THE wintry weather means summer feels as far away as ever, but a popular music festival is already gearing up to produce the ‘next big thing’.

Witney Music Festival returns to The Leys on the weekend of June 14 and 15 and anticipation is building following the announcement of two headliners.

Alternative rock band Republica and electronic group N-Trance will bring the house down on day two of the event, which last year attracted 15,000 people.

Read again: Witney Music Festival's 'best year yet' in pictures

Several Oxfordshire artists will perform alongside them and festival chairman Eric Marshall believes this will inspire the next generation.

He said: “We’ve said many times that if you look at the talented musicians per head of population, Witney would blow any town or city in the world out of the water.

“The next big thing will come from Witney. Giving these people the opportunity to perform will bring out the next Republica.”

Oxford Mail:

The festival ran across two days for the first time in 2018, with some revellers calling it ‘the best year yet’.

The 2019 programme follows a similar pattern, with tribute acts such as Jilted Generation, who mimic The Prodigy, playing on Friday.

Republica and N-Trance will round off the weekend on the Saturday night.

Mr Marshall believes the two headliners, which have sold millions of records worldwide between them, will provide a spectacular finale, but the festival is also a chance for younger artists to play live.

Read again: Republica and N-Trance to headline Witney Music Festival 2019

Last year, a BBC Introducing stage was unveiled for the first time and the chairman believes the mix of local and national artists will help draw the crowds.

He said: “We’re really excited about this year because we’re trying to give the day a bit more of a dance vibe.

“We’ve been criticised in the past about being a bit too rocky so we want to try and mix it up a bit.

“We’re also really pleased to have a female-fronted headline act [in Republica] and some very strong female fronted bands.

“The core vision of the festival is about building community through music.

"The more inclusive we are then the more opportunities there are for people to get involved.”

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Like last year, there will be several warm-up events ahead of the festival.

Talent shows the Ox Factor and Battle of the Bands get going in March and April respectively, with applications on the festival’s website soon.

The winner of the latter competition will play the Witney showpiece plus four other events, including Tadstock in Lechlade, Wychwood at Cheltenham racecourse, Nor Lie in North Leigh and Minster Lovell Beer Festival.

Oxford Mail:

Witney’s Langdale Hall will also host two events, with a ‘music bingo’ evening on March 30 followed by a Total 80s night on April 13.

Venues across the town will host two weeks of live music ahead of the festival and Mr Marshall hopes these events will boost young musicians.

He said: “We want people to see this as attainable.

“How many kids get home and say ‘I want to be a musician’ but are told they need to get a proper job. It’s a viable option and we want to encourage that.”