RECORD-breaking numbers of art lovers flocked the last ever Art in Action festival in Oxfordshire this weekend.

Organisers said it has been a record-breaking year for the festival as it came to a close at Waterperry Gardens after four decades of entertaining craft enthusiasts.

The four-day event from Thursday to Sunday has seen tens of thousands of visitors flood to the grounds of the stately home, where 400 artists pitch up and demonstrate their crafts.

But assistant organiser Rachel May said organisers had decided they needed to find a new lease of life.

She said: "It has been an amazing success this year, with almost 15,000 people coming through in just two days – absolute record numbers.

"The layout this year has also been a real success bringing the gardens a lot more into the whole show.

"I feel that it is an exciting time because everybody involved in this event wants to see something growing from what has happened here.

"The Art in Action show has grown from a tiny acorn and into an amazing tree.

"Although that tree is coming down there is a huge amount of potential for what could come in its place."

She added: "The main reason to stop the festival at 40 years is that the organisation that runs it – the School of Economic Science – still have people who were there 40 years ago slogging away.

"It needs a break to allow them to stop and for a new impulse to come, although we don't know what that will be yet."

Bernard Saunders, who died aged 81 in March, devoted four decades of his life to Art in Action, held each July from 1977.

When it started the festival brought in just 51 artists to show off their skills and about 14,000 visitors were welcomed through the door.

Since then, the popularity of the event has rocketed and now attracts about 25,000 people over four days.

Visitors can enjoy all sorts of skills from masters in jewellery making, textiles potter, woodwork and glassblowing.

Class caster Georgia Redpath, who demonstrated her craft for the first time at the festival this weekend, said: "I have only ever been as a visitor before so its been great coming as a demonstrator.

"It has just been brilliant. It's been manic, the people that have demonstrated here before said that it has been much busier than normal.

"To be able to take people through the process, the interaction is just wonderful between the public and artists, I have not seen any other festival like it.

"Clearly people are making the most of their last chance, it is sad to be the last one but it must be such a feat to organise for all the volunteers involved."

To make sure this year's festival went out with a bang, there was also digital arts tent, to show people that computers can be another tool in the hands of the artist, alongside 400 talented artists and sculptors and many art classes on offer.