1980s ska-pop legends Madness, X Factor stars Olly Murs and Louisa Johnson plus an orchestral set of 1990s dance hits by Hacienda Classical were among the highlights of 2017's Big Feastival – a festival of food and music. The event is held on the rolling acres of Blur bassist, farmer and haute cuisine expert Alex James in the Cotswold Hills near Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire. There were sets by Ella Eyre, the Cribs, De La Soul, Gentleman's Dub Club, Norman Jay, Skatelites, Faithless, Dodgy and Cuban Brothers. Plus appearances by “Madchester” DJ Graeme Park and New Order's Peter Hook with much culinary talent in attendance including Feastival co-host Jamie Oliver with Rick Stein and his son Jack, Antonio Carluccio, Melissa Helmsey and more than a dozen other top chefs. As usual there were many celebrities mingling with the crowds..like Amanda Holden, Kate Moss, Jeremy Clarkson and Tim Rice. But for many it was the Hacienda Classical set that was the highpoint of the event this year.

Prior to the Big Feastival, Alex James told me, “This is my absolute favourite event of the year. I love watching as tens of thousands of people descend on to my farm. It comes around so quickly and there is a huge amount to do. Six years ago the whole plan for the event was on a single sheet of paper but today the planning document is like a telephone directory. Each year we try to up the ante but at heart the Big Feastival will always be a celebration of fine food, music plus family. We don't skimp on any of it. This year we have headliners Madness for the 1980's generation, Faithless for the hard line ravers, De La Soul for hip-hop folks, the Cribs for indie-lovers plus Dodgy for the Brit-pop people! And that's without mentioning the Skatelites for reggae fans plus Olly Murs for the X Factor youngsters! I am looking forward to all of it and the Hacienda Classics set should be something very special!”

The culinary aspect of the event is important, too. Alex said, “Over the weekend there will be nearly as many Michelin stars on the farm as there are in London. Jamie Oliver is here of course and a new attraction will be a big fire pit to roast meat and keep revellers warm after dark. In fact there is more going on this year than ever before – more stages plus more features but it will still be small enough to be a boutique festival and it is very gentle. Mums, dads, grandparents and kids can all feel at home and safe here. That's important to me.”











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