Towersey Festival is an annual festival of folk, world music and traditional dance, previously held in the village of Towersey, now relocated to Thame in Oxfordshire, England. It has taken place every August bank holiday weekend since its founding in 1965.
The festival attracts approximately 10,000 people each year although the 2004 event (August 26 to August 30) attracted much higher numbers than ever before. This is partly due to that year being the festival's 40th anniversary.
The venues in which the festival normally takes place are the Big Club (formerly known as the Concert Tent), the Ceilidh (or Dance) Tent, the Market Square (formerly known as the Arena), the Village Hall and Venue 65 (formerly known as the Festival Dance House, and before that as the Arts Centre) with occasional impromptu performances in the beer tent (normally called "The Headless Horseman") and in the Three Horseshoes public house. Other features include the main site, the craft tent and the craft market.
Regular performers at Towersey include Roy Bailey and Les Barker. The latter made a live recording there in 1995. Eliza Carthy, John Spiers and Jon Boden had successful performances there in their early careers.
Due to the high numbers attending in 2004 the organisers were forced to open up a third campsite for the first time ever. Its popularity may be because although it is aimed at all ages it is mainly a family event with facilities and shows for children being held throughout the weekend. Many people return to Towersey each year for the festival.
There is an old tradition that on the last night of the festival a lot of the men dress up as women. The tradition of 'dress up Sunday' started in 1990 with a hen party for a Towersey regular. Due to the lack of female friends attending, the bride agreed that men could come if they dressed appropriately. This led to at least 15 men in skirts and dresses, can-canning across the pub car park on the Sunday evening.
The following year, the bride and groom held a Sunday afternoon cocktail party where guests had been asked to wear their wedding outfits. This was followed by the usual Sunday evening session in the Barn. This was repeated in following years and evolved into 'Dress Up Sunday'. Cross dressing is not obligatory but can add to the fun.
The bride still attends the festival regularly as a steward.
Towersey Village Festival
Mrs Casey Music - organisers of the festival