THOUSANDS of music fans revelled in one of the country's last free festivals this weekend.

Charlbury again played host to Riverside Festival, nearly 25 years after the family-friendly event was first launched.

The two-day music bonanza in Mill Field showcased some of Oxfordshire's finest musical talents from across the genres.

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Held on the banks of the River Evenlode, more than 40 artists played across four stages.

Festival director Andy Pickard said: "There has been lots and lots of families here - it s a great atmosphere - really thriving.

"The bands have been excellent again this year and a Lancaster bomber did a flypast which was great."

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The festival, which believes around 9,000 visitors attended across Saturday and Sunday, was hit by bad weather last year.

Referring to the 2018 rain, Mr Pickard added: "The best new thing we have had (this year) is sunshine - it's been really nice actually."

Oxford Mail:

However, there has been a lasting impact on the festival from last summer, because donations were significantly reduced. But Mr Pickard is optimistic, as a Go Fund Me page aiming to build up reserves gathers pace.

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For festival goers, there was a packed programme of music, including rock, indie, jazz, reggae, two-tone and folk across the two main and fringe and buskers stages.

But one festival goer, Julian Whitehouse, was mainly there to see 'energetic indie' band Peerless Pirates.

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The superfan, 56, suggested that he was impressed by the 'friendly, family orientated' nature of Riverside, labelling it 'fantastic.'

Mr Whitehouse, who is a cost manager from Oxford, added: "If the Pirates are playing, I will be there next year. Everyone should come along."

Headlining the main stage on Saturday was four-piece Oxford band Kanadia, while Sunday's top billing went to upbeat garage punk band Self Help.

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The second stage, run by independent record stores, Rapture in Witney and Truck Store in Oxford, featured an impressive line-up of local bands including Peerless Pirates, Ghosts in the Photographs and Death of the Maiden.

Over on the Fringe stage, fans enjoyed Osprey and The Headington Hillbillies, among others.

Wantage-based furniture painter Heather Rezek, who was impressed with Cythers, said: "The festival was so nice - I can't believe that it was free.

Oxford Mail:

"It's the only one that I have ever been to that you don't have to pay on the door and it was just lovely that you can take your family.

"It is quite small but that is what makes it so cute."

Attending the festival for the first time with her two children, Jack and Livi, she added that it had a 'refreshing' vibe and that the beer, ice cream and music were particular highlights.

Oxford Mail:

Mrs Rezek, 40, added: ""It was amazing and I would go back again, definitely. The atmosphere was very chilled, relaxed and easy going.

"It would be a real shame if they couldn't continue."

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