With performances by Elton John and Dame Shirley Bassey, food from chef Daniel Clifford and a stellar comedy line-up, see the highlights of this year’s Henley Festival – the biggest in its 34-year history.
The Henley Festival 2016 increased its capacity by 2,000 people each night and sold out for Elton John and his band on Wednesday 6 July and for Blake and Dame Shirley Bassey on Saturday 9 July, with 7,000 black tie clad festival goers attending both performances – making it the biggest in the festival’s 34-year history.
2016 also saw the festival’s biggest comedy line up to date with headline sets from Al Murray, Nina Conti and Reginald D Hunter. The Henley festival audience was no less starry this year with celebrities including David Walliams, Alan Titchmarsh, Debbie McGee, Rosie Fortescue, Lord Hutton, Steve Ryder and Conservative party leader Theresa May attending the festival.
Elton John and his band opened Henley Festival 2016 with The Bitch is Back and closed his set with Circle of Life and Can You Feel the Love to a standing ovation from black tie clad festival goers. Celebrities in the audience on Wednesday included: David Furnish, David Walliams, Alan Titchmarsh, Sir Steve Redgrave, Lord Hutton, Mike Reid and Steve Ryder.
Theresa May was at Henley Festival on Friday to see Welsh Opera star Bryn Terfel perform with the National Welsh Opera Orchestra with special guest Alma Deutscher, who aged 11 is the UKs youngest composer. Alma performed the third movement of her violin concerto, composed when she was nine. Earlier in the evening former Rolling Stones Guitarist Mick Taylor performed alongside Ben Walters in the Big Top.
On Saturday night, performing alongside classical group Blake, Dame Shirley Bassey made her first festival appearance for nine years, the last time was at Glastonbury in 2007. Bassey’s appearance at Henley Festival was only the seventh time she’s performed in the last ten years and brought ecstatic applause from the packed out festival. Bassey received four standing ovations from the Henley Festival crowd for her spine tingling renditions of Goldfinger, The Lady is a Tramp and Diamonds Are Forever as well as three duets with Blake and ended the evening by throwing roses into the ecstatic festival audience.
Will Young brought the festival to a spectacular close on Sunday 10 July, performing a cover of Bowie’s Let‘s Dance whilst riding a sparkling silver mobility scooter, downing a pint on stage and singing happy birthday to one lucky festival goer.
The Festival’s Family Sunday, now in its second year, saw families enjoying music, comedy, workshops and more for children of all ages, meanwhile Henley Festival’s resident chef, double Michelin-starred Daniel Clifford, hosted a tasting menu for 950 diners each night.
Next year Henley Festival will return to Henley-on-Thames from 5– 9 July 2017.