THE biggest music event in the Witney calendar returned for a ‘record-breaking’ festival.

The Leys recreation ground was transformed into a field of fun, drinking and music as thousands gathered for the ‘best ever’ Witney Music Festival on Friday and Saturday.

Oxford Mail:

Organisers say a record number attended the event, which saw Jilted Generation – who mimic The Prodigy – headline the first evening, before alternative rock band Republica and electronic group N-Trance wowed crowds on the Saturday.

Young Oxfordshire artists again got the chance to play in front of thousands - some for the first time.

Sadly, the festival had to be temporarily stopped on Saturday afternoon, when a man suffered a 'suspected cardiac arrest' and later died. 

Oxford Mail:

Festival chairman Eric Marshall said: “It was an amazing event, probably the best in terms of the feedback we got.

“We had so many positive comments about the bands.

“Everyone was just so ready to come and have a party (but) it felt like a real family event - there was a real vibe of inclusiveness.”

Music kicked off at 6pm on Friday, when a range of cover bands and tribute acts began the weekend in style.

Oxford Mail:

A full day of music followed on Saturday, with Wood Green School’s big band the first act to perform at 11.30am.

Although many artists come from West Oxfordshire, some bands travelled from further afield, including Philadelphia-based Illusions of Grandeur.

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Other new additions included more lights on stage to reflect the number of dance acts this year, plus a revamped VIP area.

Mr Marshall continued: “We saw record numbers of people coming out, the weather did not seem to put people off.

“We had the likes of N-Trance and people came out early to see them and I have never seen anything like the audience participation at the Prodigy tribute band.”

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He added: “I think we got quite an eclectic mix of artists, from the heavier metal through to dance orientated stuff and everything in between.”

A BBC Introducing Stage returned for a second year, while teenager Sophie Atkinson and Oxford band The White Lakes played the main stage after winning the Ox Factor and the Battle of the Bands talent shows respectively.

Oxford Mail:

Also paying tribute to Witney Town Council’s support, Mr Marshall praised local acts.

He explained: “People look to Witney Music Festival as their festival and this is fundamentally what we are trying to achieve.

“It’s about giving a platform to young local musicians.

“It’s great to see how an artist like Genevieve Miles (right) is growing with the festival.”

Oxford Mail:

Last year’s festival attracted 15,000 across and organisers believe numbers this year were even bigger.