Thousands of festivalgoers attended a weekend packed full of music and culture, as a brand new festival had its first outing.

The inaugural weekend (June 10 – 12) of KITE Festival - set at Kirtlington Park, Kidlington – featured more than 100 events.

KITE’s diverse line-up of musicians, comedians, artists, writers, activists, and thinkers included superstar Grace Jones, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and RuPaul's Drag Race UK breakout star Bimini Bon Boulash.

READ MORE: Oxfordshire weather: The county will be hotter than Tenerife this week

Oxford Mail: The festival was full of music and cultureThe festival was full of music and culture

Ciro Romano, festival director, said: “After the enforced delay, it was truly joyful for me to see the festival finally come together. I am so thrilled that our audience was so enthusiastic and embraced the ethos of the inaugural KITE festival.

“As the sun went down this evening on an idyllic Kirtlington Park, I hope festivalgoers reflected on a weekend of vibrant music, cultural stimulation, intelligent interaction, fabulous food, and something newly discovered.

“We can’t wait to announce plans for 2023.”

An estimated 10,000 people came out in force to soak in the atmosphere, performances and discussions across a sunny weekend.

Oxford Mail: 10,000 people attended the festival10,000 people attended the festival

The festival was split into various strands that saw guests and enjoy in-depth debate and performances.  

On Saturday morning, a large crowd joined the in-conversation event between former politician Rory Stewart and media veteran Andrew Neil, who discussed the Tory party, war and justice.

This was followed by a live interview with artist Ai Weiwei, in front of a packed out crowd.

Oxford Mail: Rory Stewart is picturedRory Stewart is pictured

Two world-renowned historians - William Dalrymple and David Olusoga - then shared thoughts on the ever-changing role of history and how our increasingly digital modern age is affecting how we process the past.

KITE also featured Britain’s own cooking queen Delia Smith, who spoke with June Sarpong about ways towards a more meaningful existence detailed in her recently published book, You Matter: The Human Solution.

As KITE’s stellar ideas programme drew to a close, Sunday’s crowd was treated to legendary satirist and political commentator Armando Iannucci talking about his latest book Pandemonium and delighting the audience with stories about The Thick of It and Alan Partridge, including his thoughts on Partygate and the changing landscape of satire in 2022.

Oxford Mail: Grace Jones is picturedGrace Jones is pictured

Professor Richard Dawkins - one of the world’s most outstanding living scientists then delivered a keynote address and fielded audience questions about his latest book, Flights of Fancy.

The festival’s music programme was kicked off with rhythm, blues and gospel star Mavis Staples.

The 82-year-old singer was followed by Saint Etienne, Self Esteem and new pop  icon Rebecca Lucy Taylor.

Grace Jones closed Saturday’s main stage with a commanding performance for a packed-out crowd that witnessed several wardrobe changes, hula-hooping, and Grace parading in the pit on a crew member’s shoulders.

One of the festival’s highlights was Confidence Man who took over Heavenly Presents strand of KITE. The electric two-piece connected with the audience engagingly and hypnotically, leaving everyone wanting more.

On Sunday, a series of world-class performances closed KITE.

Oxford Mail: The festival will return next yearThe festival will return next year

Seun Kuti - the youngest son of Fela Kuti and leader of the Egypt 80 – brought the house down.

The ensemble filled KITE’s main stage with their politically charged afrobeat performance for a new generation.

Then for a change of pace, alternative folk singer-songwriter Kate Stables AKA This Is The Kit, captivated her audience with beautiful harmonies and instrumentals.

KITE Festival is set to return in 2023. 


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This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

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