WITH a glittering line-up of stars from the worlds of rock, soul, pop and dance music, and a stunning stately home site, Kite Festival is a thrilling new addition to the summer festival season.

But this youthful weekender, which returns to Kirtlington Park, north Oxfordshire, from June 9-11, is way more than just another music gathering – for alongside the bands and artists is an equally impressive bill of personalities from the worlds of politics, comedy, media, TV and literature, armed with heads full of ideas.

Where else would the likes of soul queen Candi Staton, rockers The Pretenders, indie idols Suede, and synth-pop band Hot Chip share a bill with former Prime Minister John Major, comic and writer David Baddiel, political spin doctor Alastair Campbell, and the the Chancellor of Oxford University – and last ever Governor of Hong Kong – Chris Patten?

Festival-goers can warm up for sets by Django Django, Alison Goldfrapp, Baxter Dury and house music giant David Holmes by listening to George the Poet, Dame Joan Collins, presenter Mel Giedroyc, Bake Off star Prue Leith, ‘This Is Going to Hurt’ writer Adam Kay, Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles, Happy Valley writer Sally Wainwright and Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves.

Oxford Mail: KITE is at Kirtlington Park, Oxfordshire, June 9-11. mikepalmer.photo

Kite Festival. Picture by Mike Palmer Photo

And that’s barely scratching the surface.

“I must admit, I am really excited about it all,” says James Ward, who has been responsible for programming the event – which made its debut outing last year.

“We are really happy with the line-up.. We have got people like Prue Leith and David Baddiel talking and even Susanna Hoffs from The Bangles who has a book which is set in Oxford. It is so exciting to be able to bring her hear to listen to her speak and hopefully for some songs too.

“We also have Sally Wainwright, who wrote Happy Valley – which is a very different setting to Kirtlington Park!”

James welcomes the rich diversity of thought and opinion – with musicians and thinkers from across the board, crossing genres and from different philosophical and political viewpoints.

Oxford Mail: Dame Joan Collins

Dame Joan Collins

“It is the opposite of an echo chamber,” he says.

“We have tried to present a balanced view of the world. These shows have traditionally been dominated by a certain element of left wing-leaning groups. But this is something for the 21st century allowing people to engage.

“And people can then come together to enjoy music, which is a unifying force.”

And he said there was a strong demand for quality music alongside speakers from the worlds of literature, politics and entertainment.

“People would be surprised how much crossover there is,” he smiles.

“There are a lot of people who listen to the Today Programme on Radio 4, but also enjoy dancing to bands like Hot Chip or Suede.”

Oxford Mail: David Baddiel

David Baddiel

The music, he admits, is steered to a more ‘mature’ crowd than the likes of Reading or Glastonbury Festivals, but there are new artists covering a variety of genres keeping the line-up fresh and relevant.

“It is aimed at people with curious minds, who want to have a good time and find new perspectives,” he says.

“It is for the more enlightened festival-goer. But it is not like some literary festivals, which are intimidating. We have interesting people but also offer unifying moments of music which make it really warm and fulfilling.

“People say ‘I would not normally go to see this’ but would at Kite... and enjoy it too."

And his highlights?

Given the breadth of talent on offer, he might be forgiven some reluctance to be drawn, but he is particularly excited about the musical line-up.

"I can't wait to see Lynks, CMAT and Sofia Kourtesis," he says. "And The Pretenders and Candi Staton will be really special. To see Alison Goldfrapp performing her new music will be fantastic and Hot Chip will be amazing. It's a real celebration."

He says proudly: “There are so many ways to enjoy Kite – and I can’t wait to dive in!”

“There are so many ways to enjoy Kite – and I can’t wait to dive in!”

Oxford Mail: Sued

Suede will headline

  • Kite festival takes place at Kirtlington Park, between Kidlington and Bicester, next weekend, June 9-11.
  • For full line-up and tickets, see kitefestival.co.uk/