Cornbury 2009 - Family Review

United Kingdom United Kingdom | 15 July 2009

Overall - 9/10

Within five minutes of arriving in the arena, one 11-year old boy said, “this is great – I could live like this,” and he was hooked into festival already. The party of two families included a three-year old girl, into dancing and dressing up, and three boys seven, eight and 11, who love music and play various instruments but they and their mums had not been to a stay over festival before.

Getting there and back – 9/10

We breezed into the picturesque Cotswold countryside and straight into the family camping area after an easy road trip from south west London. The mums were the most sceptical – “there’s plenty of time to do this when the kids are older,” and then there are the loos, crowds, mud, noise, food, drink etc. But they were talked into after I’d sighted that Cornbury had been nominated as Best Family Festival at the UK Festival Awards - so surely even with a 3 year old that would be fine! Travel was easy by car in and back home – well organised and friendly staff all round.

The Site – 9/10

Cornbury is a rural retreat for city folk – set in rolling hills and although the walk from campsite was 15 minutes it was pleasant: wandering between two lakes and didn’t get too muddy. The organisation was so excellent and that made it easy to enjoy the event and added to the atmosphere. All camping was on a slight slope but that worked and the loos and ‘posh wash’ shower units were excellent (allaying mum’s fears). Campers take to the festival approach quickly – maximising the space (crossing guide ropes) and cooking Chinese chicken on the BBQ for breakfast.

Atmosphere – 9/10

Moods were not dampened – even with the evening of rain. The sizeable crowd was a mixture of first timers, families (including grannies who provide good babysitters), teenagers and the odd stag group (Evel Knievel with Fred Flintstone!) and all are well behaved. Everyone had fun in a very relaxed environment with plenty to do, or not, if you chose. Those that had been before had the advantage of knowing to create a base in the main arena – mum No.1 “why didn’t you tell me – we could have bought the table and chairs,” – some did so and also small tents and tall flags to enable you to roam freely.

Music – 8/10

Scouting for Girls - 8.5/10
Great sing along pop tunes with a surprisingly strong frontman. They sang their whole album, which meant that the encore was a repeat of ‘She’s so Lovely’ – but that was just what the crowd in the driving rain wanted to hear. They even sang a song they had created for Cornbury – which fans were still singing the day after on their way home – it went something like “we’ll see you at Cornbury next year”.

Sugababes – 8/10
The most impressive stage set of the weekend – and although they did a bit of name dropping (new label with Jay Z – working with Lady Gaga and Neo – and tribute to MJ) to which the kids responded as they were expected to, they belted out some great hits. Really engaged the fans who had arranged themselves from the front by age in rows – starting from around six years old it would seem. But as headline act they worked well – everyone has a favourite Sugababe, right?

The Pretenders – 8/10
Chrissie Hynde – say no more – a true rock chick legend. The sun was setting on them – but never on their music. Dads with kids on shoulders and mums moving and singing – a band for everyone – even the boys were air guitaring.

Magic Numbers – 9/10
They still are the perfect outdoor festival evening band with great interaction with the crowd as they converted many new fans with their anthemic ‘very musical’ songs. The boys commented, “Brrrrillliantt – my favourite band – they were magic – very happy, cool music – fat and hairy – do they come from Lord of the Rings?” Everyone wants to see them again – all their numbers were magic!

Dodgy - 7/10
They had good presence and great new and old tracks – very crowd friendly.

Sharleen Spiteri - 8/10

Kept the evening crowd singing in the rain.

The Lightning Seeds – 8/10

Iconic 90’s anthems mesmerised the crowds basking in the sunshine - just like it should be.

Imelda May – 7/10
3rd year in succession at Cornbury, Imelda May really got the crowd on their feet with some skiffle like numbers and her sultry voice.

Laura And The Tears – 8/10

They were the best, least known band of the weekend, their rock and pop melodies which got the dads and lads alike moving. A debut album coming soon (working with Robbie Williams co-songwriter) – stunning throaty voice caries some great tracks.


Because it was a school day the day after, most of the event the two family members left before the last two acts on the Sunday – their loss sadly. Perhaps timing could be considered in the future (either a slightly later weekend - although some schools are out by then I believe, or finishing a bit earlier) but perhaps it just leaves us all anticipating future years at Cornbury – the family Festival.


Summed up by our boy aged seven said, “Cornbury is great because you can do what you want … but not sleep – that’s wasting time”.

By Steve Wild.

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