Towersey Festival announces 60th birthday event will be its last due to economic challenges

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A historic festival in Aylesbury Vale will be finishing for good this year, organisers have confirmed.

This morning (29 May), the team behind Towersey Festival have confirmed the 60th birthday event this summer will be the last ever event.

Considered the UK’s longest running independent festival, following the pandemic the event was moved from Oxfordshire to a new permanent home at the Claydon Estate, near Buckingham.

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Despite changes made to keep the festival going, organisers confirmed financial difficulties mean they can no longer keep the event running in its current guise.

Billy Bragg headlines this year's showsBilly Bragg headlines this year's shows
Billy Bragg headlines this year's shows

This news follows the PennFest cancellation, just weeks ago the popular Buckinghamshire event that had booked Richard Ashcroft and Paul Weller, was postponed for 2024, with tickets being deferred for a year, unless customers requested a refund.

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has confirmed at least 42 events have been cancelled in the UK this year, with cost of living financial challenges affecting attendances across the country.

Towersey Festival’s final event will take place across the August bank holiday between 23-26 August.

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

Towersey Festival was founded in 1965 by Denis Manners, five years before Glastonbury opened its gates, as a family-friendly folk festival.

Festival co-director’s Mary Hodson and Joe Heap, two of Denis’s grandchildren said in a statement this morning:

“Firstly, we want you to know – Towersey 2024 will be one hell of a party! We are excited to bring you our best and most eclectic line-up of artists ever.

“However, it is with the heaviest of hearts that we also deliver this message. Like so many other independent and grassroots festivals, Towersey is facing the very sad prospect of ending after this year’s festival, our 60th year.

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“We have worked incredibly hard over the last few years to try to bring Towersey back to financial stability. The pandemic wiped all our back up and changed the face of festivals across the industry. Coming back from this and the economic challenges we’ve all felt since then has been all but impossible. Without investment partnerships or a fundamental change to the character of the festival, we have concluded that we will have to bow out after this year.

“We are proud of what we’ve achieved with Towersey and the massive contributions we’ve made over the years to charities, local causes, tourism, and emerging artists. More importantly, we believe festivals like Towersey are crucial for creating better communities and societies and for finding hope and humanity in an otherwise challenging world.

“We will continue to fight, and endeavour to find a way of continuing to realise the hopes and dreams of our grandparents and founders, but it will not be through Towersey Festival anymore.”

Billy Bragg is headlining the final ever festival, and a series of other folk acts have been confirmed for the 60th birthday party.

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Across the four-day programme a number of other entertainment activities have been lined-up including: Ceilidh, dance and street theatre, silent discos, comedy acts, circus skills, and storytelling performances.

Organisers have also promised special 60th birthday-related surprises, more details on the final ever Towersey Festival can be found online here.