Fans of folk-rock band Fairport Convention celebrated the group's 40th anniversary with a three-day feast of folk and fun in the sun.

More than 20,000 music-lovers and artists descended on Cropredy, near Banbury, for Fairport's Cropredy Convention - the annual festival set up by the north Oxfordshire-based band.

Festival-goers had travelled from as far afield as the USA and Canada, and were rewarded not only with a packed bill of high quality music, but with blue skies, soaring temperatures and bright sunshine.

The festival, which began on Thursday afternoon, drew to an emotional close on Saturday night with an extended set by Fairport Convention, closing in traditional Cropredy style, with a massed sing-along of the band's anthem Meet on the Ledge.

The band were joined by guests and former members, who had gathered to mark the anniversary of the group's formation.

However, the highlight for many was a Friday night reunion of the surviving members of Fairport's 1969 line-up.

They performed the band's classic album Liege & Lief, to the delight of fans. Among the line-up was Chris While, who stood-in for the late Sandy Denny, and guitar virtuoso Richard Thompson, who closed the night's proceedings with his own band.

But the biggest cheers were saved for former Cropredy villager Dave Swarbrick, who electrified the crowd with his trademark fiddle-playing, despite ill health - a full eight years after a national newspaper printed his obituary.

Folk musician and radio presenter Mike Harding, who introduced the band, described the set as "a piece of history".

Other highlights included sets by Devon singer-songwriter Seth Lakeman, acoustic roots duo Show of Hands, and Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, whose special guests included Ruby Turner and 60s icon Lulu.

Crime was down to single figures, with two arrests made on the first night, and there were no reported injuries or cases of heatstroke - despite the sun and the industrial quantities of Wadworth ale, dispensed from the festival bar.

For organiser Gareth Williams, the event proved to be one of the best Cropredys ever.

He said: "I am absolutely delighted. The weather was superb and everybody had a really good time. We had a capacity crowd, and hopefully they'll come back next year."

He said attention would shortly be turning to preparations for Cropredy 2008.

"I am looking forward to having a rest, and a bath. Then in October we'll start on next year."

Enjoying her first Cropredy was Wilma Harvey, from Abingdon. She said: "It was really nice to just lie down on a blanket, listen to the music and eat pie."

One regular festival-goer was Roger Jones, from East Oxford. He said: "I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Fairport Convention are the greatest folk-rock band of all time, and to see them on their anniversary year has been amazing.

"Hearing Liege & Lief, while drinking good real ale on a starlit night in a beautiful Oxfordshire field, is an experience which will stay with me for ever."