Henley Music Festival is unlike any other, bringing class, glamour and sophistication

Henley Festival 2016 review

published: Mon 25th Jul 2016

around the festival site

Wednesday 6th to Sunday 10th July 2016
on the river banks, Henley On Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 1AH, England MAP
from £35 depending upon event
daily capacity: 6000
last updated: Tue 28th Jun 2016

Leaving my home to go to my very first Music festival was something that not only excited me but yet at the same time made me slightly nervous in some way.

Why? You may ask!

Well, ready and armed with insightful information that friends had so graciously supplied me with regarding their experiences of festivals, You would think that I now knew everything there was to know about them and what new and exciting things lay ahead of me… (I'm so naive).

Yes! I can see it now, T-shirts, Jeans, Wellington boots and to what I had heard, I should prepare myself for losing at least one boot to the mud devouring fields and never find the tent I would have come to think of as my home and sanctuary for a week or however long the duration of the festival would last. Boy was I wrong!

No wellie shall walk upon this grass and in all honesty I can tell you that there is not a music festival that in an anyway could compare to that of:Henley Music Festival.

 around the festival site: Henley Festival 2016

Situated on the Romantic and picturesque River Thames. Henley's music festival shortly followed the Renowned Henley Regatta by only one week, where yachts and boats alike could be viewed racing the waters of this stunning Oxfordshire town.

Now only days later this scenic and peaceful Riverside is almost by magic, transformed into a spectacular wonderland awaiting thousands of celebrities and guests alike to descend upon the residents of Henley's corner of heaven.

Henley Music Festival is unlike any other, bringing class, glamour and sophistication into a scene almost out of place with the highest dress code one could imagine.

around the festival site: Henley Festival 2016

Gentlemen are required to wear black ties but the polished shoes just set it off with a style that makes any lady proud to hold his arm and to be honest who wouldn't?

With heads held high the men escort the ladies whom delighted in the seduction of elegant and glamorous evening dresses as they are lead toward the spectacular blue glitz entrance with only thought of what unexpected entertainment the evening will behold.

I respectfully decided to return my wellie's back to their usual position at home where they shall remain for maybe just a while longer, therefore leaving me to awkwardly to roam the stunning festival grounds wearing my extremely high and uncomfortable diamante black heels for the forthcoming evenings.

Walking through the V.I.P entrance and emerging the other side left me feeling as if I had climbed into the wardrobe and landed in Narnia. There was an enchantment which one cannot deny as giant Kangaroo's bound past, stopping occasionally to pose for anyone with a camera.. Gorillas that seem to be quite taken by the ladies as they cuddle and snuggle affectionately. (but be warned as they may refuse to let you go)..

From visual arts that wander the ground to the sensational stages with a multitude of cultural bands and Artists, there is something to entertain, amuse and delight even the most elaborate of tastes.

Elvis Costello: Henley Festival 2016

From the extravagant floating stage, came some of the world's most idolised and iconic celebrities making their entrances so spectacular that such stars as Elvis Costello, instantly brought the audience to their feet with what could only be explained as a Tsunami of hand clapping and screaming fans as he unexpectedly from the stage and descending into the waves of cheering idolising fans, what more could we have wished for from this spontaneous, crowd pleasing performer? Henley brought forth this year so many exceptional Artists gracing the floating stage with their unforgettable performances throughout the five nights of explosive entertainment.

Saturday brought the harmonious yet powerful voices of Blake. Three exceptionally talented classical /crossover singers Ollie Baines,Humphrey Berney and Stephen Bowman. Blake not only have a passion for music but dedicate themselves to many different charities and are ambassadors to several of them. I myself was privileged to sit with and interview Blake prior to their performance and I must admit that they were an absolute delight as they are indeed very easy to talk to and indeed I did find out a couple of things that you may be interested to hear.

Unfortunately I will only let go of this one. If given the opportunity to perform with any Artist in the world, whom would you chose? Well, their answer was united, it's one of the most accomplished and adored Artists known. YES! You got it! Blake would love to perform alongside our Wednesdays Floating Stage Superstar Sir Elton John.

Blake's very own Ollie, during their sensational performance went on to announce in front of 7500 guests that his wife (whom was present in the audience) is to give birth in two months…(I'm not quite sure if she was aware that he was going to announce the news, but from all of us at eFestivals we wish you all the best and congratulations.

Shirley Bassey: Henley Festival 2016

Blake's guest star for their evening made an entrance with one of the world's most unforgettable songs ever sung Gold Finger. Dame Shirley Bassey at 79yrs of age still continues to stun crowds with her amazing voice and energy.

I cannot say how many other artists performed on this stage over the days as others such as Bryn Terfel and the Welsh National Opera Orchestra and Will Young whom all left guests quivering with joy and pleasure.

But there were other stages and other entertainers that produced the same reaction, such as Jose Feliciano whom brought to the stage an extremely talented up and coming by the name of Katie Hurt whom made the hairs on my arms stand up as she began. A cross between Dolly Parton and Miley C Cyrus, but most definitely one to keep an eye on. 

Shakatak were one of my favourites due to the fact that this group of jazz players have been together for a whopping 36yrs and produce a vibe and energy of a group only recently established but with the confidence and experience they already possess. Captivating and drawing guests onto the floor in front of the stage to dance to their song Limitations. Well done guys!

Each and every aspect of Henley left you tingling with a sense of joy and laughter as so did Adam Kay with his talented piano and slightly naughty songs that left me heading for the very near toilets afterward but had the audience in hysterics.

around the festival site: Henley Festival 2016

All in all there was so much to take in and appreciate that I cannot put in to words the enjoyment that I or others experienced here, food was spectacular and the wandering artists either made you smile or laugh.

As each and every evening draws to a close guests could sip drinks in one of the many bars such as the relaxing Bedouin lounge where they could compare their thought with other guests whilst gazing upon the firework display or dance the night away on the Disco illuminated floor of Pure Heaven…

So in conclusion of my first ever experience of a Festival, I have been left in awe of the week's amazing events and I can honestly say I will never forget. My feet however are relaxing in a nice bowl of warm water and retire to my comfy slippers as I reminisce and compose my thoughts.

Thankyou Henley for this most amazing experience.

review by: Tina Porterfield

photos by: Jamie Cooney

Wednesday 6th to Sunday 10th July 2016
on the river banks, Henley On Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 1AH, England MAP
from £35 depending upon event
daily capacity: 6000
last updated: Tue 28th Jun 2016

latest on this festival

Henley Festival 2021
festival details
last updated: Sat 22nd May 2021
Henley Festival 2021
line-ups & rumours
last updated: Thu 11th Mar 2021
Henley Festival
festival home page
last updated: Wed 3rd Jul 2019
Henley Festival 2019
festival details
last updated: Thu 20th Jun 2019