The countdown to Banbury's world-famous folk rock festival - Fairport's Cropredy Convention - has begun after two years of pandemic delay

The countdown to Banbury's world-famous folk rock festival - Fairport's Cropredy Convention - has begun.

Fairport Convention - L to R: Simon Nicol; Gerry Conway; Ric Sanders; Dave Pegg; Chris Leslie. Picture by David Jackson
Fairport Convention - L to R: Simon Nicol; Gerry Conway; Ric Sanders; Dave Pegg; Chris Leslie. Picture by David Jackson

The festival goes ahead for the first time since 2019 in its traditional farmland site outside Cropredy from Thursday – Saturday, August 11 – 13. Organisers have welcomed the go ahead for the festival after two years of frustrating Covid pandemic delay.

Highlights will include Trevor Horn Band and Clannad (Thursday), Martyn Joseph and Steve Hackett’s Genesis Revisited (Friday) and Richard Thompson and Fairport Convention on Saturday.

This time last year, festival director Gareth Williams had explained that the band had no choice but to postpone the festival for a second year as Fairport could not risk going out of business, should the Covid pandemic force cancellation at the last moment. The government had failed to support proposed schemes for cancellation insurance.

However tickets sold for 2020 and 2021 have been validated for this year’s festival which is the highlight of the entertainment year in the Banbury area. Folk rock lovers come from all corners of the globe to enjoy the atmosphere of what is described as the most ‘peaceful music festival in the world’.

Bel Mooney of the Daily Mail called it ‘The perfect folk-rock festival ... lovely people of all ages and all types with terrific music’ while The Guardian described it as ‘as much a British summer institution as Wimbledon’. The Financial Times called it ‘Probably the most reliably blissful summer entertainment Britain can offer’.

The festival is the biggest event in the Cropredy calendar as village organisations devote their spaces to fundraising with breakfasts, barbecues and sales. The village pubs - the Brasenose Inn and the Red Lion – and the canalside shop will be doing a roaring trade.

Special buses are put on to take people to and from the village and Banbury’s taxi services are at their busiest over the Fairport weekend.

The field at Cropredy with the festival in full swing. Photo by Ben Nicholson

Compered by Anthony John Clarke, Thursday’s programme will be kicked off at 4pm, as always, by Fairport Convention with a short acoustic performance. The band traditionally closes the festival on Saturday with a marathon closing set - with guests.

Caravan and camping fields will be available as usual and the customary bar with food outlets will ensure no one goes hungry. The stalls surrounding the performance field will include the Banbury area charity fundraisers as well as some festival clothing sellers for those necessary hats, feathers and hopefully not too many waterproofs.

Line-up for the three days is:

Thursday, August 11; 4pm – 11pm -

Trevor Horn who performs at this year's Fairport's Cropredy Convention. Picture by Joel Goodman

Fairport Convention – Host band Fairport Convention open the festival with a short acoustic performance then take the stage again on Saturday to play the headline closing set.

Thumping Tommys – This London-based bluegrass outfit plays barn-storming blues-infused Irish, American, and English folk music.

Edward II – Cropredy favourites Edward II play a fusion of world music, folk and reggae blending the rhythms of the Caribbean with traditional British songs.

Clannad – Multi-award winning Clannad has arguably done more than any other band to bring Irish music to a worldwide audience.

Richard Thompson who plays the penultimate set and joins Fairport in their closing performance

Trevor Horn Band – A return to Cropredy for Thursday's headline act. Trevor is one of the most influential producers in popular music and has worked with Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Grace Jones, Pet Shop Boys, Seal and Robbie Williams among many others.Friday, August 12 (noon – midnight)

Maddie Morris – Cropredy will present a set by singer-songwriter Maddie, winner of the 2019 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award.

Emily Barker – A Cropredy debut for this acclaimed Australian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose repertoire encompasses Americana, country and folk.

Home Service – Co-fronted by John Tams and John Kirkpatrick, Home Service is one of the UK's best-loved folkrock groups and is characterised by a distinctive brass sound and great repertoire.

Martyn Joseph – Legendary Welsh singer/songwriter Martyn returns to Cropredy with his compelling and passionate music, spellbinding voice and songs of lyrical intelligence.

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams – Hillbilly meets Pink Floyd in this surreal New York band. Rootsy psychedelia from the coolest corners of Americana.

Clannad who will have plenty of fans in the crowd at Fairport this year

The Sharon Shannon Quartet – Irish musician Sharon is known for button accordion, fiddle and whistle. Springing from Irish folk, her music reveals wide-ranging influences.

Turin Brakes – Indie folkrockers Turin Brakes are making their first appearance at Cropredy. They have seven studio albums and a million record sales to their credit.

Steve Hackett – Genesis Revisited – One of Britain's most accomplished and celebrated guitarists returns to Cropredy. Steve draws on influences as diverse as jazz, world and blues to recreate the unique sound of prog-rock legends Genesis.Saturday, August 13 (12pm – midnight)

Seth Lakeman A welcome return for Mercury nominee Seth who will get the day off to a flying start with material from his brand new album Make Your Mark.

Holy Moly & The Crackers – Fronted by vocalist Ruth Patterson, this Newcastle sextet mixes British folk with sizeable dollops of rock'n'soul, indie, balladeering and a touch of psychedelia.

The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican – This comedy folk and parody band from Barnsley completely stole the show when they played Cropredy in 2018 and are back by popular demand.

Rosalie Cunningham – Rosalie is an English singer/songwriter with a distinct style who has appeared on Later with Jools Holland and supported Jack White's UK tour.

Matthews Southern Comfort – Fronted by ex-Fairport singer Iain Matthews, MSC plays melodic laid-back Americana.

Richard Thompson – Fairport co-founder, guitar legend and acclaimed songwriter Richard will play a full solo set. He will also perform with his erstwhile bandmates in their closing set.

Fairport Convention and guests – Saturday's traditional extended headline set from Fairport will include the band's 1970 line-up playing the whole of Full House in album order plus the current line-up performing a wealth of material old and new.

Rosalie Cunningham who plays at Cropredy this year following two years of postponement for the festival. Picture by Howard Rankin
Steve Hackett whose band Steve Hackett - Genesis Revisited is one of the highlights of this year's festival. Picture by Rick Pauline
Sharon Shannon who will receive a big welcome on the Cropredy stage in August
Slambovian Circus of Dreams - one of many excellent bands at this year's Fairport's Cropredy Convention