The Big Feastival 2023 - The Review

What is Alex James's 'Big Feastival' Really like?

By Aikin Hurd-Thomas | Published: Wed 30th Aug 2023

Around The Site

Friday 25th to Sunday 27th August 2023
Kingham, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, OX7 6UJ, England MAP
currently £215 with camping
Daily capacity: 20,000
Last updated: Fri 7th Jul 2023

I found myself in the heart of Oxford’s scorching sun on Friday of the August bank holiday weekend. Where flavours and music intertwine, Big Feastival twenty-twenty-three, a symphony of joy for all and a feast divine. In the rolling hills of Alex James’s Farm, I set up my titchy two-man tent in Lemon fields, already surrounded by the looming mounds and poles of the day's eager early comers. The tantalising smell of my neighbour’s slowly sizzling bacon set an appropriate tone for a weekend of my nose being bigger than my belly as I set off to explore, already regretting my morning meal deal. 


Leaving the camp field, I came across the line awaiting the opening of the gates to the arena, bouncing children brimming with excitement and strangers bonding in a union of patience smiled warmly as, innocently, I walked past and up to security to slip past the heaving queues and collect my passes (thank God). I later heard an eruption of cheers, buzzing children and relieved parents as the arms of Big Feastival swung wide open in welcome. 

As soon as I stepped into the arena I was assailed by the smells of ‘The Fire Pit’, as the chefs prepared to perform in a culinary carnival of their own, and the following food stalls enjoyed a final reprieve before the onslaught that would follow. As the afternoon wound on, the slowly filling site became a celebration of every kind. Parents finally settled by a pint while their children’s faces shone bright with face paint and glee chasing bubbles around their fathers’ knees. 

Toddler On Shoulders - Big Feastival 2023

When Natalie Imbruglia finally stepped onto the stage (using the following acts instruments as hers hadn’t arrived) the crowd amassed for her epic three song set. Every heart joining her in a cacophony of voices left a year unsung as she unleased “Torn” upon the hungry crowd. The hot day built up steam as Baby Queen emptied a water bottle over her head in performative protest to the stunning sun. 

When dusk kissed the festival with a palette of fire, The Vaccines swept me off my feet and took the crowd by storm. As the sun’s orange faded, the stage's red replaced it finely. When they played “Post Break-Up Sex”, every drink was raised above its owner’s head as they jumped into action. But when their jig was up, it was time for what we had all been waiting for - stars not only outlined the audience filled with friends and families upon each other’s shoulders, but as I turned back to their stage a backing of shooting stars shone behind Sigrid’s band. Spot-lit and singing, she strode onto the stage and lit up the night, of course greeted gratefully by her adoring audience. Accelerating into the shows peak she gifted the night with her viral new single “The Hype” which had the entire crowd bouncing with her as she leapt about the stage. After an emotional wind down, I left the arena exhausted and ready for bed. 


Saturday didn’t promise the same sun, but as the rain began to fall the people didn’t disappoint, some of the less-prepared sodden figures accepted their fate until the hail began pounding down, at which time all sought cover. As the afternoon's assault and threats of lightning were a memory once more, the brave crowd ventured clear of their shelter, adorned mightily in everything from bin liners to dry robes. The helter-skelter and wave swinger were soon swamped once again by young spirits undampened by the weather, and those slower to return to revelry only took a tipple or two to do so before the slightly slipperier site was heaving anew. 

People Walking In The Rain - Big Feastival 2023

As if the weather was listening, Newton Faulkner calmed both the crowds and storms under the clouds' soft light and didn’t disappoint with the folky fairy-tale he wound. At this point, my stomach was intervening insistently and I withdrew to the cook tent, inspired by the chefs and food on show, to create a traditional and elaborate spread of pot noodle accompanied not only by Uncle Ben’s rice, but a packet of Walkers crisps. 

Refreshed and ready, I re-entered the fray and dove into the evenings acts to follow, Everything Everything and Katy B awoke those in the crowd still suffering from Friday night's fun and threw them headlong into the electric Faithless DJ set giving the forgotten and future ravers every dance anthem they could dream of. 

Over far too soon, Sister Bliss left the stage empty and awaiting the night's final wonder. The day's comfort of chairs and tables were folded from the edges of the dancefloor as line upon line of fans flocked to the stage. Tom Grennan. Even the name spoken by the evenings host had deafening screams of adoration follow it. As the moon ascended its celestial throne, the tension below exploded as he took to the stage. Both he and his fans poured themselves into every last lyric and I’m sure he and many other sang themselves sore that night. 

Tom Brennan - Big Feastival 2023

I awoke freezing at ten to six the next morning, grateful for the lack of queue before the showers I plunged into a rather grassy albeit warm and thawing shower. After returning to my tent to salvage a couple more hours sleep, I found myself in front of a burger stall for breakfast... the heart wants what it wants. 


I was met by tired eyes but cheery voices everywhere I went, and as the morning faded, the Rick Astley murmurs were in full flow. In what seemed like no time, those calls were met as he and his band suited up for a sing-along classic worthy any festival in England. Dinner meant a culinary call to arms as line after line gathered in front of every food stall and the bars packed in preparation for the weekend’s musical finale - Blossoms. I was unprepared and will be forever grateful for the front row seats for what I can only describe as a piece of performance genius. Lead man Tom Ogden tied the entire festival to the stage with his wildly waving mic wire and after that no one wanted to leave. Bold and beautiful, a night to remember for those both big and small, and one hell of a way to close Big Feastival twenty-twenty-three. 

Blossoms - Big Feastival 2023

Managing to beat the leaving rush I blasted Blossoms all down the M5 home. 

Check out all the photos from this amazing weekend!

review by: Aikin Hurd-Thomas

photos by: Aikin Hurd-Thomas

Latest Updates

The Big Feastival 2024
festival details
last updated: Fri 16th Feb 2024
The Big Feastival 2023
photo galleries
last updated: Tue 29th Aug 2023
The Big Feastival 2023
festival details
last updated: Fri 7th Jul 2023