Towersey is an extremely well established festival in it’s 59th year, that’s longer than Glastonbury. It has a passionate fanbase ranging over 4 generations creating a community of extended family and friends coming together annually to celebrate. We felt completely accepted and welcomed into this friendly, fun, family event.
I spoke to many people that have been coming for decades and return yearly with their children and now grandchildren. It really is a family affair from the organisers and volunteers down to the wider community of supporters.
Festival Kidz has reviewed Towersey over the years but it was a first for myself and family. Be sure to check out the past reviews for 2022, 2019 and 2012. Held over August bank holiday the festival runs for 4 days ending with a lantern parade on the Monday evening. There’s an option of visiting daily which was a popular alternative for locals.
It’s possible to get early access from Thursday night but we arrived Friday afternoon with absolutely no issues. There were 3 entrance points for camper/caravan, tent or day visitors. What3words took us straight to the correct access point and we got in and parking up really easily. All the staff and volunteers were incredibly friendly and helpful with nothing being too much trouble.
Location & Camping
After running for nearly 60 years it’s only the second at Claydon Estate and what a fantastic change of location. There is so much space and greenery, an ideal festival spot.
There were separate camping areas for electric hook up, live in vehicles, tents, mixed, glamping and accessible camping. The mixed area meant large family or friend groups got to camp together. All areas were only a short distance from festival entrance due to the size of the festival.
There were plenty of toilets within the campsite and festival area which were always clean and well stocked with bamboo toilet paper. Free hot showers were available in the camping area although you did have to queue in the mornings.
Within the campsite there was a handy food van serving hot drinks, breakfasts etc. Next to it was a handy little food shop suppling fruit, veg, bread and other essentials you might have forgotten.
The main festival area was compact and easy to get around although the ground was slightly uneven. The cleanliness of the whole site was second to none with everyone being respectful and clearing up their own rubbish.
Wheelchair and mobility scooter access was available to all venues and the main stage, Venue 65 had a viewing platform. Accessible toilets and showers were in a dedicated area with hook up for recharging scooter batteries.
Children’s Area & Activities
Apart from the lantern making marquee and story telling tent all the children’s areas were in one spot. The areas were called space to play, fit-up circus, creative quarter, woodland classroom, nest and nest 2.
Space to play offered a range of challenges and games each day for children. Next door, the fit up circus offered 2 shows daily which were fun for all the family. The Creative corner was a huge stretch tent with giant games, bubbles, puzzles and challenges.
The nest offered different craft making sessions every 30 minutes each day from 10am-4pm. My daughter enjoyed making bracelets and I saw some amazing metal candlesticks being created.
Nest 2 was a small stretch tent and held sessions of drama, contemporary dance, song-writing, jamming and a family silent disco. I’ve learnt to love a silent disco and it was just as entertaining without earphones.
The woodland classroom offered bushcraft, wild food foraging, forest trails and nature related activities. You had to prebook some actives and most were free.
Lantern making took place each afternoon in preparation for the parade on Monday evening. There really is a huge range of activities to choice from especially if you have smaller children, my teenage daughter was far happier joining in the 12 hour ceilidh.
I would say that my daughter spent 90% of her time in the festival dance house which was the marquee that had ceilidh going on throughout the 4 days. Ceilidh is a huge part of folk festivals and although Towersey isn’t strictly a folk festival it is definitely at it’s core. It is such an inclusive, fun, family dance and if you’ve never experienced it you’re missing out and should definitely give it a go. Children can learn steps alongside parents and grandparents creating a sense of togetherness and so much joy. The Ceilidh bands were awesome and the lively music played by these talented folk musicians set the energetic tone and the floor was literally bouncing.
Being held at such an idyllic location we thought it was only right to take a short walk up-to Claydon House, a National Trust property open to visitors for an additional cost. Within the courtyard of the house there was a number of samba band, dance shows and circus silliness. We watched some Morris dancing which was very entertaining whilst having a hot drink and cake from the Phoenix kitchen. It felt very civilised and was a pleasant alternative from the festival green.
Food & Drink
Food vendors and trucks were situated centrally around numerous picnic benches. There was a range of vegan, vegetarian and meat options, from loaded chips, noodles, curries, Pasties and halloumi wraps or you had the option of eating in the Phoenix kitchen at Claydon house. Our all time favourites were Yorkshire pudding wraps and Eccles cakes from the bakery. You were abe to bring food in which is helpful if you have a large family or want to keep costs down. No drinks could be brought into the main event area but this is the norm at most festivals. There were 3 bars nicely spread out over the festival green all serving local ales and ciders in reusable plastic cups.
All 3 music venues were under cover so there was a back up if it rained. There was a number of chair sitting, leg tapping groups but the front of the stages were kept clear for standing or dancing.
The music was a mixture of folk, blues, Americana, celilidh and the craziest Norwegian band I’ve ever heard. The psychedelic funk band, Flammer Dance Band got the whole audience to play musical statues and limbo to their funky tunes.
The headliners were The Divine Comedy, The Blockheads and Frank Turner but personally I like finding new bands. We loved Flook, Molotov Jukebox and Nickel Creek.
Towersey is a wonderful event bringing people of all ages together to celebrate music, culture and community. Everyone I met was friendly and helpful and it was a very safe and relaxed event. My only regret is we were unable to stay for the lantern parade on the Monday evening as we had to travel home.