WHILE most places celebrate Christmas Eve to the sound of carols and singalong seasonal favourites, Oxford does things differently – ushering in the big day with the bass-heavy sound of reggae.

For almost 30 years, Yuletide revellers have celebrated this most wonderful time of the year to a bass-heavy soundtrack of dub, roots, dancehall, ska and rocksteady with Reggae Christmas on Cowley Road.

Starting life at the former Zodiac, at what is now the O2 Academy, the lively club night now pulls in crowds of festive fun-seeking music lovers to The Bullingdon, a few doors down the road.

Tomorrow’s show is presented by East Oxford DJ Aidan Larkin – better known to reggae fans as Count Skylarkin.

The distinctively dapper DJ is a familiar sight at festivals around the country, often playing tunes from his mobile Disco Shed (an actual garden shed kitted out with record decks, speakers and lights), and was a fixture at many Cowley Road Carnivals.

He is joined by special guests the Friendly Fire Band featuring ‘toaster’ Myki Tuff; Oxford’s longstanding dub and roots reggae outfit Destanation DJs – with Daniel Norland; and heavy funk, hip hop, soul and disco duo Dasher & Wazzy.

Oxford Mail: JODIPHOTOGRAPHYThe Friendly Fire Band

The Friendly Fire Band are considered one of the best-loved live reggae bands in the country, Masters of roots, dancehall and bass, they and have collaborated with some of the scene’s biggest artists, from Dawn Penn and Susan Cadogan to Luciano and the late Michael Prophet.

Aidan invited all music lovers to come along and embrace the spirit of Christmas with cheerful, soul-stirring tunes among like-minded souls.

He said: “It feels like it’s been a tough year for so many people as wages are squeezed and belts tighten.

“Locally we saw the last-minute cancellation of Cowley Road Carnival due to a funding shortfall. I am, however, overjoyed to be ending 2023 on a massive high with Reggae Christmas – one East Oxford tradition that never fails to endure.

Oxford Mail: Aidan Larkin - Count SkylarkinWinter warmer: Count Skylarkin

“Last year’s scintillating performance by Aleighcia Scott was always going to be a hard act to follow. But this year’s headliners have raised the roof at festivals for years and are a band I’ve wanted to bring to Oxford for a very ling time: Birmingham’s very finest, the Friendly Fire Band – featuring Lukas Daley, Tomlin Mystic and the legendary Myki Tuff on vocals.

“Myki has long been one of my favourite dancehall toasters ever and it’s always a thrill to work with him and see him perform.

“They brought the house down at Boomtown this summer and they’re going to make those sleigh bells ring-a-ling on Christmas Eve.”

Myki Tuff agreed, saying: “If you love roots, reggae, lovers rock and dancehall, then you don’t want to miss what is the best reggae show in the UK on Christmas Eve.”

  • Reggae Christmas is on Christmas Eve at The Bullingdon in Cowley Road, Oxford, from 9pm-2.30am
  • Tickets are £10 in advance from wegottickets.com