GROUNDBREAKING musician Grace Jones, dream-pop act Saint Etienne and Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker are among the big names set to grace a new festival which is coming to north Oxfordshire next summer, we can reveal today.

‘Kite’ is billed as a festival of music and ideas and takes place at Kirtlington Park, between Woodstock and Bicester, next June.

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The three-day event had been due to debut last year but was cancelled, along with practically everything else, because of the pandemic.

Its organisers promise “a brand-new festival of ideas and music for curious, inquisitive, and cultural minds... aimed at collaboratively building a festival for the future.”

As well as Grace Jones and Saint Etienne, music comes from gospel and R&B singer Mavis Staples, jazz-funk-electronic artist Tom Misch, girl group TLC, and Seun Kuti – youngest son of Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer, Fela Kuti who performs with his father’s former band Egypt 80.

They will be joined by This Is The Kit, Nubiyan Twist, Flamingods and Mermaid Chunky, Baxter Dury, Confidence Man, The Orielles, Gwenno, Katy J Pearson and Fran Lobo.

The ‘ideas’ side of the event, features a line-up of comedians, artists, writers, activists, and thinkers. They include former foreign secretary David Miliband, stand-up comedian Reginald D Hunter, celebrity cook Delia Smith and Oxford environmentalist George Monbiot. Also dropping in will be Rory Stewart,William Dalrymple, Tina Brown, Elizabeth Day, David Olusoga and Sathnam Sanghera.

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Sheffield artist Jarvis Cocker, whose band Pulp had such hits as Common People, Disco 2000 and Something Changed, features not as a musical booking but as an ‘idea’ performer.

The festival is directed by Ciro Romano, who also runs the successful Nocturne concerts at Blenheim Palace – which this year features Simply Red and Simple Minds among others.

Mr Romano said: “Ideas and music have always co-existed; they are linked in our history, but, for the most part, there has been a clear dividing line between ideas/literary festivals and music festival. So, we are thrilled to have developed a new greenfield festival that puts music and ideas on an equal footing.

Oxford Mail: David Miliband. Picture by Christopher Lane / Guardian / eyevine

David Miliband. Picture by Christopher Lane

“At Kite, thinking and dancing can co-exist. Lockdown has clearly not quashed our need to have communal experiences which explore our passions, curiosity, and joy.

“Kite will engage with the most vital artists, musicians, writers, and public figures in one setting over three days. We couldn’t be more excited and look forward to having you join us at Kirtlington Park next June.”

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A festival spokesman said the event would be unlike any other, saying: “Kite will offer room to dance and space to think.

“In an age defined by the ubiquity of the internet and social media, there is a growing public appetite for knowledge, debate, and discussion. Audiences are looking for more alternative and non-musical activities at music festivals. Kite will rise to the challenge by creating a unique offering for people who are passionate, and curious by tapping into the public’s increased awareness and interest in the world around them.”

Oxford Mail: Climate activist and author George Monbiot in Oxford. Picture by Fabio De Paola /  Guardian / eyevine

Climate activist and author George Monbiot. Picture by Fabio De Paola

They added: “The music programme will present a line-up comprising exceptional artists with contemporary cultural resonance. Rather than being brought together under a genre, the line-up will be unified by an ability to move the audience’s head, heart, and hips.”

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“The ideas programme will ask provocative, fundamental questions in a highly polarised world. What binds us together? What drives us apart? World-class public figures, cultural icons, artists, and thinkers will delve into concepts, both big and small, and explore them.

“An eclectic range of speakers will debate, teach, and converse with a diverse and highly engaged audience. Topics will range from the environment, society, technology, sport and political systems to identity, wealth, the arts, history, globalisation, and sexuality. No stone will go unturned.”

KITE takes place from June 10-12 at Kirtlington Park. See

Oxford Mail: Grace JonesGrace Jones

Oxford Mail: Clockwise from top George Monbiot, Grace Jones, David Milliband and Tina BrownClockwise from top George Monbiot, Grace Jones, David Milliband and Tina Brown

Oxford Mail: Grace Jones at Wilderness. Picture: Tim HughesGrace Jones at Wilderness. Picture: Tim Hughes

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