Towersey Bows Out After 60 Years

Towersey Festival has announced it will stage its final event after 60 years as the UK’s longest-running, independent music festival. Towersey organisers can no longer run a sustainable festival due to the increasing financial and economic challenges faced since the pandemic. With the same fighting spirit that the family-run Towersey has embraced over the years, organisers promise that the 60th anniversary of this special festival, held at the 5,000 capacity Claydon Estate in Buckingham (23-26 Aug), will be its best yet, worthy of the occasion, and a true celebration of music, culture and community.

Originally founded by Denis Manners MBE in 1965, five years before even Glastonbury opened its gates, Towersey has a long legacy in roots and folk music. For six decades, against a background of profound cultural and societal change, Towersey continued to bring communities together through the celebration of traditional dance, culture and creative experiences.

Festival Co-Director’s Mary Hodson and Joe Heap, two of Denis’s grandchildren who now run the event, said,

“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.

“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.”

Despite the news that this exceptional 60–year legacy is coming to an end, Towersey Festival 2024 refuses to be overshadowed, focusing instead on celebrating a cultural landmark that, across successive generations, has played a significant part in the lives of both festival goers and organisers alike.

Over the August bank holiday, the Towersey stage will be graced by its most eclectic line-up to date including legendary folk-rock singer-songwriters Billy Bragg and Seth Lakeman, harmonious female folk outfit The Staves, Scottish folk rockers Tide Lines, American singer-songwriter Pokey Lafarge, a career-spanning set from the godfathers of punk folk Oysterband, Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music favourites The Hawkmen, and Paul Simon’s iconic Graceland reimagined by the London African Gospel Choir.

The four-day programme is packed with opportunities to learn, make, watch and be inspired, including 48 hours of Ceilidh, dance and street theatre, silent discos, comedy, circus skills, storytelling, children’s entertainers, Woodland Classroom and so much more.  As well as a celebration of Comments and Comedy with stars from the literary, comedy and podcast worlds.

The 60-year birthday is also a perfect time for nostalgic moments and Towersey will look back with a 1965 dance party and dressing up day, and an “in conversation” gathering with some of those festival-goers that were there at the beginning of the Towersey journey.

Whether a festival first-timer or a seasoned festival-goer, this is the last and the best time to celebrate an incredible 60-year heritage of music, dance and friendship at Towersey Festival, and to be part of what will be one very special – and emotional – event.

Reacting to the announcement, John Rostran, AIF CEO said:

“Towersy Festival is an institution in the UK’s independent festival sector. The fact that it has no choice but to make this year’s edition its last after 60 successful years demonstrates that even the most established events are struggling in the current climate. Very few festivals are immune to the pressures placed upon promoters due to unpredictable and high supply chain costs since Covid. We urge others to support festivals by visiting and asking their MP to reduce VAT on festival tickets sales for three years to save these essential events.”