Rock, sun & family fun made Oxfordshire's first festival of year 'the best ever'

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Wood Festival Picture by Tim Hughes
Wood Festival Picture by Tim Hughes

BANDS, revellers and organisers have all hailed the first proper music festival of the year a resounding success - with one artist describing it as the best ever.

After two years off due to the pandemic, Wood festival returned to its home deep in the forest at Braziers Park at Ipsden, near Wallingford, for three days of music and activity.

The creation of musician brothers Robin and Joe Bennett, the festival, which came to a close on Sunday night, is the younger sibling of the more famous Truck Festival, at Steventon, near Didcot, which the pair also founded.

Read again: yet more bands added to this summer's Truck Festival line-up

Formed with a strict environmental ethos, Wood aims to be a wholesome, family-friendly and ecologically-minded event which nonetheless offers high quality music along with craft workshops, music and song sessions and talks on wildlife and green issues, this year from the likes of writer and activist George Monbiot and Oxford hedgehog enthusiast Hugh Warwick.

Oxford Mail: Wood Festival, Picture by Tim Hughes
Oxford Mail: Wood Festival, Picture by Tim Hughes

Festival fun at Wood. Picture by Tim Hughes

Festival holders denied the chance to join the annual festival for two summers, held onto their tickets, meaning the event sold out well in advance. And with fabulous weather and a critically-acclaimed line-up, many revellers described it as the best yet.

A delighted Tom Crook of Wallingford indie-folk-rock act Band of Hope, said it was “a classic Wood... the best yet.”

Among the acts to make a splash were American songwriter Thomas Truax, who delighted with a set featuring an array of homemade instruments fashioned from bicycle wheels and funnels; up-and-coming young Oxford artist Max Blansjaar; Oxford musical icon Matt Sage's latest act Pearl Diver; West African-dub-dance act Fofoulah; and regular visitor Danny George Wilson whose band featured virtuoso guitarist and festival co-founder Joe Bennett.

Read more: Underworld, Jungle and Olly Alexander line-up for Oxfordshire music festival

The most excited reception, however, was for former Candyskins indie-rocker-turned children’s performer, Nick Cope, who played two sets to the delight of younger fans who clustered around the stage to join in with finely-crafted songs and banter, peppered with quips for older listeners.

Oxford Mail: Wood Festival Picture by Jason Warner
Oxford Mail: Wood Festival Picture by Jason Warner

Picture by Jason Warner

Robin Bennett – a Green member of Oxfordshire County Council and Deputy Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council – also performed to an enthusiastic crowd. He said: “It has been a fantastic year. It’s great so many people held onto their tickets – we are really grateful to them. It’s a very special festival and it has been really good to be back here and see everyone having an amazing time. And finally the sun shone too!”

The festival gave a platform to wildlife and ecological groups, including the Woodland Trust and the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust, whose fundraiser Georgia Ashton was recruiting new members.

She said: “It has been a good weekend and we have seen quite a few new members joining us, which is great news for the trust and the work it does in running nature reserves.”

Oxford Mail: Wood Festival, Picture by Tim Hughes
Oxford Mail: Wood Festival, Picture by Tim Hughes

Crowd for Nick Cope. Picture: Tim Hughes

The festival attracts its own loyal army of fans who return as often as they can.

Among them was former-Oxford artist Sarah Mayhew, who travelled from North Yorkshire with her family to help out at the festival.

Read more: Anne-Marie and Stereophonics to headline Alex James's The Big Feastival

She said: “ I What I really love about Wood is the sense of community it has.

"It magically manages to unite people with a shared interest or passion in music, sustainability and the environment. It’s a really easy, happy place for all ages to learn and enjoy themselves.

"As festivals go, it’s one of a kind."

 

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