Arriving by train took away some of the traditional festival feel (there was no camping at this event) but going home to our own beds at night allowed for some balance and a more civilised festival feel. The walk from the end of the park to the festival site entrance was stunning, coming over the brow of the hill to see the Oxford City spires mixing with the colourful festival flags and energetic music definitely put us right in the festival mood.
As soon as you enter the festival you are greeted by Bestival-like decorations and features with a sparkly, quirky natures inspired sign. We decided to go for a wonder around the site to get our bearings and soak up the lovely warm sun. It quickly became apparent that the site was small and very intimate with distinct, but complimenting, areas. The festival had 3 stages; the Common stage, the Unconventional stage and the Uncommon stage. There were two mini-stages called the Disco Sheds and plenty of rides dotted around the site. There was also a kids area with giant inflatable toys and games and a VIP area with some large tipis and own bar with a great view of the Common Stage.
The Common Stage was the largest of the three stages and had most of the headline acts. Here we watched the headline acts Katy B and Duran Duran on the Saturday and Craig David on the Sunday. The set from Katy B started slowly but once she brought back some older favourites the crown stated to relax and dance. Her backing dancers were also impressive and added to the overall show, helping the crowd to fully appreciate the new material that she performed including tracks ‘I Wanna Be’ and ‘So Far Away’. Later that night Duran Duran played a vibrant and nostalgia set with very impressive pyrotechnics which ended the night on a high. On Sunday Craig David pulled the largest crowds of the weekend and although his set was simple it was energetic music that the crown could join in with and dance to.
The Unconventional stage played the dance, drum and bass and reggae music. Over the weekend it hosted takeover by David Rodigan’s RAM JAM and Hospitality. As we arrived the relaxed vibes of reggae welcomed us and the neighbouring skull candy cocktail bar matched the upbeat feel. Later in the day the music got heavier and the crowd united dancing to the never-ending beats. The only real downside was the cost of the cocktails at this bar; £8 for a small cocktail is steep even for festival standards. However we did find another cocktail bar, run by a venue which was based in Oxford, with much more adequately sized drinks for the same price.
Finally the Uncommon stage with a wide variety of acts all hosted by Oxfords Nightshift Magazine. Although this music was less to our taste we did catch glimpses of a variety of artists who showed both flare and variety over the weekend. The Disco Sheds also added another element to the festival, in the day having gentle upbeat music and lawn games to suit all ages; changing to more funky dance music in the evening. We found the Disco Shed East to be more to our liking and danced there as the sun began to go down in between the acts performing on the main stage- these gaps felt quite lengthy over the course of the event.