Wychwood Festival announce Family Program for 2016

Britain's most-loved family festival reveals a huge programme of workshops & activities for all the family including Literature Festival, Lush Harmony Singing, Street Theatre, Dance, Gospel Choirs & more


Wychwood Festival 2015
Wychwood Festival today unveils a huge family programme for 2016, featuring an vast array of workshops, performances, talks and more. The mighty offering includes dance workshops, yoga, circus classes, late night cabaret, arts and crafts to name just a few. Wychwood’s Literature Festival is back in partnership with Waterstones, featuring Sophia Bennet, Michelle Roberts, Paul Stickland and many more leading authors, while Cheltenham Poetry Festival brings some of the most exciting names in spoken word to perform and share their skills in unmissable workshops. With no end of activities and workshops to choose from and a diverse musical line-up, there really is something for everyone at Wychwood Festival 2016. The festival takes place at Cheltenham Racecourse, 3rd – 5th June, weekend and day tickets are on sale with more information at www.wychwoodfestival.com.

One of the UK's best-loved family festivals of the summer, Wychwood has become renowned for booking an outstanding mix of heritage, world music and up-coming talent along with an extensive roster of entertainment and workshops for all the family. This year organisers are pulling out all the stops with one of the most comprehensive family offerings on the festival calendar.

Workshops across the weekend invite festival-goers to get involved in a number of weird and wonderful activities. The hugely popular Circus Workshops from Solo Circus and Circus Kaos will amaze crowds, showcasing a wide array of circus tricks from juggling and stilt walking to spinning plates and unicycles.RU-Slack put festival-goers' balance to the test as they teach the ways of “Slacklining”. Kids and adult only classes are on hand to share skills of ukulele playingyoga and samba, while adults can also take advantage of singing & choir lessons and writing workshops

Dance features heavily this year, with workshops for 1920's favourites Charleston and Swing Dance. Samba shows and workshops showcase a unique fusion of Brazillian, African and Western beats played on everything from drum kits to dustbins through to congas and other world instruments. Other dance workshops on offer include BhangraShim ShamGlambaBollywood, YogaBelly and Break Dance to get the whole family throwing shapes. 

Those looking to get hands on creative will love the arts and crafts offering at Wychwood this year, which includes everything from jewellery and head dress making to knittingbasket making and painting

Passion 4 Laughter make an appearance, turning Wychwood into a theatre, using different characters to tell a whirlwind of stories with the help of acrobatic and physical tricks, all in the name of Street Theatre. Comedy Club 4 Kids will also host some of best comedians on the UK circuit doing what they do best. More shows for all the family come courtesy of Captain Barnacle Pirate Pantomimepoetry and choir performancesbubble shows and more.

Wychwood also announces its Literature Festival line-up in partnership with Waterstones, welcoming top authors and illustrators. Join Georgie Woolridge with her popular adult colouring workshop or listen to Chris Edge as he explores the parallel universe. Abi Elphinstone shares stories of her travels in Mongolia, John Dougherty sings about badgers and Michelle Roberts heads to the festival fresh from her collaboration with astronaut Tim Peake with her picture book about spotting bears. Other authors include Jo CorrerillAli SparkesLyn Gardner, Steve Antony and more.

Speaking about the return of the the Literature Festival, Children's bookseller at Waterstones, Barbara Pendrigh says: "Waterstones loves Wychwood and we're delighted to be bringing fabulous authors and illustrators to the festival again this year. Readers of all ages will find a warm welcome in our book marquee, and of course, something special to read too!!"

Cheltenham Poetry Festival join Wychwood this year, bringing with them a feisty feast of stand-up, hip hop, comedy and poetry including punk pet Jim Higo, standup poet and singer Claire Ferguson Walker,Miserable Malcolm aka The Poet of Doom), hip-hop and spoken word artist JPDL, singer-songwriterChris Hemingway, spoken word performer KA Poetry plus stand-up poet Samantha Samms. All performers will also be imparting their wisdom in writing and performance workshops for Wychwood festival-goers.

The family programme and literature line up join an already amazing musical offering with The Waterboys,10ccBill Bailey all set to headline. Revellers can also expect performances from IdlewildPeter Hook & The LightThe Selector, Ms Dynamite and Matt Berry & The Maypoles, CBeebies superstar Justin Fletcher and Wychwood veteran Craig Charles plus new comers Tiger ClubHaelosHonneInHeaven,Cash + David and more. 

Ms Dynamite and more added to Wychwood Festival lineup

The 12th annual Wychwood Festival has announced another wave of acts to play in 2016. Brighton promoters Smashing Blouse once again take control of The Big Top, using their musical savvy to book the best of established and up and coming acts including Ms .Dynamite, Hunter & The Bear, Cash + David, The Ooks Of Hazard, Rag n' Bone and Anteros, with plenty more to come. Set on the glorious Cheltenham Racecourse beneath the idyllic Prestbury Hills, Wychwood is incredible value for money and offers an amazing array of events for all the family. Day tickets have just gone on sale with adult tickets starting at just at £45 and discounted prices for children. Wychwood takes place 3rd – 5th June. For tickets and further information visit wychwoodfestival.com.

A pioneer and legend on the urban music scene, Ms. Dynamite is as relevant now as she's ever been and set to delight Wychwood revellers with her enigmatic blend of r&b, grime and electronic music. The Londoner has been wowing crowds for years and Wychwood will be no different thanks to her high energy performances. A perfect addition to the line-up.

Smashing Blouse curate the Big Top once again in 2016. The Brighton tastemakers pride themselves on booking not only established acts but the most diverse and exciting names around, making Wychwood the ideal place to dicsover your new favourite band. This year they have a plethora of up and coming bands from around the globe, including visceral rockers Hunter & The Bear, electro-pop duo Cash + David, the excellently named LA based ukulele troupe Ooks Of Hazard, Australian upstarts Rag n' Bone and synth pop stunners Anteros, all set to keep crowds dancing all day long.

Over the past 11 years Wychwood Festival has cemented itself as one of the country's favourite family friendly weekends. Welcoming all generations, the festival curates a packed programme year on year with timeless greats, upcoming music, literature, comedy, children's entertainment, food and drink and more.

Wychwood continues to offer great value for money – adult weekend tickets are priced at just £135, concessions at £110, 10-15 year olds at £65, 5-9 year olds at £25 and under 5 year olds go free with an adult. Day tickets are also now on sale, starting at £45 for an adult ticket. Full ticket price breakdown can be found below and as always with Wychwood Festival tickets, all are inclusive, with no additional booking fees and no hidden extras to pay on site.


Peter Hook & The Light / Bill Bailey
Ms. Dynamite / Kate Rusby / From The Jam / Craig Charles / Matt Berry & The Maypoles
Hunter & The Bear / Cash + David / Ooks Of Hazard / Rag n' Bone / Anteros

Wychwood Festival 2015 Review

Wychwood festival returned for its 11th year in the beautiful Prestbury Hills of Cheltenham. Set on the famous Cheltenham Racecourse, the location boasts great transport and parking facilities, while still being on acres of well maintained luscious land. The friendly atmosphere brings in a mix of all ages with its main priority focusing on a family feel. With activities including arts and crafts workshops and improvised comedy, as well as an eclectic range of music on offer it is easy to keep every member of the family happy. Although it is family friendly Wychwood does not compromise on the festival experience. With headliners from the funk and soul Craig Charles to the legendary UB40 there is music for all tastes.

Friday kicked off to a dreary start, but the rain and grey clouds soon settled into a delightful afternoon of blue skies with the occasional cold wind. This gave people a chance to seek shelter in the smaller tents which hosted a range of entertainment from acoustic sets to clay modelling classes and comedy. The biggest bar of the festival was inside the Hobgoblin tent, where americana/ folk band, Loud Mountains gave a stellar performance on the Friday afternoon. With awesome guitar riffs, catchy rhythms and clever harmonies, Loud Mountains gave the crowd a heartwarming performance which all ages could sing along to and enjoy.

With a huge selection of drinks, local ales and food stalls on offer- there was plenty of choice for all tastes. Tasty pulled pork, nutella smothered crepes, ostrich burgers and Mr Whippy ice creams were a few of the many popular choices that Wychwood had to offer. Despite the festival being well tailored for families, the Pimms and Real Ale was also flowing, with adults enjoying themselves as much as the children.

After the impressive set from Loud Mountains, it was over to the main stage for ‘The Undertones’ who played a set made up of more songs than many bands write throughout their entire career. It was a punk rock treat with the Derry band choosing to let their music do the talking as they treated crowd to songs like ‘Jimmy Jimmy’ and ‘Teenage Kicks’. The latter of the two songs brought almost a sense of relief throughout the crowd, as they played that ever recognisable riff. Once they had finished, it was time to prep the stage for the headline act, which left just enough time inbetween to check out ‘Darlia’ over on the second largest of Wychwood’s stages. 

Darlia– the Blackpool based 3-piece were really impressive. Walking around between the crowd, the words ‘Nirvana’ and ‘Kurt Cobain’ were mentioned so many times by onlookers, it gives a good picture of their sound. Sadly this somewhat draws away from the fact that the band actually have their own nailed-on balance of gritty guitars and catchy melody lines, which is almost an evolution of the Seattle grunge sound of old, without being at all tacky or cliché. Their set was really impressive with the song ‘Candyman’ being a stand out favourite.

It was now time for the headline act for the Friday and much like the range of people who attended this fantastic little festival – it could not have been any more different! It was time for the crowd to go wild for ‘Boney M’. With their back catalogue of disco tracks, they entertained the masses with the likes of ‘Daddy cool’, ‘rasputin’ and ‘brown girl in the ring’ and at one point even played a rendition of Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman No Cry’. Boney M were 110% fun from the word go and played with the professionalism of a group that has been together for just short of 40 years. Maizie Williams  was the only original member who performed in this line-up, her star quality such that she stood out like a diamond. A great choice of headliner from the festival and a job well done from Boney M.

The weekend’s sun continued to shine down on Wychwood festival as the family-friendly vibes started up for the second day. The afternoon crowd which gathered at main stage for the Electric Swing Circus was a mixture of all ages and the band was the perfect fit for a such a varied audience. The vocal double act of Laura Louise and Bridget Walsh’s energy was infectious, and Guitarist Tom Hyland entertained the kids with his ringmaster attire and killer dance moves. But the band were not all about the visuals, as their ‘Electro-Swing’ music was Saturday’s real show-starter; a sound to match the diversity of the crowd with heavily sample based tunes backed up by solid double-bass lines and swing rhythms – it worked really well.


 A small break on the main stage was enough time for the crowd to multiply ten-fold for one of the most recognisable acts of the past 30 years – both visually and sonically! It was the turn of the Proclaimers to take to the Wychwood stage. Identical twins Charlie and Craig Reid played through their back catalogue as well as throwing in a few songs from their latest album. Their set was hugely entertaining and was a singalong from the beginning to the end. At one point, Charlie read out a dedication they had received before bursting into ‘Let’s get married’ – The dedication proved to set the scene for a marriage proposal on the front row and she said yes! The duo completed the song and wished the happy couple the best of luck before Charlie said (tongue firmly in cheek) ‘ Just the one time, I’d like someone to say no and for there to be a little fight in the corner.’ After many a classic, they courteously wrapped their set up with ‘I’m gonna be (500 Miles)’ before making way for the headline act – UB40’S Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue.


 UB40 Hoodies seemed to be the clothing of choice for many throughout the day and this was reflected by the size of the crowd for the headline act. Accompanied by a saxophonist, trumpet player and trombonist, the band stormed through a set of their classics, whilst also throwing in some songs from their latest albums. Starting the proceedings with ‘Here I Am (Come and take me)’ they flew through a hugely entertaining set including ‘Red Red Wine’ and even an Elvis Presley cover!

Sunday brought with it a tiredness to the crowds, but this was in no way reflected in the music with stellar performances from DJ Craig Charles and Rusty Shackle. Justin Fletcher also made an appearance on mainstage for the children and was received with much jubilation by the crowd.

The highlight though for Sunday, possibly even the entire festival, was the South African male choir group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Formed in 1960, this band certainly lived up to its platinum disc honoured status. With the ravishing harmonies and joyful atmosphere- every child to every adult danced in awe as the sun set amongst the Prestbury Hills. Gleeful children on parents shoulders waved their arms in time to the flawless rhythms of the choir. The uplifting experience worth watching in the flesh was definitely the best way to end a brilliant weekend. Despite the bitter cold of night, Ladysmith Black Mambazo had defiantly left a warm mark of Africa on Wychwood Festival 2015.



Wychwood Festival announces Comedy lineup and more

As a regular face on '8 Out Of 10 Cats', 'Would I Lie To You?' and many more the BAFTA nominated Michael Legge will perform alongside 'Gloucestershire's number 1 diabetic comedian' Jon Wagstaffe and hotly-tipped student funnyman Jamali Maddix on day one. Making his name on both sides of the Atlantic Irish-born Keith Farnan and Edinburgh fringe regular Mitch Benn keeps the laughter rolling alongside musical comedian George Rigden, Russel Howard's Good News regular Jarred Christmas and the interactive comedy of Howard Read. New up-and-coming talent Jenny CollierJack HealSam Chaplin,Becky Brunning and many more will also keep the Wychwood audience in stitches throughout the weekend. 

Further musical additions to this year's Wychwood have also been announced. With a performance on Later With Jools Holland and a release on the esteemed Africa Express label, Songhoy Blues will perform their debut show on the main stage while Josephine & The Artizans will showcase their unique 'Hip-Hopera' over at the Ecroticity Big Top alongside 3-piece Pocket Club. Citing inspirations ranging from The Horrors to Fleetwood Mac, Object Object take residency on the main stage while Coventry four-pieceQuarry and Leader will perform at the Big Top and the Hobgoblin Stage. 

Wychwood's Pomme Stage has been revealed, featuring some of the finest local talent in association with the University of Gloucestershire. Heading up the stage across the weekend will be the likes of alt-rockers All Ears Avow, Cheltenham's own Spice & The Readies, experimental hip-hop trio SPOILS and former busker and rising singer-songwriter Ben Cipolla. Also appearing will be brooding songstress Gigi St. FallowBobby ScaifeKatie CollinsMegan TimmsJoe BuckinghamDan Walton and Maxine Stacey from Cheltenham and from the Black country comes Neil Morris and David Young.

Adding to the exciting literature programme on display at Wychwood comes yet more esteemed writers set to educate and influence on the Children's Literature Stage. Author of 'Twelve Minutes to Midnight' and 'Shadows of the Silver Screen', Christopher Edge will share his tales alongside Roald Dahl Funny Prize winning author Philip Ardagh and the writer of the 'Compton Valance' series Matt Brown. The feline friendly Anna Wilson, Waterstones Children's Book Prize winner Steve Anthony and 'The Grunt' and 'The Grouch' author Tracey Corderoy will also be on hand to inspire the children and adults of Wychwood. 

Created in 1996 to provide clean, green and renewable energy for all, Ecotricity's founder Dale Vince will debate the importance of sustainable green energy with organic food supplier Guy Watson of Riverford. Chaired by the BBC One Show and Observer journalist Lucy Siegle the topics up for discussion include the sustainability of Energy, Transport and Food, three very important topics that will undoubtedly make for an informative and inspiring debate. 

Riverford founder Guy Watson said: “I’m happy to be taking part in the ‘Green Britain Chat’ this year at Wychwood. We’ll be talking about a whole bunch of things we can do towards helping Britain be great and greener. I’ll be focusing on the Food side of things, with organically grown food being an important part of this; I can talk for ever about vegetables until someone tells me to shut up; fortunately my fellow panellists talk can about our Energy and Transport if they can get a word in; plus the importance of making space for Nature!”

New for 2015 Wychwood Festival will this year be taking festival-goers back to a time that was both glamorous and gritty. On one side there were the dive bar dwelling anti-establishment anger of Sex Pistols, on the other the decadent sounds of Donna Summer and thew exclusivity of Studio 54. When it comes to Punk vs Disco, which side will Wychwood festival-goers choose? Wychwood is inviting revellers to release their inner-anarchist or dancing queen to create a sense of Saturday Night Fever on Cheltenham Racecourse.


Ladysmith Black Mambazo / UB40 – Ali Campbell, Astro, Mickey Virtue reunited / Boney M
The Undertones / Justin Fletcher / The Proclaimers / Craig Charles / Andy Kershaw / Dreadzone / Basseskou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba / Mad Dog Mcrea / Dr & The Medics / Songhoy Blues / The Outcast Band / The Going Goods / Talk In Code / A Way With Words /  The Edwin Starr Band ft. Angelo Starr / Electric Swing Circus / Rusty Shackle / Pocket Club / Ghostpoet / Lucy Rose / Mt. Wolf / Plastic Mermaids / Fickle Friends / Monsieur Doumani / The Wonder Stuff Acoustic / Darlia / Demob Happy / TED ZED / Black Honey / Palace / Zak Abel / Lanshapes / Syd Arthur / Henry Green / Hunter & The Bear / Loud Mountains / Cooper Black / Object Object / Josephine and the Artizans / Sophronie / George Montague / Danni Nicholls / The Black Feathers / John Adams / Grace Palmer / James Michael / All Ears Avow / Spice & The Readies / SPOILS / Ben Cipolla / Gigi St. Fallow / Bobby Scaife / Katie Collins/ Megan Timms / Joe Buckingham / Dan Walton / Maxine Stacey / Neil Morris / David Young

BBC Introducing Coventry & Warwickshire: Grassroutes, Rosetta Fire / Yes Sunshine / Reece Bahia /Quarry / Speak Brother / James TW / Emily Burns / The Commonjets / Joe Doloman

BBC Introducing Hereford and Worcester: Cantaloop / Ronin / Clark Carmody / Tom Forbes / Interior Castle / Crowsaw / 7shades / The Dale Von Minaker / Fictonian / Chase The Deer

Ali Sparkes / Petr Horacek / Giancarlo Gremin / Steve Anthony / Steve Cole / Chris Edge / Paul Strickland / John Dougherty / Anna Wilson / Karen Langtree / Tracey Corderoy / Philip Ardagh / Cathy Cassidy / Philip Adagh / Tracey Corderoy / Matt Brown / Tony de Saulles / First Draft

Michael Legge / Jenny Collier / Jack Heal / Chris Turner / Jay Cowle / Jamali Maddix / Jarred Christmas / Becky Brunning / Sam Chaplin / David Jordan

Wychwood Festival announce 30 more acts

Wychwood is one of the best loved family festivals on the summer calendar, renowned for booking a sensational mix of heritage, world music and up-coming talent along with an elcectic roster of entertainment for all the family.

Joining the likes of UB40's Ali Campbell, Astro, Mickey Virtue reunited, The Proclaimers and Boney M on mainstage across the weekend will be Mad Dog Mcrea with their raucous mix of folk, pop, rock, jazz and bluegrass along with psychedelic rockers Dr & The Medics, The Outcast BandThe Going GoodsTalk In Code and A Way With Words. Angelo Starr also heads to Wychwood leading his late brothers sensational soul band The Edwin Starr Band now also known as Angelo Starr & The Team.

The BBC Introducing Stage is set to return to Wychwood Festival this year, presenting the best upcoming local talent the area has to offer. On Saturday BBC Introducing Coventry & Warwickshire host performances from their youngest and brightest stars including 17 year old four piece The Commonjets, singer songwriters Emily BurnJames TW and Joe Dolman as well as Speak Brother,GrassroutesRosetta FireYes Sunshine, Reece Bahia and The Folly Brothers. BBC Introducing Hereford and Worcester take over proceedings on the Sunday with soul man and The Voice runner upClark Carmody, funk four-piece Cantaloop, rock visionaries Ronin and Evesham producer Tom Forbes. Also appearing will be Interior Castle7shades, The Dale Von MinakerFictonianChase The Deer and blues rockers Crowshaw.

On Friday Wychwood's Hobgoblin stage will welcome the likes of the barnstorming Celtic rockers Hunter & The Bear, Americana folk bands Loud Mountains and The Black Feathers, country/foilk songstress Danni Nicholls and Welsh busker and songwriter John Adams. Also will appearing will be SophronieJames MichaelCooper Black, Gloucestershire's own Grace Palmer and YouTube jazz musician sensation George Montague.

Wychwood is excited to reveal the full line-up for the Children's Literature Festival in association with Waterstones including renowned authors Anna WilsonThe Shapeshifter series creator Ali Sparkes, award winning author and illustrator Petr Horacek, along with Waterstone Children's Book Prize nominee Giancarlo Gremin. The weekend will also see appearances by a host of literary talents including Steve AntonySteve ColeChris EdgePaul StricklandJohn DoughertyCathy Cassidy,Philip AdaghTracey CorderoyMatt Brown and Tony de Saulles. In a Wychwood first, a music band made up entirely of authors will take to the stage and meeting for the first time at the festival the band, First Draft, will perform well loved book and writing inspired songs.

Well known for curating an all encompassing programme of family activities and entertainment, Wychwood's 2015 offering is bigger than ever. Aashiyana Arts bring the flavours of the East with Stories From IndiaBhangra Dance and a Bollywood Heat Dance workshop for anyone who wants to dance like a Bollywood star. Solo Circus and Circus Kaos join together for a fun filled Circus Workshop, Wychwood's favourite 'bubbleolgist' SamSam the Bubbleman is back with his unbelievable bubbles plus for all those who love wildlife, the British Ecological Society bring Sex and Bugs and Rock and Roll for a hands on and fun look at the world of ecology. Wychwood revellers can also expect Samba, Belly Dancing and Hula classes, puppet shows, cabaret, arts and crafts, face painting, Ukulele performances and so much more.

Wychwood will be showcasing some of the best range of food from across the world including the festival's famous tea bus, The Tea Stop, purveyors of the best vegetarian Mexican Pura Vida and wonderful wraps from Warpper's Delight. 

Always looking to increase the festivals green credentials, Wychwood is proud to be teaming up with Grallo, a coach company making festivals greener, more fun and more accessible by crowdfunding coach routes to events from all over the country.


Ladysmith Black Mambazo / UB40 – Ali Campbell, Astro, Mickey Virtue reunited / Boney M
The Undertones / Justin Fletcher / The Proclaimers / Craig Charles / Andy Kershaw / Dreadzone / Basseskou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba / Mad Dog Mcrea / Dr & The Medics / The Outcast Band / The Going Goods / Talk In Code / A Way With Words /  The Edwin Starr Band ft. Angelo Starr / Electric Swing Circus / Rusty Shackle / Ghostpoet / Lucy Rose / Mt. Wolf / Plastic Mermaids / Fickle Friends / Monsieur Doumani / The Wonder Stuff Acoustic / Darlia / Demob Happy / TED ZED / Black Honey / Palace / Zak Abel / Lanshapes / Syd Arthur / Henry Green / Hunter & The Bear / Loud Mountains / Cooper Black
Sophronie / George Montague / Danni Nicholls / The Black Feathers / John Adams
Grace Palmer / James Michael

BBC Introducing Coventry & Warwickshire: Grassroutes, Rosetta Fire / Yes Sunshine / Reece Bahia / The Folly Brothers / Speak Brother / James TW / Emily Burns / The Commonjets / Joe Doloman

BBC Introducing Hereford and Worcester: Cantaloop / Ronin / Clark Carmody / Tom Forbes / Interior Castle / Crowsaw / 7shades / The Dale Von Minaker / Fictonian / Chase The Deer

Ali Sparkes / Petr Horacek / Giancarlo Gremin / Steve Antony / Steve Cole / Chris Edge / Paul Strickland / John Dougherty / Cathy Cassidy / Philip Adagh / Tracey Corderoy / Matt Brown / Tony de Saulles / First Draft

Michael Legge / Jenny Collier / Jack Heal / Chris Turner / Jay Cowle / Jamali Maddix

Boney M to headline Wychwood Festival 2015

One of the greatest party bands to emerge from the 70s, Boney M will take Friday night main stage by storm. Founded by German producer, Frank Farian the bands hits are unmistakable including 'Sunny','Rivers of Babylon' and Christmas favourite 'Mary's Boy Child'. Celebrating 40 years this year Boney Mhave unveiled an anniversary album packed with new songs and remixes that will kick-start the weekend's celebrations in true Wychwood style. Ahead of Friday's headliner, legendary punk rock and new wave band, The Undertones will perform at Wychwood. Having emerged from Derry in 1977 with high profile fans like BBC Radio One's John Peel, their punkpop gems 'Here Comes the Sun' and 'My Perfect Cousin'flooded the UK charts and with last year as the 35th year since the release of the iconic, Teenage Kicks, this is one not to be missed.

Revered for a variety of acclaimed world music, Wychwood's announcement of Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba is a wonderful addition. Bassekou Kouyate’s extraordinary musical journey shows that he is unquestionably the most innovative and exciting Malian musician to have emerged in recent years. Continuing to push the boundaries of his ancient musical heritage, bringing his music to audiences around the world with his phenomenal live band Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba and three internationally acclaimed albums, this performance is one not to be missed.

As the music comes in thick and fast Wychwood is extremely excited to welcome back the nation's favourite children entertainer and BAFTA Award-Winning, Justin Fletcher a.k.a Mr Tumble, who has starred in children favourites as The Tweenies, Timmy Time and Shaun the Sheep. Destined to draw in thousands of eager fans to the Sunday midday slot, Fletcher's performance will be a favourite for families across the weekend.

London promoters Smashing Blouse have once again pulled out all the stops with a talent packed programme for the Ecotricity Big Top. Leading the announcement is 90's grunge revival Darlia hotly tipped by the likes of Zane Lowe. The Lancashire three piece are undoubtedly revolutionising the UK music scene and having been dubbed the 'next Nirvana' by The Guardian. The announcement will also see distinctive, soulful vocals of Zak Abel who has been guest appearing with Bondax and Gorgon City, experimental four piece, Lanshapes primarily known for their heavy psychedelic alternative rock, unique Syd Arthur andHenry Green with his distinctive blend of indie, folk and electronica. 

Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Lucy Rose, and more onboard for Wychwood Festival 2015

One of the country's favourite family festivals just got better as Wychwood organisers reveal another wave of heritage, world music and fresh-faced talent to join the likes of UB40's Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue, The Proclaimers, Ghostpoet and Monsieur Doumani.
For over 50 years Joseph Shabalala and his Ladysmith Black Mambazo have been delivering evocative and powerful songs inspired by their native South Africa. Rising to global success after collaborating with Paul Simon on Graceland in the '80s, the all-male choral group have won an incredible four Grammy Awards with a further nine nominations, they've worked with artists across the globe including Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton, Sarah McLachlan and David Guetta and they were even publicly named 'South Africa’s cultural ambassadors' by the late Nelson Mandela. Wychwood 2015 is set for a triumphant close when the Ladysmith Black Mambazo take to stage on Sunday evening in what will be an unmissable performance by one of the world's greatest singing groups.

Wychwood's newly-named Ecotricity Big Top has become the go to destination at the festival for young and rising musical talent and headlining on the Sunday is Lucy Rose. The young songwriter's emotive folk music and beautiful vocals will have crowds enthralled as she performs music from her successful debut Like I Used To and material from her eagerly awaited followup out later this year. Joining Lucy on the Sunday is Isle of Wight five-piece Plastic Mermaids. The islanders merge folk melodies, multi-layered instrumentation and electro pop and are already being tipped for great things. Mt. Wolf are another act unveiled for the Ecotricity Big Top today. The electro-folk trip made a well-received return with new material at the tail end of 2014 after a year long hiatus and are a very welcome addition to Wychwood 2015.

Barron Knights, the nations' favourite comedic rockers of the '60s and '70s will be entertaining all the family at Wychwood this year. Their unique mix of rock n' roll and comedy rocketed the band to success in the '60s and they haven't stopped touring since, becoming the only band to tour with The Beatles and twice with the Rolling Stones. Another band who are no strangers to touring are trio Thrill Collins, who have been known to play over 150 shows a year. A firm favourite for Wychwood regulars, the group return to the festival in 2015, reworking well-loved contemporary pop songs with a raucous Skiffle twist.

Craig Charles and Andy Kershaw added to Wychwood 2015 lineup

Soul and funk maestro Craig Charles is back by popular demand, armed with an extensive collection of dance floor hits to raise the beats and bass of the Big Top attracting thousands of Wychwood revellers to dance the Sunday away. Excited to be invited back, Craig comments, “We Play funk & We Play Soul, 3rd Year back at Wychwood Festival’s Big Top, lets have it!”. Saturday's Big Top invites another legendary DJ to take to the stage with Andy KershawThe much lauded DJ started his broadcasting career at Radio One in 1985 where he presented for 15 years delivering an incredibly eclectic range of music inviting dance fans to enjoy his irresistible tunes that span Soukouss to salsa, roots reggae to Rai, Soca to South African Township Jive. Speaking about his Wychwood debut Andy says, "I'm thrilled and flattered to be invited to DJ at Wychwood this year. Many friends have told me it's a delightful festival and the perfect gathering, with the best crowd, for me to get the place jumping to some red hot African and Caribbean dance music."

CBBC favourites Dick and Dom have reigned supreme on television becoming pan-generational household names. Entertaining children and parents up and down the country for the past seventeen years with their unstoppable range of comedy sketch shows and silliness they are now the most recognisable children's television presenters. The pair are responsible for the BAFTA-award-winning Dick and Dom in da Bungalow and BAFTA nominated Diddy Movies as well as authors in their own right with Slightly Naughty But Very Silly Words and the hilarious new handbook Whoopee Book of Practical JokesThe dynamic duo head up Wychwood’s very own Children's Literature Festival in association with Waterstones, with an interactive show. The rest of the programme will be coming soon.

London based promoters Smashing Blouse who take the reigns of the The Big Top, have announced their second wave of artists. Famous for showcasing the best in up-and-coming artists, previous years have seen Bipolar Sunshine, Wolf Alice and Kyla La Grange all perform Wychwood. This year Ghostpoet and Fickle Friends will be joined by Black Honey, Ted Zed, Jamie T's tour support, Palace and Zane Lowe's future radio of 2015, Demob Happy

UB40, Astro and more set for Wychwood Festival 2015

Off the back of its 10th anniversary, Wychwood looks to 2015 for another stellar year as the country's favourite family weekend. Welcoming all generations, the festival curates a packed programme year on year with timeless greats, upcoming music, literature, comedy, children's entertainment, good food and drink. 

UB40's Ali Campbell, Astro and Mickey Virtue are the first headliner revealed for next year, joining a long list of world famous acts to grace the Wychwood stage including The Boomtown Rats, The Human League, Supergrass, Duffy and more. Responsible for a myriad of hits in the 80s and 90s including Red Red WineKingston Town and Falling In Love With You, the band's founding members reunite for a thrilling performance on Saturday night. 

Also performing on the Saturday are Scottish brother duo The Proclaimers. Currently battling for Christmas number one with their charity single cover The Farm’s All Together Now, the pair have been making music for decades and their extensive touring makes them the perfect live veterans for Wychwood's busy main stage. Vintage samples, electro beats, gypsy-jazz guitar, electric double bass, keys and live drums will be performed by the sounds of Electric Swing Circus delivering a consistently dazzling show, whilst indie folk band Rusty Shackle will perform on Sunday's mainstage. Providing the sounds and the beats for Friday's opening night celebrations, the mighty Deadzone return to Wychwood after popular demand providing a show-stopping performance and a firm favourite for all Wychwood fans.

Strong supporters of innovative new music as well as heritage acts, Wychwood will once again team up with London promoters Smashing Blouse who take over the popular Big Top stage. Headlining on Saturday is the mercury-nominated, lyrical wizard and astounding live performer Ghostpoet, plus Brighton pop outfitFickle Friends.

Graeme Merifield, Festival Director comments, "We are hugely excited to welcome UB40 with the exceptionally talented Ali Cambell, Astro and Mickey Virtue back together for what I have no doubt will be an incredible Saturday headline performance on our Wychwood mainstage. The tenth birthday celebrations this year was an absolute delight and with this firmly in our mind, Wychwood 2015 is set for even bigger and better things and we cannot wait to share the three wonderful days with you all."

Wychwood Festival returns to Cheltenham Racecourse from 29th to 31st May 2015. Early bird weekend tickets are priced at just £119 for adults, £94 for concessions, £54 for 10-15 year olds, £18 for 5-9 year olds and under 5 free. All tickets and more information is available from www.wychwoodfestival.com

Wychwood Festival 2014 Review

The festival season is now well and truly under way and for me, Cheltenham’s Wychwood Festival – now in it’s 10th year – would be my first taste of what this year has to offer.

This child friendly festival, self proclaimed to be ‘a truly wonderful thing’ certainly did not disappoint. It had everything I love to see at these type of events – the weird and wonderful hit me from the word go; stepping out of the car to be greeted by a group of cub scouts, complementing their neckerchiefs with pink cowboy hats. I followed the smell of barbecued burgers into the main site and the little pangs of excitement I get around this time of year had begun.

The ‘big top’ tent seemed to be where Wychwood had scheduled the more underground acts of this years festival. The first act I saw in this tent were an electronic outfit from Manchester called ‘No Ceremony’. A 3 piece band I would love to experience again. From ambient guitar washes to four-to-the-floor AKAI sampler breaks in an instant, they were a great band to ease yourself into this festival and to show the crowds that the ‘big top’ tent was the place to be. I later went on to watch the amazing Bipolar Sunshine on the same stage. A band who would be at Parklife festival next weekend, to give me a second helping of after summer tune after summer tune.

The big top was also the venue for my stand out highlight of this entire festival – Wolf Alice. They were mesmerising from start to finish – with lead singer Ellie Rowsell’s unique vocals haunting you to the bone one minute, before hitting you right between the eyes the next.

The first headline band of the weekend was The Stranglers. They took to the stage, each member dressed entirely in black and I had all sorts of comments running through my head – things like them being ‘shadows of what they used to be’ and all that rubbish, but they soon blew all of my ignorant negativity out of the water. Smashing out hits like ‘Golden Brown’ and ‘Peaches’ it was great to see them genuinely still loving every minute of doing so, even after being together all of these years.

Some of the big names on Saturday’s bill I found a little disappointing. It may have just been in comparison to the mind blowing Newton Faulkner and his unexplainable rhythmic guitar magic but Reef, a band who I listened to a lot in my teenage years (and genuinely really like) just didn’t seem comfortable amongst the somewhat tamer bands on this years bill. I’m sure in a different setting, seeing them blasting out ‘place your hands’ and ‘naked’ would have had me bouncing around like I was 16 again, but not here surrounded by a crowd predominantly sporting headline band ‘Levellers’ t-shirts. When they finally took to the stage, the ex-glastonbury-main-stagers worked through their back catalogue with songs such as ‘One Way’ with their signature folk/punk rock influenced stylings.

The final headline band on Sunday was Bob Geldof’s own Boomtown Rats. They took to the stage with an energy from way before their current years, with Geldof commanding the crowd like it was second nature to him. They sounded fantastic, belting out ‘I don’t like mondays’ right in the middle of their 16 song set list, which came to a head with their self titled ‘Boomtown Rats’ to bring this fun-filled family festival to an end.

It was slightly strange filtering out on the Sunday night, amongst crowds of tired toddlers and drunk mums but I had really enjoyed my weekend at this quirky little festival in Cheltenham. Now to wash down those wellies ready for Festival number 2 next weekend ;)

Review by Sam Ansell


Photos by Melanie Chitty