Music lovers head into the woods for Oxfordshire’s first festival of the year

HUNDREDS of music fans, craft enthusiasts and nature lovers will today descend on a leafy corner of Oxfordshire for the county’s first major festival of the year. Wood festival – a three-day environmentally-friendly celebration of the performing arts at Braziers Park, Ipsden, near Wallingford, has opened its gates to revellers after a two-year absence due to the pandemic. The creation of musician brothers Robin and Joe Bennett, the festival is the younger sibling of the more famous Truck Festival, at Steventon, near Didcot, which the pair also founded.

But while Truck, now under different management, has grown into a showcase for some of the country’s biggest new indie, pop and rock bands, Wood has stuck to its green roots. The festival, which has already sold out, keeps numbers low and is run along sustainable lines.

Witney’s Jali Fily Cissokho returns this weekendWholesome, organic and family-friendly, it is fuelled largely by renewable energy, features composting toilets, wood burning ovens, local food, beer and cider, and offers workshops and sessions on living in harmony with nature, woodland crafts, and spotting wildlife. Music is varied, global and consistently high-quality, veering towards the acoustic but also featuring some serious rock and DJ sessions.

Music comes from Blue Rose Code, WEMA, Fofoulah, Rachael Dadd, The Orange Circus Band, Danny George Wilson, Papa Nui, Lady Nade, Thomas Truax and more. Local talent includes folk artists Jackie Oates & Megan Henwood, Robin and Joe’s sister Katy Rose Bennett, Witney West African-born kora player Jali Fily Cissokho, Pearl Diver, Max Blansjaar, Oxford Ukuleles and family entertainer Nick Cope, formerly of Oxford rock band The Candyskins. Music lovers head into the woods for Oxfordshire's first festival of the year Pearl Diver Robin, a Green member of Oxfordshire County Council and Deputy Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Wood is a celebration of music and nature – and anything else that fits in with that.

“It’s all on a very human scale and has turned into a real family event. It’s amazing the number of children who come.” He adds: “It’s so exciting to be back at Braziers Park for Wood, three years since the last one.

The isolation of the pandemic has made us all value getting together in a field for music and community even more. “We have some incredible music spanning folk, Americana, world and indie rock, as well as great speakers in the Kindling tent, such as George Monbiot and Nell Frizzell, hosted by hedgehog-loving ecologist Hugh Warwick. Wood-goers can also try workshops on everything from tie-dying T-shirts to bicycle repair.

Music lovers head into the woods for Oxfordshire's first festival of the year Joe thanked festival-goers for their support. He said: “The Wood audience have shown amazing support, holding on to their tickets for three years in some cases, and we’re completely sold out.

The site is all ready for a fabulous weekend of music, workshops, activities and fun.”

“Nick Cope is back once more, hot on the heels of his Popcast, and plays both Saturday and Sunday.

We’ve got amazing food coming from Taste Tibet, the Vaults and more, and of course a variety of delicious local ales!”