NESTLED in woodland beside a gorgeous natural lake, Stowaway Festival is unlike any other.

But while the setting is bucolic and restful, and the atmosphere intimate, the line-up is anything but.

Featuring a bristling bill of top electronic dance, pop, and reggae acts, this cheeky young upstart of a summer festival is this weekend attracting discerning music lovers to one of the best weekenders of the year - though one which still feels like a 'best kept secret'

Acts playing until Sunday, August 20, include Goldie, Eats Everything and Crazy P Soundsystem.

Cult synth-dance, indie-soul act Little Dragon headlined Friday's opening night.

Easy Star all-Stars - famous for their dub and reggae reworking of music by Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson and The Beatles - headline on Sunday.

The event takes place near Stowe – home of the famous school and National Trust parkland – not far from Buckingham and an easy hop over the border from Oxfordshire.

The weekend also plays host to DJs Todd Edwards – who co-produced and performed vocals on Daft Punk track Face to Face on their seminal album Discovery – and Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy, as well as BBC 6Music’s Tom Ravenscroft.

Also up are Dan Shake, House Gospel Choir, Irvine Welsh, Jamz Supernova and Joe Goddard.

Oxford Mail: Stowaway Festival - Goldie. Picture by Lena Willoch Forselius

Goldie. Picture by Lena Willoch Forselius

Created in 2017 as the Festival Of Beer, last year saw the festival relaunch as Stowaway with a mission to deliver the perfect weekend antidote to the trappings of the modern world.

Last year’s debut event astounded the music world by pulling in dance giants Orbital and Nightmares on Wax.

Stowaway festival founder Duncan Wheeler said: “We relaunched as Stowaway last year because we wanted to take it back to the essence of what a festival should be about; joy, freedom and good vibes.

Oxford Mail:

Easy Star All-Stars

“We don’t want to rip people off so we keep our ticket prices reasonable and make the kids’ activities free on-site. I honestly can’t wait to welcome old and new friends to this very special place.”

As well as renowned musicians and DJs, there are hidden parties, a woodland spa, wild swimming and canoeing, wellness & relaxation, kids activities – all included in the ticket price – and artisan food & drink, including craft beers and spirits.

Duncan billed the dance-heavy event as “an emerging festival for true ravers, new ravers and little ravers”.

He added: “Stowaway evolved out of The Festival Of Beer, which we created to showcase the craft beers we brew at Blackpit Farm.

Oxford Mail: Stowaway Festival - Irvine Welsh

Irvine Welsh

"After a few years, we’d outgrown the original idea and the name so we reinvented the festival as Stowaway. The name was chosen as it suggests an escape from everyday life, a passage to a new land.

"We want people to be able to just forget real life for a few days and dance their cares away in this beautiful setting.”

He is genuinely thrilled by the line-up.

“The line-up is an eclectic group of internationally renowned artists and DJs, curated to bring joyful music from multiple genres to Stowaway," he says.

Oxford Mail: Stowaway Festival 2022. Picture by Tim Hughes

Stowaway Festival. Picture by Tim Hughes

"Good vibes guaranteed!"

And, he says, the combination of easy going atmosphere, beautiful surroundings, eclectic line-up and seriously top-notch cutting-edge acts, gave it maximum appeal - providing an unmissable chance for people from the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire areas to enjoy great music at a good price, right on their doorsteps.

“Stowaway is for everyone, of all ages! Anyone who loves to listen to music and enjoy the great outdoors should enjoy Stowaway. We also hope the local area embraces Stowaway and comes back year after year.

“Life is pretty tough at the moment - the news is all doom and gloom. Forget about all that this weekend, you owe it to yourself!”

He goes on: “I’ve got three young children myself so I know how it feels to be ripped off for children's activities. That’s why all the kids activities on site are included in the price, and there is enough to keep them entertained all weekend.

“Made by friends, for friends, and truly independent, Stowaway is a secret world for you to discover.”

Oxford Mail: Stowaway Festival - organiser Duncan Wheeler

Stowaway Festival organiser Duncan Wheeler

Drum and bass pioneer Goldie joined the line-up for Saturday’s headliner following the sad news that the legendary Roy Ayers, who had been booked to top the bill, had to cancel his remaining European shows and could no longer perform.

Roy said: “Hello to all my fans. Unfortunately, due to health complications stemming from a recent bout with Covid-19, I will be cancelling upcoming performances. We had high hopes I would recover in time, but all parties involved believe this is the best course of action for now. Once I have had proper time to heal and move past this, I will be looking to get back to work.”

Oxford Mail: eats everything.

Eats Everything

On behalf of the festival, Stowaway’s Duncan said: “We’ll hope you join us in sending Roy all our love and wishing him the speediest of recoveries.

“Every cloud has a ‘gold’ lining, however, and we’re super excited to announce that drum and bass legend, Goldie is our new Saturday headliner.

“Goldie’s career spans decades, so prepare to be taken on a journey through the diverse realms of drum and bass.

“We can’t wait!”

Stowaway Festival takes place at Stowe near Buckingham this weekend.

Tickets for the three-day event with camping start at £144.