side of the sound system which is ideal, with a ramp and good viewing access for the disabled.  The craft stalls and gifts also are a treat and you cannot help but buy yourself a strange looking hat, everyone has strange looking hats. The dress code is please yourself, many people regress back to the sixties, tie-die t-shirts, multi coloured skirts and of course hats – all shapes and sizes.  This year’s obligatory Fairport Convention T-shirt had sold out within hours, many wore their old t-shirts with pride.

The camping facilities are good, with toilets that are cleaned regularly, showers in various fields (get there early for a shower, the queue can be long at other times). There is a shop to buy groceries or anything that you may need for a few days away from home, also an ATM machine for the cash you may need to buy that T-shirt.

The village of Cropredy is a lovely little village on the outskirts of Banbury in Oxfordshire.  The area was recorded in the Dooms Day Book and it was the site of a major battle in 1644 during the English Civil War. It has a church, a pub, a shop and has the River Cherwell running through it. The long house boats sit in the water not moving until the crew have stopped off for the festival.

All in all I was pleasantly surprised and we are booking again for next year but this time we are going for “luxury”, we intend to book at a hotel near the festival to have a good nights sleep – well it is what you need for an older rocker!! Hope to see you there.

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Glynis Sullivan

Traveller and writer for Silver Travel Advisor

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