Towersey Festival organiser looks forward to historic 60th event at Aylesbury Vale venue

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The UK’s oldest independent festival turns 60 this year

The organiser of a popular Aylesbury Vale festival has discussed this summer’s very special 60th event.

Joe Heap director of Towersey Festival has shared his excitement for this year’s monumental 60th anniversary event with The Bucks Herald.

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The oldest independent festival moved permanently to the Claydon Estate near Buckingham in 2020, but remains a family-friendly folk festival with a loyal following.

Towersey Festival director Joe HeapTowersey Festival director Joe Heap
Towersey Festival director Joe Heap

As always the event runs over the last Bank Holiday in August, and this year takes place between 23-26 August.

Joe took over director duties at the festival 10 years ago, a position his dad previously held, with his grandfather among the founding members of the culture event.

He discussed the transition over to the Claydon estate, saying: “It’s been really great. We’ve been really welcomed in the local community of Buckingham, Claydon, all the Claydon villages. There’s been a real love for it and a really nice hospitality.

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"It has been difficult to transition because we moved so far away from our original roots. We have brought quite a lot of the audience with us, but we are aware we’re building a new audience as well. We’re just trying to get more and more local people involved.”

Billy Bragg headlines this year's showsBilly Bragg headlines this year's shows
Billy Bragg headlines this year's shows
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Taking place on the last Bank Holiday of the summer, Towersey Festival always has to battle with other local and national events for audience. Joe explained how he and his family aim to find their own corner in the market, adding: “We like to think of Towersey as the easy festival. It’s easily accessible, it’s super friendly, small, welcoming. So, if you’ve got Glastonbury, or Reading and Leeds in mind, it’s not that. That’s the message we always want to get across to local people, it is your festival. It’s right on your doorstep. So come along and experience a festival of world-class music and arts, and culture.”

While some of the names on the Towersey Festival 2024 line-up may be recognisable to music fans, Joe says the event is never booked with the aim of grabbing headlines and going after the biggest names possible.

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Robin Ince is headlining the comedy programmeRobin Ince is headlining the comedy programme
Robin Ince is headlining the comedy programme

“The climate at the moment because of the cost of living is really tough,” he added.

"What we try and do is carve out our own little piece of the marketplace by being really unique, in that we don’t book big names and headliners. We really focus on really top class quality music and shows that we know people are going to love. Trust us, come along, and you’ll discover a whole world of music you didn’t know existed.”

As a family-friendly event, Towersey Festival also has children’s entertainers and crafts, among other features guests can enjoy.

Joe also revealed special themed activities launched to celebrate the festival’s 60th birthday. He said: “We’re going to be doing a whole load of stuff to celebrate the 60th. We’ve got a 60s silent disco, we’re going to doing a whole load of memorabilia stuff in terms of displays and parades. And some very special surprises from guests from previous festivals.”