Big Feastival: A sheaf of music and food down on Alex James' farm

Alex James and Jamie Oliver at the Big Feastival in 2012

Alex James and Jamie Oliver at the Big Feastival in 2012

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Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Features and Music Editor

POP stars, TV personalities and top chefs will join 20,000 fun-seekers on a West Oxfordshire farm this weekend for what must surely be the country’s most rarefied music festival.

Alex James, bassist with the Brit Pop band Blur, throws open the gates of his 200-acre farm at Kingham, near Chipping Norton, today, for the start of his Big Feastival – the annual celebration of food and music he co-hosts with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

Now in its fourth year, the Feastival has grown from an intimate two-day gathering of 10,000 people, to a three-day festival attracting twice that number and with a line-up which rivals many of the country’s biggest festivals.

Headline sets come courtesy of superstar DJ Fatboy Slim and smooth jazz pianist Jamie Cullum. There will also be sets by hip-hop star Kelis and De La Soul, Jazzie B’s Soul II Soul, Mercury-nominated Laura Mvula and comic Latin-pop act The Cuban Brothers.

Foodie celebs include Masterchef judge Monica Galetti, Dragon’s Den star – and Reggae Reggae Sauce creator – Levi Roots, Jamie Oliver’s mentor Gennaro Contaldo, Rachel Khoo, Gizzi Erskine, Mark Hix, Emily Watkins of the nearby Kingham Plough, and model-turned cook Daisy Lowe, with stars showing off their skills in a demonstration kitchen.

There will also be presentations by hosts Mr Oliver and Mr James – who as well as running a farm and performing occasional sets with Blur, has launched his own acclaimed range of cheeses.

There will also be appearances by children’s TV personalities Justin Fletcher and Mr Bloom, and BBC Countryfile presenter Adam Henson, who brings along animals from his Cotswold Farm Park, near Stow-on-the-Wold.

“The Big Feastival occupies a really great niche in terms of its size,” says Mr James, a father of five.

“We have great music and food and are a fantastic day out for families. That’s what I care about and that’s what motivates me. I wouldn’t do it otherwise.”

He adds: “My farm is a big fountain of joy and everybody who comes finds something they love about it. It’s a really beautiful part of the world.

“It’s been hard work to make something work, and takes 12 months to make it come together, but now we can just let it happen.

“Jamie and I have nine kids between us, and it’s not the easiest job to be doing, but it’s about all the things I love – and you have a good idea it will pay off.

“I enjoy it so much and am really looking forward to it.”

  • The Big Feastival runs from today to Sunday. Day and weekend tickets are available at jamieoliver.com/thebigfeastival or on the gate. Camping tickets have sold out.

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